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0994 Describing Accuracy and Inaccuracy

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 994 – Describing Accuracy and Inaccuracy.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 994. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Go to our website at ESLPod.com and become a member of ESL Podcast. When you do, you can download a Learning Guide for this episode. This episode is a dialogue about vocabulary we use to describe accuracy and inaccuracy. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Rona: This is impossible. I’m never going to hit the target. Why is it that I’m the only one in this archery class who has no aim?

Leonardo: You’re doing fine. I can tell you’re new to this. It takes some practice to develop any precision.

Rona: But you seem to be picking it up quickly.

Leonardo: I’m taking this class as a refresher. My father taught me the rudiments of archery when I was a kid, and I thought I would take it up again.

Rona: You’re really good. You’ve hit the bullseye three times already.

Leonardo: I’m using a much more forgiving bow than you are. If I aim for the target, I can usually get the arrow in the neighborhood of the bullseye.

Rona: You’re just trying to make me feel better. I’m hitting wide of the mark every time!

Leonardo: I think your arms are too tense and that tension is ruining your accuracy. Here, let me help you.

Rona: Watch out. With my aim, I could take you out.

Leonardo: I’ll take my chances.

[end of dialogue]

The topic of this episode is describing accuracy and inaccuracy. “Accuracy” (accuracy) can refer to whether something is true or correct. “Accuracy” is also used sometimes to refer to precision – whether something that you are trying to accomplish is done not only correctly, but precisely; that you are able, for example, to throw something and hit what you are trying to hit. If you hit it, you are being accurate. You are, in a sense, accomplishing what you are trying to accomplish. We see the latter use of that term “accuracy” in this dialogue. “Inaccuracy,” of course, would mean not accurate.

Rona starts by saying, “This is impossible. I’m never going to hit the target.” A “target” (target) is a person or thing that you are trying to hit. That’s why we are talking about accuracy in this dialogue, because we’re talking about trying to hit something for sport, as in part of a game. This is the sport of “archery” (archery). “Archery” is using what’s called a “bow” and “arrow” to hit a target.

The “bow” is usually a piece of metal or wood that has a string attached on the top and the bottom. You put a long, narrow piece of wood or metal in the string, and you pull the string back in order to shoot it. That long narrow thing is called the “arrow” (arrow). Archery is a sport that uses bows and arrows. In this dialogue, Rona asks, “Why is it I’m the only one in this archery class who has no aim?” She’s trying to make the arrow hit the target, but she says she has “no aim” (aim). “Aim” here is the ability to direct something such as an arrow so that it will hit your target.

Usually in archery the target is a series of circles, and you’re supposed to hit the middle circle in the center, and that is your goal. Rona says she doesn’t have very good aim. She isn’t able to direct the arrow so that it hits the target properly. Leonardo says, however, “You’re doing fine. I can tell you’re new to this. It takes some practice to develop any precision.” “Precision” (precision) is being able to be exact. Here, it’s just another word for accuracy.

Rona says, “But you seem to be picking it up quickly.” “To pick something up” is a phrasal verb which here means to learn how to do something. You can also pick something up literally, with your hand – you can put your hand down and pick up a pen, for example – but in this case, it means to learn something quickly.

Leonardo says, “I’m taking this class as a refresher.” A “refresher” is when you do something that you already have learned how to do, but need to be reminded again. You need to practice, perhaps, this skill some more. A refresher would be a class you take to remind you how to do the things you’ve already learned how to do. Leonardo says, “My father taught me the rudiments of archery when I was a kid, and I thought I would take it up again.” The “rudiments” (rudiments) of something are the basics of something, the basic skills to do something.

“To take something up” is to learn how to do something, to begin to learn how to do something. “To take up playing the piano,” for example, would be to learn how to play the piano, to start learning how to play the piano. So, “to take up” something is to start learning how to do something. “To pick up something quickly” is to learn something quickly. “To take up” emphasizes the fact that you’re just beginning to learn something, that you are starting to learn it.

Rona says to Leonardo, “You’re really good. You’ve hit the bullseye three times already.” A “bullseye” (bullseye) is the center of the target. Remember, I was talking about how targets in archery are usually circles, what we would call “concentric circles” – circles that go around other circles. Well, the center circle is the “bullseye.” Leonardo says, “I’m using a much more forgiving bow than you are.” The word “forgiving” here means that you can make more mistakes with it and it will still work okay; it will function properly even though you’re not great at using it.

Leonardo says, “If I aim for the target” – if I try to shoot at the target – “I can usually get the arrow in the neighborhood of the bullseye.” “In the neighborhood of” here means close to – not exactly on the target, not exactly where you want it to go, but close to there. Rona says, “You’re just trying to make me feel better” – you’re just trying to make me happier because I’m not very good at this.

She says, “I’m hitting wide of the mark every time.” The phrase “wide (wide) of the mark (mark)” means not close to where you are supposed to be, in this case, shooting the arrow. So, hitting it “wide of the mark” means not being very close at all. Leonardo says, “I think your arms are too tense and that tension is ruining your accuracy.” If you describe someone’s arms and legs as “tense” (tense), you mean that they’re very tight. Tense is the opposite of relaxed. “Accuracy,” we’ve already discussed, is precision.

Leonardo then offers to help Rona, and Rona says, “Watch out,” meaning be careful. “With my aim, I could take you out.” Rona is making a joke here. “To take someone out” here means to kill someone, to end someone’s life. Rona says, “With my aim” – since I’m such a bad shot, since I’m such a bad archer – I could kill you just by shooting my arrow. By accident, of course.

Leonardo, of course, is interested in Rona. He’s interested, in fact, in taking Rona out, but not in killing her – in taking her on a date. That’s interesting. I’ve never thought about the fact that we use that phrasal verb “to take out” to mean both to take someone on a romantic date and to kill someone. Interesting. There might be some relationship there. I don’t know.

Leonardo says at the end, “I’ll take my chances.” He again is joking. He says, “I’ll take my chances,” meaning I will do this even if it is risky and dangerous, because I want to help you – because, of course, he likes her.

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

[start of dialogue]

Rona: This is impossible. I’m never going to hit the target. Why is it that I’m the only one in this archery class who has no aim?

Leonardo: You’re doing fine. I can tell you’re new to this. It takes some practice to develop any precision.

Rona: But you seem to be picking it up quickly.

Leonardo: I’m taking this class as a refresher. My father taught me the rudiments of archery when I was a kid, and I thought I would take it up again.

Rona: You’re really good. You’ve hit the bullseye three times already.

Leonardo: I’m using a much more forgiving bow than you are. If I aim for the target, I can usually get the arrow in the neighborhood of the bullseye.

Rona: You’re just trying to make me feel better. I’m hitting wide of the mark every time!

Leonardo: I think your arms are too tense and that tension is ruining your accuracy. Here, let me help you.

Rona: Watch out. With my aim, I could take you out.

Leonardo: I’ll take my chances.

[end of dialogue]

Our thanks to Dr. Lucy Tse for her always-accurate scripts.

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
target – a person or a thing that one tries to hit, often during an attack

* The target of the military attack is the enemy’s headquarters.

archery – the sport or skill of using a weapon with a bow and arrow to hit a target

* Can you imagine using only archery skills to hunt for food to feed your family?

aim – the ability to direct a weapon or another thing toward a specific place or person

* Let’s see how well you can throw this baseball. Aim for that tree over there.

precision – accuracy; being able to be exact

* Gem cutters must have very good precision to produce perfect diamonds.

to pick (something) up – to learn how to do something, usually casually and not with a lot of study or effort; to become skilled in doing something

* How did you learn to speak Russian? Did you pick it up from your grandparents?

refresher – an activity that reminds one how to do something or updates one’s skills or knowledge

* Before taking the college entrance test, it’s a good idea to take a refresher course in math.

the rudiments of – the basic principles; the basic skills or knowledge of something

* Before becoming a chef, you’ll first need to learn the rudiments of basic cooking.

to take up – to begin to learn something; to start learning how to do something

* Johann took up the piano after he retired from his job.

bullseye – the center of a target used in sports such as archery and shooting

* After seven shots, none of the competitors had hit the bullseye.

forgiving – tolerant of mistakes; still functioning if one is not exact or precise

* This lawnmower is very forgiving and will cut grass well even if the land isn’t flat and there are a lot of bumps.

bow – a weapon used to shoot arrows, made with two curved pieces of wood joined by a strong and stretched string

* Until you build up muscles in your arms, try using a smaller bow.

arrow – a long, thin stick with one sharp end used as a weapon when shot from a bow

* The arrow hit and pierced his arm, causing him to drop his sword.

in the neighborhood of – near; close to; in the general area of

* We expect a lot of people to attend, in the neighborhood of 100.

wide of the mark – not close to hitting the intended place; not precise at all

* This client proposal is wide of the mark, not include most of the elements that the client asked for.

tense – for one’s muscles to be tight; not relaxed

* After a day of hard work, Emmanuel returned home tense and hungry.

accuracy – the ability to be exact, precise, or correct

* No one has been able to guess Lorenza’s age with any accuracy.

to take out – to kill someone; to end someone’s life

* The gangster hired a professional killer to take out his business competitor.

to take (one’s) chances – to do something risky or dangerous, with the hope of succeeding

* Everybody warned Peter that Julie doesn’t date anyone she works with, but he’s taking his chances and asking her out anyway.

Comprehension Questions
1. In archery, what do you want to hit?
a) The bullseye.
b) A refresher.
c) The rudiments.

2. Who is a better archer?
a) Rona
b) Leonardo
c) Rona and Leonardo are equally good.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
forgiving

The term “forgiving,” in this podcast, means tolerant of mistakes, or for something to still function even if one is not exact or precise: “These power tools are very forgiving and work well even if you’re using them for the first time.” “To forgive” means to stop being angry or feeling hateful toward someone who made a mistake or did something bad: “Will you ever be able to forgive your brother for stealing your girlfriend?” “To forgive” can also mean to cancel a debt, and for someone who owes you money or something else to no longer need to pay it back: “The government has a program that forgives student college loans if a university graduate works in low-income areas for three years.”

to take out

In this podcast, “to take out” is an informal phrasal verb meaning to kill someone or to end someone’s life: “In the movie, the killer took out six people before the police caught him.” “To take out” also means to take someone out on a date: “Who are you taking out this Saturday night?” “To take out (one’s) frustrations on (someone)” means to show or express one’s annoyed or upset feelings to someone who did not cause one’s problems: “Kaila works in a job she hates and for a boss she doesn’t like, so when she gets home, she often takes out her frustrations on her husband and children.” Finally, “to take out the trash” means to remove garbage from one’s home and place it outside, usually in a trash bin for removal: “One of my son’s chores around the house is to take out the trash when the garbage can is full.”

Culture Note
Saxton Pope

Saxton Pope, born in 1875, is known as the “father of” (person who started or created) modern bow hunting. His father, Benjamin Franklin Pope, was an army officer and a doctor, and because of this, Saxton Pope spent most of his childhood in military camps and “frontier towns” (a town or city close to the boundary between two countries, states, or regions), where he developed outdoor skills. As a “youngster” (child), he spent his days in the “woods” (area with a lot of trees and plants).

Despite this unusual childhood, Saxton Pope “followed in his father’s footsteps” (did the same thing his father had done) and attended medical school. He graduated in 1889 and became a “surgical instructor” (a teacher showing medical students how to open the body to repair it) in 1912.

In a “museum” (building where art or historical items are place so others can see them) located near the building where Pope taught, a member of the Yahi Indian tribe named Ishi was employed as a “janitor” (person whose job is to clean buildings). Ishi was brought to the museum to be studied by Professor T.T. Waterman of the University of California. Ishi had “very little immunity” (for the body to easily develop illnesses or diseases) to disease and had been in the hospital frequently. This is where Pope met Ishi and the two became very close friends. Ishi taught Pope the language of the Yahi tribe, their “folklore” (traditional customs and stories), and eventually, taught Pope how to make bows and arrows, and how to “hunt” (find and kill animals for food or sport), just as the Yahi tribe did. They two remained very close friends until Ishi’s death in 1916.

After Ishi’s death, Pope continued to develop his skills with the bow. Later in life, Saxton Pope wrote an “influential” (important; having a lot of impact) book called Hunting with the Bow and Arrow, which “remains in print” (continues to be printed and available for purchase). The Pope and Young Club, an organization “dedicated to” (existing for the purpose of) hunting with a bow is named after Pope and his friend and “fellow” (also like him) bow hunter, Arthur Young.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - b