Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

1064 Spotting Trends

访问量:
Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,064 – Spotting Trends.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,064. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California. Visit our website at ESLPod.com.

Become a member of ESL Podcast and download the Learning Guide for this episode. This episode is a dialogue between Heidi and Tim about understanding the way things are changing in the world by spotting trends. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Heidi: You look very relaxed reading magazines in the middle of the workday.

Tim: It’s my job. I’m tasked with spotting new trends.

Heidi: And you do that by reading magazines with your feet up?

Tim: Why not? I also frequent places where hipsters hang out, listening to their conversations and observing what they’re wearing, eating, drinking, and doing.

Heidi: That doesn’t sound too onerous.

Tim: It’s all about finding the trendsetters, the people who are beta testers and early adopters. These are also the bellwethers for when a trend has run its course.

Heidi: Can’t you just see what people are buying?

Tim: By then, it’s too late. Those are people who are jumping on the bandwagon, not the movers and shakers.

Heidi: Well, don’t look at me. I lag behind every trend and don’t have any idea what’s in or out.

Tim: Luckily, you have me to tell you. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your choice of footwear . . .

[end of dialogue]

Heidi begins our dialogue by saying to Tim, “You look very relaxed reading magazines in the middle of the workday.” Heidi is saying to Tim that he seems very relaxed, very calm, but you can kind of guess that she’s wondering why Tim is reading a magazine instead of working. That’s why she says “in the middle of the workday.” The “workday” is a day that you would normally expect to work. For most of us, that’s Monday through Friday.

Tim says, however, “It’s my job” – in other words, reading magazines is his work. He says, “I’m tasked with spotting new trends.” A couple of interesting words and phrases there. Let’s start with the verb “to be tasked (tasked) with” something. “To be tasked with” something is a phrasal verb meaning to be given the job to do something or, more generally, to be responsible for something, for doing something. You could say, “I’m tasked with getting milk at the store,” meaning someone told you (probably your wife) to get some more milk at the store – or cheese, or butter, or meat, or chicken, or whatever.

The verb “to spot” (spot) means to identify something, especially something that might be difficult to see or to find. A “trend” (trend) is something that has become popular recently. We often talk about “trends” on the Internet – things that people are doing now. This is especially popular with young people. Trends in fashion, trends in music – what’s popular now or what has been popular recently. Those are all trends.

Heidi says, “And you do that,” meaning you spot new trends, “by reading magazines with your feet up?” “With your feet up” means just what it says. You are putting your feet up on a chair or on your desk as a way of relaxing. Some people like to put their feet up when they relax. In general, the expression “to put your feet up” means to relax, be calm, not work too hard. Heidi is saying that Tim doesn’t look like he’s working very hard.

Tim says, however, “Why not?” meaning “Why not put my feet up?” “I also frequent places where hipsters hang out, listening to their conversations and observing what they’re wearing, eating, drinking, and doing.” Tim then gives us some other things he does to spot new trends. He frequents places. “To frequent” (frequent) as a verb means to go somewhere often or regularly, especially as a customer. “I frequent my local Starbucks.” That means I go there often as a customer.

Tim says he frequents “places where hipsters hang out.” A “hipster” (hipster) is usually a young person who follows all the latest trends, all the latest fashions, especially when we’re talking about clothing or food or even ideas. Here in Los Angeles, we have lots of young hipsters – people who listen to the most popular music or eat at the most popular restaurants and think in general that they’re pretty cool. That’s a hipster.

Tim is going to “places where hipsters hang out.” “To hang (hang) out” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning to spend time with others, or at a certain place having fun, but not really doing anything serious – certainly not working. Tim, then, frequents places where hipsters hang out and observes what they’re doing, what they’re wearing, what they’re drinking, and so forth. Heidi says, “That doesn’t sound too onerous” (onerous). “Onerous” is an adjective meaning difficult or challenging.

Tim says, “It’s all about finding the trendsetters, the people who are beta testers and early adopters.” A “trendsetter” is a person who starts trends or who has a lot of influence on other people around him. If you are a “trendsetter,” you are one of the first people to wear a certain kind of clothing or eat a certain kind of food – that would be a trendsetter, someone who’s influential. We also might call this person an “influencer,” although that has a broader meaning.

Tim also uses the word “beta (beta) tester (tester).” Technically, a beta tester is someone who tries new types of software before the software is ready for everyone else to try. That’s a beta tester. Sometimes when a company starts a new product – “launches,” we would say, a new kind of software – it will ask people to be beta testers, to test it and find any problems in the software. Here I think Tim is using this term more generally to mean people who are the first to try some new things, some new trend.

A “early adopter” (adopter) is a person who buys a new product right after it is available for purchase. An early adopter is a person who goes out and buys the newest iPhone or the newest computer as soon as it is made available for purchase, as soon as you can go and buy it. The early adopter “adopts,” or starts using, that new technology right away. You can see there is a relationship here between “trendsetter,” “beta tester,” and “early adopter.” All three terms relate to someone who does something before the general public does it.

Tim says, “These,” meaning, these people, “are also the bellwethers for when a trend has run its course.” A “bellwether” (bellwether) is a person or group or thing that indicates how something is changing or that predicts the future in some way. We might consider the word “bellwether” very similar to the word “predictor” – an indication of how things will turn out in the future. For example, college campuses and universities are often bellwethers of larger social change. The change starts at the university and then becomes more popular in other parts of society.

A “bellwether,” then, would be a person in this case who will indicate that there is some major or larger change that will take place in the future. If you’re a trendsetter – if you’re a person who is influential – when you change, that means that the rest of the world will change sometime in the future. So, looking at you can help us predict how things will change with other people in the future. The expression “to run its course” (course) means to end – to no longer be popular, in this case. When a trend has run its course, it is no longer popular. It is no longer something that people are doing.

Heidi says, “Can’t you just see what people are buying?” She’s wondering why Tim has to do all this research. Tim says, “By then,” meaning by the time people buy things, “it’s too late.” “Those are people who are jumping on the bandwagon, not the movers and shakers.” Tim is saying that it’s too late to wait and see what becomes popular in terms of the general public, the average person. You have to be able to see what will be popular in the near future.

He describes people who are not trendsetters as people who are “jumping on the bandwagon” (bandwagon). “To jump on the bandwagon” means to join something or to support something that is already popular. You’re not one of the first people to join it or to do it – you wait until everybody else starts doing it and then you start doing it. That’s “jumping on the bandwagon.” A “mover and shaker” is a person who is influential and powerful, especially someone in the business world. If you say someone is a mover and a shaker, you’re saying this person has a lot of power, has a lot of influence, in some particular area.

Heidi says, “Well, don’t look at me,” meaning don’t observe me for these trends. “I lag behind every trend.” “To lag (lag) behind” means to move more slowly than other people, to progress more slowly than everyone else. If someone is “lagging behind,” they are behind or less advanced than everyone around them. What Heidi is saying is that she doesn’t follow the latest trends. She lags behind. She will do something only after everyone else has already done it.

She says she has no idea “what’s in or out.” “In” would be something that is popular or cool. “Out” would be something that is not popular or not cool. Tim says, “Luckily, you have me to tell you,” meaning fortunately for you, I am doing that work, so I can tell you what’s in and out – what’s popular and not. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your choice of footwear.” “I’ve been meaning to talk to you” here means this is something that I have been wanting to tell you.

Tim wants to say something to Heidi about her footwear. “Footwear” (footwear) is what you wear on your feet. It refers to the kinds of shoes that you wear. We get the idea that Tim is about to tell Heidi that her shoes are no longer fashionable, or the style of her shoes is no longer “in,” but rather, “out.” That would probably describe everything that I wear. I’m definitely not a trendsetter. In fact, I just discovered this new rock band that you might have heard of already called the Beatles. Yeah. They’re really good.

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

[start of dialogue]

Heidi: You look very relaxed reading magazines in the middle of the workday.

Tim: It’s my job. I’m tasked with spotting new trends.

Heidi: And you do that by reading magazines with your feet up?

Tim: Why not? I also frequent places where hipsters hang out, listening to their conversations and observing what they’re wearing, eating, drinking, and doing.

Heidi: That doesn’t sound too onerous.

Tim: It’s all about finding the trendsetters, the people who are beta testers and early adopters. These are also the bellwethers for when a trend has run its course.

Heidi: Can’t you just see what people are buying?

Tim: By then, it’s too late. Those are people who are jumping on the bandwagon, not the movers and shakers.

Heidi: Well, don’t look at me. I lag behind every trend and don’t have any idea what’s in or out.

Tim: Luckily, you have me to tell you. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your choice of footwear . . .

[end of dialogue]

Our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse, spots all the latest trends in English and lets me know all about them.

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. This podcast is copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
tasked with – responsible for doing something; assigned with; given a particular task, job, or duty

* The bookkeeper is tasked with paying all our bills each month.

to spot – to identify something that may be difficult to see or find

* Biologists recently spotted a butterfly that they thought had been extinct for at least seven years.

trend – something that is becoming popular, especially among young people

* Some fashion trends are based on what celebrities wore to awards ceremonies in the previous year.

to frequent – to go somewhere often or regularly, especially to be a customer there

* Brennan frequents this restaurant and knows most of the waiters and waitresses by name.

hipster – a young person who follows all the latest trends, fashions, and fads, especially for clothing, food, and ideas

* Portland, Oregon is known for having a lot of hipsters who know all the new bands and eats at the most fashionable restaurants.

to hang out – to spend time with others, relaxing and having fun but without any real purpose

* Do you want to hang out at our place before the show starts?

onerous – very difficult and challenging; burdensome

* Why are tax forms so onerous to understand and to complete?

trendsetter – an influential person whose ideas, appearance, and actions are copied by many others because they are seen as cool, hip, and interesting

* Fashion magazines always report what the trendsetters are wearing.

beta tester – a person who uses a new types of software or a new technology device before it is available to the public in order to help the maker identify and correct problems before it is sold

* How many people were used as beta testers for these new headphones?

early adopter – a person who begins using a new technology very soon after it is made available, when most other people are waiting to see whether it is useful or beneficial and/or waiting for the price to decrease

* Camilo is an early adopter who always wants to buy the newest version of smart phones, ebook readers, and cameras as soon as they’re introduced.

bellwether – a person who leads something and/or shows what will happen

* Houghton is a bellwether of fashion within his local community.

to run its course – to continue naturally until something has ended

* Drink lots of fluids and get some rest while your cold runs its course.

to jump on the bandwagon – to join or support something that is popular and that many other people are doing

* Our company needs to jump on the bandwagon and start advertising using social media.

mover and shaker – a person who is influential and powerful, especially in business

* A lot of movers and shakers will be at this conference, so be sure to dress well and bring a lot of business cards for networking.

to lag behind – to follow someone or something, but at a distance; to move forward or progress more slowly than others

* Toward the end of the race, Quentin was really lagging behind.

in – popular, hip, cool, and admired by others

* Kim is asking her parents to buy a pair of those jeans that are in right now, but they just can’t afford to.

out – not popular, not hip, not cool, and not admired by others

* Those sweaters may have been popular last year, but now they’re out. Get rid of them.

to mean to – intend to do something; to want and plan to do something

* I meant to call you last week, but then I forgot.

footwear – shoes; anything worn on one’s feet

* Those high-heeled shoes are beautiful, but they aren’t appropriate footwear for sailing.

Comprehension Questions
1. What is a hipster?
a) Someone who follows new trends
b) Someone who lags behind every trend
c) Someone who likes to dance

2. What does Heidi mean when she says, “That doesn’t sound too onerous”?
a) She thinks his job sounds difficult.
b) She thinks his job sounds easy.
c) She thinks his job sounds unimportant.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to spot

The verb “to spot,” in this podcast, means to identify something that may be difficult to see or find: “We went to the marathon to cheer on Benny, but we couldn’t spot him among all the runners.” Or, “The paparazzi try to spot celebrities and take photos of them to sell to others.” The phrase “to be spotted” means to have many small round marks: “Cheetahs are easy to identify, because they are spotted.” A “spot check” is a review or examination of just a few things or people to conclude whether everything is correct or acceptable: “All the receptionist’s calls are recorded, but we spot check only about four percent of them for quality assurance.” Finally, the phrase “blind spot” describes something that one cannot see or understand: “Hank has a blind spot regarding his youngest son’s behavior.”

to lag behind

In this podcast, the phrase “to lag behind” means to follow someone or something, but at a distance, or to move forward or progress more slowly than others: “Why is that country’s economy lagging behind that of the rest of the continent?” Or, “When did our sales start lagging behind the competition?” The phrase “jet lag” refers to the feelings of tiredness and confusion that one feels after flying long distances due to the difference in time zones: “The exchange students may be tired their first night in your home, given the cultural differences and the jet lag they’re experiencing.” Finally, the phrase “time lag” refers to the period of time that passes between two events: “The Internet has really shortened the time lag between when events happen and when people become aware of them.”

Culture Note
Terms Stores Use for Different Categories of Clothing

In many “department stores” (large stores that sell clothing, footwear, accessories, makeup, and household items), large signs “direct” (indicate where to go) shoppers to the appropriate section of the store.

The “misses” section has “display racks” (standing units with metal bars that clothing hangs from for display) of clothing for average-sized women, and may include “professional attire” (suits and other clothing worn for work), “casual wear” (clothing worn outside of work), and “athletic wear” (clothing worn for exercise and other physical activities). A special “maternity” section sells clothing for women who are pregnant and need clothing with an “elastic” (stretchy; flexible) “waistband” (the piece of fabric at the top of a pair of pants or a skirt, that wraps around the waist). “Lingerie” (lacy, sexy clothing worn underneath other clothes) and underwear are sold in the “intimates” section.

Smaller women who have smaller bones may prefer to shop in the “petite” section, where the arms and legs of “garments” (pieces of clothing) are shorter. Larger women need to shop in the “women’s” section, where “plus size” (large clothing for people who are overweight or “obese” (extremely overweight)) clothing is sold.

Teenage girls and young women shop in the “juniors” department, where clothing is very fashionable and trendy, and the sizes are smaller than in the misses department. Younger children shop in the “children’s” or “kids” clothing sections of the store.

Men generally just shop in the “men’s” section, but very tall and/or very “heavy” (overweight) men may need to shop in the “big and tall” section where larger sizes are sold.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - b