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1122 Making Peace

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,122 – Making Peace.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,122. 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. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/eslpod, and follow us on Twitter at @eslpod, of course.

On this episode, we’re going to listen to a dialogue about two people trying to make peace – two countries trying to stop the disagreements between them. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Vladimir: We need a ceasefire. The violence is escalating and we need to put a stop to this.

Hilary: I agree, but do you think our enemies will agree to a truce?

Vladimir: They’re as embattled as we are. They may welcome a suspension of hostilities until we can agree on a peace treaty.

Hilary: I hate to think what their conditions will be for an armistice. This war has dragged on for so long.

Vladimir: I suspect they feel the same as we do. If we make a conciliatory gesture, I think they’ll respond in kind.

Hilary: Do you really think so? We won’t come off as weak?

Vladimir: I don’t think so. We’re taking the first step to peace. They’ll see that.

Hilary: If you say so. All right, let’s do it. This war with our neighbors is getting old. Do you want to bring them this fruitcake or should I?

Vladimir: I’ll take it, but first I’ll make sure their ugly, dirty, mean barking dog that wakes me up in the middle of the night is tied up. I don’t want to become a casualty while bringing them this peace offering!

[end of dialogue]

Vladimir begins our dialogue by saying to Hilary, “We need a ceasefire.” A “ceasefire” (ceasefire) is an agreement between two countries, two nations, or two groups to stop fighting against each other temporarily, for a little time. Sometimes there’s a ceasefire in order to try to end the war between two countries or two groups. Sometimes the ceasefire is for other reasons, but in any case, a ceasefire is when each side, each group, ceases to fire on the other.

That’s where we get the noun “ceasefire” – from the verb “to cease” (cease), which means to stop, and “to fire” (fire) which means to shoot a bullet at someone else from a gun. At least, that’s what it normally means in the context of a war. Vladimir says, “We need a cease fire. The violence is escalating and we need to put a stop to this.” “Violence” is physical behavior that is meant to hurt or even kill people, or to damage property, to damage things.

“To escalate” (escalate) means to quickly or suddenly increase something in size, value, or even importance. On the Internet nowadays, when you have a problem and you contact the company, if the first person you contact isn’t able to help you, sometimes that person will “escalate” your problem to a supervisor, to one of his or her bosses. So, we use the verb “to escalate” to mean to either increase something in size, or to increase the importance or to raise the importance of something. In some sort of battle, a conflict or war, “to escalate” would mean to increase the violence.

And that’s what Vladimir wants to avoid. He wants to put a stop to the violence. “To put a stop to” something means to end it. Hilary says, “I agree, but do you think our enemies will agree to a truce?” A “truce” (truce) is an agreement between two people, two groups, or two or more countries to stop fighting each other. It’s sort of like a ceasefire. A truce, though, is usually a signed agreement between two groups or two people, even – though normally we use it when we’re talking about two countries fighting each other.

Your “enemy” is the person you’re fighting against. It’s the opposite of your friend. Not your friend on Facebook – that’s a different thing. Vladimir says that their enemies (and notice that Vladimir and Hilary are “on the same side” – they’re with the same group) “are as embattled as we are.” “To be embattled” (embattled) means to be involved in a war or prepared for a war. The word comes from the noun “battle” (battle) which is a fight between two sides – two disagreeing groups or two countries that are fighting each other.

Vladimir says, “They,” meaning the enemy, “may welcome a suspension of hostilities until we can agree on a peace treaty.” A “suspension” (suspension) here means a period of time when you stop doing something. Here it would be a suspension of “hostilities” (hostilities). “Hostilities” are angry, possibly violent actions against your enemy. Vladimir says that we can suspend the hostilities – we can have a “suspension of hostilities until we can agree on a peace treaty.”

A “treaty” (treaty) is a written, formal agreement between two or more countries that are in some sort of war or fighting between or among the countries. So, a “peace treaty” would be a treaty that leads to peace. After the two great World Wars of the twentieth century, there were peace treaties among the countries who were fighting. Hilary says, “I hate to think what their conditions will be for an armistice.”

A “condition” is something that you have to agree to when you sign an agreement. Often in business English we’ll talk about “terms and conditions.” “Terms” refers to the meaning of things in the agreement, the definition of certain words or phrases in an agreement. “Conditions” are the things that you have to do in order to carry out or in order to be part of the agreement.

An “armistice” (armistice) is the same as a peace treaty or a truce. It’s an agreement to stop fighting. For many years in the United States, November 11th was celebrated as Armistice Day, in honor of the end of the fighting in World War I. We changed the name – now we call it “Veterans Day.” A “veteran” is a man or a woman who has fought in a war. Hilary says, “This war has dragged on for so long.” “So long” here means very long. “To drag (drag) on” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning to last a very long time.

Vladimir says, “I suspect they feel the same as we do. If we make a conciliatory gesture, I think they will respond in kind.” A “conciliatory (conciliatory) gesture (gesture)” is an attempt to make someone feel less angry, to calm someone down, to do something nice for someone with whom you have some disagreement or argument. Vladimir thinks that if they do that, if they make a conciliatory gesture, their enemies will respond in kind. “In kind” here means in the same way.

Hilary says, “Do you really think so? Won’t we come off as weak?” The expression “to come off as” something means to appear in a particular way, to be thought of or perceived in a certain way. Usually, but not always, I think we use this expression when the something that you come off as is a negative quality. Here it would be coming off as being “weak” (weak), meaning not strong. That’s what Hilary is afraid of – that by making a conciliatory gesture, they will come off as weak.

But Vladimir disagrees, “I don’t think so,” he says. “We’re taking the first step to peace. They’ll see that.” Hilary says, “If you say so.” We use that expression “if you say so” usually when we don’t agree with the other person, but we don’t want to continue arguing about it. She then says, “All right, let’s do it. This war with our neighbors is getting old.” For something “to get old,” in this sense, means to become tiring, to no longer be interesting.

We learn at this point in the dialogue that we’re not talking about two different countries. We’re talking about two different families or households that live next to each other. Hilary says, “Do you want to bring them this fruitcake or should I?” Hilary is suggesting that they give a little gift to their neighbors as a conciliatory gesture. One popular gift of food during the Christmas holidays in the United States is, or used to be, fruitcake. It’s not actually a cake. It’s more like a thick bread.

My mother used to make fruitcake every year so that we had something to give our teachers. I don’t think they liked it, particularly. Some people don’t like fruitcake. I love fruitcake because I grew up eating it, I guess. Anyway, Vladimir says, “I’ll take it,” meaning I will take the fruitcake to our neighbors, “but first I’ll make sure their ugly, dirty, mean barking dog that wakes me up in the middle of the night is tied up.”

Now we learn the problem between these two neighbors. The neighbors have a dog who is “mean” – that is, who is not very nice. The dog is also a “barking dog.” “To bark” (bark) is to make a sound like a dog, something like [barks]. Well, the barking dog of the neighbors is waking Vladimir up at night. He says he wants to make sure this dog is “tied up,” meaning there’s some sort of rope around the dog so the dog won’t be able to attack him.

He says, “I don’t want to become a casualty while bringing them this peace offering.” A “casualty” (casualty) is a person who was hurt or injured or killed in a war. Here, it means a person who is negatively affected by something – in this case, by the dog who might bite him. A “peace offering” (offering) is a gift or something you give another person with whom you had a disagreement. It’s a way of trying to make a conciliatory gesture, a way of trying to make peace with the other person.

In the words of John Lennon, “All we are saying, is give peace a chance.” (You knew I was going to sing that, right?)

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

[start of dialogue]

Vladimir: We need a ceasefire. The violence is escalating and we need to put a stop to this.

Hilary: I agree, but do you think our enemies will agree to a truce?

Vladimir: They’re as embattled as we are. They may welcome a suspension of hostilities until we can agree on a peace treaty.

Hilary: I hate to think what their conditions will be for an armistice. This war has dragged on for so long.

Vladimir: I suspect they feel the same as we do. If we make a conciliatory gesture, I think they’ll respond in kind.

Hilary: Do you really think so? We won’t come off as weak?

Vladimir: I don’t think so. We’re taking the first step to peace. They’ll see that.

Hilary: If you say so. All right, let’s do it. This war with our neighbors is getting old. Do you want to bring them this fruitcake or should I?

Vladimir: I’ll take it, but first I’ll make sure their ugly, dirty, mean barking dog that wakes me up in the middle of the night is tied up. I don’t want to become a casualty while bringing them this peace offering!

[end of dialogue]

The scripts from our wonderful scriptwriter never get old. Thanks to Dr. Lucy Tse for writing 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. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
ceasefire – an agreement for two armies, nations, or groups to stop fighting against each other temporarily

* Do you think the armies would agree to a ceasefire over the holidays?

violence – physical behavior meant to hurt or kill people, or to damage property

* Preschoolers see a shocking amount of violence on TV each day.

to escalate – to quickly or suddenly increase in size, value, or importance

* Customer service representatives are trained to handle customers’ complaints before they escalate and become major problems.

enemy – a person whom one fights against; an opponent who is aggressive and hostile

* When it’s dark, it’s impossible to see the enemy in order to launch an attack.

truce – an agreement for two people or groups to stop fighting against each other em

* The siblings fight and argue constantly, but they always call a truce for Thanksgiving.

embattled – involved in a war; prepared for war; in a position for fighting, with all the necessary equipment and supplies

* The attorneys are embattled in a long legal fight.

suspension – a temporary lifting of something, or a period of time when some rule or restriction does not apply

* Health concerns related to product quality led to a one-weeks suspension of manufacturing and sales.

hostilities – angry, unfriendly, and possibly violent actions against an enemy

* The Peace Corps Volunteers were evacuated due to hostilities in the region.

peace treaty – a written agreement between two or more countries that agree to stop fighting and to end a war

* Real economic growth won’t happen until all the countries in the region sign a peace treaty.

condition – term; something that another person must agree to or agree to comply with before one will sign an agreement or end a negotiation

* I’ll clean the garage under one condition: You have to do all the cooking and cleaning for the next two weeks.

armistice – a peace treaty; a truce; an agreement to stop fighting, possibly for a limited period of time

* The two countries have agreed to an armistice, but they haven’t reduced the size of their armies yet.

to drag on – to last for a very long time, longer than was expected

* That movie seemed to drag on forever, although it was only 90 minutes long!

conciliatory gesture – an attempt to make someone feel less angry or calmer and to reduce tensions

* The company sent a letter of apology as a conciliatory gesture, but it didn’t offer to refund the payment.

in kind – in the same way; copying the actions of another person toward oneself

* I bet if you tell her how you feel, she’ll respond in kind.

to come off as – to appear to be a particular way; to seem to have certain characteristics; to be perceived in some way

* Can a man compliment a woman on her appearance in a business setting without coming off as sexist?

to get old – to become tiring and uninteresting because something has continued for a very long time

* Seeing Mark come to work late every day is getting old. If he’s late one more time, we’ll consider firing him.

casualty – a person who is hurt or killed in a war; a person who is negatively affected by something; a victim

* We have to stop arguing over the terms of the divorce because our children are the casualties of all of this fighting.

peace offering – a gift or offer made to help another person become less angry or calmer, usually in the hopes of ending an argument

* After their big fight, Waseem gave his girlfriend some roses as a peace offering.

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these could end a war?
a) Violence
b) Hostilities
c) A peace treaty

2. What is the fruitcake being used as?
a) An armistice
b) A casualty
c) A peace offering

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
in kind

The phrase “in kind,” in this podcast, means in the same way, or copying the actions of another person toward oneself: “Jenna let Blake borrow her car, hoping that he would respond in kind the next time she needed to borrow a car.” A “payment in kind” refers to a way of paying for something that does not involve money: “In the past, doctors in rural areas would accept farm products as payment in kind for their services.” Finally, the phrase “nothing of the kind” strongly shows that something is not true: “You told Monique I criticized her work last week, but I had said nothing of the kind!”

to get old

In this podcast, the phrase “to get old” means to become tiring and uninteresting because something has continued for a very long time: “Spending all day in front of the computer is getting old. Maybe I should look for a job outdoors.” The phrase “of old” describes things that existed a very long time ago: “The kings and queens of old owned large quantities of gold and jewels.” The phrase “the good old days” is used to describe the past when one has fond memories of it: “In the good old days, kids spent time playing outdoors, not sitting in front of the computer or texting on their phones.” Finally, the phrase “to be an old hand at (something)” means to have a lot of experience and skill in something: “Harold is an old hand at investing in the stock market.”

Culture Note
Symbols of Peace

In the United States, there are many common “symbols” (small images and other things that represent other ideas) of peace. These symbols are often used on clothing, “posters" (large pieces of paper with an image on it, meant to be placed on a wall as decoration), and “bumper stickers” (stickers placed on the back end of cars to share messages with other drivers) to show an individual’s support for peace and opposition to war.

The most common symbol of peace is a circle with lines dividing it into four smaller sections: ☮.This symbol was particularly popular during the 1960s. It was created as the logo for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the 1950s.

Another popular modern symbol of peace is simply a “hand gesture” (a way of posing one’s hand and fingers to present some message) with the index (the finger closest to the thumb) and middle fingers held up in the shape of a ✌.

Older, more traditional symbols of peace include an olive “branch” (part of a tree, like an arm). This has symbolized peace since at least the 5th century BC, especially in Greece, where people believed that it could send away “evil” (not good) spirits.

A white “dove” (a type of bird) is another “ancient” (very old) symbol of peace, and it has a lot of importance in Christian symbolism. Often these two symbols are combined in the image of a white dove flying with an olive branch in its “beak” (the pointed mouth of a bird).

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c