Wednesday, October 31, 2012

S201-205 Homework: "There are too many cars...."

This assignment is due on your class day in the week of November 5-9.

Exercise from Olga Afanasyeva, Virginia Evans, Victoria Kopylova, Practice Exam Papers for the Russian State Exam, 2010 Revised Edition, Moscow: Express Publishing/Prosveshchenie Publishers.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bonnie Raitt, "Something to Talk About"

Here's the music video by the great blues slide guitarist Bonnie Raitt, followed by the audio track and the words:

The audio version we heard in class: purchase link

Something to Talk About, Shirley Eikhard

People are talkin, talkin ’bout people
I hear them whisper, you won’t believe it
They think we’re lovers kept undercover
I just ignore it, but they keep sayin’
We laugh just a little too loud
We stand just a little too close
We stare just a little too long
Maybe they’re seeing, somethin’ we don’t, Darlin’
Let’s give ’em something to talk about (x3)
How about love?

I feel so foolish, I never noticed
You’d act so nervous, could you be falling for me?
It took a rumor to make me wonder
Now I’m convinced I’m goin under
Thinking ’bout you every day
Dreaming ’bout you every night
I'm hoping that you feel the same way
Now that we know it, let’s really show it, Darlin’
Let’s give ’em something to talk about
A little mystery to figure out
Let’s give ’em something to talk about
How about love, love, love?

Groups 501-502: Financial English, part one

Financial and business English: not just the language of accounting or economics, but also the language of business journalism, often replete with jargon and buzzwords. For example:

We talked about these terms:

drill down
revenue per click
value of a click
conversion rate
quarter, Q2
consecutive quarters
quarter ending - QE2
“changes being wrought by”
click rate
year over year changes
picking up in volume (or value)
“it’s all about” smthng
“the shift to mobile”
“cost as a percent of sales”

After the video, we looked at these discussion questions:
  1. "Let's talk about the change being wrought in our lives by the move towards mobile and away from the PC." What exactly is meant by this "move"?
  2. "... While the number of clicks is going through the roof, the value of a click declines in three consecutive quarters, in a double-digit way year over year...." What could be causing this decline?
  3. "We see the exact same thing, that quarter after quarter after quarter, the value of a user on Facebook is declining." What makes the Facebook situation similar to that of Google?
In addition to the video, we also looked at a quarterly report from Judy's Lunch Truck and talked about the terms and concepts in the report:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thandie Newton and Erin McKean

Last Thursday Groups 501 and 502 listened to two talks. On this page, each of the videos we use is followed by the questions we discussed after the video.

First, we heard Thandie Newton delivering a talk on "Embracing otherness, embracing myself."

We considered this listening-comprehension exercise:
  1. Newton believes that we each have a self
    a. ... that has been evident from the day we were born.
    b. ... that begins to develop when we are given our names.
    c. ... that remains unformed and primitive.
    d. ... that was not there when we were born.
  2. The self becomes a vehicle for navigating our social world,
    a. ... even though it is a projection based on other people's projections.
    b. ... according to the nuns at Newton's Catholic school.
    c. ... but without it we panic and become confused.
    d. ... because separateness is all that is real in this world.
  3. "I was an anomaly":
    a. ... I was able to fit and belong.
    b. ... I was an atheist in a Catholic school.
    c. ... I couldn't hatch plans and climb the staircase of popularity.
    d. ... I was other before even being a girl.
  4. At the age of sixteen, Newton stumbled across an opportunity:
    a. ... she began to realize that she was a really good dancer.
    b. ... she began to confront her dysfunctional self.
    c. ... she applied to her university's anthropology department.
    d. ... she earned a film role.
  5. Dancing and acting allowed Newton to:
    a. ... spend time not dreading her self-hood.
    b. ... put all her emotions into her struggles with self.
    c. ... develop a stronger connection between her self and her body.
    d. ... assure her anxious parents that she could succeed despite her
    identity problems.
  6. Anthropologist Phyllis Lee's understanding of race
    a. ... asserts that all human beings are black to some degree, except
    b. ... is based on variations in skin color.
    c. ... is based on calculations of the time needed to create genetic diversity.
    d. ... deny that race has any biological basis.
  7. Academic and career achievements gave Newton
    a. ... bulimia and a therapist's couch, but led to a car crash.
    b. ... little or no relief from her desire to disappear.
    c. ... an entire value system and a physical reality to support the worth of
    d. ... a clever brain to cheat herself from the reality of death.
  8. Newton believes that healthy selves, connected with their creator and with our oneness,
    a. ... understand their origins as projections, and respect their functions.
    b. ... cannot resist the temptations of iPods, Pads, and bling.
    c. ... will continue to surge through the cracks in our constructed world.
    d. … will still be freaked out by our bountiful nothingness.

Erin McKean's TED talk on "The joy of lexicography" came next:

... And we considered these open-ended questions:
  1. "And just by saying double dactyl, I've sent the geek needle all the way into the red." What does Erin mean by sending the "geek needle all the way into the red"?
  2. As a lexicographer, Erin McKean does not want to be a "traffic cop." What does she actually not want to do? Metaphorically, what profession would she prefer to compare her job with?
  3. Describing an online dictionary, McKean says "This is flat.... There's not a lot of clickiness." What does the word "flat" mean when used about online media?
  4. "And when you improve searchability, you actually take away the one advantage of print, which is serendipity." What is "serendipity"?
  5. What is the point of the "ham butt" story? What characteristics of traditional dictionaries is McKean referring to by using this story?
  6. What makes a word real?
  7. "Newspaper archive goes back to 1759. 58.1 million newspaper pages. If only one in 100 of those pages had an un-dictionaried word on it, it would be an entire other OED. That's 500,000 more words." What is the OED and what is her point here?
  8. "One of them [the definitions of the word 'set' in the OED] is just labeled 'miscellaneous technical senses.' Do you know what that says to me? That says to me it was Friday afternoon and somebody wanted to go down to the pub." In other words, what is her explanation for this definition?
  9. "So again, lexicography is not rocket science." When somebody says "X is not rocket science," what are they saying about X?
  10. "And this is a little-known technological fact about the Internet, but the Internet is actually made up of words and enthusiasm. And words and enthusiasm actually happen to be the recipe for lexicography." What additional characteristic does McKean wish all word-collecting sites on the Internet had?
  11. The Internet could be the site for dictionaries that are not simply being regarded "synecdotichically," but include...what?

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Boys get away with everything!"

Here is the audio we used yesterday in Groups 501 and 502--first, the cherry picker story, then the British Council podcast.

"Boys get away with everything."

Truck-mounted cherry picker (Wikimedia Commons)
Cherry Picker purchase link

Selected phrases from Garrison Keillor's story:

Well, it's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, my home town...

... It looks like that fresh snow is going to stay around for a while, which is just to our liking....

... all the front yards in Lake Wobegon...

...Coming under the lovely spell of winter ... winter come s along and brings us to our senses...
You cannot impose your own ambitious schedule on winter...

...Shot about 15% the first half and not much better the second half... their record now on the season is 9 and 6...

She'd [Lennie Voss] been suspended for two games for being at a party last week at which some boys had bought in some alcohol--beer, I guess...

And she went into the principal's office--Mr. Halverson--this last week and she said, “This is not fair. You would not do this to a boy on the boys' team... Somebody said they had a six-pack; I didn't know, I wasn't going to go ask 'em....”

Mr. Halverson gave his school principal speech about how it was nothing personal... rules are enforced, no matter what....

And they really do need a leader because their coach is such a loser.

There is no such thing as second- or third-string....

She sat in the stands and watched the game on Friday against St. Margaret.

If I had been the star of the team, and I had to sit it out, I would be secretly pulling for them to lose by a large margin. That's the sort of person I am.

You couldn't tell it to look at him now....

“A bunch of broads with big hairy legs, that's who these feminists are... .”

And right around when she was thirteen-fourteen years old, and she was on the junior high team, and there was a little dispute over when the boys' team should practice and when the girls' team might be allowed to come in and use the gymnasium, and right there, in about a day and a half, Arnold Voss became a militant feminist.

“Boys get away with everything! ”

...The Abominable Snowman, the great Beast of the Blizzard in the winter of '76, who terrorized and wreaked damage and destruction across a good section of western Minnesota...

... This big Mack Truck with a cherry picker on it ...

... They had to head for home in their big Mack truck, and so they folded up the cherry picker and put everything back together and they headed north towards Lake Wobegon into the teeth of this blizzard....

... a complete white-out, you couldn't tell up from down...

... Arnold, who was driving, had to down-shift and the truck was struggling ...

... The cherry picker had come way up into the air. There was a tarp they had wrapped around the control levers at the base of it, and a corner of it had gotten loose, and evidently it was flapping, and every time it flapped, it got hold of a lever, and it raised that cherry picker.

They had been trying to haul tons of copper down the road!

“You back up as slow[ly] as you can back up. ”

Then he cut some alpaca out of the lining of his jacket. … He roughed up his hair.

He pounded on it [the door], and he clawed at it....

... And they saw the phone lines all dragged down, and then it made sense.To accomplish this kind of damage would take a creature about as big as would fit these footprints.

He was dubious himself but he said a lot of people there had seen it!

It made the Minneapolis paper.

That town went downhill from then on. ... He'd see houses boarded up, "For Sale" signs up.

a bad case of the jitters....

Arnold tortured himself with these thoughts for years.

...she gets kicked off the team for two days, and he goes scot-free.

... and that evens up everything.

...and at the same time you have license to complain about.

That's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

Art and Business (thanks to British Council)

The questions we discussed in class:
  1. According to the interviewer, «Art & Business is an organisation that develops ___________ ____________ between business and the arts.»
  2. Peter Jones believes that productivity now depends on what factor(s)?
  3. What can books do for us, according to Peter Jones?
  4. Jones mentions a recent survey of businesspeople. When asked which books inspired them and had a positive influence on their career, what proportion of the surveyed people cited business books? (30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, or 70%?)
  5. What critical skills (name two or three from the interview) do readers combine?
  6. The left side of the brain, according to Jones, analyzes the plot. What is interesting to the right side of the brain?
  7. Reading groups at Marks and Spencer have apparently improved working relationships in the company. Based on what Jones said, why might this have happened?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Minnesota State Fair

Garrison Keillor's radio "private eye," Guy Noir, from the radio program A Prairie Home Companion, visits the Minnesota State Fair.

Delights of the Subjunctive Booth

Here's the script--although, don't forget what we told you in class: the actors don't adhere exactly to the script!

Guy Noir script, Saturday, September 5, 2009

TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but on the twelfth floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions --- Guy Noir, Private Eye ---
GK: It was September, and a chill was in the air, the chill of mortality, which makes a guy think maybe he ought to bleach his hair and buy a Jaguar and head west and just let the repo man come and find you. Gather the rosebuds, in other words. Carpe diem. Carpe nocturno too. It was State Fair time in Minnesota, when summer ends and it's time to make something of yourself, which a guy feels even when you're on a long losing streak—I was working the Fair, working undercover out of the Security division —

TK: Okay, Noir. Got a job for you.
GK: Good. It's about time. What you got?
TK: Home Activities building. Call came in at eleven-hundred hours.
GK: You mean at 11 a.m.
TK: Right. Eleven-hundred hours.
GK: Why not just say eleven o'clock this morning?
TK: I'd rather say eleven-hundred hours. I'm in law enforcement.
GK: Okay, okay—
TK: It's the Bundt Cake competition.
GK: Okay.
TK: We suspect that the second-place winner might be fraudulent. We did a search on her ID. Two different street addresses. Look into it.
GK: What's the second-place prize?
TK: A red ribbon and $75.
GK: Who's gonna cheat for that kind of chickenfeed?
TK: We got the call and we've gotta look into it.
GK: What am I looking for?
TK: Female, blonde. Medium height, weight. In her late thirties or forties. Shorts, t-shirt, flip-flops. Carrying a shopping bag full of free brochures and giveaways.
GK: You want me to find her.
TK: Take a look around. See what you can see.
GK: Okay. (STING) So I headed out through the crowds (CAROUSEL ORGAN, VOICES PASSING, RATCHET OF RIDE), looking for a woman who looked like half the women who were at the fair that day. But it was good to walk around and smell the animal fats. And then suddenly a woman was right there, in my face—
SS (SEDUCTIVE): Hey mister, how about some....deep-fried Reese's Pieces? Huh? What do you say? They're good. Want to try some?
GK: Sorry, I'm working.
SS (SEDUCTIVE): So am I. So let's work together. C'mon, you only live once.
GK: Temptation on every hand. Except not quite every hand.
TR (BARKER): Hey step right up, and play Monopoly—America's favorite board game—here it is—only Monopoly game at the Fair—put hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place......only takes an hour—win the game and you win a teddy bear—come on, step right up—who wants to play Monopoly—
GK: He wasn't getting any takers but he still didn't give up. Had a big smile on his face. Optimism. A beautiful thing to see in other people even if you don't care to go there yourself. There was a lot of it around the Fair.
SS: Step up here and have a glass of wine. Got a nice Minnesota wine. It's a Sauvignon Honk. A dry wine with a complex bouquet of soybeans and plywood and a long finish of shellac. Here you go— (FADES)
TK (BARKER): Hey, here it is, here it is, folks—your lucky day—a dollar a chance, the more you buy the better your chances—come on, how about you, sir?
GK: What's the drawing for?
TK: Twins Playoff Tickets.
GK: Playoff tickets.
TK: They're just five games out of first.
GK: Exactly my point.
TK: A guy can hope.
GK: Five games out of first on Labor Day? You call that hope?
TK (FADING): HEY, here it is, folks—your lucky day—a dollar a chance, the more you buy the better your chances—come on—
GK: I walked around past the high striker (WHACK, DING BELL) and the lady selling juicers —
SS: Here it is, the secret of good health, the Juice-o-rama—(SERIES OF SPLATS) I put in oranges, potatoes, onions, blueberries, herring, Swiss chard (MOTOR WHIRR)—see how easy it is?
GK: And the Tilt-A-Whirl (MOTOR REV, CRIES OF PASSENGERS) and the sheep barn (SHEEP) and the poultry barn (SFX) and the Live Birth barn where a woman was in labor—
GK: Went up to Machinery Hill and there wasn't much machinery around, just a guy with some hardware--
TR: Here it is. Got your pump handles, poles, pillars, pilasters, parapets, pipes, pegs, pins, pans, plates, panels, pommels, planks, pivots—got a pendulum here— see? (SFX)—
GK: You wouldn't happen to have any plinths, would you?
TR: Iron plinths?
GK: Right.
TR: Nope.
GK: Okay. (FOOTSTEPS) I walked into the Technology barn where a man was selling P-Pods.
TK: How about it?
GK: Don't need a peapod, thanks.
TK: It's the latest thing.
GK: Don't want one.
TK: A hundred bucks, but for you, eighty-nine ninety- five. Going, going, gone.
GK: What does it do?
TK: It's the successor to the iPod. The pPod. The p stands for programming.
GK: It's tiny.
TK: The size of a postage stamp. But it's got 100,000 songs on it and 25,000 feature-length films.
GK: What am I going to do with all that? I've got a life to lead.
TK: Look at this.
GK: I can barely see it.
TK: Come in close. See— you can get any movie you want— just punch it in—
TR (BOGART): Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.
SS (MAE WEST): Well, it's not the men in your life that counts, it's the life in your men.
TK: See? All the classics. You just text in the title and there it is.
SS (GARBO): Gimme a whiskey, ginger ale on the side. And don't be stingy, baby.
TR (OLLIE): Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into.
SS (WITCH): Oh! You cursed brat. Look what you've done. I'm melting! Melting!
TR (JIMMY STEWART): You want the moon? Just say the word, and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey, that's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon.
SS (SCARLETT): I can't think about that now, I'll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.
GK: Thanks, but no.
TR: Now Sawyer, you listen to me and you listen hard. You've got to go on, and you have to give and give and give. They've got to like you, they've got to. Do you understand? You can't fall down. You can't. But you keep your feet on the ground and your head on those shoulders of yours and go out - and Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star.
GK: Look— I got a job to do, Mister. Let go of my arm.
TK: Twenty-five thousand movies for eighty-nine bucks.
GK: Life isn't long enough. Okay?
TR (CLINT): So tell me, punk? You feel lucky today?
TK: Hey— come back— 75 bucks— (FADE)
GK: I headed into the Education Building for the peace and quiet and there was a booth for Arabic school and there was a Twitter exhibit—a guy doing updates—
TK: (TYPING); I am online and I am updating my updates. And now I am done with that update and ready to write a new one. Except I can't think of a new one. So I'll leave that one up for now. Until I think of something new. Which I might. Stay tuned.
GK: And then I saw a handsome woman under a big sign that said English Department, and I walked over—
SS: Step right up, it's the Subjunctive Booth—anybody can be a winner—just use the English language properly—Sir, step up, and win the big prize.
GK: She was tall with broad shoulders and dark hair and she wore a Professional Organization of English Majors T-shirt.
SS: Come on up and use the subjunctive mood and be a winner. You, sir—
GK: Yes, ma'am.
SS: Did you hear what I said?
GK: Yes, you asked that I speak in the subjunctive.
SS: So you know the subjunctive.
GK: If I didn't, I would not be talking like this.
SS: Two out of two, very good. Do you have time to go for three?
GK: If I should, who would care?
SS: Three. (DING)
GK: It is time I should go home, but I can stay.
SS: Excellent. Four.
GK: Had I known you liked the subjunctive, I would have spoken nothing but.
SS: Five. (DING)
GK: If I were an English major, I'd know more of them.
SS: Six. (DING) Would you like to know what the prize for ten in a row is?
GK: I would not be here if I didn't.
SS: Seven. (DING)
GK: If I'd known you were here, I would've studied up.
SS: Eight. (DING)
GK: If I were to get to ten, I hope the prize would involve you.
SS: Nine. (DING)
GK: Would that I could.
SS: Ten. (DING)
GK: Well, God bless America.
SS: Bonus. (DING) That was quite respectable, sir.
GK: If need be, I could do more.
SS: Heaven forbid. What do you say we get out of the subjunctive and into the future perfect?
GK: I am going to think the future is very perfect if you're in it with me.
SS: Oh my. You know how to make an English major perspire.
GK: So what do I win?
SS: The prize is $75. Cash. Here.
GK: Thanks.
SS: I could help you spend it.
GK: Now?
SS: No time like the present.
GK: We're going out on a date?
SS: You only live once.
GK: Wow.
SS: So tell me about yourself. Mr. Noir.
GK: I'm a private eye. A proud profession that died a long time ago, kid. Back in the Age of Privacy, you had to work to find out stuff about people, follow them around, sneak up behind trees, plant microphones in cocktails. Now you can find it all out on Facebook. So I'm what you might call semi-employed.
SS: So what do you do for fun?
GK: Oh. Long walks, conversation, sharing, all kinds of music, emotional intimacy, it sorta runs the gamut.
SS: What do you say we have a wild time instead? We've got 75 bucks. (BRIDGE)
GK: So we did. We rode the double ferris wheel (SFX) and we did the Swiss Sky Ride (SFX) and then we did the Magic Carpet (WILD RIDE) and then we went through the Tunnel of Love until the money ran out.
SS: Thanks, babes. It was beautiful.
GK: Wish it could've been longer.
SS: Yeah, me too.
GK: Good meeting you, kid.
SS: Same here. Keep using that subjunctive.
GK: I don't know. I feel like I'm slipping into the past tense.
SS: Naw. If you only knew— if you only knew— (BRIDGE)
GK: I watched her walk away. My English major. You never know what you'll find at the fair. You go looking for a fake Bundt cake baker and you wind up finding somebody you'll never forget. —
My baby dont watch TV
She loves the library
She goes there every day
My baby dont text or wear a pager
My baby is an English major

She is a bibliophile
She has an ear for style
Prose or poetry
She is a high-toned critic
But my baby cares for me

She loves the subjunctive mood
That is her attitude
Come what may, so let it be
I love her, how, she fills my senses
And Lord she conjugates my tenses
The dictionary she has read it
She is smart and she can edit
I hope she rewrites me
My baby knows her business
And yet she cares for me

My baby has style and glamour
And she uses perfect grammar
She's perfect as can be
She's a master of seduction
She is good at deconstruction
She has a fine search engine
Other assets I could mention
She moves me poetically
I wonder what's wrong with baby
I was unprepared for
Don't know the whys and wherefore
But I'd swim the ocean and fly through air for
My baby cares for me


TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions...Guy Noir, Private Eye.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thursday: We meet at last!

Greetings to students of Institute groups 501 and 502!!

Judy and I are looking forward to our first class together on Thursday. See you in Room 9!

Our class will emphasize listening comprehension, using audio texts from both British and American sources (and occasionally others), along with many opportunities for conversation in class. There will be very little homework; in return, we expect full attendance and lots of hard work in class!! We hope it will be useful and enjoyable--and to help make it so, we will be eager to hear what areas and topics you are especially hoping to cover during our year together.