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0977 Parts of the Body

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 977 – Parts of the Body.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 977. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

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On this episode, we are going to listen to a dialogue between Sonia and Nadir about parts of the body. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Sonia: What in the world is that?!

Nadir: It’s a life-size figure of George Washington. It’s for Leon’s school project.

Sonia: Then why are you making it?

Nadir: I’m not. I’m just helping him.

Sonia: Uh-huh. Why does George Washington have really big hands and flat palms?

Nadir: He cut down the family’s cherry tree. Remember? He probably needed big hands to do that.

Sonia: And why does he have little tiny feet with six toes on each foot and no ankles?

Nadir: I made a little mistake with those, but they’ll be covered up with shoes, so no one will see them.

Sonia: And why is George’s head shaped like an egg? His ears are lopsided and his earlobes are disproportionate to his other facial features.

Nadir: That’s why I made the forehead and chin bigger, so no one will notice those ears. We’ll probably put a hat on him anyway.

Sonia: But his legs look really thin on top and thick on the bottom, with kneecaps that stick out.

Nadir: I’ll put pants on him, so no one will see those either.

Sonia: So it won’t matter if he’s not anatomically correct, right?

Nadir: Right.

Sonia: Good thing this isn’t for science class!

[end of dialogue]

We begin our dialogue with Sonia asking Nadir a question. She says, “What in the world is that?” When someone uses that expression “in the world,” they are trying to give you the idea that they are shocked or surprised about something. “What in the world are you doing?” you might say to your child, for example, if he is doing something that you don’t want him to do, or if you are simply puzzled. You don’t understand why someone is doing something – you may say, “What in the world are you doing?” There’s an implication in this question that you find what they are doing as strange or unusual.

Nadir responds, “It’s a life-size figure of George Washington. It’s for Leon’s school project.” When we say something is a “life-size figure” (and you might also hear people say “life-sized” with a “d” at the end, “figure” – either one is correct) we mean that they have some sort of statue or object that is the same size as the person that the object represents. So, a “life-size statue” or a “life-size figure” of George Washington would be something that looks like George Washington and is as big as George Washington was. You may know that George Washington was the first president of United States.

Nadir for some reason has a life-size figure of George Washington. Why? He says it is “for Leon’s school project.” We’re guessing that Leon is Nadir’s son. Sonia says, “Then why are you making it?” Why isn’t Leon making it, since it’s for his school project or assignment. Nadir says, “I’m not. I’m just helping him.” Sonia doesn’t believe Nadir. She says, “Uh-huh.” But she says it in such a way that we know she doesn’t really think that Nadir is telling the truth.

She then asks, “Why does George Washington have really big hands and flat palms?” Your “hand” (hand) is at the end of your arm and is used for grabbing things and picking things up. “Palm” (palm) is the area of your hand which is between the bottom of the hand and the finger. So, between basically your wrist (which is the part of the body that connects the arm to the hand) and the fingers of your hand – that flat area on the front of your hand is called your “palm.”

Sonia wants to know why George Washington has “really big hands and flat palms.” “Flat” means there aren’t any bumps in it. It’s completely straight, if you will. Nadir says, “He cut down the family’s cherry tree, remember? He probably needed big hands to do that.” Nadir refers to an old story about George Washington, who, when he was a boy, apparently cut down a tree, a cherry tree.

The story is that when his father asked him if he cut down the tree, George was honest. He admitted, “Yes. I cut down that cherry tree.” This story was meant to demonstrate the honesty of George Washington, how he was a good man. Nadir thinks that since Washington cut down a tree, he must’ve had really big hands. It makes sense, I think.

Sonia then says, “Why does he have little tiny feet with six toes on each foot and no ankles?” Sonia says that this life-size figure of George Washington has “tiny” feet, meaning very small feet. Your “feet,” of course, are the things that you walk on. The figure also has six toes. Your “toes” (toes) are the “digits,” we might call them, that are at the ends of your feet. They’re sort of like your fingers, but they’re on your feet. We call those “toes.” There are normally five toes on each feet, just as there are five fingers on each hand. However, this figure of George Washington has six toes, and it doesn’t have any ankles.

Your “ankle” (ankle) is the part that connects your leg to your foot, just as your “wrist” (wrist) connects your arm to your hand. Nadir says, “I made a little mistake” – a small mistake – “but they’ll be covered up with shoes, so no one will see them.” Sonia then asks, “And why is George’s head shaped like an egg?” Your “head” is the part of your body that contains your brain (or, in the case of my neighbor, no brain), your eyes, your nose, your ears, and so forth. And your hair, if you have hair. Sonia is asking why George Washington’s head is “shaped like,” or in the form of, “an egg.”

The ears, Sonia says, “are lopsided and the earlobes are disproportionate to his other facial features.” Your “ears” (ears) are the things that you hear out of. When we say something is “lopsided” (lopsided) we mean it is uneven. One side is longer than the other, in this case. “Earlobes” (earlobes) are the bottom parts of your ears, the part that is below the ear opening where you have the sound go into your ear. Below that part, there is a small piece of flesh that we call the “earlobe.” It’s where you would put earrings, for example, if you have earrings.

I don’t have any earrings myself. Maybe I should. Maybe I should get earrings. What do you think? Well, back to our story here.

The earlobes, according to Sonia, on George Washington’s figure are “disproportionate to his other facial features.” When we say something is “disproportionate” (disproportionate), we mean that they look too big or too small compared to the other things, in this case, on the figure. When something is “disproportionate,” it is bigger than it should be. For example, if you draw someone’s face and you make the nose five times bigger than the eyes, we would say the nose is disproportionate to the eyes – it’s too big compared to the size of the eyes. “Dis” (dis) here means “not.” So, “disproportionate” means not proportionate.

The earlobes, then, are not the right size compared to the other facial features. “Facial (facial) features” are the parts of your face that are used to, basically, identify you – the parts of your face that make you look the way you do. So, your eyes, your nose, your mouth, your eyebrows – which are the lines of hair above your eyes – all of these would be considered “facial features.”

Nadir says, “That’s why I made the forehead and chin bigger, so no one will notice those ears.” The “forehead” (forehead) is the part of the head that is above your eyebrows and below where your hair begins – below the top of your head, if you will. It’s the flat part of your face above your eyes. The “chin” (chin) is the part of your face that is below your mouth and above your neck, formed by your “jaw” (jaw), which is where you find your teeth. That bottom part of your face, then, is called your chin. Many men, for example, grow beards that cover their chins. I don’t have a beard. Maybe I should get a beard – a beard and earrings. Yeah. Why not?

Sonia continues, “But his legs look really thin on top and thick on the bottom, with kneecaps that stick out.” Your legs connect your feet to the rest of your body, we could say. You have two of them. “Kneecaps” (kneecaps) are small round bones found in the middle of your leg towards the front of the leg, above your “knee,” which is the part of the leg that bends. You could think of it as the part of the leg that connects the top part with the bottom part. On your arms, you have what’s called an “elbow” (elbow), which connects the top part of your arm to the bottom part of your arm.

Sonia says that George Washington’s legs are “thin on top and thick on the bottom.” “Thin” is the opposite of “thick.” “Thin” would be very narrow, and “thick,” in this case, would be very wide. Nadir says, “I’ll put pants on him, so no one will see those either.” Sonia says, “So, it won’t matter if he’s anatomically correct, right?” “Anatomically” comes from the word “anatomy” (anatomy), which is the study of the human body, the physical aspects of the human body.

“Anatomically” refers to the parts of the body, the physical nature of your body. It could be a human body. It could be a body of an animal. To say something is “anatomically correct” means that it is just like a real body. We would use this in describing perhaps a painting or, in this case, a life-size figure where it’s supposed to represent exactly what the body contains. That’s why Sonia is saying that it won’t matter if George is not anatomically correct. Nadir says, “Yes, that’s correct” – that’s right.

Sonia says, “Good thing this isn’t for science class!” Sonia says “good thing,” meaning it is a good thing, or it is fortunate, that this isn’t for science class. In a science class, of course, you would want the figure to be anatomically correct so that you know the student understands the different parts of the body and where they go and how big they are.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Sonia: What in the world is that?!

Nadir: It’s a life-size figure of George Washington. It’s for Leon’s school project.

Sonia: Then why are you making it?

Nadir: I’m not. I’m just helping him.

Sonia: Uh-huh. Why does George Washington have really big hands and flat palms?

Nadir: He cut down the family’s cherry tree. Remember? He probably needed big hands to do that.

Sonia: And why does he have little tiny feet with six toes on each foot and no ankles?

Nadir: I made a little mistake with those, but they’ll be covered up with shoes, so no one will see them.

Sonia: And why is George’s head shaped like an egg? His ears are lopsided and his earlobes are disproportionate to his other facial features.

Nadir: That’s why I made the forehead and chin bigger, so no one will notice those ears. We’ll probably put a hat on him anyway.

Sonia: But his legs look really thin on top and thick on the bottom, with kneecaps that stick out.

Nadir: I’ll put pants on him, so no one will see those either.

Sonia: So it won’t matter if he’s not anatomically correct, right?

Nadir: Right.

Sonia: Good thing this isn’t for science class!

[end of dialogue]

Our scriptwriter uses her 10 fingers to type out the wonderful scripts that we listen to here. Thank you, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary

life-size figure – a statue or another three-dimensional object made to be the same size as the person or animal it represents

* The store uses life-size figures of celebrities to try to attract shoppers.

hand – the part of the body below the wrist; the part of the body that has five fingers, as well as the square-shaped area the fingers are attached to

* At the beginning of the interview, be sure to make eye contact and shake hands.

palm – the inner square-shaped area between one’s wrist and fingers; the front side of one’s hands, excluding the fingers

* Mariah says she knows how to read palms, but I don’t believe she can really know my future just by looking at the lines on my palms.

feet – the part of the body that one walks on; the part of the body below the ankle

* The kids’ feet are growing really quickly, so we need to buy some bigger shoes for them.

toe – the first of the five finger-like parts on each foot

* These high-heeled shoes are pinching my toes, so they’re really uncomfortable.

ankle – the part of the body between one’s leg and one’s foot; the part of the body that allows one to move one’s foot

* It’s hard to walk in ski boots because they don’t allow the ankle to bend.

head – the part of the body above the neck

* Watch out! Those arches are really low, so be careful not to hit your head!

ear – one of the two round or oval shapes on the side of the head, used to capture sounds to hear

* Ollie bought some special headphones that will stay on his ears while he runs.

lopsided – uneven; with one end longer than the other

* Meghan tries to cut her sons’ hair, but it usually ends up being lopsided.

earlobe – the small piece of material at the base of the ear, where women often have a small hole pierced for wearing earrings

* Kashira wants to pierce her earlobes, but her parents won’t let her do it until she’s 15.

disproportionate – not made to the same scale as something else; much larger or smaller than something should be as compared to other things

* When Pete refused to say “thank you,” his mother sent him to his room for the rest of the day. Doesn’t that seem like a disproportionate punishment?

facial feature – elements on a face that define how one appears to other people, such as the nose, chin, eyebrows, cheekbones, and eyes

* The police asked the victim to try to describe any identifying facial features of the man who had attacked her.

forehead – the section of skin above one’s eyebrows and below the hairline

* Takayushi placed his hand on his wife’s forehead to see if she had a fever.

chin – the part of the face below one’s mouth and above one’s neck

* Have you been eating a hot dog? It looks like you have some ketchup and mustard on your chin.

leg – one of the two long body parts that one uses to stand and walk

* Shawn has really long legs, so he’s uncomfortable sitting in most airplane seats and movie theaters.

kneecap – the round bone found in the middle and toward the front of the leg above the knee (the part of the leg that bends)

* Terry’s kneecap was dislocated in a skiing accident.

anatomically correct – with the parts of the body placed where they should be and with the proper sizes, especially when talking about art

* Many dolls made for girls are not anatomically correct.

Comprehension Questions
1. Where are one’s toes?
a) On the hands
b) On the feet
c) On the ankles

2. Which of these is a facial feature?
a) The head
b) Palms
c) Nose

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
palm

The word “palm,” in this podcast, means the inner, square-shaped area between one’s wrist and fingers, or the front side of one’s hands: “When I’m nervous, my palms get sweaty.” The phrase “to have (someone) in the palm of (one’s) hand” means to have complete control over someone: “I don’t trust that woman. She seems to have your brother in the palm of her hand.” The phrase “to grease (someone’s) palm” means to bribe someone, or to give someone money so that he or she will do something: “The journalist is writing a story about how a construction company greased the palm of the mayor.” Finally, a “palm tree” is a tree that grows in warm, sunny areas: “I love seeing all the palm trees in California.”

chin

In this podcast, the word “chin” means the part of the face below one’s mouth and above one’s neck: “It looks like you missed a spot on your chin when you shaved this morning.” Or, “Why do people rub their chin when they’re thinking hard about something?” The phrase “keep your chin up” is used to encourage someone and give someone confidence to do something that is difficult or unpleasant: “Yes, this medication makes you feel awful, but keep your chin up and you’ll be cured soon.” Finally, a “chin-up” is an exercise where one hangs from a bar and pulls up the body until the chin is over the bar: “Wow, your arms are huge! Have you been doing chin-ups at the gym?”

Culture Note
George Washington's Wooden Dentures

There are many “pervasive” (known by many people) “myths” (things that are generally believed to be true by most people, but actually are not true) about America’s “founding fathers” (the men who helped create the United States’ Constitution) and important political leaders. Some of those myths relate to the individuals’ physical appearance.

For example, the first president of the United States, George Washington, “is said to” (people say that something is true) have used wooden “dentures” (artificial teeth, used to chew food and improve one’s appearance when one’s own teeth are not present). In fact, “historians” (people who study the past) believe that George Washington “indeed” (in truth; in reality) wore dentures, but they were not wooden. They believe he had many “dental” (related to teeth) problems and had several sets of dentures made from “ivory” (a white, rock-like substance found in elephants’ “tusks” (body parts like horns)), gold, and lead.

Apparently George Washington’s teeth became “stained” (with marks that cannot be removed) and “discolored” (with a changed, dirty color) over time due to the wine he drank and a lack of cleaning, and they may have seemed to be wooden. But why does the myth of the wooden dentures “persist” (continue to exist)? Some people believe it is because they “point to” (emphasize) the first president’s “frailty” (ability to be hurt or injured) and human nature. And others believe that the myth persists because it reminds people that George Washington “sacrificed” (gave up) his health in some ways in order to serve the new country.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - c