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上一篇:026 Topics: Political parties in the US, How to begin an email, Even vs. odd, Unless, "Six feet under"

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027 Topics: State of Illinois; British versus American English; just versus only; to decide versus to make up one’s mind; "in the eye of the beholder"; behind versus beyond, MIA; for my part versus on my part; pronouncing sheep, ship, feet, and fit

时间:2018-05-01   访问量:2080   View PDF
Complete Transcript
You're listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 27.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 27. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

On this Café, we’re going to be talking about the state of Illinois and what it is famous for in the United States. We’ll also look at the difference between a check and a bill. And, as always, we’ll answer some of your questions. Let’s get started.

I’ve had some people email me to ask where I found the music for our Café. And actually, it is a free piece of music that was part of the software that I use to record. I record with an Apple program called “Garage Band,” which has some free music clips. The word “clip” (clip) here just means a small part of a piece of music. The clip that we use comes free with the software. But it’s a very nice little piece of music. I like it.

We’ve been talking about different states in the United States and what they’re famous for, and I thought today we would talk a little bit about the state of Illinois. “Illinois” (Illinois) is sometimes mispronounced with an “s” sound at the end: “ill-ah-NOISE.” “Ill-ah-NOY” – with no “s” sound at the end – is the correct pronunciation. Illinois is famous for several things. Perhaps the main thing that Illinois is known for is the largest city in the state, Chicago. “Chicago” (Chicago) is one of the largest cities in the United States, and it is the largest city in the Midwest, which is between the East Coast and the West Coast.

Illinois is located in the northern part of the United States, and the city of Chicago is in the very northern part of the state, next to a big lake called “Lake Michigan.” Lake Michigan is one of five lakes known as the “Great Lakes,” which are located in the southern part of Canada and the northern part of the United States. Chicago is right next to Lake Michigan, and it is a very old city (for the United States), founded in the early 1800s.

Chicago is known for many different things. It is sometimes called the “Windy City.” “Windy” (windy) means there is a lot of wind, and there is a lot of wind in Chicago because it is next to Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan is a very big lake, and there are many breezes that come off of Lake Michigan and into Chicago. A “breeze” (breeze) is another word for wind, usually a small wind. However, some people say Chicago did not get the nickname of the Windy City because of the wind from Lake Michigan. “Windy” has another meaning, referring to someone who talks a lot, who talks too much. We sometimes describe a person as being “long winded,” meaning he talks too much. Chicagoans had the reputation for bragging, for saying that they were better than anyone else. Some say that all this talking by Chicago was the reason it was called the Windy City.

Chicago is also famous for its food, particularly for its barbecued ribs. “Ribs” (ribs) are a type of meat. You would get “beef ribs” from a cow and “pork ribs” from a pig. Chicago is famous for its barbecued beef ribs. “Barbecue” (barbecue) is a special type of red sauce that you put on the meat before you cook it.

Illinois is also famous for being the state where Abraham Lincoln lived and began his political career. Abraham Lincoln was our 16th president and was president during the American Civil War, which lasted from 1860 until 1865. Lincoln led the northern states to defeat the southern states and put an end to slavery in the United States. “Slavery” (slavery) is when one person believes they can own another person as property. The African slaves in the south were freed after the war, and Lincoln is respected for being the president who won the war and helped end slavery in the United States. There is a very famous statue of Lincoln in Washington D.C., but Lincoln is buried in his home state of Illinois. The license plates in Illinois, which all cars and trucks must have, have the slogan or saying, “Land of Lincoln.”

I should mention that there is another famous president who represented the state of Illinois in the U.S. Congress who became president. His name was Barack Obama, who has a home in Chicago.

I’ve been to different part of Illinois many times. When the first McQuillans came over to the United States from Ireland in the middle of the nineteenth century (1840, to be precise), the first place they stopped to live in was a small town of Galena, Illinois, in the western part of the state. I still have relatives in that small town, which I used to visit with my family when I was a young boy. Galena, Illinois itself is somewhat famous as being the place where former president, and Civil War general, Ulysses S. Grant lived for a number of years. I’ve traveled to other parts of Illinois as well, since it is not far from Minnesota. I’ve been to Chicago as well as the capital of Illinois, Springfield, which is where President Lincoln is buried – that is, where they put his body after he died. So if you have a chance to visit Illinois, especially Chicago, I think you’ll enjoy yourself.

I also wanted to talk a little bit today about the words “check” and “bill.” When you go to a restaurant in the United States, when you are finished eating, the waiter or waitress will bring you your “check” (check), which is a piece of paper that shows the amount that you have to pay. It has the amount underneath a list of all the things that you ate. For me, it’s a very long list, usually. This is called a “check” but it can also be called a “bill” (bill).

One of the customs that surprises some people when they come to the United States is having the server put the bill on the table when they are done eating. In many countries, the server doesn’t bring your bill until you ask for it, but here they don’t wait for you to ask – they just bring it. This would be considered perhaps impolite or “rude” (rude) in many countries, but not here. It’s just the way things are done in restaurants in the United States. When you are finished eating, they bring you the bill, but it doesn’t mean you have to leave or pay right away. The server will often say, “Whenever you’re ready,” meaning there is no hurry to pay. Of course, if he stands next to your table looking at his watch, you might want to hurry up – or not eat at that restaurant any more!

Another term similar to “check” and “bill” is the word “tab.” A “tab” (tab) is a bill or a check, but usually for alcohol in a bar. For example, if you are in a bar and you see a beautiful woman and you want to buy her a drink, you may tell the bartender – the person working at the bar – “A drink for the beautiful lady. Put it on my tab,” meaning put it on my bill and I will pay for it. There is also something called a “running tab,” which is a tab that covers many hours that you pay at the very end of the night, or perhaps at the end of a week or a month. Not many places allow you to keep a running tab, at least not any more. These, then, are a few of the many ways we use the words “check,” “bill,” and “tab.”

Now let’s answer a few of the questions you have sent to us.

Our first question comes from Andre (Andre). Andre is in Volgograd in Russia, and he wants to know the difference between the words “just” and “only.” Sometimes these two words can mean the same thing. “There is only one person here” is the same as “There is just one person here.” Both sentences are emphasizing the fact that there is “just one” or “only one” person here – exactly one, not more and not less.

We also use these words in other ways, however. For example, you can say, “I am just leaving,” which means I am leaving right now. When you use “just” with a present tense verb, it means you are doing that action immediately, or in a very short time from now. If you use it with a past tense verb, as in “He just arrived,” you mean he arrived very recently – a minute ago or ten seconds ago. You can also say, “I’m just kidding” or “I’m only kidding,” which means “What I’m saying isn’t true; I’m not serious, I’m joking.”

Sometimes you can use these words to mean the same thing and sometimes not. For example, you can’t replace “I am just leaving” with “I am only leaving” and have it mean the same thing. It doesn’t. If you say you are “just leaving,” you mean you are leaving now or are about to leave. If you say, “I am only leaving,” you’re indicating that this is the sole or only thing you are doing, not anything else. Similarly, you can’t say, “He only arrived” to mean “He just arrived.” “He only arrived” means that’s all he did, that and nothing else. “He just arrived” means he arrived a few minutes ago, very recently. So, we can sometimes use “just” and “only” in the same way and sometimes not – it all just depends on the situation.

Our next question comes from Eduardo (Eduardo) in Bogota, Colombia, in South America. Eduardo wants to know the difference between “to decide” and “to make up one’s mind.” Is there a difference between these two? Well, not really, Eduardo. We use both of these expressions to mean “to make a decision.” “I need to make up my mind” means “I need to decide.” However, we often use the expression “to make up one’s mind” to describe taking a long time to make a decision. You’ve thought about something for a long, long time, and finally you need to make up your mind.

Because of this, people will sometimes use this phrase in a somewhat negative, critical way. They might say, “Why don’t you make up your mind?” This suggests that the other person is not very good at making decisions. So, you have to be careful about using the phrase “make up your mind” when you’re asking if someone has made a decision about something. But essentially, “to decide” and “to make up one’s mind” do mean the same thing; they both mean to make a decision.

Another question comes from Marian (Marian) from Slovakia, who wants to know the meaning of the expression “in the eye of the beholder.” There is a famous saying in English: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The verb “to behold” (behold) means to look at something, and a “beholder” would be the person who is doing the looking. To say that something is “in the eye of the beholder,” means that how something looks depends on who is looking at it – that a person’s own ideas will influence how something appears.

For example, the expression “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” means that everyone has a different idea about beauty. I may see a woman and say, “She’s very beautiful” – my wife, for example. But another person may look at someone and say, “Oh. Well, I don’t think that person is very beautiful.” It all depends on the individual preferences of the person doing the looking, of the “beholder.” So, the expression “in the eye of the beholder” simply means that everyone has a different way of seeing things.

Jungho (Jungho) in Korea wants to know the difference between the words “behind” and “beyond.” “Behind” (behind) is an adjective meaning when one thing is in front of another thing. Say you have two objects, a table and a chair, and the table is in front of the chair. If the table is in front of the chair, then the chair is “behind” the table.

“Beyond” (beyond) usually means at a distance from something. For example, you could say, “The house is beyond that hill,” meaning the house is on the other side of the hill. It’s even farther from us than the hill. It does not mean necessarily that one thing is in front of another. It is related more to the distance between you and the thing you are talking about.

We also use the word “beyond” to talk about things that we think are very extreme. For example, “That’s beyond what I am willing to pay” means that item is too expensive, it costs too much – it is “beyond what I am willing to pay,” or it is more than I want to pay. Another common use of “beyond” is the expression “It’s beyond me.” “It’s beyond me” means I don’t understand it, I can’t understand it – it’s beyond me. So, there are a couple of different ways that we use the word “beyond.”

Quan (Quan), originally from Vietnam and now living in Germany, wants to know what the letters “MIA” mean. The letters “MIA” are an example of what we call an “acronym.” An “acronym” (acronym) is a group of letters that represent words. For example, the term “ASAP” is an acronym that stands for, or means, “as soon as possible.” Another acronym would be the French expression “RSVP,” which stands for “répondez s'il vous pla?t.” (Pardon my French!)

The acronym “MIA” stands for “missing in action.” It’s a term used mainly in war to describe when a soldier cannot be found. If a soldier cannot be found either alive or dead and we don’t know what happened, we say that the soldier is “missing in action.” “Missing” means not present, and “action,” when talking about war, refers to some sort of battle or fighting. We sometimes refer to people as “MIAs.” “MIAs” are people who are missing in action.

Another question comes from Allen (Allen) in Croatia. Allen wants to know the difference between the expressions “for my part” and “on my part.” “For my part” means as concerns me or as relates to me. For example, “I don’t know about you, but for my part, I don’t want to go to the movie.” It’s a way of emphasizing someone’s opinion. You can also say, “For his part, he doesn’t want to go,” which emphasizes that the opinion of this particular person is that he doesn’t want to go. The second phrase, “on my part,” simply means by me or because of me. You can say, “It was a good effort on my part,” which means that I in particular made a good effort.

Finally, we have a few pronunciation questions from Eric (Eric) in France. Eric wants to know how to pronounce the words “sheep” and “ship.” (Sheep) “sheep” is the animal, and (ship) “ship” is a large boat. Eric also wants to know whether these words are pronounced differently in different parts of the United States. Well, in Minnesota we say “sheep” and “ship,” and in California we also say “sheep” and “ship.” Some words are pronounced differently in different areas, but the words “sheep” and “ship” are not.

Another two words he wants to know about are “feet” and “fit.” (Feet) “feet” are the ends of your legs, and (fit) “fit” has to do with the size of something. Just as with “sheep” and “ship,” the first word here – “feet,” with two “e’s” – has what we call a “long e” pronunciation: “feet.” Whereas “fit” with an “i” has a “short i” pronunciation: “fit.”

Thank you for all of your questions. If you have other questions or comments, you can email us. Our email address is

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.

Great Lakes – a group of five large lakes in the northern United States, including Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Superior

* Wes lived in Michigan and has seen the three Great Lakes that border his state: Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Erie.

windy – a weather condition in which there is a lot of wind; a weather condition with a large amount of fast moving air

* It was so windy outside that Bernadine’s hat kept getting blown off her head.

breeze – a weather condition in which there is a little wind; a small amount of moving air

* It was a hot day, but there was a gentle breeze in the evening that made it a little more bearable.

ribs – a series of bones in the chest that protect the lungs and heart; a type of meat that comes from the rib bones inside the chest of a pig or cow

* Lorenzo ordered pork ribs and his brother ordered a hamburger.

barbecue – a type of red or brown sauce put on meat, typically before or while the meat is cooked; a type of sauce, usually made from tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and spices, which is used for cooking meat

* The chicken wings were coated in barbecue sauce before being grilled.

slavery – the act of owning another person and forcing that person to do work; the practice of one person being considered the property of another person

* Slavery still exists in some countries, where people are forced to work in dangerous or very poor conditions.

check – a small piece of paper someone gets after eating in a restaurant, stating how much money he or she owes for the food

* Esperanza’s meal cost more than she expected, but when she looked more closely at the check, everything was correct.

bill – a document or written statement someone gets from a business stating that he or she owes money for a product or service bought from that business

* When Brent forgot to pay his telephone bill, the telephone company threatened to stop his phone service.

rude – not polite; rough, harsh, or without manners

* Phuong was upset when a man at the bus stop began making rude comments.

tab – a record of the amount of money one owes, especially at a bar or restaurant, updated as one buys new drinks and food

* Frank bought drinks for his group of friends, and by the end of the night, he had run a very large tab.

to make up (one's) mind – to make a decision or choice that one has spent a long time thinking about

* Marcus could not make up his mind about where he wanted to eat dinner, causing his friends to get impatient with him.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. – an expression meaning that one's opinion about what is and is not beautiful depends on one's own ideas about beauty and not on one shared standard of beauty

* Terese thought that the sculpture was beautiful, but her friend disagreed and said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

behind – directly after something or hidden by something that is in front; toward the rear or back of a group of two or more

* The orange juice is in the refrigerator, behind the milk and next to the eggs.

beyond – farther or at a distance from something else; too much or past what one is capable of or able to do

* Jeff enjoyed running and swimming, but he was no professional athlete and a triathlon was beyond his physical abilities.

MIA – "Missing in Action"; in war, when a soldier cannot be found and it is unknown if the soldier is alive, captured, or dead; lost or unable to be found

* Molly needed to ask her professor a very important question, but he was MIA and couldn’t be found.

for (one's) part – as for what one believes or feels; relating to one or what one thinks

* Nolan’s family all like comedies, but for his part, Nolan prefers action films.

on (one's) part – on one's behalf; because of one or done for one's sake or benefit

* Eula did not want the rest of her friends to stay behind on her part.

What Insiders Know
A Morning Person or a Night Owl?

Some people like to go to bed early at night in order to get up early the next morning. These people are happy to wake up and start their day, often with a smile on their faces. Other people prefer to stay up late at night, and hate to get up in the morning. The world seems to be divided between these two groups.

If you like to get up early, we’d say you are a “morning person.” If you like to stay up late at night, then you’re a “night owl.” (An “owl” is a large bird with a loud call that doesn’t sleep at night). You may already know which one you are, but in case you’re not sure, here’s a little test that appeared in 2011 in the New York Times Magazine to help you figure out which group you belong to:

1. How “alert” (awake; aware) are you during the first half hour after you wake up? If you are very alert, you’re a morning person. If you’re not at all alert, you’re a night owl.

2. How hungry do you feel during the first half hour after you wake up? If you are very hungry, you’re a morning person. Not hungry? You’re definitely a night owl.

3. A friend wants to exercise with you during the week between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. Would you go with him at that hour, or suggest a later hour? If you would go with him, then you’re a morning person. If you prefer a later hour (or even in the afternoon), you’re probably a night owl.

上一篇:026 Topics: Political parties in the US, How to begin an email, Even vs. odd, Unless, "Six feet under"

下一篇:028 Topics: Easter bunny, Income Tax Day, immigration protests in the US, actually, zero vs. nil, to be on your last legs, third straight time, despite versus in spite of.