What Does It Mean to Be Stumped? – VOA Learning English (Jan 21, 2017)

And now the VOA Learning English program, Words and Their Stories.

Every word has its own story. What does it mean? Where did it come from? And how did it get into our language?

There are many stories of early settlers of America: the people who moved westward and opened up new territory. Many of these settlers were farmers who wanted a new home, a piece of land, some crops and cattle.

So, they moved west, cutting their way through difficult terrain, searching for a good place to live and farm. When they found it, they took out their axes and cut down trees. This was hard work. One of the hardest tasks was pulling up tree stumps from the ground.

And that’s our word today — “stump.”

A tree stump is the part of a tree that remains in the ground after the tree is cut down. Stumps can also be the part of something such as a pencil that remains after the rest has been worn away.

Tree stumps gave these early American farmers big problems. Some stumps were so big that farmers had to use two or three horses to pull them out.

Stumps became part of life and part of the language. If someone asked a settler if they had cleared the land, they might answer: “Nope. I’m still stumped.” This means they did not know how to get rid of the tree stumps from the ground.

And today, this meaning of the word is the same. To be stumped is to not know what to do or say. You are confused. You are blocked.

During the early days of America, the trees fell fast. The stumps remained for years. Sometimes they became part of the landscape. Some writers even wrote stories about tree stumps.

One day in 1716, a visitor named Ann Maury left the east coast to visit a so-called “stump town” in the west.

“I went into the middle of the town,” she wrote. “And there, right in the center, surrounded by wooden buildings, was the great stump of a tree. I asked why this stump had not been pulled up. ‘Oh, we just never thought of it,’ was the answer. ‘Besides,’ the townspeople explained, ‘whenever one of the two chiefs has something to say, he stands upon this stump and is raised higher than the others. In this way, he can be heard better.’”

When George Washington became commander of all the colonial troops in 1775, he supposedly used stumps to talk to his troops.

In time, anyone who stood on a stump and spoke to the people became a “stump speaker.” As we know, politicians like to speak to crowds. So, it wasn’t long before “stump” entered politics.

Presidential candidates travel all over the country to explain their positions on issues to voters and try to win their support.

Jon Favreau was a speechwriter for President Barack Obama. He explained in an ABC news video that a stump speech is a candidate’s “argument” for why he or she should be elected.

The speechwriter says that stump speeches contain everything a voter needs to know about where a candidate stands on issues important to that campaign.

He says that stump speeches are useful “campaign tools that they (politicians) can use on the road.” They can simply reuse the same speech over and over or change it a little to fit each audience.

We also use “stump” as a verb. The Online Etymology Dictionary defines “stump” as to “go on a speaking tour during a political campaign.” The site says that usage began in 1838.

These days, politicians are “stumping” when they go into their same old speech that they have given over and over and over again. So, it is no surprise that “stumping” used this way is often not a good thing.

And that is the end of Words and Their Stories. If this story has left you feeling stumped, write us a comment. We will help you figure it out!

I’m Anna Matteo.

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Words in This Stories

stumpn. the basal portion of a bodily part remaining after the rest is removed

terrainn. a geographic area : a piece of land : the physical features of a tract of land

axen. a cutting tool that consists of a heavy edged head fixed to a handle with the edge parallel to the handle and that is used especially for felling trees and chopping and splitting wood

This was originally published on the www.learningenglish.voanews.com and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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English in a Minute: Freebie – VOA Learning English (Jan 21, 2017)

“Freebies” are, as you might have guessed, items given out for free! Learn more about how to use this word in this week’s English in a Minute!

This was originally published on www.learningenglish.voanews.com and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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Chinese Billionaire Does Not See China-US Trade War – VOA Learning English (Jan 21, 2017)

The head of China’s largest online seller Alibaba does not think China and the United States will have a trade war despite comments from the Trump administration.

Jack Ma is the chairman of the Alibaba Group. At the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, he said, “China and (the) U.S. will never have a trade war. Give Trump some time. He’s open-minded, he’s listening.”

The Chinese billionaire said he would do all he could to prevent trade relations between the countries from getting worse.

Last week, Ma met with Trump at the Trump Tower in New York City. The Chinese billionaire is said to have discussed a plan to permit one million small U.S. businesses to sell goods on Alibaba’s online shopping platform.

During the campaign and after winning the presidential election, Trump strongly criticized the Chinese government’s support for its businesses. He blamed unfair trade policies for taking away U.S. jobs. And he said that China unfairly controls the exchange value of its currency, the yuan.

Trump also has threatened to place import taxes on goods from China and other countries in response to their trade policies.

According to the South China Morning Post, Ma said, “American international companies made millions and millions of dollars from globalization.” He added that the U.S. should not blame the loss of jobs and companies on globalization.

Group says American businesses in China concerned

However, a new study by an American business group says many U.S. businesses feel unwelcome in China. The companies say the cost of doing business in China is increasing. They add that rules and regulations are unclear or not enforced in a consistent way.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China led the study, which looked at responses from 462 companies.

William Zarit is chairman of the chamber. He says trade policies in China make it difficult for American companies. He says, “we feel that over the last few years that we’ve been taken advantage of to some extent, with our open market and the lack of open areas in the Chinese market.”

Another major concern for U.S. companies in China is fake products. Fake products are copies of the originals that cost businesses with the legal right to sell them millions of dollars each year.

Ma defended Alibaba’s efforts to fight fake products on its shopping platform. He said his company is doing all it can to fight the problem.

“Fighting against fake products is a war against human greediness,” Ma said.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Bill Ide reported the story on American businesses in China. Mario Ritter adapted it with additional materials from Reuters and other news sources. Hai Do was the editor.

We want to hear from you. What do you think of globalization and U.S.-China trade. Tell us in the comment section.

______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

despite –prep. without being prevented by

platform –n. a computer program that is used for a specific purpose, such as choosing and selling products

consistent –adj. not changing, happening in the same way

globalization –n. the process of making the trade of goods and services equivalent in all nations

originals –n. not a copy, the real or true product

This was originally published on www.learningenglish.voanews.com and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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Google Inspires Entrepreneurs Around the World – VOA Learning English (Jan 21, 2017)

WORLD_INDONESIA1_21JAN17

Google meeting in Jakarta,Indonesia August 9, 2016 (Photo by Toto Santiko Budi/Google Indonesia)

In the late 1990s, Google was just a start-up company operating out of a garage in Palo Alto, California. Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started the company while studying at Stanford University.

Google’s founders and its employees, then, understand some of the challenges that entrepreneurs around the world may face.

An entrepreneur is a person who starts a business. They must be willing to risk financial loss in order to make money.

Mary Grove is the director of a program called Google for Entrepreneurs.

She said, “It’s never been easier, in some ways, to start a company and your audience has never had the potential to be more global.”

Grove said Google wants to help new start-up businesses grow and be successful.

Google for Entrepreneurs has opened campuses around the world, in cities like London, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Warsaw, Tel Aviv and Seoul.

Entrepreneurs in each city can use Google’s buildings without paying. Google provides them with workspaces and meeting spaces. Entrepreneurs can work with each other and learn from people who are more experienced in business.

Yeram Kwon is the head of a company in South Korea. Her business is called I.M. Lab. It makes a product that helps people learn to perform the lifesaving technique called CPR.

She said she has learned how to solve some of her business’s problems by attending Google events in Seoul.

Hilla Brenner is an experienced entrepreneur in Tel Aviv, Israel. She started two companies. She also invests in other companies and mentors people trying to start businesses.

She was nine months pregnant when one of her businesses received a $5 million investment. When her baby was born, she took time off from work, but still wanted to be involved in business. Brenner told Google there should be a program for new mothers who want to learn about business while on maternity leave.

So Google created Campus for Moms, a nine-week program for new mothers who are interested in starting their own businesses. Campus for Moms started in Tel Aviv. It is now available at other locations around the world. New parents can bring their children with them to the meetings.

Outside of its own buildings in these cities, Google provides financial support and resources for partner organizations around the world.

Building partnerships is a way for Google to spread the idea of entrepreneurialism around the world. Google can use its network to help find people who want to invest in start-up businesses.

Those people need to be ready to take risks. That is something Kwon said makes some Koreans uncomfortable.

“Most Korean people think that it is much safer to work for big companies like Samsung and LG,” she said.

But, Kwon said the Korean government and technology companies are now supporting people willing to take business risks.

Google for Entrepreneurs says it has connected with over 300,000 entrepreneurs in 140 countries. Together, they have raised $1.8 billion and helped create more than 20,000 jobs.

I’m Jill Robbins.

And Phil Dierking.

Elizabeth Lee wrote this story for VOANews.com. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Do you feel comfortable taking risks in business? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

_______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

start-up – n. a new business

entrepreneur – n. a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money

potential – n. capable of becoming real

campus – n. the area and buildings around a university, college, school, etc.

technique – n. a way of doing something by using special knowledge or skill

mentor – n. someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person

maternity leave – n. time away from for a new mother

network – n. a group of people or organizations that are closely connected and that work with each other

This was originally published on www.learningenglish.voanews.com and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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Living in a hotter world – The Hindu (Jan 21, 2017)

Living in a hotter world – The Hindu (Jan 21, 2017)

The world has turned the page on 2016 with the worrying revelation that it was the warmest year on the instrumental record since the late 19th century,…. For further reading, visit “The Hindu”.

This preview is provided here with permission.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Word List-1:

  1. instrumental (adjective) – relating to measuring instruments.
  2. aggravate (verb) – intensify, increase; worsen/compound.
  3. El Niño (noun) – it is a phenomenon during which the relationships between winds and ocean currents in the Pacific Ocean change, with an impact on weather conditions around the world (Courtesy: The Earth Observatory, NASA).
  4. rely on (phrasal verb) – depend, reckon, bank.
  5. sea ice (noun) – it is frozen ocean water.
  6. ice sheet (noun) – a permanent layer of ice covering polar region.
  7. compound (verb) – intensify, increase, aggravate/worsen.
  8. vicious (adjective) – serious, dangerous, dreadful.
  9. dark area/surface (noun) – It is the area/ surface (e.g., rocks and open sea water) which leading to more solar absorption in the Arctic. These surfaces eventually uncovered by the impurities [such as dust, microorganisms, BC (black carbon) & GHGs (greenhouse gases)] melt the snow or ice in the Arctic.
  10. phenomena (noun) – plural form of phenomenon (phenomenon – occurrence, event, happening).
  11. climate change (noun) – a long-term change in the Earth’s climate, or of a region on Earth (Courtesy: NASA).
  12. drought (noun) – dry spell/period, lack of rain, shortage of water.
  13. biodiversity (noun) – the existence of many different kinds of plants and animals in an environment (Courtesy: VOA Learning English).
  14. hearten (verb) – encourage/boost, comfort, reassure.
  15. renege on (verb) – default on, break, withdraw/retreat from.
  16. accord (noun) – agreement, treaty, pact/deal.
  17. unambiguous (adjective) – undeniable, unquestionable, unarguable.
  18. scale up (phrasal verb) – increase.
  19. renewable energy (noun) – energy generated from the natural resources (such as water, wind, solar energy)
  20. fossil-fuels (noun) – non renewable resources or fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are formed from the buried /deposited organic materials.
  21. credible (adjective) – convincing, acceptable; reasonable.
  22. unlock (verb) – make something available (for use).
  23. livestock (noun) – farm animals (cattle, goats & etc).
  24. vulnerable (adjective) – endangered, unsafe, unprotected.

21JAN17_WL1Note:

  1. Click each one of the words above for their definition, more synonyms, pronunciation, example sentences, phrases, derivatives, origin and etc from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/.
  2. Definitions (elementary level) & Synonyms provided for the words above are my personal work and not that of Oxford University Press. Tentative definitions/meanings are provided for study purpose only and they may vary in different context. Use it with the corresponding article published on the source (website) via the link provided. 
  3. This word list is for personal use only. Reproduction in any format and/or Commercial use of it is/are strictly prohibited.
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English @ the Movies: ‘You Are Having Visions’ – VOA Learning English (Jan 20, 2017)

Today on English @ the Movies we talk about the saying “you are having visions.” It is from the movie “Inferno.” This film is about a professor who is trying to save the world from a deadly virus. Want to know what “you are having visions” means? Watch our video to find out!

This was originally published on "VOA Learning English" and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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News Words: Speculation – VOA Learning English (Jan 19, 2017)

Find out what speculation means and what makes it go away in this week’s News Words.

This was originally published on www.learningenglish.voanews.com and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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Rebooting disinvestment – The Hindu (Jan 20, 2017)

Rebooting disinvestment – The Hindu (Jan 20, 2017)

To gain some perspective on the Centre’s decision to divest 25% of its stake in five public sector general insurers, consider these numbers. For further reading, visit “The Hindu”.

This preview is provided here with permission.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Word List-1:

  1. reboot (verb) –  reintroduce, re-establish, restore.
  2. disinvestment (noun) – the process of reducing capital investments.
  3. perspective (noun) – outlook, viewpoint/standpoint, position; true understanding.
  4. scrutiny (noun) – careful examination, observation, inspection.
  5. underwriting loss (noun) – a loss of an insurance company on its insurance activities.
  6. outlier (noun) –  it is an observation/data point that is distant/different in value from other observation/data points.
  7. transparency (noun) – clarity, clearness, unambiguity.
  8. accountability (noun) – responsibility, liability, answerability.
  9. India nuclear (liability) insurance pool – A pool comprising of 12 companies (non-life insurers) formed to provide the risk transfer mechanism to the nuclear operators and nuclear suppliers to meet their obligations under the (Civil Liability of Nuclear Damage) CLND Act. This pool is formed to meet the requirement of huge financial cover in case of a mishap.
  10. muscle (noun) – influence, power/force, strength.
  11. wary (adjective) – cautious, careful; suspicious/dubious.
  12. in principle (phrase) – in theory, theoretically, on paper.
  13. symptomatic (adjective) – indicative, signalling, warning.
  14. strategic sale (noun) – a sale of public sector firm in which control and a significant proportion of ownership (share) go to a private sector strategic partner/investor.
  15. lethargy (noun) – sluggishness, inertia, inactivity.
  16. sick (adjective) – relating to an organisation/system which is in severe difficulty.
  17. political economy (noun) – the study/theory of the way an economy is organized in a particular country.
  18. window  (noun) – opportunity, right moment, chance.
  19. divestment (noun) – the process of selling off investments.
  20. spearhead (verb) – lead, head; be in the forefront of.
  21. steam (noun) – energy, stamina, impetus.

20JAN17_WL2Note:

  1. Click each one of the words above for their definition, more synonyms, pronunciation, example sentences, phrases, derivatives, origin and etc from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/.
  2. Definitions (elementary level) & Synonyms provided for the words above are my personal work and not that of Oxford University Press. Tentative definitions/meanings are provided for study purpose only and they may vary in different context. Use it with the corresponding article published on the source (website) via the link provided. 
  3. This word list is for personal use only. Reproduction in any format and/or Commercial use of it is/are strictly prohibited.
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The limits to popular sentiment – The Hindu (Jan 20, 2017)

The limits to popular sentiment – The Hindu (Jan 20, 2017)

Tamil Nadu is caught in a near-spontaneous mass upsurge in support of jallikattu, the bull-taming spectacle held during the time of the harvest festival of Pongal. For further reading, visit “The Hindu”.

This preview is provided here with permission.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Word List-1:

  1. upsurge (noun) – (a sudden & large) increase.
  2. Jallikattu (noun) – it is the popular bull-taming sport held alongside annual harvest festivities of Pongal in rural Tamil Nadu (Courtesy: The Hindu).
  3. spectacle (noun) – event, show/display, performance.
  4. vigil (noun) –  a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching, or an observance (Courtesy: Wikipedia).
  5. ritual (noun) – ceremony, formalities, proceedings.
  6. custom (noun) – tradition, practice, procedure/observance.
  7. rise up (verb) – protest, rebel, revolt.
  8. solidarity (noun) – unanimity, unity, like-mindedness.
  9. wrest (verb) – push, force, twist.
  10. nullify (verb) – annul, invalidate; cancel out.
  11. take part (phrase) – participate, get involved, engage in.
  12. run amok (phrase) – go berserk, get out of control, behave wildly.
  13. hold on to (phrasal verb) – keep, retain, hang on to/keep possession of.
  14. hump (noun) – a rounded raised bump/bulge found on the back of a camel or other animal; protuberance, protrusion.
  15. feudal (adjective) – old-fashioned, outdated, obsolete.
  16. masculine (adjective) – male/manly, macho, muscular.
  17. valour (noun) – bravery, courage, fearlessness.
  18. take a heavy toll (phrase) – have an adverse effect.
  19. deem (verb) – regard as, consider, judge.
  20. the onus (noun) – responsibility, duty, burden.
  21. provision (noun) – term, clause, stipulation.
  22. fritter away (phrasal verb) – squander, waste/misuse, throw away.
  23. reproach (noun) – rebuke, disapproval, criticism.
  24. get around (phrasal verb) – coax/persuade/influence, overcome, win over.
  25. course (noun) – course of action,  process/procedure, approach.
  26. undermine (verb) – subvert, weaken/reduce, compromise.

20JAN17_WL1Note:

  1. Click each one of the words above for their definition, more synonyms, pronunciation, example sentences, phrases, derivatives, origin and etc from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/.
  2. Definitions (elementary level) & Synonyms provided for the words above are my personal work and not that of Oxford University Press. Tentative definitions/meanings are provided for study purpose only and they may vary in different context. Use it with the corresponding article published on the source (website) via the link provided. 
  3. This word list is for personal use only. Reproduction in any format and/or Commercial use of it is/are strictly prohibited.
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Learn 10 Separable Phrasal Verbs – VOA Learning English (Jan 19, 2017)

Welcome back to Everyday Grammar from VOA Learning English.

Today we return to a very common verb form in English – phrasal verbs. You will find one phrasal verb in every 192 words of written English. They will make your English sound more natural once you begin using them correctly. In an earlier program, we explained how and why English speakers use them.

Today we look at some often-used phrasal verbs. This type of phrasal verb allows a direct object to come between the verb and the preposition or adverb. As you will hear, there is a special rule that learners should know about when using these 10 phrasal verbs.

The structure of phrasal verbs

As you know, a phrasal verb is a phrase with two or more words: a verb and a preposition or adverb or both. We call the preposition or adverb a particle when it combines with a verb. Here are two examples:

“Please put the lamp on the desk.”

“I think you’re putting me on.”

In the first sentence, on is a preposition showing the position of the lamp. In the second sentence, on is an adverbial particle. Put on is a phrasal verb meaning “fool” or “trick” in this sentence.

An important point is that a regular verb+preposition combination has two meanings. A phrasal verb, that is, a verb+particle, has a single meaning within a sentence. Many phrasal verbs have a number of different meanings in different situations. Yet the meaning of the verb+particle can usually be expressed with a single Latin-based verb.

Here are two sentences with the same meaning:

“They tore down the old building.”

“They demolished the old building.”

The verb tear has its own meaning, and so does the preposition down. They can combine with other words when they are alone. But as a phrasal verb, tear down, they have one meaning: “destroy.”

In 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan visited West Germany. He told a crowd in the divided city of Berlin, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Separable phrasal verbs

Now for the tricky part. You know that some verbs are transitive, which means they have a direct object. When such verbs appear as phrasal verbs, an object can either separate the phrase or follow it. Here’s an example.

“I decided to throw out my old jeans.”

“I decided to throw my old jeans out.”

Both of these sentences are correct. The object of the phrasal verb throw out is jeans. You can use a pronoun instead of jeans and ask,

“Are you sure you want to throw them out?”

However, you cannot ask, “Are you sure you want to throw out them?” Here, the pronoun them must appear between the verb and the particle.

Finding the frequent phrasal verbs

In recent years, language experts began to use computers to examine a large collection, or corpus, of written and spoken language. When researchers look for phrasal verbs, they find that many deal with an activity. They also find a few verbs combine with many particles. Among the most common verbs are come, put, get, go, pick, sit and take. These combine with the adverb particles up, out, in, on, off, and down to make up a group of very useful phrasal verbs.

Now, let’s look at transitive phrasal verbs. See the list at the end of the article. The verb get is part of many phrasal verbs. For example, we use get up to mean “to wake oneself up” or “to awaken someone.” For example:

“My son loves to sleep late. I got him up on time to catch the bus this morning.”

Remember, the pronoun has to come between the verb and the adverb, so we cannot say, “I got up him.”

Notice how the Norwegian group A-ha uses a separable phrasal verb two ways in their song, “Take On Me.” Which one is correct in formal grammar?

I’ll be coming for your love, OK?
Take on me, (take on me)
Take me on, (take on me)
I’ll be gone
In a day or two

Remember, singers and poets have the right to use language as they please.

For Learning English Everyday Grammar, I’m Jill Robbins. And I’m John Russell.

Now it’s your turn. Write a sentence that uses a separable phrasal verb and we will give you feedback in the Comments Section.

Dr. Jill Robbins and Adam Brock wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

transitivegrammar, of a verb. having or taking a direct object

adverbgrammar. a word that describes a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or a sentence and that is often used to show time, manner, place, or degree

prepositiongrammar. a word or group of words that is used with a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to show direction, location, or time, or to introduce an object

objectgrammar. a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun that receives the action of a verb or completes the meaning of a preposition

corpusn. a collection of writings, conversations, speeches, etc., that people use to study and describe a language

Here’s our list of 10 useful phrasal verbs:

Phrasal Verb Meanings Example
put on wear, produce, fool, pretend That cannot be true. You must be putting me on.
put off postpone, disturb The report is due today. Stop putting it off and turn it in.
put down criticize, write Her boss was always putting her down so she resigned.
give up surrender, stop trying Your singing is beautiful – don’t give it up.
give away give, offer That radio station gives turkeys away for Thanksgiving.
give back return, restore I got so much help from the town, I want to give something back.
get off leave, finish, send Please get the letter off to them today.
get up awaken, rise Mom had to get us up every day for school.
pick up collect, lift, learn, bring, clean I picked the living room up before our guests arrived.
take on assume, fight The union took on the huge oil company.

Everyday Grammar – Our Top 10 Separable Phrasal Verbs

EG_19JAN17

Everyday Grammar – Our Top 10 Separable Phrasal Verbs

This article was originally published on the www.learningenglish.voanews.com  and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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