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Lesson Transcript

Jonathan: How a Bill Becomes a Law in the US, Part 2. I’m Jonathan.
Dede: Dede here as well!
Jonathan: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to use certain special words to intensify adjectives. We’ll listen to a conversation between Mark and Sheila at the office.
Dede: Sheila and Mark are discussing a political, work-related matter.
Jonathan: Because it is a business topic, they will not be speaking too casually, but they will also not be overly formal.
Dede: Let’s give it a listen!
Mark: We just got word that the president vetoed the bill. I can't believe what an utter failure it was.
Sheila: Oh no… we worked so hard on it. Do you think there's a chance Congress could override the veto?
Mark: Getting a 2/3rds majority in both the House and Senate in these times?
Sheila: I know it sounds pretty unrealistic, but the bill is popular with the public.
Mark: Maybe I’m just a cynic, but that seems like a total pipe-dream.
Sheila: I guess you’re right…
Mark: Congresspeople are acting like absolute clowns these days. They never compromise any more! It wasn’t like this in the good ol’ days.
Sheila: I can see what you mean.
Mark: And without compromises, these jokers can’t make the changes that this country needs!
Sheila: I’m completely with you on that.
Mark: Jeez, if the intern can understand that, why can’t the lawmakers?
Dede: I have to admit- I really don’t understand a lot of what they are talking about.
Jonathan: Well, you have to understand that the US government is made of checks and balances. The “founding fathers” of the United States wanted to make sure that no one person or one branch of government could become too powerful so they made a “balance” of power and “checks” to make sure the branches of government could limit each other.
Dede: Branches?
Jonathan: The three branches of government - the executive, which is the president, the legislative which is the Congress, and the judicial which is the Supreme Court.
Dede: I think we’ve been focusing mostly on the legislative here, right?
Jonathan: Exactly, that is where Sheila and Mark work. The Congress is the only branch that can make laws by proposing bills; and when they are passed, the president must sign them to take effect. So if the president does not like a law, he or she can cancel it by vetoing it.
Dede: Like they talked about in the dialogue.
Jonathan: Exactly. But after a veto, the bill goes back to Congress where it can die or it can be “overridden” if 2/3rds of Congress vote for it. Then they can by-pass the presidential veto.
Dede: That sounds pretty uncommon though.
Jonathan: It is!
Dede: And what about the Supreme Court? How does the judicial branch work?
Jonathan: The Supreme Court can decide a law is in violation of the Constitution, the basic document of the government, and declare it invalid.
Dede: Then what can they do?
Jonathan: Not much! They can try and change the constitution, but that is even more difficult.
Dede: My goodness, democracy is a complicated system!
Jonathan: It is, it’s designed so that the US could never have a king or any tyrant.
Dede: And they haven’t… yet.
Jonathan: Not to sound like a dictator, but now we're moving to the vocab!
Dede: Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
The first word we shall see is:
Jonathan: utter [natural native speed]
Dede: complete, total
Jonathan: utter [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: utter [natural native speed]
Next is:
Jonathan: to override [natural native speed]
Dede: to go over someone's blocking action
Jonathan: to override [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: to override [natural native speed]
Next we have:
Jonathan: cynic [natural native speed]
Dede: a pessimist
Jonathan: cynic [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: cynic [natural native speed]
Next is:
Jonathan: pipedream [natural native speed]
Dede: an unrealistic unattainable goal
Jonathan: pipedream [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: pipedream [natural native speed]
Next we have:
Jonathan: to compromise [natural native speed]
Dede: to negotiate a solution between two sides with different goals and view points
Jonathan: to compromise [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: to compromise [natural native speed]
Next is:
Jonathan: good ol' days [natural native speed]
Dede: the past, when remembered fondly
Jonathan: good ol' days [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: good ol' days [natural native speed]
Next we have:
Jonathan: joker [natural native speed]
Dede: person who is not serious
Jonathan: joker [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: joker [natural native speed]
Next is:
Jonathan: to be with [natural native speed]
Dede: to agree with
Jonathan: to be with [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: to be with [natural native speed]
Next we have:
Jonathan: lawmaker [natural native speed]
Dede: a politician involved in the legislative process, a Congressperson
Jonathan: lawmaker [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: lawmaker [natural native speed]
Dede: That’s all our words for this lesson. Do you want to take a look at some words and phrases we have from this dialogue?
Jonathan: Absolutely. We have three phrases today, two from Mark and one from Sheila. Let’s start with…
Dede: "good ol' days", which is a way to refer to the past in a positive light.
Jonathan: Mark complains that “It wasn’t like this in the good ol’ days.” Talking about the “good ol’ days” is common, especially among older people as they compare and contrast the present times to when they were younger. This phrase is most frequently used when we are complaining about something in the present.
Dede: So Mark is saying that in “the good ol’ days” the government functioned more efficiently?
Jonathan: Exactly!
Dede: OK, I think I understand. So, ready to move onto the next phrase?
Jonathan: Well, in the good ol’ days, we could take more time with our phrases, but I guess so…
Dede: Haha… “I’m completely with you on that”
Jonathan: Sheila says “I’m completely with you on that” when she is agreeing with Mark’s point of view. As we learned in the vocab, this phrasal verb mean to agree with someone. It is simple but can be confusing when you are talking about location rather than agreement. We have to look at context when guessing whether they are physically “with” that person or if they are indicating that they understand and agree with what that person is saying.
Dede: Oh… OK.
Jonathan: I think we should move on.
Dede: I’m with you on that.
Jonathan: What’s the next phrase?
Dede: "Pipedream", which is "an unrealistic, unattainable goal"
Jonathan: Mark says “That seems like a total pipedream” when referring to the possibility of Congress overriding the veto. We can see that while Mark might prefer that outcome – Congress overriding the veto – he finds the possibility of that actually happening very low.
Dede: Right. Got it.
Jonathan: Think we’ll get out of the recording studio early today?
Dede: That’s a pipedream.
Jonathan: (laughs) I’m with you on that.
Dede: But I’m ready to move onto the grammar.
Jonathan: Sounds like a great idea, why don’t I get us started?

Lesson focus

Jonathan: The focus of this lesson is using intensifying adjectives.
Dede: That’s right. Mark says “Congresspeople are acting like absolute clowns these days.”
Jonathan: We can use several adjectives to make other words stronger without otherwise changing their meaning.
Dede: In Mark’s example, we see him using “absolute” to intensify “clowns”.
Jonathan: He doesn’t change what kind of clowns as other adjectives would like big, hot, cold, etc., but instead “absolute” makes the word itself stronger. Often it is useful to think about the adjective as making the word “100%”.
Dede: There are a number of adjectives that we heard in the dialogue, let’s take a look at some more examples of intensifying adjectives
Jonathan: The first is “complete”
Dede: "We expect the kids will be put in complete terror by the film."
Jonathan: Complete terror means 100% scary.
Dede: Yikes. I don’t want to see that film!
Jonathan: Our next adjective is “utter”. We saw this in the vocab section, but let’s see how we can use it.
Dede: "Kids are told not to talk to utter strangers."
Jonathan: An utter stranger is someone who is 100% unknown.
Dede: Probably the most common use for these types of adjectives is when talking about the success or failure of something.
Jonathan: We can indicate a huge degree of success or failure by describing them with these types of adjectives. Since our topic is politics, let’s look at some political examples.
Dede: "After the Republicans won 70% control of the Senate, 60% control of the house, and the presidency, they gained absolute control over the legislature."
Jonathan: Because they have the presidency and majorities in the Senate and House, they have 100% control of lawmaking.
Dede: Until the next election!
Jonathan: We can only hope… Let’s look at one more example.
Dede: "The president’s budget was an utter failure after it was rejected three times."
Jonathan: So they couldn’t pass the budget even after trying 3 times. I think that would be…
Dede: 100% failure. So “utter failure” is appropriate, just like your love life.
Jonathan: I don’t think 95% failure is “utter” failure.
Dede: Haha… I didn’t realize you had improved.


Jonathan: Well, with that, I think we should wrap it up for this lesson of Upper Intermediate Season 1. As always, thanks and we’ll see you soon.
Dede: Take care!