Unit 8: Describing people’s apperance- Daily English 774 – Describing Height and Build

Unit 8: Describing people’s apperance- Daily English 774 – Describing Height and Build

Source: English as a Second Language Podcast www.eslpod.com

Daily English 774 – Describing Height and Build

Dialogue/Story

Slow Speed begins at: 1:19

Explanation begins at: 3:05

Normal Speed begins at: 15:31

ESL Podcast 774 – Describing Height and Build

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 774: Describing Height and Build.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 774. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is eslpod.com. Go there and support this podcast by becoming a member. When you do, you will feel good about yourself and you will be able to download our Learning Guides, which will help you improve your English also.

This episode is a dialogue describing people’s “height,” how tall they are, as well as their “build,” what they look like: are they fat, are they skinny, and so forth. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Gwen: Do you see that heavyset guy over there, the one towering over everyone else?

Denzel: Yeah, what about him?

Gwen: He’s my ex-boyfriend. I haven’t seen him in years. When I knew him he was really skinny. He’s really put on a few pounds. It’s amazing what a few years can do.

Denzel: None of us are as svelte as we used to be.

Gwen: That’s true enough. I’m not as petite as I used to be, that’s for sure.

Denzel: How come you’ve never mentioned this ex-boyfriend before?

Gwen: Oh, I’d almost forgotten about him. Oh, no. I hope that guy over there didn’t see me.

Denzel: Who? That short, stocky guy?

Gwen: No, the average height guy who’s walking this way. He’s another one of my exes. I’d hoped never to see him again.

Denzel: It was a bad breakup?

Gwen: Right. Let’s head toward the door.

Denzel: Why hadn’t you mentioned him before?

Gwen: I thought I had. There have been so many…

Denzel: Don’t look now, but your ex is also headed toward the door.

Gwen: Which one?

Denzel: The tall medium build guy walking next to you!

Category: About You|Relationships + Family

[end of dialogue]

There are many words we can used to describe someone physically; it’s impossible to include all of these in a single dialogue. This dialogue only talks about how tall or short someone is, as well as their shape and weight, in a way.

Gwen says to Denzel, “Do you see that heavyset guy over there, the one towering over everyone else?” “Heavyset” (heavyset) is someone who is a little overweight, perhaps. They weigh a little too much; they’re a little fat, but they’re also very large and often very strong. They might have a lot of muscles, like me. Yeah! Well, not really. Gwen says, “Do you see that heavyset guy over there, the one towering over everyone else?” “To tower (tower) over (someone)” means to be much taller than everyone else, or much taller than the person next to you.

Denzel says, “Yeah, what about him?” Gwen says that this heavyset guy is her ex-boyfriend. Your “boyfriend” is the man, or boy, you are interested in romantically; the other term, of course, would be “girlfriend.” “Ex-boyfriend” would be someone who used to be your boyfriend, but you’re not together romantically anymore. Gwen says, “I haven’t seen him in years (I haven’t seen this heavyset guy in years). When I knew him he was really skinny.” “To be skinny” (skinny) means to be very thin; we might say “slim” or “slender” (slender). “Slim,” “slender,” “thin,” “skinny,” these are all the same idea, someone who doesn’t have a lot of extra weight, who is the opposite of fat. Gwen says that the ex-boyfriend really put on a few pounds. “To put on a few pounds” (pounds) means to gain weight, usually over time. As people get older, especially after, oh, the age of 30 or so, it’s not uncommon for them to put on a few pounds, to

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ESL Podcast 774 – Describing Height and Build

gain weight, to become heavier or fatter. “Pound” has a number of different meanings in English; take a look at our Learning Guide for some of those.

Gwen says, “It’s amazing what a few years can do,” meaning it’s surprising how someone can change physically in just a few years. Denzel says, “None of us are as svelte as we used to be.” “Svelte” (svelte) means to be slender, to be thin. But the difference between “svelte” and “skinny” is that when you say you’re “svelte” you mean you are perhaps somewhat muscular or you are svelte in a way that looks very attractive. You can be skinny and not be very attractive, but when you’re svelte usually you not only are thin but you also have a good muscular look about you as well. At least that’s a common way of using this word. Gwen says, “That’s true enough. I’m not as petite as I used to be.” “To be petite” (petite) is to be a thin or skinny woman who’s usually somewhat small or short. A petite woman is not very tall and is thin. If you go to a store, and you’re woman and you’re buying a dress, they have different sizes, and petite might be one of the sizes they have. That would be for a woman who’s not very tall and who is thin.

Denzel then asks Gwen, “How come you’ve never mentioned this ex-boyfriend before?” Why haven’t you told me about this ex-boyfriend? Gwen said, “Oh, I’d almost forgotten about him.” I couldn’t remember him, maybe because it was so long ago. Then she says, “Oh, no. I hope that guy over there didn’t see me.” Gwen is now talking about a different person. Gwen says, “I hope that guy over there didn’t see me.” Denzel says, “Who? That short, stocky guy?” “To be short” means the opposite of tall, someone who’s below average in height. “Short” has a number of meanings in English however; take a look, once again, at our Learning Guide for those. “To be stocky” (stocky) means to be a little heavy. You could be a little fat, or you might just have a lot of strong muscles. Normally it describes someone who is perhaps not very tall, but they’re heavy; they’re slightly overweight and/or they have a lot of muscles, so they look big.

Gwen says, “No,” she’s not talking about the short, stocky guy; she’s talking about the guy who is of average height. “Height” refers to how tall or short you are. “Average” would be someone who is about the same as most people; “typical” would be another way of saying that. Statistically, “average” is the same as what we call the “mean” (mean). The mean of 5 and 15 is 10; 5 plus 15 is 20, divided by 2 is 10. Well, here we’re talking about an average height, how tall someone is. Gwen says that there’s an average height guy walking this way, meaning walking toward Gwen and Denzel. She says, “He’s another one of my exes (another ex-boyfriend). I’d hoped never to see him again.” She doesn’t want to see this person.

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ESL Podcast 774 – Describing Height and Build

Denzel says, “It was a bad breakup?” A “breakup” (breakup – one word) is the end of a romantic relationship, when two people decide they’re not going to be together romantically anymore; you’re no longer boyfriend and girlfriend. Denzel says, “It was a bad breakup?” Gwen says, “Right,” meaning yes. Notice that Gwen seems to have a lot of ex-boyfriends, and Denzel doesn’t seem to know anything about them. Is that a good idea? Should you tell your boyfriend or your girlfriend about all of the old boyfriends or girlfriends you used to have? I don’t know; I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I don’t think so, generally. Maybe I’m wrong; I don’t have very many ex-girlfriends to talk about! In general, I think it’s a bad idea. Well anyway, Gwen says, “Let’s head toward the door.” Let’s start walking out of here, to leave.

Denzel says, “Why hadn’t you mentioned him before?” Denzel wants to know why Gwen hasn’t told him about her ex-boyfriends. Again, personally I don’t care. I don’t want to know about your ex-boyfriends, but Denzel wants to know. Gwen says, “I thought I had (I thought I did tell you). There have been so many.” She’s saying that she’s had many boyfriends. Now that’s probably a mistake ladies! You don’t want to tell your current boyfriend, the guy you’re with right now, that you’ve had lots of boyfriends in the past. That doesn’t look too good sometimes. And, I would say probably the same for a man telling that to a woman. But in any case, Gwen tells Denzel that she has had many boyfriends.

Denzel says, “Don’t look now, but your ex is also headed toward the door.” “Don’t look now” is a phrase we use to warn someone that something bad is coming their way or someone they don’t want to see is walking toward them. Denzel says, “Don’t look now, but your ex (your ex-boyfriend) is also headed toward the door.” Gwen says, “Which one?” She thinks Denzel is talking about the heavyset guy or the average height guy, but Denzel says, “The tall medium build guy walking next to you!” “Tall,” of course, is the opposite of short. “To be medium (medium) build (build)” means that you’re not fat, you’re not thin; you’re sort of average in terms of the size of your body. So, Denzel is talking about a tall medium build guy walking next to Gwen, meaning himself. He’s saying that now he is going to break up with Gwen, and Gwen is walking next to her newest ex-boyfriend!

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Gwen: Do you see that heavyset guy over there, the one towering over everyone else?

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English as a Second Language Podcast www.eslpod.com

ESL Podcast 774 – Describing Height and Build

Denzel: Yeah, what about him?

Gwen: He’s my ex-boyfriend. I haven’t seen him in years. When I knew him he was really skinny. He’s really put on a few pounds. It’s amazing what a few years can do.

Denzel: None of us are as svelte as we used to be.

Gwen: That’s true enough. I’m not as petite as I used to be, that’s for sure.

Denzel: How come you’ve never mentioned this ex-boyfriend before?

Gwen: Oh, I’d almost forgotten about him. Oh, no. I hope that guy over there didn’t see me.

Denzel: Who? That short, stocky guy?

Gwen: No, the average height guy who’s walking this way. He’s another one of my exes. I’d hoped never to see him again.

Denzel: It was a bad breakup?

Gwen: Right. Let’s head toward the door.

Denzel: Why hadn’t you mentioned him before?

Gwen: I thought I had. There have been so many…

Denzel: Don’t look now, but your ex is also headed toward the door.

Gwen: Which one?

Denzel: The tall medium build guy walking next to you!

[end of dialogue]

I don’t know anything about her ex-boyfriends, but I do know Dr. Lucy Tse is a wonderful scriptwriter.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

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These materials are copyrighted by the Center for Educational Development (2012). Posting of these materials on another website or distributing them in any way is prohibited.

English as a Second Language Podcast www.eslpod.com

ESL Podcast 774 – Describing Height and Build

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

GLOSSARY


heavyset – very large and strong, or overweight but not obese

* Shane has always been heavyset, but I would never describe him as being fat.

to tower over – to be much taller than another person * Adam towers over his younger sister.

ex-boyfriend – a man whom one used to date and have a romantic relationship with, but did not marry
* Do you think it’s strange that Mary still talks to her ex-boyfriend almost every day?

skinny – slender; slim; thin; without extra fat on one’s body
* Gregory eats a lot, but he stays skinny because he exercises so much.

to put on a few pounds – to gain weight, usually gradually over time * Most people put on a few pounds over the holidays each winter.

svelte – slender; slim; thin; without extra fat on one’s body, in an elegant, fashionable way
* She’s so beautiful and svelte, she could become a fashion model.

petite – a short, thin woman with small bones
* Victoria is very petite, so most pants are too long for her.

short – not very tall; with below-average height
* Can you reach that box on the top shelf for me? I’m too short.

stocky – a little bit heavy, either muscular or a little bit overweight
* The film director is looking for a stocky actor for the role of the bad guy.

average height – with a typical height; not especially short or tall
* The average height of an adult American male is about five feet, nine inches.

breakup – the end of a romantic relationship; the moment when two people decide to stop dating each other and/or begin dating other people
* After the breakup, Olivia ate a pint of ice cream and burned all her photos of Eric.

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ESL Podcast 774 – Describing Height and Build

don’t look now – a phrase used to warn someone of something unpleasant that can be seen or that is approaching
* Don’t look now, but I think your boss has been watching us from across the restaurant.

tall – not short; with above-average height
* Most of the teenagers on the basketball team are tall.

medium build – not thin or fat; with an average body size
* Charlie is medium-build, but he wants to be bigger, so he’s lifting weights to try to get more muscle.

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ESL Podcast 774 – Describing Height and Build

COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS

  1. What might you notice about the heavyset guy? a) That he is threatening everyone else.
b) That he is talking more loudly than everyone else. c) That he is taller than everyone else.
  2. Which of these people would you expect to be the smallest? a) Someone who is heavyset.
b) Someone who is svelte.
c) Someone who is stocky.

______________

WHAT ELSE DOES IT MEAN?

pounds

The phrase “to put on a few pounds,” in this podcast, means to gain weight, usually gradually over time: “It’s normal to put on a few pounds during the first few months of pregnancy, but don’t lose control.” A “pound” is a measurement of weight equal to 0.454 kilograms: “How much does a five-pound bag of potatoes cost?” A “pound sign” is a hashtag or the intersection of two horizontal and two vertical lines (#), especially on a telephone button: “Please enter your account number, followed by the pound sign.” Finally, the phrase “a pound of flesh” refers to a demanding, difficult request that creates a problem for someone: “Adam is a millionaire and doesn’t need more money, but he’s determined to get a pound of flesh by demanding that the borrowers pay all the interest on their loan right now.”

short

In this podcast, the word “short” means not very tall, with below-average height: “Reva’s parents are short, so she’ll probably be short, too, when she grows up.” The phrase “to be short [of (something)]” can mean to not have enough of something, especially when talking about money: “I’m a little short of money. Could you please loan me $20?” The phrase “to be short on (something)” means to not have as much of something as one should: “The waiters served good food, but they were short on service.” The phrase “to become short of breath” means to not be able to breathe easily: “At high altitudes, people experience shortness of breath more quickly than usual.” Finally, the phrase “to be short with (someone)” means to be rude and unfriendly: “Why was the cashier so short with you?”

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ESL Podcast 774 – Describing Height and Build

CULTURE NOTE

Ideal Body Weight

Many people know they are overweight or “obese” (extremely overweight), but they don’t know how much weight they need to lose to reach their “ideal body weight,” or the number of pounds they should weigh. Most doctors believe that there is no “pinpoint” (exact; precise) ideal body weight, but there is a “range” (acceptable numbers between a minimum and maximum amount) for each person, based on an individual’s height and “build” (how big one’s bones are and how much muscle one has).

When speaking with patients, a lot of doctors and “dieticians” (people whose job is to help people eat the right amount of healthy, nutritious foods) refer to their “Body Mass Index,” or BMI. The BMI is calculated in the following simple “formula” (symbols showing which mathematical operations should be made on certain numbers):

BMI = (weight x 703) ÷ (height2)

where the weight is measured in pounds and the height is measured in inches. For example, someone who is 5’6” (five feet, six inches) tall and weighs 150 pounds has a BMI of 24.2

The BMI categories “are as follows” (are shown below):

  • Underweight: less than 18.5
  • Normal weight: 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight: 25-29.9

Obese: greater than 30 
These categories aren’t perfect. For example, imagine that two people are the same height. Person A is an athlete who has a lot of “muscle mass” (very large, strong muscles). Person B doesn’t exercise. Because muscle weighs more than fat, the BMI categories might show that Person A is overweight while Person B has normal weight, when “in fact” (in reality) the opposite is true. 
Nevertheless, calculating the BMI can be helpful for people who want to better understand whether they need to gain or lose weight.
______________ 
Comprehension Questions Correct Answers: 1 – c; 2 – b 
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