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上一篇:018 Topics: Mardi Gras, Getty Villa, Have to v. got to v. going to have to, Hype, "No brainer," Would in the past tense

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019 Topics: The Oscars, Pimps, "Down to the wire," "And so forth," and I or It?

时间:2018-05-01   访问量:2030   View PDF
Complete Transcript
You are listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 19.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 19. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

On this episode of the English Café, we will be answering some more of your questions. Let’s get started.

Our first question comes from Grace (Grace) in South Korea. Grace wants to know how to tell someone that she has a cold. She wants to know if we use the expression “I have a cold.” Well, Grace, absolutely. You can say that. Let’s start, however, with defining the word “cold” (cold).

A “cold” is a common illness where the inside of your nose and throat become irritated. They become red, sometimes. Typically, a cold is related to someone who sneezes, someone who has a sore throat, someone who has, what we call, a “runny nose” – when, well, liquid starts coming out of your nose. You know what I mean. That is an illness which we call a cold. If you have a cold, you have that particular illness. So yes, you can say, “I have a cold.”

There’s another expression you might want to know that describes the process of developing or getting a cold, and that expression is “to come down with a cold.” It’s a strange use of a phrasal verb “to come down with.” “To come down with a cold” means that you are starting to get a cold. You are starting to develop a cold. You don’t have a cold yet, but you might tomorrow or two days from now.

Sometimes people aren’t sure why they are starting to feel sick. So, they may say something like, “I’m coming down with something.” I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s a cold. Maybe it’s some other disease. I come down with some strange disease whenever my wife asks me to do something. I say, “Oh, I’m coming down with something, honey.” No, I don’t do that. I’m a good husband, usually.

Our next question comes from Susana (Susana) in Italy. Susana watched the American movie Crash not too long ago and wants to know a little bit more about the movie. Well, this is sort of an unusual question, but I will talk a little bit about the movie and some of the vocabulary that you want to understand in order to understand the movie.

The movie Crash came out in, or was first shown in, movie theaters here in the U.S. almost 10 years ago. In 2006, the film won the Academy Award, or the Oscar, for best picture as well as best original screenplay. What are the Academy Awards? Well, the Academy Awards are awards given every year to the very best movies, actors, directors, cinematographers, and others that work in making movies. The more common word for the Academy Awards is the “Oscars.”

Now, this particular movie is about Los Angeles. It’s about what we might describe as racial tensions, or race relations, in Los Angeles. More generally, “race” (race) refers typically to the color of your skin. We talk about white people, black people, Asian people – these are all common terms for different races, or what people define as a race. I won’t go into here – I won’t discuss in detail – what race really is, because there is considerable disagreement about that, but generally speaking, race refers to a person’s skin color – at least, that’s the most common indication.

The term “race relations” refers to how members of different races get along with each other. “Racial tensions” refers to problems or conflicts or disagreements between members of two or more different races.

This is a movie about the lives of some people who live here in Los Angeles. In the movie there are people of different races, and you see different aspects, or different parts, of Los Angeles culture, if you will.

In the movie, there is an African-American, or black, police detective. There is a young man who is also black. In fact, he’s the brother of the detective, who is a criminal. There is also a government attorney who is white, and there is a white police officer. So, you have these different characters, white and black. You also see in the movie different ethnicities represented, including someone who is what we would say here in the U.S. is “Latino,” although you may also hear the term “Hispanic” – someone from Latin America, typically.

I won’t tell you everything about the film. I think you should go and see it yourself if you want to understand a little bit more about race relations in the U.S., but it’s about a . . . the movie is called “Crash” because one of the things that happens in the movie is that two cars hit each other. We call that a “car crash.” The verb “to crash” means to run into something – to hit something, usually damaging either what you are driving or the thing that you crash into. People can crash into each other, but the term is more commonly used to describe cars that hit each other on the streets or on a freeway. That’s a little bit about the movie Crash.

Now, back in 2006 there was another movie that was nominated for an Academy Award. It actually won the Academy Award for best original song. The movie – which I am told was quite good, although I didn’t see it – is called Hustle and Flow. We had a question from someone who also wanted to know a little bit about this movie and specifically about the song. Now, the name of the song is “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” I’m not going to sing it for you, but I will explain a little bit about the song.

First of all, the song is what we would call a “hip-hop” song. “Hip (hip) – hop (hop)” is a popular type of music that usually involves a loud, repeating beat, or rhythm, and words that are said very quickly. Often, the words are more said than sung. “I’m going out to find a person in the blind” – something like that, only much, much better.

“It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” was nominated for an Academy Award. I mentioned that it won the award, but before it wins the award, it has to be nominated. When a movie or a song or a person is nominated for an award, they are put on a list, and then people vote from that list. So, for example, for a typical Academy Award ceremony, there are five actors who are nominated for the award of best actor. “To be nominated” means to be put on that short list, if you will, of people, one of whom will win the award depending on who gets the most votes.

This particular song has an interesting title because it’s about a, well, interesting job, or profession. It’s about someone who is a “pimp.” A “pimp” (pimp) is someone, usually a man, who organizes women, and is basically a manager for prostitutes. A “prostitute” (prostitute) is, again, usually a woman who sells sexual services, if you know what I mean. A pimp is a man who organizes a group of women who basically work for this pimp.

Now, pimps have the reputation – the common impression is that they don’t treat these women very well. They often hurt them or steal from them or take most of their money. The image of a pimp is a man who has a lot of money, who drives a big car, and this money, of course, comes from the prostitutes – the women who are out selling themselves to others. There is also a verb “to pimp” which comes up in another expression that was common a few years ago, or at least more popular a few years ago: “pimp my car,” or “pimp my ride.”

The verb “pimp” in this case means to make it so that it looks better, to make something look nicer, especially a car – to make your car basically look like a nice big car that a pimp might drive, someone who manages prostitutes. It’s a weird use of the verb, but it became popular a few years ago for people to talk about “pimping” their cars – making their cars look nicer. There was actually a television show called “Pimp My Ride.” The word “ride” here means car.

There’s a third meaning of “pimp” which is sort of related to the first meaning of pimp (related to prostitutes) which is to do something for someone else that you don’t really believe in or don’t want, but you want the money, so you do it anyway. Another phrasal verb we might use here is “to sell out.” “To sell out” means to do something that you believe is wrong, but you’re doing it because you want the money. We might say that you’re “pimping yourself out” to another person – doing something for that person that you don’t really want to do, but you want the money.

I don’t think you should in most circumstances use a word like “pimp.” It has some very negative associations with it, both as a noun and as a verb. It is important sometimes to understand these words in English, but to use them correctly and to use them without making other people angry or upset is more difficult. But that, in any case, is the meaning of those words. I should say that the song title, “It’s Hard Out Here” means it’s difficult. Basically, the song title is saying it’s difficult to be a pimp. I don’t really know if that’s true, but that’s what the song says.

David (David) in Germany has a question about American cars. He asks, “Why are there so many old and broken-down cars in American movies and TV shows? Does the government have rules and regulations about the condition of cars?” Well, that’s a very interesting question. I should explain that a “broken-down car” is a car that doesn’t work – a car that doesn’t, we would say, “run.” Well, David, yes. There are government rules (laws, regulations) about a car and what the car has to be able to do in order to drive legally on the streets.

For example, one law says that you have to have headlights on your cars, especially if you’re going to drive at night or in the rain. “Headlights” are the lights in the front of your car that allow you to see what is in front of you. They also allow other cars to see that you are there. If you are driving at night and you don’t have one of your headlights working – if one of your headlights is “out,” we would say – the police can stop you and give you a ticket. That is, they can give you a fine – make you pay money because you are breaking the law.

There are laws and regulations related to the condition of cars. In big cities such as Los Angeles, there’s usually rules and regulations about smog and making sure that your car passes what’s called “smog inspection.” “Smog” (smog) comes from two words, “smoke” and “fog.” It refers to the pollution that you see in big cities such as Los Angeles and New York. It used to be, in Los Angeles, that we had a very serious problem with smog, especially in the ’60s and ’70s and early ’80s.

However, I’m happy to say that, at least in the last 25 years or so, the amount of pollution in Los Angeles is not as great as it once was, although there’s still a lot of smog. You look up into the sky and you can see kind of a brown cloud up there. Well, that’s smog. Smog is caused in large part by cars and the pollution that comes out of cars.

So, California, like many states, has regulations that say that your car has to pass an inspection, a smog inspection. Basically, what you do is you go into a mechanic, typically – a person who fixes or repairs cars – and the mechanic tests your car to make sure that you’re not emitting pollution. “To emit” (emit) means to give out, especially in the case of a machine releasing pollution into the air. The noun is “emissions” (emissions). Emissions are pollution that is created by your car’s engine or by some engine or motor.

So, you go into a mechanic or a person who has equipment to measure the amount of pollution in your car. We actually have made this into a verb, at least here in Los Angeles. We talk about “getting your car smogged.” “To get your car smogged” means to take your car to a smog inspection. Now, if you have a new car that you just purchased in the last maybe four, five years, you usually don’t have to get the smog inspection every year.

However, if you have an older car (such as my car, which is now more than 10 years old) you have to get the smog inspection in order to renew the registration on your car – the legal permission that the state gives you to drive your car in California. A smog inspection – more commonly called here a “smog check” (check) – is usually done by putting up a small pipe that measures pollution into the back of your car, into what’s called a “tail (tail) pipe.” A tailpipe is also called an exhaust pipe. It’s basically a small, round tube that connects to your engine and helps your car get rid of the pollution that is produced by the engine.

Now, I say that the police can give you a ticket if they find something wrong with your car. However, in a big city like Los Angeles, the police are busy with a lot more important things, and so some people who probably should get a ticket (or be fined or punished for not having a car that meets these regulations) won’t always get one because the police are busy catching criminals, which is probably more important than worrying about our cars.

Our next question comes from the other side of the world – from Hong Kong. Anthony (Anthony) wants to know the meaning of the expression “down to the wire.” If something goes “down to the wire,” what’s going on? What is happening? Well, usually we use this expression for a situation in which there is a deadline. There’s a time by which we have to finish something, we have to complete something.

For example, if I have to write a report – a couple of pieces of paper giving information to my boss – by five o’clock this afternoon, and I’m still working on the report at four fifty, at ten minutes to five, I’m going down to the wire. I’m still working on it right up to the time at which I have to give my boss, in this case, the report. “To go down to the wire,” then, means to be working on something right up until the time by which you have to finish it.

We often use this expression when there are two people or two groups that are negotiating something. They’re trying to come to an agreement about something, but there’s a time limit for that agreement. If the negotiations go “down to the wire,” they continue right up until the day and time of the deadline when it has to be finished.

You may wonder where this expression “down to the wire” comes from. It actually comes from American horse racing, where you have a group of horses with riders on top. We call those riders “jockeys” (jockeys). The jockeys ride the horses around what’s called a “race track.” In the old days, before the days of cameras and video, they used to put a wire at what we call the “finish line” – the point at which the race ends. The first horse to cross the finish line would be the winner.

“To go down to the wire” means that you are going down to the finish line, and that’s the same meaning, if you think of it in the terms that we have explained it, that we used this expression “down to the wire.” We’re getting to the finish line. There’s another somewhat related expression which is “under the wire,” which is related to the same concept of using a wire to determine which horse crossed the finish line first. “To be under the wire” means to be just in time. You have reached the finish line just in time.

Our final question comes from Damian (Damian) in France. Damian wants to know the meaning of an expression I often use, “and so forth.” “And so forth” means “and more.” It’s an expression we use to suggest that the list that we are giving someone has more items on it. I’m not going to tell you all of the things, but I’m giving you enough to give you an idea.

I could talk about the American states: “California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and so forth.” I’m not going to give you a list of all 50 states. I’m giving you enough to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. (Those by the way, were all states in the western part of the U.S., moving from the Pacific Ocean and going east, but that’s not important.)

“And so forth,” then, is something that we use when we are giving someone a list, but we’re not giving them the complete list. We know from the examples we have given that the other people will know what we’re talking about. Some people will use the expression from Latin, “et cetera.” “Et cetera, et cetera.” That really means the same as “and so forth.” You’re not going to give all of the instances of this particular idea or concept or list.

If you have a question or comment, you can email us. Our email address is We’ll do our best to try to answer your question right here on the English Café.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. 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. Copyright 2006 by the Center for Educational Development.

to come down with a cold – to get a common illness that causes a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, and coughing

* Lina came down with a cold last Monday, and she was so sick that she had to miss work for two days.

Academy Awards – the Oscars; a series of awards or prizes given out each year by the Academy of Motion Science and Pictures to people who have done the best work in films the previous year

* During the Academy Awards in 2012, The Artist won the prize for Best Picture.

security – police or private police; a group of people hired to protect a person, building, or event so that no harm comes to anyone there

* There was a lot of security at the exhibit, with guards at every entrance.

to crash – to hit something, usually suddenly and unexpectedly; to get into an accident, especially in a car or other vehicle

* While pulling out of his driveway, Randall crashed into another car.

race relations – the way in which people from different races, ethnicities, or cultures get along

* Race relations in our school are very tense and students are getting into fights.

hip-hop – a type of music involving a loud, repeating beat or rhythm and lyrics or words that are said very quickly, rather than sung

* Antony enjoyed the heavy beats and rhymes of hip-hop and dreamed of becoming a rapper.

to be nominated – to be chosen as a finalist; to be one of the few people who are qualified or who have the opportunity to win an award or prize

* Coralline was nominated for the Student of the Month award at her school, but another student won the prize.

pimp – a person who illegally arranges for other people, usually women, to have sex with clients for money, receiving a large portion of the money earned

* The police arrested a pimp who is a well known in the area.

prostitute – someone who illegally sells himself or herself for sexual purposes; someone who has sex with other people in exchange for money

* The police suspected that the woman standing at the corner of the street might be a prostitute, but they did not have any evidence and could not arrest her.

to pimp (one's) car – to improve the way one's car looks by adding new, expensive decorative parts, usually to the outside of the car

* Leandro pimped his car by giving it a new coat of paint, adding spinning hubcaps to the wheels, and painting flames on the side.

headlights – a pair of lights at the front of a car or other vehicle that shine light in front of the car, making it easier for the driver to see the road

* The sky was getting dark and rainy, so Margaret turned on her headlights to avoid getting into an accident.

smog inspection – an official check or inspection that automobiles must pass, determining if the car produces too much pollution

* The old pickup truck failed to pass the smog inspection and must be repaired.

mechanic – a person who repairs machines, especially machines that make cars and other vehicles work

* The car made an odd noise every time Emery started it, so he decided to take it to a mechanic.

emissions – the pollution that produced by a car's engine; gas or fumes that come out of a car or other vehicle

* Katrina wanted to trade in her old car for a newer model that produced fewer emissions.

tail pipe – exhaust pipe; a small pipe or tube at the back of a car or other vehicle from which gas and pollution produced by the vehicle passes into the air

* The smoke coming out of the car’s tail pipe was very smelly, causing Joanne to cough and her eyes to water.

down to the wire – right up to the deadline; an expression meaning that a task with a deadline (a day and time by which the task must be finished) is being worked on until the moment right before the deadline

* The project was so detailed that Hans was working on it down to the wire.

and so forth – and more; an expression used to suggest that a list of items one has named continues, without actually listing all the items in that list

* Miyoko had to take her medicine every four hours, at 8:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., and so forth.

What Insiders Know
“Application,” “Admission,” and “Enrollment”

These three words are very useful for anyone wanting to attend a school, community college, or university. First, an “application” is a formal request in writing for something, to receive something, or to be allowed to do something, in this case, to be allowed to go to a school. The application may include many parts, including filling out forms; writing a personal statement telling about yourself, your background and qualifications, and your goals; letters of recommendation from teachers or other adults who can talk about your character, abilities, talents, and more.

Every college or university uses a different application, so “applicants” (people who apply) must find out the application requirements for each school they want to apply to. In recent years, however, this has begun to change, at least for some universities. As of 2009, about 350 universities use the “Common Application,” which allows students to fill out one application and apply to “multiple” (many; several) schools. However, nearly all colleges and universities still charge an application fee, which can really “add up” (accumulate; increase in number) quickly.

Once a student has applied to a college or university, he or she hopes to get a letter of admission. “Admission,” or “to be admitted,” means to be formally accepted into a school. A student then has the right to attend that school and its classes.

Finally, students who are admitted can formally enroll in the school and enroll in classes. “Enrollment,” or “to enroll,” means to become a part of a school or a member of a class. It is possible that students who receive admission don’t enroll. For instance, a student may be admitted by a school, but not enroll there because he or she has decided to enroll in a different school. This happens quite often since U.S. students often apply to several colleges or universities at the same time. They apply to their “first-choice school” (the school they want most to attend) and then to one or more “back-up schools” (schools they may attend if they are rejected by their first-choice school).

上一篇:018 Topics: Mardi Gras, Getty Villa, Have to v. got to v. going to have to, Hype, "No brainer," Would in the past tense

下一篇:020 Topics: Feeling under the weather, Common abbreviations, Using initials, Now vs. right now