KA WORDCAST: Listen Up! Lesson 6 A SHIFT IN DIALECT?

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Lesson SIX HERE! 

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Entrance exam season is right around the corner, and we’re here to make sure you are 100 percent ready for it.  For the next several weeks, we will be providing you with additional listening material that you can use to practice and improve your aural comprehension skills.

Each week, you will listen to a short passage on a different topic—one that is interesting and useful in its own right, but one that is also the type of topic test-makers love to include on their exams.  Then, after listening to the passage, you will answer ten comprehension questions.  Before we listen to today’s passage, A Shift in Dialect?, here are a few tips:

  • It goes without saying that you should always listen to the passage carefully.  Give it your undivided attention.  That means: no outside distractions.  (A passage-only track is available on the KA Wordcast website so you can listen to the passage a second or third time.)
  • You can make brief notes of key points and details, but don’t let your note taking distract you from your listening.
  • Key vocabulary words are explained in the bonus track.  Each key word is clearly defined and accompanied by common synonyms and antonyms as well as sample sentences that show you how the word is used, and how to use it.  What better way to augment your active vocabulary!
  • The comprehension questions “test” three general areas: FACTUAL CONTENT, LOGICAL INFERENCE, and PERSONAL JUDGMENT.  (These are explained on the website and are available to download.)  The questions come in three different types or formats: MULTIPLE CHOICE, TRUE OR FALSE, and SHORT ANSWER.  The question format will vary, so be sure to listen to the instructions carefully before you answer the questions.

 

PDF DOWNLOAD KA WORDCAST Listen Up! Lesson Six A SHIFT IN DIALECT?

 

Is “Clueless” responsible for UPTALK?

A Shift in Dialect? 

Listen to Listen Up! Lesson SIX: PASSAGE ONLY TRACK

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“Uptalk” is a style of speech that makes statements sound like questions.  For example, instead of saying “That movie was awesome!” an uptalker would say, “That movie was awesome?” with a rising pitch or question mark at the end.  Over the last 30 years, uptalk has become increasingly common among young people, particularly among young American and Australian girls.  Linguists are fascinated by the phenomenon and have come up with various theories to explain its origins and popularity.  Perhaps the most widely accepted of these is that the habit originated with the “Valley Girls” of Southern California in the early 1980s.

But rising intonations at the end of a sentence are not new, and probably not American in origin.  Many languages, including French, Afrikaans, Norwegian, and even Japanese, use them. Some Irish, English, Australian, and Southern American dialects frequently use such inflections and have probably been doing so for hundreds of years.  Mark Liberman, a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, claims that uptalk could date as far back as the ninth-century “Viking Age” when Norsemen explored Europe looking for trade and conquest. “The distribution of rising inflection in northern England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland probably had something to do with the Scandinavian influence there.   But that’s just a hypothesis,” he says.

The fact is, adds Liberman, trends in speech are very hard to nail down.  “It isn’t easy to tell how the pattern developed in the United States or Australia, let alone how it was exported,” he said in a recent BBC interview.

So how did a whole generation of English-speaking children and young adults from California to New South Wales become simultaneously exposed to uptalk, and why do they use it?   Some critics point to films and TV shows such as Clueless and the Australian soap opera Home and Away.  YouTube and other Internet social media are no doubt also partially responsible for the proliferation of what many call “this annoying habit.” Some linguists suggest that shy or insecure speakers use rising intonations to seek confirmation from their listeners.  By phrasing every sentence—no matter how declarative—as a question, the speaker is subconsciously asking for assurance.   Linguist Robin Lakoff says that it’s a gender thing.  Young girls learn early in life to sound less “bossy” to men by softening their orders and directions with uptalk.

Sharyn Collins, a voice coach and elocution expert, has another theory.  She blames our dwindling attention spans.  The rising tones we often hear in conversation are, in fact, people trying to divert their companion’s attention away from his or her cell phone.  “People are checking as they speak to make sure you’re paying attention,” she says.

Theories differ, but Collins and other language experts agree that English is continuously evolving.  However annoying it may be, uptalking may be a dialect shift that we will all have to accept at some point and learn to embrace?

 

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Today’s listening comprehension questions will be MULTIPLE CHOICE and TRUE/FALSE based on FACTUAL CONTENT, LOGICAL INFERENCE, and your understanding of key vocabulary words.

Listening comprehension questions fall into three main types or areas to be tested, as explained below:

FACTUAL CONTENT

  • The answer is specifically stated as a detail in the text.

If the text reads, “John Birks Gillespie was born in 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina,” you might be asked where Gillespie was born or in which year was he born.

LOGICAL INFERENCE

  • The answer may not be directly stated in the text, but can be understood or inferred from the details given. A direct hint may be given, from which you would have to work out the most logical answer (usually based on a MULTIPLE CHOICE or TRUE OR FALSE question).

For example, if the text describes a “hot and muggy afternoon,” you might be asked what season it is. If the text reads, “In 1872, an abandoned railroad track in the mountains of Pennsylvania became the first roller coaster ride in America,” you may be asked a question like:

“The railroad tracks …

  1. were made of poor quality steel.
  2. had not been used for a while.
  3. were dug up and replaced with roller-coaster tracks.
  4. were too damaged to use.

You must use the hints given in the passage to work out the most likely answer.  In this case, the answer, based on “hot and muggy,” to the first question would be “summer,” and the answer to the second question would be B, with the hint being the word “abandoned.”

PERSONAL JUDGMENT

  • The answer is not directly stated in the text and you might have to read more deeply or “between the lines.”

You may be asked to describe a character’s feelings, reactions, or intentions.  For example, if the question is, “How do you know Joanna felt sad on the last day of school?” you would have to find evidence in the descriptive language the author uses.  Perhaps Joanna had tears on her cheeks, or she was walking with her head hanging low, or perhaps she had a frown on her face.

Listen to the question carefully and mark your answer.  Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.

LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS

 

1. Over the past thirty years, uptalk has become increasingly common among

a) the Valley Girls of Southern California.

b) young people, particularly among young American and Australian girls.

c) teenaged boys all over the world.

d) people who watch the Australian soap opera, Home and Away.

 

2.  Rising intonations at the end of a sentence is probably American in origin.

a) TRUE

b) FALSE

 

3. Listen to the following sentence from the passage.  

Mark Liberman, a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, claims that uptalk could date as far back as the ninth-century “Viking Age.”

In the sentence above, the word “claim” is closest in meaning to

a) argues

b) requests

c) asserts

d) achieves

 

4. The Norsemen explored Europe during the ninth century looking for

a) trade and conquest.

b) better living conditions.

c) religious freedom.

d) a passage to India.

 

5. Rising intonations at the end of a sentence is common in a variety of languages.

a) TRUE

b) FALSE

 

6.  Listen to the following sentence from the passage.

Some linguists suggest that shy or insecure speakers use rising intonations to seek confirmation from their listeners.

In the sentence above, the word “confirmation” is closest in meaning to

a) assurance

b) proof

c) justification

d) hint

 

7. According to linguist Robin Lakoff, young girls learn early in life to sound less “bossy” to men by

a) constantly seeking approval.

b) using softer tones and simpler words.

c) softening their orders and directions with uptalk.

d) appearing less intelligent than they actually are.

 

8. Voice coach and elocution expert Sharyn Collins suggests that people use uptalk to make sure the listener agrees with what is being said.

a) TRUE

b) FALSE

 

9. Listen to the following sentence from the passage.

The rising tones we often hear in conversation are, in fact, people trying to divert their companion’s attention away from his or her cell phone. 

In the sentence above, the word “divert” is closest in meaning to

a) disturb

b) distract

c) channel

d) engross

 

10. The main idea of the passage is

a) the origin of uptalk is clearly understood amongst language experts.

b) theories about its origin differ, but most linguists agree that uptalk may be more than just a trend.

c) many languages use rising intonations so it’s not a big deal.

d) English speakers have only recently started using uptalk.

 

Now that you have completed today’s listening comprehension exercise, it’s time to check your answers and see how well you did. Answers to today’s listening comprehension questions will follow immediately after the closing jingle , so please stay tuned in. 

Listen to the Listening Comprehension Questions and Answers HERE: 

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You may also download the lesson in PDF format and keep for your reference. 

PDF DOWNLOAD KA WORDCAST Listen Up! Lesson 6 LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS


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KA WORDCAST:  Listen Up!  Lesson SIX KEY VOCABULARY

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.

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INFLECTIONS of the word “play.”

1. INFLECTION

Some Irish, English, Australian, and Southern American dialects frequently use such inflections and have probably been doing so for hundreds of years.

INFLECTION is a noun that refers to a change in intonation or pitch in your voice as you speak.  Intonation, stress, and pitch are some close synonyms.

In many languages, including Mandarin Chinese, the same word can have various meanings, depending on the INFLECTION of the speaker.

“Now, trying reading that same line without an upward INFLECTION, Jo,” the director of the play said.  “You are making a statement here, not asking a question.”

If only Professor Harris would speak with a little more INFLECTION when giving lectures, I may not fall asleep in class so often.  

In grammar, an INFLECTION is a change in a form of a word that happens when it is used in in a different tense or part of speech.   Here are a couple of examples.

“Wrote” and “written” are INFLECTIONS of the word “write.”

Word endings, such as adding –ed to the end of a regular verb to make it past tense, is another example of INFLECTION.

 

 

 

Professional footballers often CLAIM to be injured.

2. CLAIM

Mark Liberman, a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, claims that uptalk could date as far back as the ninth-century “Viking Age” when Norsemen explored Europe looking for trade and conquest.

In the sentence above, CLAIM is a verb that means to say that something is true, often without any evidence or proof.  Synonyms for this usage include assert, state, profess, declare, maintain, and affirm.

When asked about why he scored so low on his Psychology A-levels, Jonah CLAIMED that he had been feeling unwell on the day of the exam. 

Kimberly CLAIMS that she injured her ankle while playing hopscotch during recess, but I think she just wants to get out of having to do P.E. 

Denise:           I’ve heard that Herbie’s got back stage VIP passes to see Aerosmith at the Dome.  Is that true?

Justine:          Well, he CLAIMS that his dad is the producer of their latest album, so if that’s the case, then it must be true. 

CLAIM can also mean to state that one has achieved or gained something as in:

Long before all the ballots had been counted, Pendley House CLAIMED that their prefect had won the election for school president.

Scientists assembled in Geneva are CLAIMING a major breakthrough in the discovery of a cure for the Ebola virus. 

 

 

 

A bad INFLUENCE.

3. INFLUENCE

“The distribution of rising inflection in northern England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland probably had something to do with the Scandinavian influence there.

In the sentence above, INFLUENCE is a noun that refers to the power or capacity that a person or thing has to make others think or behave in a certain way.

Although Cameron has developed his own, unique style of prose, there is definitely a strong Roald Dahl INFLUENCE in many of his creative writing pieces. 

I don’t want you hanging out with Lori anymore, Tess.  She’s a bad INFLUENCE.

My high school drama teacher, Mr. Kelly, was a major INFLUENCE in my life.  It was he who suggested I pursue a career in broadcasting.  

INFLUENCE can also refer to the effect that a person or thing has on the way another person behaves or thinks.

When choosing your friends, you should think about what kind of INFLUENCE he or she will have on you. 

Melissa has been on her own for so long now, her parents no longer have any real INFLUENCE over her decisions or how she lives her life.

Consumers have a fair amount of INFLUENCE over what shops and department stores stock on their shelves.   

As a verb, to INFLUENCE means to have an effect on the way another person behaves or thinks, especially by setting an example for them to follow.

You know me well enough to know that what other people think doesn’t INFLUENCE how I behave.  I do what I want. 

Don’t let my opinion INFLUENCE your decision, Josh.  You have to decide for yourself whether tech school is the right choice for you.

 

 

 

PROLIFERATION of smartphones.

4. PROLIFERATION

YouTube and other Internet social media are no doubt also partially responsible for the proliferation of what many call “this annoying habit.”

PROLIFERATION is a noun that means the sudden or rapid increase in the number or amount of something.  In singular form, PROLIFERATION means a large number of a particular thing.  Growth, spread, boost, hike, and increase are the nearest synonyms.

Ever since the PROLIFERATION of smartphones equipped with advanced camera settings, fewer people are investing in digital cameras to capture their “Kodak moments.” 

Various breakthrough treatments are currently being tested to prevent the PROLIFERATION of cancer cells.

 

 

 

A CONFIRMATION letter from Hogwarts!

5. CONFIRMATION

Some linguists suggest that shy or insecure speakers use rising intonations to seek confirmation from their listeners. 

A CONFIRMATION is a statement, gesture, or a written document or letter that shows that something is true or correct.  Verification, proof, and corroboration are the closest equivalents.

I’ll know whether I can apply for the teaching course I’m interested in as soon as I get CONFIRMATION of my English proficiency test results. 

After registering, you will receive a CONFIRMATION email containing all the information you’ll need about the “Love to Dance!” dance competition. 

The missing journalist was last seen boarding a passenger train bound for Kabul in March.  There has been no official CONFIRMATION of his whereabouts since.  

 

 

 

An entertainer is used to DIVERT children at a party.

6. DIVERT

The rising tones we often hear in conversation are, in fact, people trying to divert their companion’s attention away from his or her cell phone.

In the sentence above, DIVERT is a verb that means A) to take a person’s attention or thoughts away from something or B) to use tactics to entertain or amuse someone.   Distract is the closest synonym for A.  Amuse is the closest synonym for B.

Principal Foster gathered the children into the gymnasium and showed them a film to DIVERT their attention away from the booming thunder and lightning storm outside.  

Realizing how frightened Little Emily was of the immunization needle, the young volunteer candy striper decided to sit next to her to DIVERT her.

The pupils in my third grade class are easily DIVERTED—a silly limerick or a nonsense poem usually has them in stitches. 

This charming film about soccer moms and their little athletes is lighthearted, entertaining, and intended to DIVERT.   It may never win an Oscar, but it’s well worth seeing.

DIVERT also means to make someone or something change direction or course as in:

When our plane was DIVERTED to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport due to severe weather in St. Paul, we were put up in a hotel for a night.  

State officials have gathered in the capitol to discuss plans to build a dam to create electricity and DIVERT water for agriculture. 

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PDF DOWNLOAD:KA WORDCAST Listen Up! Lesson 6 KEY VOCABULARY