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LESSON TWENTY-TWO HERE!
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In today’s lesson, entitled Speaking of Swagger, you will be listening to a passage about the words and phrases William Shakespeare “invented” and contributed to the English language. You will also learn about why some language experts believe that throughout history, linguistic changes have so often been made by young women. Listen carefully to the passage and then answer the questions that follow. It’s always a good idea to take notes as you listen, but remember: don’t let your note-taking distract you from your listening.
Speaking of Swagger
Listen and Learn
Lesson Twenty-Two: PASSAGE ONLY TRACK
American rap artist Jay Z got his “swagger” back in 2001. Or so he claimed in his chart-topping single, “All I Need.” Thanks to Jay-Z, the verb “swagger” (he pronounces it “swaggah”), which means to behave in a show-offy, arrogant manner, muscled its way into hip-hop and a new style of rap music characterized by bragging, boasting, flaunting, and generally singing your own praises, so to speak. And now young people around the globe have made “swagger” one of their favorite “go-to” words.
But Jay-Z should give credit where credit is due. It was none other than William Shakespeare who first used the word “swagger” in a written work more than 400 years ago. This was in his timeless romantic comedy, A Midsummer’s Night Dream. When the play’s best-known character, the mischievous sprite Puck, comes across a band of traveling actors in an enchanted wood, he says,
“What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering here,
So near the cradle of the fairy queen?”
Shakespeare will live forever, and not just because he wrote awesome plays with hundreds of immortal characters. “The Bard” was also a master wordsmith, incorporating into his works never-before-used words and phrases, many of which are thought to have come straight out of his own imagination. Linguists believe that Shakespeare contributed more than 1,700 new words to the English language. Without Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have words like suspicious, zany, and even the slightly vulgar puke, or phrases like “all of a sudden,” “up in arms,” and “in stitches,” to enliven our conversation and invigorate our prose.
English during Elizabethan times, the age of Shakespeare, was rapidly overtaking Latin as the language of culture and science. It was in a state of great flux and creative expansion, freely absorbing words from other languages encountered during overseas wars, exploration, and colonization. Through linguistic invention—or more accurately, by adopting and Anglicizing French, German, and other languages’ words—Shakespeare and his literary contemporaries were able to articulate exciting new ideas and sentiments using “new” words.
But some scholars are questioning Shakespeare’s eminence as a language inventor and innovator. Katherine Martin of Oxford University Press argues that if Shakespeare really had coined dozens of new words for each play, how would his audience, the largely uneducated general public, have understood him? Isn’t it common sense to assume that the Bard was just a good listener, with an excellent ear for the vernacular and the apt phrase? Wasn’t he merely borrowing words his audiences were already using? If Martin is right and it wasn’t Shakespeare and his peers who were revolutionizing English, who was? Who was the “missing link” in the evolution of Shakespeare’s “Wherefore art thou?” style of English into the version we speak today?
Young women, apparently.
Two University of Helsinki sociolinguists recently examined 6,000 personal letters written between 1417 and 1681. They found that female letter-writers, especially teenaged girls, changed their writing style much faster than male letter-writers and more adventurously adopted and coined new words and phrases. It was young women who did away with the archaic word “ye,” for example, and replaced it with “you,” and who made the switch from “mine eyes” to “my eyes.” Of the fourteen major linguistic changes that occurred in English during this 260-year period, women gave us eleven of them.
Linguists aren’t sure why women so often lead the way with language. But studies suggest that it’s because they tend to be more socially aware, have larger social networks, and are exposed to a greater diversity of language trends. According to modern language expert Gretchen McCulloch, “Women have been shaking things up for centuries and are consistently responsible for about ninety percent of linguistic changes today.” So when it comes to acknowledging his linguistic debts and helping him to get his “swagger” back, perhaps Jay-Z should be thanking the anonymous teenage girl who “loaned” the word to Shakespeare.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn Lesson Twenty-Two LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:
1. Of the following, who is most likely to use the word “swagger” when speaking to their peers?
a) Elementary school children.
b) Average salaried businessmen.
c) Mothers of teenaged children.
d) Teenaged boys.
2. Decide if this statement is true or false.
William Shakespeare first used the word “swagger” in a play written more than 400 years ago.
3. In which popular Shakespeare play was Puck the mischievous sprite a character?
a) Much Ado About Nothing
b) A Midsummers Night’s Dream
c) All’s Well That Ends Well
d) A Midsummer Night’s Romance
4. Decide if this statement is true or false.
Even if Shakespeare hadn’t invented them, words like suspicious, zany, and puke would still have entered the English language in one form or another.
5. During Elizabethan times, the English language was rapidly overtaking Latin as the language of
a) culture and politics.
b) culture and science.
c) science and politics.
d) medicine and technology.
6. Decide if this statement is true or false.
During Shakespeare’s times, the English language was freely absorbing words from other languages encountered during overseas wars, colonization, and exploration.
7. Shakespeare’s plays appealed to almost everyone; however, the majority of his audience was made up of
a) the wealthy, aristocratic class.
b) London’s professors and scholars.
c) uneducated, working-class people.
d) peasants and farmhands.
8. Decide if this statement is true or false.
After examining 6,000 personal letters written between 1417 and 1681, sociolinguists found that female letter-writers changed their writing style almost as much as male letter-writers.
9. Of the fourteen major linguistic changes that occurred in English between 1417 and 1681,
a) women gave us eleven of them.
b) men gave us eleven of them.
c) all but one of them were given by women.
d) all but three of them were given by men.
10. Decide if this statement is true or false.
According to the passage, women have so often led the way with language because women write more letters and read more books than men.
Now that you have completed today’s listening comprehension exercise, it’s time to check your answers and see how well you did. The correct answers will follow immediately after the closing jingle, so stay tuned. Answers are also available on the KA Wordcast website as a separate track. You can also download the lesson in PDF format and keep it for your reference. And be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will improve your understanding of the passage itself and give you a bigger, better active vocabulary.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS HERE!:
You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference.
KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn! Lesson TWENTY TWO
KEY VOCABULARY WORDS
Be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will help you improve your understanding of the passage itself and give your vocabulary a big boost.
Thanks to Jay-Z, the verb “swagger” (he pronounces it “swaggah”), which means to behave in a show-offy, arrogant manner, muscled its way into hip-hop and a new style of rap music characterized by bragging, boasting, FLAUNTING, and generally singing your own praises, so to speak.
FLAUNT means to show something that you are proud of to other people, especially to impress them or to make them feel envious of what you have. To show off, to make a great show of, to parade, and to brag about are some words and phrases you can use in place of FLAUNT.
Georgina liked to FLAUNT her family’s wealth by posting countless photos of her and her parents’ lavish holidays on Facebook.
At the end-of-the-school-year talent show, the sixth-grade boys FLAUNTED an array of talents, ranging from simple magic tricks to playing the guitar.
I love going to the beach, but I wouldn’t dare FLAUNT myself in a bikini like so many other middle-aged women do!
I was dismayed to find that the B&B that I had booked for our family’s week in Hokkaido fell way short of the luxuries its website FLAUNTED.
Despite his being married to Catherine of Aragon, England’s King Henry VIII shamelessly FLAUNTED his love affair with Anne Boleyn to his court.
Don’t confuse FLAUNT with FLOUT, which means to disobey a rule or convention, as in:
Openly FLOUTING the school’s strict dress code, three eighth-graders showed up for class in gaudy Hawaiian shirts.
“The Bard” was also a master wordsmith, INCORPORATING into his works never-before-used words and phrases, many of which are thought to have come straight out of his own imagination.
To INCORPORATE means to include something so that it forms a part of something else. To fit in and contain are the nearest synonyms.
If you are trying to get fit and healthy, you should try to INCORPORATE exercise into your daily routine.
To keep pace with the most successful education systems in the world, this autumn English primary schools will begin INCORPORATING a tough, new national curriculum.
To improve communication, many companies are teaching their employees basic sign language and to INCORPORATE it into the work environment.
All the moms are hoping that the new principal will INCORPORATE some fresh, new ideas into her plans for the coming school year.
The new issue of Home Styles magazine offers some great tips on how to INCORPORATE elements of nature into your home.
Designs for a new bridge across the River Thames in London INCORPORATE the needs of both cyclists and pedestrians.
INCORPORATE also means to combine ingredients into one substance such as cake batter or cookie dough. Blend, mix, and combine are some good equivalents.
Before serving, stir the chimichurri sauce well to fully INCORPORATE the lime juice and olive oil.
Try INCORPORATING fresh tomatoes into jarred spaghetti sauce to give it a fresh “homemade” flavor.
Finally, when you INCORPORATE a business, you create a legally organized company.
Elon Musk INCORPORATED Tesla Motors, an American automotive and energy-storage company, in 2003.
Long regarded as a safe haven for corporations, more than 54% of American public companies choose to INCORPORATE in the state of Delaware.
Without Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have words like suspicious, zany, and even the slightly vulgar puke, or phrases like “all of a sudden,” “up in arms,” and “in stitches,” to enliven our conversation and INVIGORATE our prose.
To INVIGORATE means to give strength or energy to someone or something. To liven up, enliven, revitalize, and to perk up are some near synonyms.
We felt refreshed and INVIGORATED after our brisk morning walk through the woods.
Some aromatherapy oils help reduce stress by relaxing your body, while others INVIGORATE and energize your mind.
The belief is that a stronger economy will prompt companies to employ more people, which will in turn INVIGORATE the economy even more.
For a monthly fee, Geoff’s IT company promises to INVIGORATE stale websites by drawing more Internet traffic to them.
INVIGORATING is the adjective form of INVIGORATE.
I felt much better after I’d had an INVIGORATING shower.
Fitness guru Christianne Wolfe discusses how to make exercise more fun and INVIGORATING in her new book The Body Rescue Plan.
But some scholars are questioning Shakespeare’s EMINENCE as a language inventor and innovator.
In the sentence above, EMINENCE is a noun that means the quality of being famous and respected, especially in a particular profession or field of study. Some synonyms include illustriousness, reputation, distinction, and standing.
Stephen Hawking’s EMINENCE as one of the brightest minds of our time is recognized throughout the world.
When he was drafted into the U.S. Army, Elvis Presley was one of the best-known names in the world of entertainment, and after a two-year stint in the service, he returned to reclaim his EMINENCE.
Unlike Vincent van Gogh, whose greatness was only recognized after his death, Pablo Picasso had already attained his EMINENCE as a painter by the time he was in his early twenties.
It was young women who did away with the ARCHAIC word “ye,” for example, and replaced it with “you,” and who made the switch from “mine eyes” to “my eyes.”
ARCHAIC is an adjective that means very old or old-fashioned. When speaking about words or language, as in the above sentence, ARCHAIC means no longer in everyday use.
Many people contend that cursive writing is ARCHAIC and pointless in the Information Age.
In recent years, more and more Japanese companies are doing away with ARCHAIC practices such as morning calisthenics and forcing women employees to serve tea to their male colleagues.
Prisons in some developing countries are still run using ARCHAIC methods of punishment and confinement.
Gender-specific words such as “fireman” and “stewardess” are now considered ARCHAIC and have been replaced by the more generic “firefighter” and “flight attendant.”
“Milliner” is an ARCHAIC term for “hat maker.”
ARCHAIC is also used to talk about a much earlier or ancient period of history.
We spent the afternoon exploring Athens’s ARCHAIC ruins and learning about Greek history.
Some of the temples we visited were ancient, built during Japan’s ARCHAIC period.
So when it comes to ACKNOWLEDGING his linguistic debts and helping him to get his “swagger” back, perhaps Jay-Z should be thanking the anonymous teenage girl who “loaned” the word to Shakespeare.
In the sentence above, ACKNOWLEDGE means to express thanks for help you have received or a gift you have been given. To express gratitude, thank someone, and to show appreciation are some words and phrases you can use in place of ACKNOWLEDGE.
Mr. Baker received a letter ACKNOWLEDGING his service and continued support for the RSPCA, or Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The President publicly ACKNOWLEDGED the brave heroes who saved the lives of dozens of children who had been trapped in a sinking school bus.
More generally, ACKNOWLEDGE means to accept or admit that something is true, or to recognize the importance of something.
Don’t expect Thomas to ACKNOWLEDGE that he made a mistake. He will never admit fault.
Mrs. Bayliss ACKNOWLEDGED that she had marked Kieran’s math paper incorrectly and promptly corrected her mistake.
Oliver didn’t agree with her straightaway, but he later ACKNOWLEDGED that Cynthia’s suggestions were worth considering for a future project.
Usain Bolt is widely ACKNOWLEDGED as the world’s fastest human.
Although the restaurant is widely ACKNOWLEDGED as one of Paris’s finest, we found the service to be abominable!
You can also ACKNOWLEDGE or confirm that you have received something someone has sent you, as in:
Please ACKNOWLEDGE receipt of this letter within fourteen days. Failure to reply will result in legal prosecution.
Finally, you can ACKNOWLEDGE someone’s presence by making a greeting or gesture to let the person know that you have noticed or recognized him or her.
I must have done something to upset Lana, because she won’t even ACKNOWLEDGE my presence whenever I run into her at school.
Professor Garner ACKNOWLEDGED his colleagues with a nod as he took the stage to receive a prestigious award.