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1015 Conducting a Search

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,015 – Conducting a Search.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,015. 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 become a member of ESL Podcast and download the Learning Guide for this episode. What is the Learning Guide? Well, I’m glad you asked. Our Learning Guide contains a complete transcript of everything we say on this podcast, in addition to a vocabulary list, definitions, sample sentences, additional cultural information, and a whole lot more.

This episode is a dialogue about someone who is looking for something – someone who is conducting a search. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Security Chief: Okay, people. We’ve just had a report of a missing child on this property. We need to find him fast. I want you two to search every room in this building. Look in every nook and cranny.

Ramona: Excuse me, may I ask a question?

Security Chief: You can when I’m done. Now you two, I want you to look all over the grounds. Make sure you check in the undergrowth and in the trees, and cover the entire terrain.

Ramona: Do you mind if I ask . . .?

Security Chief: I’ll stay here to coordinate the search. Report in if you see anything that could point us in the right direction.

Ramona: I really think I should tell you . . .

Security Chief: Don’t interrupt, please. The rest of you: Spread out and look in the parking lot and behind the buildings. Look high and low. We’ll search this place from top to bottom and leave no stone unturned. Now, are there any questions?

Ramona: Yes, is the little boy about five years old with brown hair and glasses?

Security Chief: Yes, that’s right. How did you know?

Ramona: Don’t look now, but he’s just about to walk off with your Taser!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with the head of security (the security chief, the person in charge of “security” – keeping people safe) saying to Ramona, “Okay, people. We’ve just had a report of a missing child on this property. We need to find him fast. I want you two to search every room in this building. Look in every nook and cranny.” The security chief is talking to the people who work for him, we’re guessing.

He’s talking about a missing child. A “missing child” would be a child who is not where he should be. Anything that is missing is not where it should be – not in the location where we expect it to be. If it’s missing, we can’t find it. In this case, they can’t find this child. The security chief tells the people there to “search,” or look in, “every room in this building.”

“Look in every nook and cranny,” he says. “Every nook (nook) and cranny (cranny)” is an old expression that means look in every little place, even though you may think it’s too small or not important. To look in every nook and cranny is to be very thorough – to look in every possible place. Ramona says, “Excuse me, may I ask a question?” The security chief says, “You can when I’m done,” meaning when I finish talking, then you can ask your question.

The security chief goes on and says, “Now you two, I want you to look all over the grounds.” The word “grounds” (grounds) refers to the land that a group of buildings is on. It’s used to refer to the property of some, usually, organization or company. It’s often used to describe a larger piece of property. You wouldn’t usually talk about the land around your small house, for example, as the grounds of your property. It’s normally used to describe a larger piece of property on which there are several different buildings.

The security chief says, “Make sure you check in the undergrowth and in the trees, and cover the entire terrain.” The “undergrowth” is the group of small plants that often grow close to the ground, usually underneath much taller trees. The security chief is telling them to look or to check in the undergrowth because this perhaps is a small child who might be hiding there. He tells them to “cover the entire terrain.” “To cover” the terrain means to go and walk or look in the entire terrain. “Terrain” (terrain) refers to the land. It’s similar to the word “grounds” in this instance.

Ramona says, “Do you mind if I ask . . .?” She wants to ask a question, but again the security chief doesn’t let her. He says, “I’ll stay here to coordinate the search.” “To coordinate” (coordinate) means to organize and plan something, usually something involving the work of a group of people.

The security chief says, “Report in if you see anything that could point us in the right direction.” “To report in” is a phrasal verb meaning to give someone an update on where you are or what you’re doing. A police officer who is out looking for someone might report in every hour and tell his boss what he has found or where he is.

“To point someone in the right direction” is to give someone an idea of where to go or how to do something – to give someone advice or guidance, we might say, about how either to arrive at a certain place or how to do something. It can be used to refer to actually giving someone a direction in the physical sense – you’re telling the person where to go in order to arrive at a certain place. More generally, though, it’s used to talk about giving some information to someone that will help them accomplish some task, to do something. In this case, it would be to help them find the child.

Ramona says, “I really think I should tell you . . .,” but the security chief again doesn’t let poor Ramona talk. He says, in fact, “Don’t interrupt.” “Don’t interrupt” means don’t stop me from talking while I am still talking. This chief says, “The rest of you spread out and look in the parking lot and behind the buildings.” The phrasal verb “to spread (spread) out” means for a group of people to go in different directions so that together they can cover or search a larger area.

If there are five people who are trying to find the child, it doesn’t make any sense for all five people to stay together. Instead, they should spread out. They should separate so that they can look over a larger area more quickly. The security chief tells them to “look high and low.” This is a phrase we use when giving instructions to indicate that someone should look everywhere. It’s similar to the previous expression, “to look in every nook and cranny.” “To look high and low” means to look everywhere.

The security chief says, “We’ll search this place from top to bottom and leave no stone unturned. Now, are there any questions?” The expressions “from top to bottom” and “to leave no stone (stone) unturned” are quite similar to looking “high and low” or looking in “every nook and cranny.” It means to look everywhere. From “top” – from the very highest point – to “bottom,” the very lowest point.

If you’re leaving “no stone unturned,” you are looking perhaps literally under every rock. The word “stone” here means rock. “To leave no stone unturned” means that you are leaving no stone that hasn’t been looked under, that you haven’t turned over in order to look underneath. All these expressions mean to look very thoroughly, to look everywhere possible. Ramona finally gets a chance to ask her question. She says, “Yes, is the little boy about five years old with brown hair and glasses?” She’s asking about the description of the boy, what he looks like.

The security chief says, “Yes, that’s right. How did you know?” Ramona then says, “Don’t look now, but he’s just about to walk off with your Taser.” The expression “Don’t look now” is used to mean the same as “Surprise,” or “Guess what just happened.” It’s used to tell someone that you are about to give them some unexpected information, some information that the other person – if he had been more observant, if he had been paying attention – should have seen for himself. It can also be used, however, just to refer to surprising or startling information that you are about to tell someone.

Ramona says, “Don’t look now, but” this little boy “is just about to walk off with” – meaning to take and to leave with – “your Taser.” A “Taser” (Taser) is a weapon sometimes used by police that produces an electric shock that causes pain and prevents the person temporarily from moving. So, what happens here is that the security chief is so busy organizing the search for the little boy, that he doesn’t realize the little boy is right there and is about to walk off with one of the weapons of the security chief – which, of course, would be rather dangerous.

This script reminds me of a story I read not too long ago about a woman who was part of some tour group. When the tour group was about to leave, the leader of the tour group didn’t see the woman, and so they started to search for the woman. Now, the woman herself didn’t realize who they were searching for, and so she started basically searching for herself. It was only after several hours did she realize that the group was searching for her. She apparently had changed her clothing or something. I don’t know.

Anyway, I don’t know if that story is true or not – that’s what I read in the newspaper, but don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper.

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

[start of dialogue]

Security Chief: Okay, people. We’ve just had a report of a missing child on this property. We need to find him fast. I want you two to search every room in this building. Look in every nook and cranny.

Ramona: Excuse me, may I ask a question?

Security Chief: You can when I’m done. Now you two, I want you to look all over the grounds. Make sure you check in the undergrowth and in the trees, and cover the entire terrain.

Ramona: Do you mind if I ask . . .?

Security Chief: I’ll stay here to coordinate the search. Report in if you see anything that could point us in the right direction.

Ramona: I really think I should tell you . . .

Security Chief: Don’t interrupt, please. The rest of you: Spread out and look in the parking lot and behind the buildings. Look high and low. We’ll search this place from top to bottom and leave no stone unturned. Now, are there any questions?

Ramona: Yes, is the little boy about five years old with brown hair and glasses?

Security Chief: Yes, that’s right. How did you know?

Ramona: Don’t look now, but he’s just about to walk off with your Taser!

[end of dialogue]

There’s no need search for the scriptwriter of today’s script – she’s right here, and her name is 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
security chief – a person whose job is to lead others in protecting a building or place, making sure that only authorized people enter and that nothing dangerous happens

* The security chief asked everyone to put their hands in the air and to be quiet.

missing – with an unknown location; not present; not where someone or something should be

* This poster shows the photos of children who have been missing for more than three months.

to search – to look in all parts of a building or area in order to find someone or something whose location is unknown

* We’ve searched the entire house, but we still can’t find your car keys.

every nook and cranny – all tiny spaces that might be overlooked or not noticed

* Every nook and cranny in that house is filled with souvenirs from their overseas vacations.

grounds – the land that a group of buildings is on; the land belonging to a particular organization, as well as all the buildings on that land

* Each spring, the church hides Easter eggs on the grounds and invites children from the community to look for them.

undergrowth – small plants that grow close to the ground underneath much taller trees

* The undergrowth is filled with ferns, moss, and other plants that grow well in the shade.

terrain – land, especially with reference to its physical features

* The hike covers some rough, rocky terrain, so be sure to wear good hiking boots.

to coordinate – to organize and plan something, usually with other people; to make arrangements for something to happen

* Becca is working on the decorations and Yukio is working on setting up the band, but who is going to coordinate the arrival of the guests?

to report in – to give someone a status update; to let a designated leader or coordinator know what is happening

* The search-and-rescue teams are supposed to report in by radio every hour.

to point (one) in the right direction – to give someone an idea of where to go or how to do something; to provide guidance or advice to someone

* I need to find some information about car repair. Could you please point me in the right direction?

to spread out – for a group of people to go in different directions so that, together, they cover a larger area

* The director told the actors to spread out and use the entire stage, not just the center section.

high and low – a phrase used when giving instructions, telling someone to do something in all parts, especially above and below where one would normally look

* The librarian helped us search high and low for the book, but we couldn’t find it.

from top to bottom – in all places, without leaving any part unsearched or unexamined; thoroughly

* The mechanic examined the car from top to bottom, but couldn’t figure out the cause of the strange noise.

to leave no stone unturned – to do everything possible to find something; to search in every possible place, not leaving anything unexamined

* The detective promised to leave no stone unturned in his search for the murderer.

don’t look now – a phrase meaning “surprise” or “guess what just happened,” used to tell someone that one is about to present some unexpected information

* Don’t look now, but your ex-boyfriend just walked into the restaurant.

Taser – a weapon, often used by police, that produces an electric shock to cause pain and/or temporarily cause a person to be unable to move

* The police officer was suspended for using a Taser on animals that were not dangerous or threatening.

Comprehension Questions
1. What does the security chief mean when he says “spread out”?
a) He wants the officers to stay together for safety.
b) He wants the officers to move away from each other so they can cover a larger area.
c) He wants the officers to shout as loudly as possible when they call the missing boy’s name.

2. What does Ramona mean when she says that the boy is “about to walk off with your Taser”?
a) The boy is going to be arrested.
b) The boy is going to take the police officer’s weapon.
c) The boy is going to steal the police car.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to report in

The phrase “to report in,” in this podcast, means to give someone a status update, or to let a designated leader or coordinator know what is happening: “The new vice-president of sales gives employees a lot of independence as long as they report in at least once a week.” The phrase “to report sick” means to call one’s employer and say that one will not go to work because one is ill: “Shelby reported sick three times last week. I hope it isn’t serious.” The phrase “to report to (someone)” means to be managed by someone at work: “As the Communications Officer, you’ll report to the Communications Director.” Finally, the phrase “to report for duty” means to arrive and be ready to work: “You’re hired! Please report for duty at 8:30 on Monday morning.”

don't look now

In this podcast, the phrase “don’t look now” means “surprise” or “guess what just happened” and is used to tell someone that one is about to present some unexpected information: “Don’t look now, but I think the pie is burning.” The phrase “to look the other way” means to ignore something bad that is happening: “Psychologists are trying to understand why so many people choose to look the other way when they see a crime being committed.” Finally, the phrase “look before you leap” is used to tell someone to stop and think clearly about the dangers or risks before doing something: “It’s important to look before you leap by learning as much as you can about the company before accepting the job offer.”

Culture Note
The FBI Victims Identification Project and The Charley Project

The FBI Victims Identification Project, sometimes referred to as “VICTIMS” is a research project of the “FBI” (Federal Bureau of Investigation; the main U.S. government agency responsible for investigating crimes). VICTIMS is creating a national “database” (an organized way of storing large amounts of electronic information) of all the “records” (information that is being saved) of “unidentified” (not knowing what something is and/or who it belongs to) “human remains” (parts of human bodies of those who have died). Many other groups across the nation are trying to identify human remains, but VICTIMS is the only effort to “tackle the problem” (find a solution) at a national level.

The Victims Identification Project asks other government agencies to enter information into their “master” (overall; bigger and greater than others) database. Each record may contain information about the “case” (the situation or circumstances under which the remains were found), biological information, “facial reconstructions” (educated guesses about what the face looked like based on the “skull” (bones of the head)), “dental” (teeth) information, and more.

An unrelated effort, called The Charley Project, “publicizes” (shares information about) cases involving “missing persons” (people whose location and “status” (whether they are alive or dead) are unknown). The Charley Project is primarily a website that “profiles” (provides information about) missing persons with their “identifying characteristics” (physical characteristics describing someone’s appearance), photographs, and a description of the circumstances under which he or she disappeared.

The Charley Project does not investigate cases, and some people criticize it for “exploiting” (taking advantage of) the “victims” (people who are hurt by a crime) and their families by sharing information that the victims and families would prefer to “keep private” (not share with others).

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - b