KA WORDCAST Passages: Lesson 18 Part ONE

KA WORDCAST Passages: Lesson 18 Part ONE

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Passages Lesson 18 READING PASSAGE

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If you like the TV show “Lost,” you’ll surely enjoy Lord of the Flies, the classic English novel from which this lesson’s reading is taken.  Like “Lost,” Lord of the Flies starts off with a plane crashing onto a deserted island.  And also like the TV show, the plot of the novel revolves around the struggles and adventures of the people who survive the crash.  But unlike “Lost,” Lord of the Flies has no adult survivors—only a score or two of English schoolboys, none older than 13 or 14.  Lord of the Flies is what is known as an allegory, a story that dramatizes abstract ideas or principles using realistic characters and a realistic setting.  In Lord of the Flies, the author, William Golding, who won the 1983 Nobel Prize for Literature, examines what happens when people’s ties to cultural norms and civilization break down.  What, he asks, is the true nature of a human being?  In today’s reading, one of the boys, Ralph, who emerges as a natural-born leader, blows on a conch shell as a way to summon and gather the other crash survivors.  His new friend and assistant, the overweight Piggy, is with him.

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Their heads clustered above the trunks in the green shade; heads brown, fair, black, chestnut, sandy, mouse-colored; heads muttering, whispering; heads full of eyes that watched Ralph and SPECULATED. 

In the sentence above, SPECULATE is a verb that means to form an opinion about something despite not knowing all the facts.  Synonyms include guess, surmise, theorize, and hypothesize.

Everyone in the office SPECULATED about the reasons for Hank’s sudden, unexpected resignation.

It may be pointless to SPECULATE about how different England would have been had Margaret Thatcher not served as prime minister, but it’s fun nevertheless.

Some historians and archeologists SPECULATE that the huge monolithic stones in Stonehenge were used in some kind of pagan ritual or religious ceremony.

SPECULATE can also mean to risk or invest money, especially in a business or in the stock market, with the intent of making a large profit.

My broker advised me to SPECULATE in a company that has come up with an economical  process for turning domestic wastewater into drinking water.

The noun form, SPECULATION, means the act of forming beliefs or opinions—without knowing all the facts—about something that has happened or might happen.

There is widespread SPECULATION in Hollywood that Leonardo DiCaprio is going to take a break from acting to pursue a career as a director.

The private lives of the world’s wealthiest businessmen are the subject of much SPECULATION, especially in the tabloids.

The vice-president’s recent absence from public ceremonies has led to much SPECULATION about the state of his health.

SPECULATION also refers to investment in stocks, real estate, or other financial ventures in the hope of making a profit, though always with the risk of loss.

I’m not the type for SPECULATION in the stock market. I prefer to keep my money in a nice, safe, interest-bearing savings account.

SPECULATIVE is the adjective form.  It describes opinions or decisions based on SPECULATION. Similar words include hypothetical and theoretical.

Although Charles Hapgood’s “Earth Crustal Displacement” hypothesis is highly SPECULATIVE, Graham Hancock, in his book Fingerprints of the Gods, cites evidence to support Hapgood’s ideas.

A spokesman for the former Secretary of State said in a press conference that Ms. Clinton would not comment on the “wildly SPECULATIVE rumors” circulating about her possible candidacy.

Georgia cast a SPECULATIVE glance at Kate, suspecting that she wasn’t telling the whole truth about her meeting with the supervisor.

When speaking about a business activity, SPECULATIVE means done in the hope of making a profit but involving the risk of losing money.

If you are looking to put your inheritance money to work for you, you may want to consider making a few SPECULATIVE investments in renewable energy sources or electronic vehicles.



The children gave him the same simple OBEDIENCE that they had given the men with megaphones. 

OBEDIENCE is a noun that refers to dutiful or submissive behavior, especially towards someone in authority such as a parent or teacher.  Synonyms include submissiveness, conformity, and docility.  (OBEDIENCE is also sometimes used as an adjective to describe a kind of training or discipline.)

If you ask me, children in my day were taught to show their parents and elders more respect and OBEDIENCE than are children these days.

Before being admitted to the order, the monks had to take vows of poverty, chastity, and OBEDIENCE to the will of God.

We insisted that our neighbors the Suzukis enroll their poodle in OBEDIENCE school to get it to stop barking so incessantly.

OBEDIENT is the adjective form of OBEDIENCE.  It is used to describe a person (or pet) who goes along with or carries out orders or commands without complaining or protesting. Other words similar in meaning include dutiful, compliant, and submissive.

As a young boy, Frederick Douglass was the OBEDIENT slave of a wealthy Southern plantation owner, but he eventually escaped the chains of slavery to become a leading social reformer, orator, and abolitionist.

I tend to do what my wife tells me to do, so I guess that makes me an OBEDIENT husband.  Some people might even call me hen-pecked.   But I only do it because it makes life easier.

OBEDIENTLY is the adverb form of OBEDIENT.  Synonyms include submissively, willingly, dutifully, and compliantly.

Mrs. Adams was a very demanding boss, but Cecilia needed the job and followed all her orders OBEDIENTLY.

There’s a raggedy homeless man in our neighborhood whose mangy mutt OBEDIENTLY trails along behind him wherever the poor man goes.

The verb OBEY is the root for OBEDIENCE, OBEDIENT, and OBEDIENTLY.  OBEY means to comply with someone’s command, direction, or request.   It also means to go along with a law or rule, or to submit to authority.

My father was a very strict man who punished us severely if we did not OBEY him, which is why we all grew up hating arbitrary authority.

The young private was put in the brig for refusing to OBEY his captain’s orders, though he was later exonerated when it was found that the captain had had been mentally disturbed. 

Believing that the headmaster’s decision was unjust, Joshua refused to OBEY it, which led to his being expelled.

The negative form of OBEY is DISOBEY.

Jonathan DISOBEYED his parents and sneaked out to the rock concert by climbing down the big elm tree outside his bedroom window.

“If you ever DISOBEY my orders again, Sergeant Brooks,” said Chief Inspector Foyle, “I will have no choice but to let you go.”




Signs of life were VISIBLE now on the beach.

In the sentence above, VISIBLE is an adjective that means able to be seen.  Synonyms include perceptible, noticeable, observable, and in sight.

With no VISIBLE security system, the two young thieves thought it would be easy to break into the abandoned manor house.  Boy, were they surprised!

How many stars are VISIBLE to the naked eye from the surface of the earth? 

My husband recently discovered that on a clear, sunny day, our house, though it is miles away, is VISIBLE from the 12th hole of the Chiltern Hills Golf Course.

Using a common paintbrush on this type of surface may leave VISIBLE brush marks, so it is recommended that you use a roller. 

I was surprised to see a sign at the entrance of Tokyo Disneyland that read, “No Smoking.  No open-containers of alcohol.  No VISIBLE tattoos.” 

VISIBLE can also mean obvious enough to be noticed.   Synonyms include evident, apparent, clear, unconcealed, and unmistakable.

After a series of burglaries occurred during the month of December, a petition demanding a more VISIBLE police presence was circulated in our community.

The defendant showed no VISIBLE signs of regret or remorse, even after he was found guilty of arson and manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in prison. 

The adverb form of VISIBLE is VISIBLY.

One sure way to tell a crocodile from an alligator is that a crocodile has a VISIBLY more pointed snout. 

Paparazzi had snapped and circulated some rather unflattering photos of the young, bikini-clad Hollywood actress, who had become VISIBLY overweight. 

The opposite of VISIBLE is INVISIBLE; the opposite of VISIBLY is INVISIBLY.

X-rays are a high-energy form of light that is INVISIBLE to the human eye.

At the office I sometimes feel almost INVISIBLE, as if the management doesn’t even know I exist.

The young pop singer had hoped to sneak in and stand INVISIBLY at the back of the church and then to escape before anyone recognized him, but he didn’t get away with it.

The noun VISIBILITY has two common usages.  First, VISIBILITY means the fact or state of being easily seen or recognized.

All children who commute to school on foot will be given high-VISIBILITY vests as a safety precaution. 

Businesses and organizations have found that Internet VISIBILITY is just as important as traditional forms of advertisement and public relations. 

VISIBILITY also refers to how far or how well you can see, especially in adverse weather conditions or under poor or limited lighting.

Flights to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport were diverted to Philadelphia due to extreme weather and poor VISIBILITY. 

VISIBILITY along that road is limited by sharp curves and sudden twists and turns.


Researchers at the National University of Singapore have created an INVISIBILITY gun that uses a beam of darkness that they claim makes objects disappear.  I’ll believe it when I see it!

VISIBLE, VISIBLY, and VISIBILITY are etymologically related to the noun VISION, which, in its most common usage, means the ability to see.  Look at the following example:

Uncle Bob’s VISION is fading and he wonders if laser surgery might not help restore it.

Bats, hedgehogs, and other nocturnal animals have excellent night VISION. 

But VISION can also be used more figuratively to mean the ability to see or think about the future with imagination and wisdom.

We all thought the president was a man of VISION who would somehow transform the world.

Science-fiction writers’ VISIONS of the future often serve as warnings.

The word VISION is also used informally to mean a person (or sight) of great or unusual beauty.

The young Japanese actress was a VISION in her canary yellow kimono as she stepped up the mike to accept her award for Best Actress in a Supporting role.



Ralph continued to blow short, PENETRATING blasts.

In the sentence above, PENETRATING is an adjective meaning loud and hard.  But let’s first look at its base word, the verb PENETRATE.  At the most literal level, PENETRATE means to physically enter or go through something.  Synonyms include pierce, puncture, make a hole in, stab, spike, and prick.

Jack was taken to the ER in an ambulance after he fell out of a tree and a sharp branch PENETRATED his chest, just missing his left lung. 

The landmine exploded, and fragments PENETRATED the bottom of the Humvee, killing everyone inside.

PENETRATE can also somewhat more figuratively mean to enter or force a way into something.

I just returned from Stockholm, and although the outdoor temperature there was much lower than it is here in London, here, the damp PENETRATES my skin, and I actually feel much colder. 

PENETRATE also means to succeed in entering or joining a group or organization or territory, especially when it is difficult to do so.  And in business, PENETRATE means to begin selling products in a particular area or market.   Synonyms for these usages include infiltrate and slip into.

Computer hackers create havoc by finding open or unguarded wireless networks they can PENETRATE. 

Ivory poachers PENETRATED deep into the game reserve, but were ambushed by WWF anti-poaching forces before they could slaughter any rhinos.

If we want to reach our business target this year, we’ll have to aggressively seek ways to PENETRATE the ESL textbook market in both China and Korea. 

PENETRATE can also mean to see or show a way into or through something, such as darkness.

Even after several minutes, our eyes could not PENETRATE the cellar’s deep darkness. 

The sun never PENETRATES that part of the garden, which is why nothing, not even grass, ever grows there. 

We were able to make our way through the forest thanks to the moonlight that PENETRATED the canopy above.

Finally, PENETRATE can mean to realize or understand something, especially something difficult.   Synonyms include sink in, grasp, fathom, and solve.

I’m afraid your ideas were a bit too abstract and failed to PENETRATE the audience.

It took more than twenty years for scholars to PENETRATE and translate the inscriptions found on the Rosetta Stone. 

Only later did Vivian’s unkind words PENETRATE, leaving me feeling overwhelmed and offended. 

Now let’s return to the adjective PENETRATING, which, in the passage cited above, refers to a sound that is loud and hard.  Synonyms include piercing, shrill, powerful, ear-splitting, and high-pitched.

Breathing deeply with the diaphragm is one way singers can achieve a richer, more PENETRATING singing voice.  

We could hear Aunt Jessica’s loud, PENETRATING voice shouting out our names as soon as we walked out the arrival gate at the airport. 

It seems to me that sirens here in Paris are much more PENETRATING than those in Tokyo, and much more alarming or ominous sounding to boot.

PENETRATING also means spreading deeply or widely and is used to describe sensations, smells, and so on.

The PENETRATING stench of my neighbor’s dozen or so cats has permeated the communal hallway of our apartment building, forcing me to hold my breath every time I walk past. 

The miserable weather and PENETRATING cold may have discouraged others from standing in line overnight, but nothing was going to keep me from getting my hands on a ticket to see Beyoncé in concert!

PENETRATING is also used to describe an idea, person, or piece of writing that is keenly perceptive or full of understanding.

I hadn’t expected the children in my son’s fourth grade class to ask me such PENETRATING questions about my work as an interpreter.

The award-winning documentary offers a PENETRATING look at life inside a small-town police department.

Finally, PENETRATING can also refer to a look in someone’s eyes that makes you feel uncomfortable because he/she seems to know what you are thinking or feeling.

Gordon gave me a PENETRATING look that showed that he knew I wasn’t being completely honest with him.

The other adjective form, PENETRATIVE, also means tending to PENETRATE or to display insight, understanding, or depth.

Engineers are currently designing a more highly PENETRATIVE drill that will be able to access oil deposits buried deep under the polar icecaps. 

A PENETRATIVE survey revealed that eighty-four percent of Americans are “pretty happy” or “very happy” with their lives. 

PENETRATION is the noun form for all of the above uses of the verb PENETRATE.

The new diagnostic test makes it possible to look inside the brain without resorting to surgical PENETRATION.

During the height of the summer, make sure you water your plants and vegetables regularly and thoroughly to ensure deeper PENETRATION. 

Broadband PENETRATION is expanding worldwide to even the remotest of places. 

PENETRATION of the U.S. market will depend on our ability to exploit Americans’ dissatisfaction with similar American-made products.

With great PENETRATION and erudition, the essay shows how racism has hampered President Obama’s ability to carry out his policies.



The sand, trembling beneath the heat haze, CONCEALED many figures in its miles of length.

CONCEAL is a verb that means to hide something.  Synonyms include cover, block, obscure, block out, and mask.

The secret passageway leading from the queen’s bedchamber to the private library was CONCEALED behind a thick tapestry of a fox-hunting scene.  

During the summer months, tall, thick hedges and big, leafy birch trees CONCEAL the stately buildings of Tring’s Pendley Manor Hotel. 

Celebrity make-up artists ingeniously blend cosmetics to CONCEAL their clients’ imperfections and blemishes. 

CONCEAL can also mean to keep something secret, or to prevent something from being known or noticed.  Synonyms include disguise, cover up, repress, and bottle up.

Unable to CONCEAL her disappointment in not being elected class president, Kay went home from school early and spent the day lying in bed.

Although Ivan loved Natasha and knew in his heart that he would make a better husband than his younger, irresponsible brother Dimitri, he CONCEALED his true feelings for her. 

CONCEALED is an adjective form of CONCEAL and describes something that is kept hidden or secret.  Synonyms include not visible, covered, obscured, and out of the way.

It should be illegal to carry a CONCEALED weapon onto any university campus, but some schools in Texas still inexplicably allow such a barbaric practice. 

Today, the prosecution disclosed a piece of previously CONCEALED evidence that proved beyond a shadow of doubt the defendant’s whereabouts on the night of the murder.

CONCEALMENT is one noun form and means the act of hiding something or the state of being hidden.  Some similar terms include suppression, cover-up, and hushing up.

Many animals in the wild rely on camouflage and CONCEALMENT for protection against predators.

In the Diary of Anne Frank, Anne describes what it was like living in CONCEALMENT with her family in a cramped attic during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. 

And just so you know, a CONCEALER is a skin-colored cosmetic cream or powder used to cover marks or blemishes on the skin.

No amount of CONCEALER will cover up that black eye.  You’d better wear sunglasses. 




They were twins, and the eye was shocked and incredulous at such cheery DUPLICATION.

DUPLICATION is a noun based on the verb DUPLICATE (pronounced doo-pli-KATE), which means to make or be an exact copy of something else.  Synonyms include copy, reproduce, and replicate.

The forgery DUPLICATED the original painting down to the last detail, fooling all the experts except one—Sherlock Holmes.

I’ve tried many times to DUPLICATE my grandmother’s Dutch apple pie, but I never seem to get it quite right. 

English language schools have sprung up all over Tokyo in recent years, but none has been able to DUPLICATE the success of Kikokushijo Academy. 

New employment contracts will need to be typed up, DUPLICATED, and signed before the first of April. 

By using an imaging method called cryo-electron microscopy, scientists have discovered how cells DUPLICATE their DNA.

Ichiro’s record of 262 hits in a season will be hard to DUPLICATE.

DUPLICATE (pronounced DOO-pli-kit) is also an adjective used to describe something that is exactly like or made as a copy of something else.  Synonyms include matching, corresponding, and identical.

A DUPLICATE repayment notice has been forwarded to your tax accountant for their records.

Please only submit one competition entry, as DUPLICATE entries will be discarded. 

As a noun, DUPLICATE (also pronounced DOO-pli-kit) means one of two or more things, such as a document, that are the same in every detail.  The closest synonym is copy.

Is this birth certificate a DUPLICATE or the original?

Please submit original copies only.  DUPLICATES will not be accepted. 

Now that we understand the various meanings and uses for DUPLICATE, let’s take a look at the word DUPLICATION as used in the passage.  DUPLICATION is another noun form that means a copy or the act or process of DUPLICATING something.

As many as 50 percent of our genes have arisen in evolution as a result of gene DUPLICATION. 

A photocopier machine is used for the DUPLICATION of documents.

The idea behind electronic voting is to maximize the efficiency of the voter registration process and, especially, to minimize the DUPLICATION of votes.

And just for the record, the noun DUPLICITY means deceitfulness or dishonest behavior that is intended to make someone believe something is true when it is not.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush was able to escape and justify his errors and DUPLICITY by unapologetically claiming undying commitment to “making Americans safe.” 


Tune in next week for six more useful words from Passages: Lesson 18 Part TWO!