Insufficient Local Knowledge 

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Insufficient Local Knowledge

Ex. 16.

A Londoner who was going to the West of England for a holiday, arrived by train at a town, and found that it was pouring. He called a porter to carry his bags to a taxi. On the way out of the s ation, partly to make conversation and partly to get a local opinion on prospects of weather for his holiday, he asked the porter:

"How long has it been raining like this?"

"I don't know sir, I've only been here for fifteen years," was the reply.


Ex. 12. About the Job

Harry: Well, Robert, have you made up your mind yet what you want to do when you leave college?

Nora: Oh, Harry, surely he's a bit young to decide on his career? be hasn't even got to college yet.

Harry: Not at all, Nora. It's wisest to decide in good time. Look at me, for example. I really wanted to be a sailor, but now I spend my days sitting at a desk in an office. Yes, it's silly to train for the wrong job. And after all, Robert will be going to college soon.

Nora: (musing) Now if I were a man I'd be a farmer. To see the crops growing — that's my idea of a good life.

Harry: Well, you haven't answered my question у at, Robert. What would you like to do?

Nora: (wistfully) Are you sure you don't want to be a farmer, Robert? Or a market gardener?

Rоbert: No I'm sorry, Mum, but I don't want to at all. I'd rather be a civil engineer. I want to build roads and bridges.

Harry: Not ships? Isn't it better to be a shipbuilding engineer?

Robert: (crossly) Look here, is it my career we're planning or yours?

Harry (huffed) All right, all right, there's no need to lose your temper. But you'd better win that scholarship first.

Ex. 15. Nothing to Complain About

An intelligent small boy was sitting in a bus. A passenger sitting next to him asked him a question:

"How old are you?"

"I'm four," answered the child.

"I wish I were four," said the passenger. He was considerably taken aback, however, when the child, turning rather a surprised gaze upon him, replied:

"But you were four once."


Ex. 19. See p. 211.

Ex. 21. Weather Forecasts

Two men were travelling in a very wild part of America. They saw no modern houses and no traces of civilization for many days. What they saw were only a few huts made of wood or tents where Indians lived. One day they met an old Indian who was a hunter. He was very clever and knew everything about the forest and the animals living in it and many other things. He could also speak English quite well.

"Can you tell us what the weather will be like during the next few days?" one of the two travellers asked him.

"Oh, yes," he answered. "Rain is coming, and wind. Then there will be snow for a day or two but then the sunshine will come again and the weather will be fine."

"These old Indians seem to know more about Nature than we with all our science," said the man to his friend. Then he turned to the old Indian.

"Tell me," he asked, "how do you know all that?"

The Indian answered: "I heard it over the radio."


Ex. 8. See p. 289.

Ex. 13. Commerce and Industry

Great Britain is one of the most important commercial and trading centres in the world. Britain buys more goods than she sells; her imports exceed her export. Not being a great argi-cultural country, England has to obtain her food supplies largely from abroad. She also has to import many raw materials, such as wool from Australia; timber from Sweden and Finland; cotton, petroleum and tobacco from the United States. Wine and fruit are imported from France, Italy, Spain, and the Dominions; dairy produce from Denmark and Holland, and so on.

One of the most extensive industries in England is the textile industry,- immense quantities of cotton and woollen goods and artificial silk are produced and exported. English leather goods are also in great demand in other countries. Great Britain is noted for its coal mines and for iron and steel goods, and it supplies many countries with certain classes of machinery. Another leading industry in this country is shipbuilding. The motor industry is also very flourishing.

Ex. 15. Mothering Sunday (Mother's Day)

Mother's Day is traditionally observed on the fourth Sunday in Lent (the Church season of penitence beginning on Ash Wednesday, the day of which varies from year to year). This is usually in March. The day used to be known as Mothering Sunday and dates from the time when many girls worked away from home as domestic servants in big households, where their hours of work were often very long. Mothering Sunday was established as a holiday for these girls and gave them an opportunity of going home to see their parents, especially their mother. They used to take presents with them, often given to them by the lady of the house.

When the labour situation changed and everyone was entitled to regular time off, this custom remained, although the day is now often called "Mother's Day". People visit their mothers if possible and give them flowers and small presents. If they cannot go, they send a "Mother's Day card," or they may send one in any case. The family try to see that the mother has as little work to do as possible, sometimes the husband or children take her breakfast in bed and they often help with the meals and the washing up. It is considered to be mother's day off.


Ex. 20. Broadcast Programme

— Well, how's your set going?

— Oh, not too badly, though I've had some difficulty lately in getting good reception from the more distant stations.

— Yes, I've noticed quite a lot of interference on my own set too. I suppose it's the weather. Of course, mine's rather an old-fashioned model compared to yours. By the way, did you hear "Carmen" the other night?

— Yes, I did. Personally, I'm not very keen on opera, but my wife is, and "Carmen" happens to be one of her favourites, so I didn't like to suggest switching to another station. Fortunately for me, it was a translated version. I'm not good at languages, you know.

— What kind of programme do you like best then?

— Oh, I like a straight play... I find some of the talks very interesting too, and I never miss the sporting events. I got most excited over the international rugger match last Saturday... You listen to the English stations a good deal, don't you?

— Yes, I like their programmes very much and I understand nearly everything. With all the practice in ear-training I've had, English pronunciation and intonation hold no terrors for me now, and if a speaker uses a word I'm not familiar with, the context usually gives' the clue to the meaning.

— You're lucky, you know English. I wish I had your gift for languages.

— Well, I don't think I should call it a gift. Anyone who's prepared to take a little trouble can do the same. Where there's a will there's a way, you know!


A.: How do you think we ought to start?

В.: My idea is this. Suppose we just say a few ordinary sentences. After that we'll go back again and notice how we've said them, and what sort of tunes we've used, and then we'll try to make some clear and general rule about them.

A.: Yes, that's a good idea. Now the first thing I said was this: How do you think we ought to start? I wonder if the listeners can hear the tune? How do you think we ought to start?

В.: You see, listeners, that sentence starts on a fairly high note and it continues on that same note until it reaches the word 'ought'. Just listen.

How — How do you think we — How do you think we ought to start? Like that, you see. The word 'ought’ is said on a slightly lower note, and the sentence continues on that lower note until it gets to the very last syllable.

A.: 'How do you think we ought to start?' 'How do you think we ought to start?'

В.: Again, you see, the word 'start' is on a slightly lower note and not only that, it falls as you say it: 'start — start'.

A.: Yes, it does. It falls right down to the bottom of my voice, listen: 'How do you think we ought to start? How do you think we ought to start?'

В.: So the sentence is really in three parts, corresponding to the number of stressed syllables: 'how' followed by four weak syllables; then 'ought' followed by one weak syllable, and lastly 'start', followed by nothing at all.

A: How do you think we — ought to — start?

В.: We can make a good rule out of that. In sentences like this, the first stressed syllable and any weak, or unstressed syllables following it, are said on a fairly high note; the second stressed syllable, and any more weak syllables after that, are said on a slightly lower note, and the same with the third, and the fourth, and so on, until you come to the last stressed syllable of all, which not only begins on a lower note than the previous one, but also falls right down until it can scarcely be heard at all. Well, now we must go back to the beginning, and see if our rule works for some of our other sentences.

(From "A Course of English Intonation by J. D. O'Connor)




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