Cultural English

当前位置:首页>Cultural English>001-060
全部 603 001-060 60 061-120 60 121-180 60 181-240 60 241-300 60 301-360 60 361-420 60 421-480 60 481-540 60 541-603 63

上一篇:010 Topics: Super Bowl parties; widow versus widower; advocate; trust me; buddy; mud; I bet; gonna; speaking of which; to pass away

下一篇:012 Topics: Stealing art, Religions in the US, "Walk the Line," I've had versus I had had, Jump across the pond, "She's a complete knockout!"

011 Topics: Three Strikes, Groundhog Day, Lost and CSI, Regards and Cheers, Amazing versus Awesome, "On the heels of..."

时间:2018-05-01   访问量:2214   View PDF
Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 11.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 11. 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 On this Café, we’re going to have an all-questions edition, where we answer lots of questions that you have sent to us via, or by, email. So, let’s get started.

We have several questions to answer on this Café from people whose names I don’t have, unfortunately. But we will answer their questions all the same. The first question has to do with an American holiday that someone heard about – or what they thought was a holiday – called “Groundhog Day.”

A “groundhog” (groundhog) is also called a “woodchuck” (woodchuck). A groundhog or a woodchuck is a small animal with thick fur, thick hair on it, with short legs, that normally lives underground and typically sleeps through the winter. Now, believe it or not, we have here in the United States something called “Groundhog Day.” It’s not an official government holiday – no one gets to take the day off on Groundhog Day, normally.

Groundhog Day is always celebrated every year on February second. I say it’s “celebrated.” It’s not really celebrated by anyone, but it is a tradition that people observe, especially in a certain town in the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is located in the eastern part of the United States, and in a small town in Pennsylvania there is a tradition that if on the second of February a groundhog comes up and sees its own shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.

Let me explain that a little bit. The idea is that the groundhog will, I guess, wake up from its winter sleep and go up to see what the weather’s like. If the groundhog sees its own shadow, this means that there will be six more weeks of cold weather. Now some of you may know that the second of February is also a celebration in the Catholic Church. The second of February is called the “Feast of the Presentation.” There may be a connection between this tradition of Groundhog Day and the religious celebration.

In any case, it appears to be an old tradition, not one started here in the United States, I don’t think. At least, that’s the best I can determine. I said the groundhog has to see its own “shadow” (shadow). A shadow is a figure or an outline on the ground that is created when you are standing out in the sun. If you are standing outside and the sun is up in the sky, you will almost certainly “cast” (cast) a shadow. So, the shadow is the dark reflection, if you will, of you on the ground.

Notice we use the verb “to cast” (cast). We always talk about “casting” a shadow. That’s the thing that happens when you are standing outside and there’s a sun – well, our sun – up in the sky, causing a outline of you or whatever is outside on the ground. The groundhog seeing its own shadow is supposed to be a form of a prediction – a guess about how something will happen in the future. I don’t know if this has actually been tested – whether someone has determined if the groundhog seeing its own shadow really is an accurate prediction of whether there will be six more weeks of winter, I’m not sure.

There is, however, an excellent movie – also called Groundhog Day – that stars an actor named Bill Murray. In the movie, Bill Murray goes to this small town in Pennsylvania as a reporter, as a journalist for a television station to report on the news. This actually happens. Television stations will send reporters to this little town to report on what happens with the groundhog on Groundhog Day.

But in the movie, the star of the movie, played by Bill Murray, wakes up after February second, and it’s still February second. Every day he wakes up and the day repeats itself over and over and over again, and the entire movie is about his experiences going through life, every day repeating February second. It’s a great movie. If you have a chance to see it, I think you will enjoy it, if you haven’t seen it already.

Our next question is about the American television show Lost. The TV show Lost was very popular in the United States a few years ago. It was on the air – it was showing here – between, I think, 2004 and 2010. However, it has been shown in many other countries around the world, perhaps in your own. The question we have has to do with a couple of vocabulary words that come up in this show Lost.

Now, if you don’t know anything about the show, it is about people who survive, or live, after their plane crashes somewhere between Australia and Los Angeles. We don’t know exactly where they are. That’s why they’re lost, you see. They’re on this strange island, and the entire series is about what happens for the most part on this island.

The title of the series, Lost, refers to a condition in which you cannot find something, or a condition in which you don’t know where you are. We can say, “I’m lost” – I don’t know where I am; I don’t know how to get to where I want to go. A “plane crash” (crash) is when a plane stops working, or for some reason has a problem, and goes into the ground (or goes into the ocean or goes into whatever it goes into) and causes it to usually break apart and burn. That’s a plane crash.

That’s what happens in this series Lost. The people who survived the plane crash in the TV series are marooned on this island. “To be marooned” (marooned) means to be somewhere and unable to leave. You are left somewhere and you can’t leave that place. Perhaps you are left on an island, as is the case in this TV series. You don’t have any way of getting off the island. You would be considered someone who was “marooned.” Usually, we talk about being marooned on an island – that’s the most common situation when we use this particular verb.

So, if you saw Lost in your own country or your own language, you may know about this series – and, in fact, a lot more than I know about this series. I never actually saw the series. I saw the first couple of shows, but it got very confusing very quickly. I’m not even sure if most of the people who saw the show knew what happened.

Our next question comes from someone who loves to read detective novels. “Detective (detective) novels” are fictional books about usually a police detective or what we would call a private detective. A “detective” is a person who tries to solve a crime – someone who tries to figure out who committed or who did a certain crime. A crime is when someone breaks the law – like murdering someone or stealing something from someone. Those are crimes. Detectives try to figure out who committed, or who was the person responsible for, the crime.

Detective novels have all sorts of specialized vocabulary, and this question is about some of the words that you might see in a detective novel. One word that you will definitely see in most detective novels is “victim.” A “victim” (victim) is the person who is hurt or sometimes killed during a crime. If someone walks up to you and shoots you with a gun and hurts you or kills you, you are the victim of the crime. If someone comes and takes your wallet or steals your purse, you are a victim of that crime.

Fingerprints are often used when the police are investigating, or looking into, a crime. Your “fingerprint” (fingerprint) refers to the unique pattern of lines and markings on your finger. As you probably know, for many years now the police have been trying to use fingerprints to identify people who may have committed crimes. There are a lot of people who believe that fingerprints are not a very accurate way of determining who committed a crime, but they are still used by the police.

When you have a crime, it happens somewhere in some particular place, and we call that place – after the crime is committed – a “crime scene” (scene). A crime scene is the place where the crime happened. It could be outside a restaurant. It could be in your home. It could be in an office. It could be anywhere. If a crime has taken place there, then we would say that is a crime scene.

The group of people from the police that investigate the crime scene and try to figure out whether the physical evidence in that place can help the police find the person who committed the crime is called the “CSI.” CSI stands for Crime Scene Investigation. “To investigate” means to research or look into something. So, the CSI for the police is the group of police officers who go in and try to collect what we would call “evidence” – some sort of physical proof of whom may have committed this crime.

Our fourth question comes from Vincent (Vincent), originally from France, now living in Australia. Vincent has a question about three different words which are somewhat related. The first word is “to toast,” the second is “regards,” and the third is “cheers.”

Let’s start with the verb “to toast” (toast). The verb “to toast” means to take a glass with an alcoholic drink in it, and raise it up into the air. While you’re doing that, you usually say something to congratulate someone who did something special or to honor someone who is celebrating some important event.

So, for example, at an American wedding it is traditional, it is customary, for someone to stand up and “give a toast” or simply “toast,” as a verb, the couple that has gotten married, the bride and groom. A woman who gets married is called the “bride” (bride). A man who gets married is called the “groom” (groom). It’s very common at American wedding celebrations – what we would call the wedding reception – to toast the bride and groom. You stand up, everyone raises their glass of, as I say, typically alcohol, and you say nice things about that person.

One thing that you might say when you toast someone in the U.S. or in other English-speaking countries is “cheers” (cheers). “Cheers” is what you might say at the end of your toast, or sometimes that might be your entire toast: “Cheers!” You are saluting, or honoring, that person. In some English-speaking countries, “cheers” may also be a way of saying thank you. Sometimes you’ll even see people end their letters or emails with the word “cheers.” It’s not quite as common in the U.S. as it is in other English-speaking countries, especially Great Britain, but you will sometimes see that.

Another way of ending your letter or email that is a little bit more formal than “cheers” is “regards” (regards). Sometimes people will end their letter by saying, “Regards,” and then their name. You may also see the phrase “best (best) regards,” or “with regards.” All of those are possible ways of ending a letter.

Our next question comes from Fernando (Fernando) in Spain. Fernando has a question about two words that are somewhat related, again. The first one is “amazing” (amazing). The second one is “awesome” (awesome). “Amazing” and “awesome” can both mean something that is really, really good – something that is really, really great.

If someone asked you, “How was the movie?” you could say, “It was amazing,” or you could say, “It was awesome.” Both things mean basically the same – something that was really, really good, something that was excellent. “Awesome” is a little more common nowadays, especially among younger speakers of English. You will hear this word a lot now to mean “great” or “excellent” much more than you did, say, 20 or 30 years ago.

In fact, the meaning of the word “awesome” has somewhat changed. “Awesome” used to be a very formal word to describe something that caused you to have a feeling of “awe” (awe), which was really more of a sense of wonder – a sense perhaps even of fear of something that was great and powerful – but nowadays, when used to describe something, it usually means something great, something excellent.

“Amazing” also has a different meaning other than being great or excellent. Something that is amazing can be something that is very surprising – in a good way, usually. Something that is amazing is something that is unexpected – or at least, that’s one way of using that word.

I should say that although both “amazing” and “awesome” can be used to describe something that is very good or excellent, for some of us the word “awesome” still sounds a little bit like something a teenager would say. Maybe that’s because I’m getting older every year. I don’t know about you, but every year, I get older. What’s going on with that, anyway? The word “awesome,” then, is sometimes associated with a younger generation, and perhaps a little bit more informal than “amazing.”

Our next question comes from Anthony in Hong Kong. Anthony wants to know the meaning of an expression he heard, “on the heels of” something. When we say something is “on the heels (heels) of” something, we mean it is immediately after something. It is an event or an action that happens directly after another event or another action.

“The fire was terrible because it came on the heels of an earthquake.” First there was an earthquake with the ground moving, and then there were these fires. (That typically happens after a large earthquake. There’s a fire or there are fires that start after the earthquake.) “On the heels of,” however, means simply immediately after. Your “heel” is the bottom of your foot. The back of your foot on the bottom is called the “heel.”

There are two other uses of this word “heel” that I can think of. One is what you would say to your dog when you want your dog to follow after you. If you tell a dog “heel,” you’re telling the dog to follow after you, to walk after you. Another much older and less common use of the word “heel” is to describe a person who is not very kind, a person who cannot be trusted. It’s a word you’ll see most often in nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century literature, or writing even before those periods.

If you have a question or comment, you can email us. Our email address is

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening to this special all-questions edition of the English Café. Come back and listen to us again right here on the English Café.

ESL Podcast’s English Café was written and produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse. This podcast is copyright 2006 by the Center for Educational Development.

groundhog – woodchuck; a small animal with thick fur and short legs that lives underground and sleeps through the winter

* Once the weather turned cold, the groundhog crawled into the ground and began its deep winter sleep.

shadow – a dark outline or figure on the ground that is created when sunlight shines on a person or thing from behind

* Sierra couldn’t see her brother around the side of the house, but she could see his shadow.

to predict – to make a guess about something that will happen in the future; to use current facts or clues to determine what will happen in the future

* Considering how well the class usually did on exams, Mrs. Costales predicted that her students would do well on this test, too.

lost – a state in which one does not know where one is; a condition in which an item or a person cannot be found, especially when that item or person is not located in the place one expects it to be in

* Vicente’s pet dog escaped from his yard and was lost for three days.

plane crash – when an airplane stops working in the middle of a flight and rapidly falls to the ground or into the ocean

* The airplane’s engines failed, resulting in a terrible plane crash.

to be marooned – to be isolated or trapped somewhere without being able to leave; to be left somewhere with very few resources, usually an island, without a way of returning to one's home

* After the ship sank, Betty and the other passengers were marooned on a small island.

CSI – crime scene investigation; a group of police officers who visit the areas where murders and other violent crimes occur and collect evidence or information at those locations to provide insight into who was responsible

* The CSI unit went to gas station to investigate after two people were killed there during a robbery.

victim – a person who is hurt or killed during a crime; someone who is harmed or who suffers because of a crime, disease, accident, or unfortunate event

* Rick and his family were victims of the severe hurricane that swept through their city, and everything they owed was destroyed in the storm.

fingerprint – a unique pattern of lines and markings on the human finger; a pattern on the human finger that is unique or different to each person and can be used to identify or find out who someone is

* Darlene had to have her fingerprints taken when she applied for her passport.

crime scene – the location where a crime or illegal action occured, especially when that crime is violent; the location and nearby area where a crime happened and at which physical evidence or clues about that crime can be found

* The police were careful not to disturb anything at the crime scene so that they would not destroy any evidence.

regards – a polite but somewhat informal way to end or close a letter

* When finishing the letter to his former teacher, Carl ended it by writing, “Best regards.”

cheers – a casual or informal way to end a letter, used to express enthusiasm or excitement; a positive, happy exclamation used when toasting

* After her friend wished everybody a good new year, Shawanda raised her glass of wine and remarked, “I’ll drink to that. Cheers!”

to toast – to raise one's glass, cup, or drink up in celebration or honor of a person or an event; to give a short speech to offer congratulations or good wishes to someone

* Justin toasted his sister and her new husband at their wedding, offering them words of joy and good wishes.

amazing – very surprising, often in a good way but sometimes in a bad way; unexpected but very good

* Mariko did not think that she would enjoy the play, but after it ended, she said, “That was amazing!”

awesome – wonderful; extremely good, often used in an informal way

* The dinner was good, but the dessert that followed was even more awesome.

on the heels of – immediately after; immediately following; an expression used to describe an event that happens directly after another event or situation

* The fire was even more devastating because it came on the heels of a terrible earthquake.

What Insiders Know
Crime Doesn’t Pay (Very Much)

There’s an old expression that says, “Crime doesn’t pay,” meaning that “breaking the law” (doing something illegal) will not be “beneficial” (helpful; good) to you. But in 2012, some researchers investigated to see how much certain criminals gain from their crimes, and they’ve found that crime does pay, but not very much.

The researchers analyzed the amount of money that “bank robbers” (people who steal money from banks) in Great Britain had stolen. They found that the amount of money gained from the “robberies” (thefts) was, on average, less than $20,000 per “thief” (robber; person who steals).

The amount in the United States, according to another source, is even less – a mere (only) $5,531, much less than what you can make working at “minimum wage” (the least amount of money per hour you can legally be paid) job for a few months. Perhaps because of this, the number of bank robberies has been decreasing over the past few years, especially as banks put in more “sophisticated” (complex) security systems to protect the money from being stolen.

According to other sources, it turns out that the way to be economically successful is not to rob a bank. In the United States, it involves three somewhat simple things: finish high school, get a job, and be married and at least 21 before having children. People who do these three things are almost never poor, and are usually in the “middle class” (neither rich nor poor, but with sufficient money for basic needs).

上一篇:010 Topics: Super Bowl parties; widow versus widower; advocate; trust me; buddy; mud; I bet; gonna; speaking of which; to pass away

下一篇:012 Topics: Stealing art, Religions in the US, "Walk the Line," I've had versus I had had, Jump across the pond, "She's a complete knockout!"