English Conversations – English Conversation for Language Learners
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Welcome to English Conversations!
World English Course
Learn the language of news and weather and world events while following news and weather and world events, and learn to understand and write about them in the English Conversations Almanac.
Vocabulary – Carnage
In his first speech as President of the United States, Donald Trump said:
“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
Carnage is Destruction
The word “carnage” has a Latin root and it comes from the word “carne”, which means “meat” or “flesh”. We see the word “carne” in words like “carnivorous” which means “meat-eating” and carnivore” which means “meat-eater”. Are you a vegetarian?
Carnage means “bloody destruction”.
In Trump’s view, America has been destroyed by crime, gangs, poverty, lack of education and economic collapse. He uses the word “carnage” as a a metaphor for “destruction”, “decay”, “death” because he sees a nation in crisis.
The United States of America is a complex multi-cultural nation and it is the largest economy in the world and the most powerful military force.
How do people view the USA in your society? Is it a benevolent force or a malevolent force or is the answer more complex than that? Write your opinion in the comments section below.
Bourke Street Carnage
As the United States of America listened to the first speech of the 45th President, a criminal in Melbourne, Australia drove his car through a pedestrian shopping mall and killed and injured many people.
Here is the headline from an Australian newspaper:
Baby becomes fifth person to die from Bourke Street carnage
Is this type of crime common in your society? Tell us in the comments section below.
Vocabulary – Meat or Flesh?
English has two words for meat (carne). The word “meat” is usually used at the butcher, in the kitchen or at the dining room table. The word “flesh” is sometimes used to describe meat on the table:
When I eat chicken, I prefer the white flesh but some people prefer the bones.
but generally “flesh” is a higher level word than “meat”. It is more commonly used as a metaphor or figure of speech for example in the proverb:
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,
which means “I want to do something but I do not have the courage to physically act.”
Carne is Meat
We use the words “carne seca” to describe “dried meat” in the Brazilian dish: Feijoada. Listen to this conversation and learn to make feijoada: How to make feijoada
Reincarnation is Rebirth
Many people believe in reincarnation, which is the idea that the soul lives on after the death of the body and it enters another body. You can read a story where this happens: The Lives of a Man
Do you believe in reincarnation? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Summary – Word Family
carne seca (a type of food)
carnage (a figurative noun)
Carne seca is used in Feijoada
I am more than a bird
In this song the singer says: “I am more than a bird.”
He also talks about “kryptonite” and references the phrases from Superman:
Look up in the sky!
It is not a bird. It is not a plane.
Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound.
Superman is a fictional American hero. Is he popular in your culture?
What do people think about Superman?
What do people think about America?
Listening to Phrases in a Complex Talk
Listening is a difficult skill. Here are some ideas to help with listening practice:
Do not expect to understand everything at the first listening. Listen for words and phrases that you can understand. Do not worry about the parts you do not get. Focus on what you DO get.
The above audio text is complex text. You will not understand everything at first. It does not matter. It is not important. Just listen.
Which words did you hear?
Which phrases did you identify?
The audio is about a book by Herman Hesse
Did you get these:
My name is Rachel
a very complicated book
it was published
it was first translated into into English
briefly summarise the plot
a futuristic world
play and nurture
not what Hesse actually intended the book to be about
more than just a coming of age story
hard to explain
the fictional biographer’s perspective
somewhere in my brain i understand
monasteries have served as preservers and keepers of knowledge
The Book Page
Button Batteries Are Highly Dangerous!
This woman lost her daughter. She swallowed a button battery. Do not let children have access to button batteries.
Listen to the audio and read the text. This is a sad story. It is a warning.
Listening – Are you underpa >on May 15, 2016 · Leave a Comment
This video is a real news story about a large corporation exploiting workers. These is no transcript so you have to listen. Maybe you will not understand one hundred per cent. No problem. Improving listening comprehension skills takes time. Be patient. Listen again and again. If you have problems or questions write them in the comments section below.
Are you underpaid?
Does your employer threaten you?
Tel us about it in the comments section below.
This song is about sugar and honey and love.
Basically it is a metaphor for the sweetness of love. Candy, sugar and honey are all sweet things and love is sweet too.
Is love always sweet?
Is love sometimes bitter-sweet?
Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
At the beginning of our study of English we learn that some verbs do not appear in present continuous tense, for example, like, want and love.
The MacDonalds’ advertisement slogan “I am loving in” has actually changed the way we use the word “love”. We used to use it in present simple but now it is used in present continuous as well.
In the song “Sugar Sugar” we also hear:
“You are my candy girl and you got me wanting you.”
Note how the singer transfers his desire (wanting) to the object of his desire (candy girl) when he says:
Are we on the same Wavelength?
“Are we on the same wavelength?” means “Do we see things the same way?” or “Do we understand each other?”
It is a metaphor from the idea of a radio or tv channel. You adjust it to the correct wavelength to pick up the station.
How do you say “hello” in your language?
You say “goodbye”
I say “I don’t know”
If one person disagrees all the time we say: “That person is contrary”
A contrary person is a person who likes to disagree. Have you ever met a person who is really contrary?
Tell us about it in the comments section.
We Can Work It Out
“to go on” is a phrasal verb which means “to continue”.
“To work something out” is a phrasal verb. When the Beatles sing “we can work it out”, they mean: “We can solve any problem.
Point of View – Perspective
“Try to see it my way” means “Try to see it from my point of view”.
Life is very short
There is no time for fussing and fighting.
Do you agree?
“Only time will tell” means “we will know after some time”.
Will the war in Syria end? Only time will tell. What do you think?
Time Goes by So Slowly
These phrases are the same:
Does time pass slowly or quickly for you? Is there a reason for that? In this song the singer says “Time goes by so slowly” because he is missing his lover and waiting to see his lover again.
Does time pass slowly or quickly for you? Why is that?