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0978 Getting Access to Restricted Areas

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 978 – Getting Access to Restricted Areas.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 978. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is ESLPod.com. Go there and download a Learning Guide for this episode. You can do that after you become a member of ESL Podcast.

This episode is a dialogue between a security officer – someone who tries to guard things or prevent people from using things that they’re not supposed to – and Carl. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Security officer: Excuse me, sir, but this is a restricted area. Only authorized personnel are permitted.

Carl: I just want to take a quick look. Is this really where the president will be speaking?

Security officer: I can neither confirm nor deny that, sir. Please step aside.

Carl: What if I have press credentials? Could I get in then?

Security officer: Only if you’ve been screened by security. Really, sir, I must ask you to leave this area. It’s off-limits to you.

Carl: Couldn’t I just hang around and watch while people arrive? I won’t say a word.

Security officer: No, and if you persist, I’ll have to have you shown out.

Carl: I’m not causing any trouble. I’m an American citizen and this is a free country! I can stand wherever I want to.

Security officer: Not on private property. Jim, could you please escort this gentleman off the premises?

Carl: Hey, this is a travesty! I’m going to file a formal protest!

Security officer: You do that. Just do it off the premises.

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with a security officer talking to a man named Carl. “Security” (security) refers to safety or keeping things safe – making sure that secret things remain or stay secret. This is a “security officer,” a person whose job it is to protect a certain area. She says, “Excuse me, sir, but this is a restricted area.” Notice the use of the word “sir” (sir) here. “Sir” is a polite, formal way of talking to – or “addressing,” we might say – a man. If it were a woman, we might say “ma’am,” as in “Excuse me, ma’am.”

She says, “This is a restricted area.” Something that is “restricted” (restricted) is something – or in this case, an area – that only certain people are allowed to use or go into. “Only authorized personnel are permitted,” the security officer says. “To be authorized” (authorized) means to have permission to do something, to be able to do something because someone has told you you are able to do it. “Personnel” (personnel) is another word for employees, or people who work for a certain organization. “Authorized personnel” would be people in this organization that have permission to, in this case, go into a specific area. “Permitted” here means allowed.

“Only authorized personnel are permitted,” the security officer says. Carl says, “I just want to take a quick look. Is this really where the president will be speaking?” We’re not sure which president Carl is referring to, perhaps the president of the United States. The security officer says, “I can neither confirm nor deny that, sir. Please step aside.” This is a very formal expression. “To confirm or deny” means to say, “Yes, this is true” or “No, this isn’t true.” Government officials who are trying to keep something secret will sometimes use this expression, “I can neither confirm nor deny.” That means I cannot confirm and I cannot deny. I can’t say yes and I can’t say no.

The security officer asks Carl to “step aside,” meaning move from where you are standing right now. Usually, “step aside” means to move to the left or to the right to get out of someone’s way. Carl says, “What if I have press credentials?” “Press” (press) refers to newspapers, magazines, radio, and television stations, Internet websites – anyone or any organization that reports the news, that provides information to other people about some event. The word “credentials” (credentials) refers to badges or cards perhaps that indicate, in this case, that you are a journalist.

Usually, when you have a large public event where the media or the press want to report on the story, the members of the press – the “reporters” they are sometimes called – are given badges or pieces of paper that indicate that they have permission to be there. Carl wants to know if he could “get in” – if he could enter into this area – if he had press credentials. The security officer answers him by saying, “Only if you have been screened by security.” “To be screened” (screened) means to be examined or checked for something.

When you go to an airport, before you can go into the airport to get on your plane, you have to be screened. They have to look at you. Sometimes, they put you through a special machine to make sure that you’re not carrying anything dangerous. The word “security” in this sentence is a noun, not an adjective as it is in the term “security officer.” As a noun, “security” refers to the people who are responsible, in this case, for screening people, for checking – or investigating – on someone. Carl is told that he would need to be screened by security.

Then the security officer says, “Really, sir, I must ask you to leave this area.” The security officer is trying to be polite but very insistent with Carl. She says, “I must ask you” – I have to ask you now – “to leave this area.” She says, “It’s off-limits to you.” If something is “off-limits,” it is not allowed. It is not permitted. We often use that in talking about a physical area. A parent may tell his or her child that a certain area in the house is off-limits; they’re not allowed to go in there.

Carl, however, does not leave. He says instead, “Couldn’t I just hang around and watch while people arrive? I won’t say a word.” “To hang around” is a phrasal verb meaning to spend time in an area, either relaxing or not doing anything very important. It means to remain, however, in that area. “I’m going to hang around until my friend shows up” – until my friend arrives; I’m going to stay here until my friend arrives. The security officer tells Carl that he cannot hang around.

She says, “If you persist, I’ll have to have you shown out.” “To persist” (persist) means to continue to do something despite difficulties, even though it is hard to do it. Another way of saying this would be “to not give up” – to not stop doing what you’re doing. The security officer says, “If you persist,” meaning if you stay here, “I’ll have to have you shown out.” “To be shown (shown) out” is a polite way of saying to be made to leave, to have someone come and perhaps even physically remove you from an area where you are not supposed to be.

Carl says, “I’m not causing any trouble. I’m an American citizen and this is a free country! I can stand wherever I want to.” Carl says he’s an “American citizen.” A “citizen” is a person who is officially a member, if you will, of a country. Carl says, “This is a free country!” A “free country” would be a nation where people are allowed to do what they want, within certain limits. We use this expression in the United States here, often to simply refer to a situation where someone perhaps is trying to restrict our actions or tell us there are things that we cannot do that we believe we have the legal right to do.

So, if someone says, “Well, you can’t criticize the government,” you can say, “Well, yes, I can. It’s a free country.” “Free” here relates to freedom, not to the idea that something doesn’t cost any money. We sometimes use this expression jokingly, or in a way that indicates to another person that he can do whatever he wants – he doesn’t need your permission or approval to do what he wants.

So, if someone says, “Well, I’m going to go down to the beach and sit in the sun all day, even though I may get burned,” you can say, “Well, it’s a free country. Go ahead.” There’s a little bit of the idea there that you don’t agree with that or you don’t think that’s a good idea. You might even think it’s a stupid idea, but you say it to the person as a way of saying, “Well, if that’s your choice, then go ahead and do that.” Here, Carl is using the phrase more to say that he has a right to do this. The security officer says that he does not have a right. She says, “Not on private property.”

“Private property” is land or a building that belongs to someone other than the government. If it belongs to the government, it would be public property. The security officer says that Carl has no right to stand on private property unless he has permission. Then she turns to, or looks at, another security officer by the name of Jim and says, “Jim, could you please escort this gentleman off the premises.” “To escort” (escort) means to go with someone, “to accompany” someone, we might say. “Off the premises” (premises) means away from this particular area, away from this particular location.

Carl was not happy. He says, “Hey, this is a travesty!” A “travesty” (travesty) is something that is very bad, especially something that has not turned out how you expected it to turn out. Carl says, “I’m going to file a formal protest.” A “protest” (protest) here refers to a complaint. A “formal protest” would be an official complaint where you write a letter or you go talk to someone complaining about the way someone acted or someone behaved.

The security officer says, “You do that.” That expression “you do that,” said in that particular way, indicates to the person that you don’t really care what they do. You’re not concerned. Often we say this when someone threatens us or someone says they’re going to get us in trouble. “I’m going to talk to your brother and I’m going to tell him all the things you’ve done.” You could say, “Well, you do that.” You’re indicating that you don’t care about this and that you’re not frightened by this action.

The security officer says, “Just do it off the premises,” meaning file your complaint somewhere else – you have to leave this area, these premises.

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

[start of dialogue]

Security officer: Excuse me, sir, but this is a restricted area. Only authorized personnel are permitted.

Carl: I just want to take a quick look. Is this really where the president will be speaking?

Security officer: I can neither confirm nor deny that, sir. Please step aside.

Carl: What if I have press credentials? Could I get in then?

Security officer: Only if you’ve been screened by security. Really, sir, I must ask you to leave this area. It’s off-limits to you.

Carl: Couldn’t I just hang around and watch while people arrive? I won’t say a word.

Security officer: No, and if you persist, I’ll have to have you shown out.

Carl: I’m not causing any trouble. I’m an American citizen and this is a free country! I can stand wherever I want to.

Security officer: Not on private property. Jim, could you please escort this gentleman off the premises?

Carl: Hey, this is a travesty! I’m going to file a formal protest!

Security officer: You do that. Just do it off the premises.

[end of dialogue]

I can confirm that our scriptwriter is, in fact, Lucy Tse. Thank you, Lucy, for your hard work.

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
restricted area – an area where only certain people are allowed; an area that is closed to the general public

* Shouldn’t a nuclear power plant be a restricted area?

authorized personnel – people who are allowed to have or do something; people who meet the qualifications for having access to something

* Only authorized personnel can sign checks for the company.

permitted – allowed; with permission to do something

* Hunting and fishing are not permitted in this natural area.

to neither confirm nor deny – to not be able to say yes or no; to not be willing to provide any information about something

* I can neither confirm nor deny whether the company is going to close this factory. You’ll have to wait for the big announcement tomorrow.

press credentials – a badge or a small piece of paper that indicates one is a journalist or reporter and should be given access to certain individuals or events

* Even with press credentials, it’s almost impossible to go backstage to meet the musicians after the concert.

to be screened – to be tested against certain criteria; to be examined or checked for something

* All suitcases and handbags must be screened by airport security before entering the terminal.

security – the people or department responsible for maintaining safety and order in a particular area

* The building has full-time security to make sure that only employees come in and out of the area.

off-limits – not allowed; not permitted

* Wendy is on a strict diet, so all candies and cookies are off-limits.

to persist – to continue to do something despite difficulties or limitations; to not give up

* Hank persisted in asking Gloria out for weeks until she finally said yes.

to be shown out – to be made to leave, especially against one’s will, by someone who accompanies one to the exit

* Please pack up your personal belongings. The security guard will show you out of the building.

citizen – a person who belongs to a certain country and has certain rights and privileges there, such as voting and applying for a passport

* What is the process for becoming a U.S. citizen?

a free country – a nation where people are allowed to do what they want to do without significant control by the government; a reference to the United States

* Hey, you can’t tell us what we can and cannot print in the newspaper. It’s a free country!

private property – land or a building owned by an individual, a group, or a business, not by the government; not public property

* The school is public, but it was built on private property and the government pays the landowner thousands of dollars each year to use the land.

to escort – to accompany someone; to be next to someone and guide or lead that person somewhere

* Would you please escort Mr. Limparis to Jean’s office?

off the premises – away from a particular building or location

* This is top-secret work. No one is allowed to talk about any of this off the premises.

travesty – something that is very bad and is not what it should be, or is not how one expected it to be

* Letting a murderer go instead of putting her in prison is a travesty!

formal protest – an official complaint about something, especially if presented to the government

* The tax rate is too high. We should file a formal protest about it and demand lower taxes.

Comprehension Questions
1. Who is allowed into the restricted area?
a) Employees with special permission
b) Members of the press
c) Citizens of the United States

2. What does the security officer want Jim to do?
a) She wants Jim to take Carl to the exit.
b) She wants Jim to arrest Carl.
c) She wants Jim to give Carl a tour of the restricted area.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to be screened

The phrase “to be screened,” in this podcast, means to be tested against certain criteria, or to be examined or checked for something: “All the children were screened for head lice.” When talking about medicine and healthcare, “to be screened” means to be tested to determine whether someone has a particular disease: “How often should women be screened for breast cancer?” When talking about movies, “to be screened” means to be shown in a theater: “Will you go see the movie when it’s screened, or will you wait until it comes out on DVD?” Finally, the phrase “to screen calls” means to identify callers and answer only those calls that are most important or interesting: “As an executive assistant, one of Jake’s most important responsibilities is to screen calls for his boss.”

to be shown out

In this podcast, the phrase “to be shown out” means to be made to leave, especially against one’s will, by someone who accompanies one to the exit: “If you keep yelling at the other customers, you’re going to get shown out of the bar!” The phrase “to be shown to be” means to be proven or demonstrated to have certain characteristics: “The medication has been shown to be ineffective in children under the age of three.” The phrase “to show up” means to arrive: “The guests should show up around 6:30.” Finally, the phrase “to be shown up” means to make someone feel inferior, less important, or embarrassed because someone else is better: “We worked hard on our presentation, but we were really shown up by the other team.”

Culture Note
Press Passes

A “press pass” is a card, often worn on a string around the neck, that gives special “privileges” (the right or opportunity to do something that few people can do) to a journalist, reporter, or photographer. Press passes are generally given out by “entities” (organizations, businesses, or agencies) or event organizers.

Sometimes “law-enforcement agencies” (government departments that enforce the law, including police departments) give out press passes so that journalists can “cross” (go past) “police lines” (lines that police officers create to prevent people from crossing so that they can conduct an investigation). This access allows journalists to report on “breaking news” (stories that are still happening), as long as the “emergency response personnel” (police, firefighters, and other people who respond in emergencies) do not believe that access by the press will “hinder” (make more difficult) their work.

“Event organizers” (people who make arrangements for events) often “issue” (give out) press passes to media representatives, because they want to “secure” (get; make sure they have) “press coverage (stories in the news about the event). The best way they can do that is to make sure that reporters have full access to the most interesting parts of the event. Event organizers also give reporters “press kits” or “press packets,” which are usually a folder filled with additional information about the event and the organizers.

“News agencies” (groups of reporters) also issue “press cards” to their reporters. The press cards are more like identification documents. Reporters can show their press cards to “demonstrate” (show) that they are journalists and hopefully get better access to interviewees and information related to news stories.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - a