KA WORDCAST Taskmaster Book 2: Lesson 11

KA WORDCAST Taskmaster Book 2: Lesson 11

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“The goddess of fortune dwells in the feet of the industrious; the goddess of misfortune dwells in the feet of the sluggard.”—Tamil Proverb 

Taskmaster Lesson 11 Passage

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Taskmaster Lesson 11 Mini-Test 1

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Taskmaster Lesson 11 Mini-Test 2 

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Taskmaster Lesson 11 Mini-Test 3 

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Taskmaster Book 2: Lesson 11

Today’s words come from four passages taken, not from a novel, but a book called Best-Loved Folktales of the World (see for your information below).  To listen to a recording of these passages, tune into the kavoicecast.com website.








Life was especially hard because Jack was as lazy as lazy can be: he would do nothing but bask all day in the sun in hot weather and sit by the corner of the hearth in wintertime.  His mother could never persuade him to do anything to help out and was OBLIGED at last to tell him: “If you don’t begin to work for your room and board, Jack, I swear I will turn you out, and you will have to fend for yourself as best you can.”

The verb OBLIGE means to make someone do something by law, necessity, or duty.  It also means, as in the quote above, to feel as if you have to do something because of some pressing need.  Synonyms include compel or obligate.

The will has an odd stipulation: it OBLIGES Mr. Hargrove’s heirs to live in the family mansion until they learn to cooperate and get along!

Having been invited to Nancy and Nick’s party, we felt OBLIGED to invite them to ours.

If you won’t voluntarily honor your contract, then I will have no choice but to get a court order that will OBLIGE you to do so!

I know it’s really none of my business, but I feel OBLIGED out of friendship to warn you that the boss is thinking about appointing Tom director instead of you.

OBLIGE can also mean to perform a service or favor for someone, that is, to do something to help someone.

I know you’re busy, Linda, but would you OBLIGE us by making some refreshments?  We’re all parched and starved.

The pianist OBLIGED his fans with a selection of old favorites, even though the concert was being put on primarily to promote his new CD.

The tour has a set itinerary, but if you want to get a closer look at some of the exhibits, the guides may be willing to OBLIGE.

The verb BE OBLIGED is another way to say to be grateful or thankful, or to appreciate.

We could never have managed to get the restaurant open in time without your help.  I am much OBLIGED.

“Here’s the customer report you asked for, ma’am.”  “Already?  Much OBLIGED.”

OBLIGATION is the noun form.  An OBLIGATION is something we must do because of a law, rule, duty, agreement, or promise.

As an only child Martin, feels he has an OBLIGATION to support his ailing elderly parents.

The new mayor of Bucklebury understood that it was his moral and legal OBLIGATION to honor his campaign pledges.

The adjective OBLIGING describes a person who does something willingly without complaining.

I expected Vivian to be upset by the weekend assignment, but she turned out to be very OBLIGING and accepted it without saying a word.

The adverb form is OBLIGINGLY, which means to do something in an OBLIGING and willing manner.  Synonyms include willingly, readily, and accommodatingly.

My neighbor Jonathon was making such a racket with his drum kit that it was giving me a headache, so I politely asked him to keep it down, and he very OBLIGINGLY did.

Just in time for the garden party, the rain OBLIGINGLY let up, and the sun began to shine through the clouds.

The adjective OBLIGATORY means compulsory.  Synonyms include mandatory, required, or essential.

Wearing a school uniform is OBLIGATORY for every pupil.   Absolutely no exceptions will be made.

In many countries, national military service is OBLIGATORY for all men and women over the age of eighteen.

If you are UNDER AN OBLIGATION, you are in someone’s debt, which means either that you owe that person money or that you need to return him or her a favor.

Of course, you are UNDER no OBLIGATION, but I would truly appreciate it if you would read my new poems for me and tell me what you think.



For some reason this THREAT roused Jack and the very next morning he went out and hired himself for the day to a neighbouring farmer.

The noun THREAT means a stated intention to harm someone, or it can mean a person or thing that is likely to cause harm or danger.

Researchers also use the application to display the movement of volcanic ash clouds, which can pose a serious THREAT to airplanes.

Your THREATS don’t scare me!  I will not be frightened away by the likes of you!

Environmental activists see unregulated offshore oil-and-gas exploration as a serious THREAT to whales and other marine life.

The verb THREATEN means (1) to try to frighten someone or (2) to put something or someone at risk.  Synonyms for (1) include menace, intimidate, and browbeat, or for (2) to endanger or put in jeopardy.

How dare you THREATEN me?  It doesn’t matter what you say.  I won’t go along with your absurd idea!

The gangster THREATENED to burn down the store unless its owner paid extortion money.

The foreman THREATENED John with dismissal, telling him that he was on his final warning and that there would be no more chances.

Floodwaters are THREATENING the town, and we must begin the evacuation immediately.

Global warming and rising sea levels THREATEN to make life as we know it impossible.

Many people have released their pet South American pythons into Florida’s Everglades, where the huge invasive snakes now THREATEN many native species.

The adjective THREATENING means tending or intended to frighten or menace.

The bully’s THREATENING remarks frightened Jackie so much that he has been playing truant from school for a whole week.

My wife didn’t have to say a word.  Her THREATENING look at me from across the dining table was enough to tell me to change the subject or shut up.

THREATENING can also mean ominous, that is, looking or appearing as if something bad is going to happen.

I had been looking forward to the picnic all week, but by the looks of those THREATENING clouds it is sure to rain.



The day after this, Jack again went out and hired himself to a baker.  But the baker, being a PARSIMONIOUS old man, would give Jack nothing but a large tomcat for his day’s work.

The adjective PARSIMONIOUS describes a person who is excessively frugal or unwilling to spend money.   Synonyms include penurious, mean, stingy, tight, and penny-pinching.

Scrooge was a PARSIMONIOUS old miser who paid his one employee a meager salary, yet wrung every last drop of work out of him.

Dr. Parsons got away with paying as small a tax rate as possible thanks to PARSIMONIOUS business deductions and his taking advantage of the tax breaks afforded a college professor.

PARSIMONIOUSLY is the adverb form.

Though he made a fortune from his Internet start-up, the young entrepreneur PARSIMONIOUSLY refused to give a penny to charity.

The noun PARSIMONY means extreme reluctance to spend money.

The continuing global economic downturn has led to the rise of PARSIMONY and frugality among even the wealthiest citizens.

The Prime Minister’s austerity measures emphasize PARSIMONY in government spending, which many see as taking money away from social programs and the people who need it most.

In science, PARSIMONY is a technical term meaning the preference for the least complex explanation.

Occam’s Razor, otherwise known as the Law of PARSIMONY, states that the simplest of competing theories is preferable to the more complex ones.


When he arrived home, his EXASPERATED mother shouted, “You silly fellow! What is wrong with you?  You should have tied it with a string and dragged it along behind you.”

Here, EXASPERATED is a used as an adjective to describe someone who is frustrated, irritated, infuriated, or, simply, very angry.

The class was out of control, and the young teacher gave out an EXASPERATED sigh, sat down at her desk, buried her head in her hands, and started to sob.

The adjective EXASPERATED comes from the verb EXASPERATE, which means to cause someone to be greatly annoyed or out of patience.  Synonyms include irritate, frustrate, and infuriate.  Informal synonyms in British English include brown off or cheese off, and in American English, tick off.

Rude interruptions from impatient travelers EXASPERATED the airline representative as he tried to explain the reason for the delayed departure.

Long-haul flights can be particularly EXASPERATING for parents traveling with young children.

EXASPERATED by her sleepyhead son, Julian’s mother threw up her hands and said, “All right, you can get yourself up.  And if you’re late for school again, that’s your problem, not mine.”

EXASPERATINGLY is the adverb form. It means to do something in an EXASPERATING and irritating manner.

Joan pulled EXASPERATINGLY at the waistband of her favorite skirt as she struggled to do up the zip. “It must have shrunk in the wash,” she consoled herself.

The new government is EXASPERATINGLY nationalistic and jingoistic, and threatens peace and security in the region.

The noun EXASPERATION means a feeling of great annoyance or frustration.

There was more than a trace of EXASPERATION in his voice as my husband tried to explain for the third time the offside rule in football to our new American neighbor.

Adriana threw up her hands in EXASPERATION when she saw that her roommate Frances had as usual left a stack of dirty dishes in the sink.

The President’s EXASPERATION at the Senate’s rejection of his gun-control law was reflected in the harsh words of his speech.



The sight of him struggling to keep the donkey on his shoulders, its legs sticking up in the air kicking and waving wildly, was so comical and bizarre that the girl burst out laughing and, just as the doctors had PLEDGED, immediately recovered her speech and hearing.

The verb PLEDGE means to make a solemn promise. Synonyms include promise, vow, and give one’s word.

When you join the Boy or Girl Scouts, you must PLEDGE to do your best, to do your duty to God, to help other people, and to respect the Scout law.

“I PLEDGE allegiance to the flag of the United States of America” is a promise that all American kids used to have to make at the beginning of each school day.

The Chief Inspector PLEDGED that by this time next year, he would have identified those responsible for the corruption in the city council and brought them to justice.

The verb to PLEDGE also means to make a promise of money to a charity or other cause.

Every year, I PLEDGE $200 to NPR, which is America’s public television station—its BBC, so to speak.

If you PLEDGE $500 or more, you will receive a coupon that entitles you to a free meal for two at any participating restaurant.

The famous actor PLEDGED his salary from his next movie to fund the building of a youth center in his hometown in rural Kansas. 

PLEDGE can also mean to give or offer as a guarantee.

She was taken aback when her fiance asked her to PLEDGE her house as security for a loan so he could start his own modeling agency.

Tyler had run out of chips in the poker game, but he had a strong hand, so he confidently PLEDGED his watch as collateral.

The noun form is also PLEDGE, which is a formal word for promise, commitment, or guarantee.  A PLEDGE can also be a token of love or loyalty.

When you make a PLEDGE, I expect you to keep it!

I gave him my PLEDGE that I would vote for him, because in my eyes, he was by far the best candidate.

Matt and his wife Luciana renewed their wedding vows as a PLEDGE of their eternal love.

A PLEDGE can also refer to a valuable item given as a guarantee that a debt will be paid.  Synonyms include security, surety, guarantee, or collateral.

The pawnbroker took my Leica camera in PLEDGE for the $200 loan, which at the time I desperately needed.


There was once a rich farmer who was as grasping and UNSCRUPULOUS as he was rich.

The adjective UNSCRUPULOUS means without moral principles or, simply, dishonest. Synonyms include unprincipled, unethical, devious, and without scruples.  Informal terms include underhanded, crooked, and shady.

Your lawyer looks like an UNSCRUPULOUS rogue to me, and I wouldn’t trust him if I were you.  I mean, look at that awful suit and those hideous sideburns!

Penny and Bert were facing a bleak retirement after an UNSCRUPULOUS acquaintance sold them some worthless stocks, leaving the couple virtually penniless.

UNSCRUPULOUS cybercriminals often prey on vulnerable elderly people who live alone and aren’t particularly tech savvy. 

UNSCRUPULOUSLY is the adverb form that means dishonestly, cunningly, or deceitfully.

A siren is defined as a woman who UNSCRUPULOUSLY uses her charms and wile to make men do whatever she wants or to lure them into dangerous behavior.

It cannot be denied that Oscar acted UNSCRUPULOUSLY towards Francine, dumping her at the altar and running off with her best friend!

UNSCRUPULOUSNESS is a noun meaning a dishonest act or behavior.  Synonyms include dishonesty, cunning, deceit, deviousness, and corruption.

The UNSCRUPULOUSNESS of many tabloid newspaper reporters does not seem to prevent readers from believing everything the reporters write.

All of these words come from the noun SCRUPLE (often used as SCRUPLES), which is a feeling of doubt about whether something is ethically correct.  Synonyms include qualms, misgivings, and compunction.

The actress seems to be without SCRUPLES.  She’ll do anything to become a star.

And by the way, the adjective SCRUPULOUS and the adverb SCRUPULOUSLY describe a person who does things in a very careful, thorough way.  Synonyms include meticulous(ly), conscientious(ly), and painstaking(ly).

As a novelist, Hilary Mantel is highly esteemed for her SCRUPULOUS attention to historical detail.

The CSI agent SCRUPULOUSLY checked all of the suspect’s cell phone records for the preceding year.



The Burgomaster, who was a young man and not as yet very experienced in passing judgement in such cases, listened to both sides.  After DELIBERATION, he said: “Instead of deciding the case now, I will put a riddle to you both, and the man who makes the best answer shall have the heifer.  Are you both agreed?”

The noun DELIBERATION means thoughtful, careful, or lengthy consideration or discussion. Synonyms include contemplation and reflection.  (When it means discussion, the noun is often used in its plural form, DELIBERATIONS).  DELIBERATION can also mean something done with careful planning.

The case was particularly complex, and as such, the judge could not be hurried in her DELIBERATION.

The CEO’s decision to restructure the company was the result of great DELIBERATION.  No one could complain that he hadn’t given the matter his most serious consideration.

The board of directors held their DELIBERATIONS in the conference room while the candidates for the position waited nervously in the lounge.

The bank heist was planned with great DELIBERATION, but it all fell apart when one of the perpetrators inadvertently triggered the silent alarm.

After much careful DELIBERATION, Sarah finally came up with a life plan that she was happy with and thought she could really stick to.

DELIBERATION also means a rate or speed demonstrating an absence of hurry or haste.  Synonyms include unhurriedness or slowness.

Mr. Mitty spoke with DELIBERATION, choosing his words carefully out of politeness and concern for Debbie’s feelings, but she was still upset and offended.

The adjective DELIBERATE means intentional or on purpose.  It describes something done with or marked by full consciousness of the consequences or nature of what is being done.

The conservative journal’s report was a DELIBERATE attempt to discredit the Foreign Minister.

The attack on the anti-whaling environmentalists was DELIBERATE and unprovoked, and it was clear from the outset who had carried it out.

DELIBERATE can also mean arising from or marked by careful consideration. Synonyms include measured or unhurried.

The painter’s brush strokes were DELIBERATE and accumulative, adding up to a work of art that was rich in detail and symbolism.

The old horse proceeded at a DELIBERATE pace, seemingly oblivious to the rider’s attempts to goad him along.

DELIBERATE can also be used as a verb, meaning to think over or plan carefully.

The jury DELIBERATED for two hours before returning with their not-guilty verdict.

The adverb DELIBERATELY means with intention.  Synonyms include advisedly or purposely.

The fire in the office was started DELIBERATELY by a disgruntled ex-employee.  But thanks to quick action by a security officer, everyone escaped from the building unharmed.

The medics acted calmly and DELIBERATELY, tending to the wounded while remaining alert to the threat of further attacks.

“Bobby, that was so mean!  You DELIBERATELY tripped your sister, and now she has a grazed knee.  Go to your room immediately!  And no dinner or TV or games for you young man!”



Chen Po Shi was rich and famous.  In fact, he had so much money that he was always busy INVESTING and lending it, and receiving and paying out taxes.

The verb INVEST has a number of meanings.  Most commonly, it means to spend money, time, or effort to earn a profit or achieve a result.  Synonyms include expend, put up, put in, and advance.

How you INVEST your money depends on what you think is going to happen to the global economy.

When people buy a house, they are INVESTING a lot of money.  In fact, it is usually the biggest financial commitment they will make in their lifetime.

Why don’t you INVEST your retirement package in an ice-cream van?  It’s what you’ve always wanted to do. 

Everyone should INVEST some time in community service.

I INVESTED a lot of time and effort in researching and drawing up this proposal, only to have it turned down with barely a glance by my supervisor.

INVEST also means to provide something with a certain quality or feeling.

The singer INVESTED the songs with a bittersweet sadness that her fans attributed to the recent death of her beloved sister.

The popular designer INVESTED her latest collection with a taste of the elegant styles and vibrant colors of her native Indonesia.

Finally, the word INVEST means to confer rank or office on someone.

According to the U.S. Constitution, only Congress is INVESTED with the power to declare war.

The new governor will be INVESTED next week.

The noun INVESTMENT means the act of investing either money or time, or the money or time itself.

As a college student you will put in a lot of time and money on your education, so it is essential that you work hard to maximize the return on that INVESTMENT.

Andrew claimed to have become rich through wise INVESTMENTS, although many who knew him appeared sceptical given his limited business acumen.

Each partner’s INVESTMENT was £5,000.  Only time would tell if there would be a healthy return on it.



Li was an INDUSTRIOUS man and it was usually late evening before he stopped working.

The adjective INDUSTRIOUS means hardworking, diligent, or assiduous.

Marion was an INDUSTRIOUS and dependable worker, so her boss was understandably disappointed when she handed in her resignation.

Once a busy and INDUSTRIOUS river port, Cound has now reverted back to a quiet rural community and dormitory village.

The adverb INDUSTRIOUSLY means in a diligent or hard-working manner.  Synonyms include conscientiously, perseveringly, and assiduously.

The manor’s grounds were a hive of activity.  Everywhere you looked gardeners weeded and planted INDUSTRIOUSLY in preparation for the upcoming environmental confab.

The noun INDUSTRIOUSNESS means the act or condition of working very hard.  Synonyms include diligence, perseverance, and determination.

Germaine’s INDUSTRIOUSNESS had won her much praise at work, and now led to a well- deserved promotion.

If there’s one thing the Japanese are proud of, it’s their INDUSTRIOUSNESS.

Make sure, by the way, that you don’t confuse INDUSTRIOUS with INDUSTRIAL (though a lot of people do!).  INDUSTRIAL has to do with manufacturing, as in:

Xia Chen Deng is an INDUSTRIAL city that has long been plagued by air and water pollution, but that is now literally cleaning up its act.



They already regarded Oni as strange because of his wonderful boots, but when they discovered that he could not be killed, they felt INTIMIDATED and afraid to have him near them.

When you feel INTIMIDATED by something or someone, that thing or person makes you feel nervous or fearful.  Synonyms include frightened, terrorized, or petrified.

Doug wasn’t INTIMIDATED by the gang and didn’t shrink from a confrontation when he caught them bullying a group of children.

Do not be INTIMIDATED by spam e-mails that warn of dire consequences for not following their instructions.

This, of course, comes from the verb INTIMIDATE, which means to frighten or threaten or make nervous.

For some reason, Professor Garner INTIMIDATES me.  Maybe it’s just that I’m so in awe of his learning and sophistication.

“Rumors that the Mafia have once begun INTIMIDATING local business owners have no basis in fact,” the Chief of Police told the press. “We have everything under control.”

The noun INTIMIDATION is the act of frightening or threatening someone, usually to make them do something.  Synonyms include bullying, coercion, tyranny, and pressure.

Many faculty members have complained that the dean imposes his ideas arbitrarily and rules the department by threats and INTIMIDATION.

INTIMIDATION of the witnesses by the prosecution was eventually uncovered by an investigative reporter, and the case was ruled a mistrial.

If Mr. Potts wants justice to be served, he should let the police and courts deal with those who used INTIMIDATION during the election campaign, and not take the law into his own hands.

INTIMIDATION is also the feeling of being discouraged in the face of someone else’s apparent superiority.

The INTIMIDATION the young singer felt while waiting to go on stage was overwhelming.  How could she possibly follow Beyonce?

INTIMIDATING is the adjective form.  It describes something that is frightening or disheartening.  An excellent synonym is daunting.

The famous conductor was a huge, INTIMIDATING figure, and the closer Amy got to him, the more sure she was that she was making a big mistake!

Historically, tribal tattoos have been used to make warriors appear more INTIMIDATING to their enemies.

Even the most experienced cooks can find it INTIMIDATING to make a soufflé.



They accused him of setting a house on fire in the village, and although Oni had nothing to do with it, he was found guilty and sent into EXILE.

The noun EXILE is the state of being barred or banned or banished from one’s native country.  EXILE can also refer to the person who has been banned.

The King drove his enemies into EXILE to ensure that his continued reign was unopposed.

In some cases the deposed head of state is allowed to voluntarily go into EXILE following a coup or other change of government, allowing a more peaceful transition to take place.

The new democratically elected government immediately announced the release of all political prisoners and the return of all EXILES.

The verb EXILE means to send into EXILE or to banish.

Dante was EXILED from Florence in 1302 because of his political activities.

Napoleon was EXILED to the Island of Elba, from which he escaped.  He eventually regained power, only to be defeated in the Battle of Waterloo and EXILED again to the island of St. Helena, where he died in 1821.

Exiled can also be used as an adjective, as in the following.

The EXILED spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, recently visited Cambridge in England as a guest at the Global Scholars Symposium.





As you have no doubt noticed, today’s readings don’t come from a novel, but were taken from a book called Best-Loved Folktales of the World, which contains over two hundred folk and fairytales from all parts of the globe.  The tales were selected and edited by Joanna Cole, who says in her insightful introduction that while folktales may have deeper meanings and morals, they are good stories “first and foremost” and should be read “just for the fun, excitement, and adventure they offer.”  The practise-test reading is an entire story, entitled “Lazy Jack,” that comes from England.  The reading passage for Mini-Test 1 comes from a Czechoslovakian story, “Clever Manka.”  Mini-Test 2’s reading comes from a Chinese tale entitled “Money Makes Cares.”  And the reading for Mini-Test 3 was taken from “Oni and the Great Bird,” a tale of the Yorba people of Africa.  If you would like to read these stories and many other wonderful stories – and learn a lot about various cultures along the way – Best Loved Folktales of the World is ready and waiting on the KA library bookshelf. 

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