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Lesson Transcript

Jonathan: Good day! I’m Jonathan.
Dede: And this is Dede reporting! At the Heartbreak Motel in the US.
Jonathan: In this lesson, we will learn about how inversion is used to add emphasis in a sentence.
Dede: This conversation takes place between Dave and Sheila. Dave is very upset.
Jonathan: Because of Dave’s emotional state and because they are such close friends, they’ll be speaking very casually and even more like family than friends.
Dede: Poor Dave! Alright, let’s listen to the conversation!
Sheila: Hey Dave, you look quite the sight. What's the matter?
Dave: Isabel broke up with me today. Never have I felt more miserable.
Sheila: Oh, you poor thing. Do you want to talk?
Dave: We went out to dinner last night to celebrate my new job and got in a quarrel.
Sheila: What about?
Dave: Well, she just said that she was upset that I was leaving so soon. She was hesitant to get in a relationship in the first place and no sooner did we start getting close that I decided to leave.
Sheila: Such is life… You’ll be back post-election though, right?
Dave: Yeah, I thought a few months apart would be no big deal. Little did I realize! When I got home I checked my voicemail and had a message from her saying it was over.
Sheila: I'm sorry honey, do you want a hug?
Dave: Thanks, but I’d rather have a drink…
Dede: Hmm… Is Sheila going to be Dave’s next girlfriend? It kind of sounds that way…
Jonathan: Haha, I don’t think so… Every culture has its own way of expressing friendship and understanding. When you look at the language that Sheila used in this dialogue, you may think that it is not very appropriate for a friend to be talking to someone like that– you’re right that a lot of the language she used seemed more like a romantic relationship than a friend relationship.
Dede: But don’t we call people that we, you know, like, “honey”?
Jonathan: You can, but especially when we are comforting a friend that has gone through a difficult emotional situation, we can use this type of language without romantic intentions.
Dede: What about when she asks if he wants a hug?
Jonathan: It doesn’t necessarily mean there is any kind of romantic relationship between them. In particular, Americans tend to give hugs a lot, even as a greeting or parting gesture between friends,
Dede: Hmm, that’s true. Even between guys and girls, huh.
Jonathan: Yup, between everyone – male friends, female friends, and friends of opposite genders can all hug each other without any romantic feelings. So... Feel free to hug me any time!
Dede: I think I’ll take a pass.
Jonathan: Well, even without hugs, we can still do vocabulary, so let’s move on.
Dede: (laughs) Okay, let’s go to the vocab!
Dede: Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
The first word we shall see is:
Jonathan: quite [natural native speed]
Dede: very; exceptionally; to the utmost, entirely, wholly
Jonathan: quite [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: quite [natural native speed]
Jonathan: to break up [natural native speed]
Dede: to end a relationship
Jonathan: to break up [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: to break up [natural native speed]
Jonathan: quarrel [natural native speed]
Dede: an argument, a fight
Jonathan: quarrel [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: quarrel [natural native speed]
Jonathan: upset [natural native speed]
Dede: unhappy or angry
Jonathan: upset [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: upset [natural native speed]
Jonathan: hesitant [natural native speed]
Dede: cautious, slow, careful, unsure
Jonathan: hesitant [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: hesitant [natural native speed]
Jonathan: post- [natural native speed]
Dede: after something
Jonathan: post- [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: post- [natural native speed]
Jonathan: voicemail [natural native speed]
Dede: a virtual mailbox for telephone voice messages; a message left in said box
Jonathan: voicemail [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: voicemail [natural native speed]
Jonathan: miserable [natural native speed]
Dede: unhappy, very discontent
Jonathan: miserable [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: miserable [natural native speed]
Jonathan: deal [natural native speed]
Dede: situation, issue, problem
Jonathan: deal [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: deal [natural native speed]
Dede: Well that’s all the words from this lesson. Let’s take a closer look at two of the phrases we saw.
Jonathan: Why don’t you get us started?
Dede: OK. The first was "quite", which means "to a heightened degree" or "absolutely".
Jonathan: Sheila says “Hey Dave, you look quite the sight.” We can use “quite” combined with a noun to emphasize that they seem a particular way. “Quite the sight” is a phrase to say someone looks surprising.
Dede: Yeah, like in the morning before your coffee – you look quite the sight!
Jonathan: Haha, true. We can also use it to emphasize how good someone is at something.
Dede: Yeah! I was amazed at how good you were at ping-pong… You really are quite the ping-pong player.
Jonathan: Thanks! Let’s move onto the next word.
Dede: Alright…it is "deal", which means "situation, issue, problem". In the dialogue, Dave says “I thought a few months apart would be no big deal.”
Jonathan: When we say something is “a big deal” in this way we mean that it is an important issue or situation.
Dede: Right, so when we say “no big deal” it’s kind of like saying “no problem” to mean that it's OK.
Jonathan: Oh sorry! I stepped on your toe!
Dede: That’s OK, no big deal!
Jonathan: Alright then, I think that brings us to…
Dede: My favorite part!
Jonathan: The grammar!

Lesson focus

Dede: The focus of this lesson is using inversion to add emphasis.
Jonathan: Dave says “Never have I felt more miserable.”
Dede: Inversion is a somewhat tricky grammatical structure that is not very common in spoken English but important to understand for when you do hear or read it.
Jonathan: Inversion means “upside-down”, so when we see inversion being used, we mean that the order is reversed.
Dede: Most commonly, we change the word order of a sentence in order to emphasize something.
Jonathan: We change a regular order sentence with inversion in order to put the most important thought first. This kind of sentence is easier to understand with examples though.
Dede: So first up we have…
Jonathan: “Under no circumstances should an employee leave early.”
Dede: Here, we could have said…
Jonathan: “An employee should leave early under no circumstances.”
Dede: But we want to emphasize that it is never alright to leave early. So we use inversion to highlight the “Under no circumstances” by putting it first in the order
Jonathan: Let’s listen to a different example now…
Dede: Rarely have I been so tired.
Jonathan: In this case we could have said
Dede: “I have rarely been so tired”
Jonathan: But if we wish to stress that it is a rare or uncommon event, we can use inversion to make this clear.
Dede: Never have we had such a boring grammar point.
Jonathan: I’d like to disagree. Surely there must have been a more boring lesson.
Dede: (laughs), see in these examples, I highlighted “Never”
Jonathan: And I stressed “surely”
Dede: Listen to that again if you couldn’t quite understand.
Jonathan: Let’s move on and take a better look at the examples from the dialogue.
Dede: Once again, Dave said…"Never have I felt more miserable."
Jonathan: Because “never” comes first, we know that Dave is choosing to emphasize it. He truly has never been more miserable than right now. Why don’t you take the next one? Dave says "Little did I realize!"
Dede: Here he is emphasizing “Little” to show how he didn’t realize much at all and was very surprised by the result.
Jonathan: Great job! Just a word of caution to our listeners though; we need to be careful when we use inversion as a technique because it can make us sound overdramatic.
Dede: (mock emotion) Too late did I realize!
Jonathan: We hear it more commonly in literature than in normal speech but it is important to understand the construction for when we hear it.
Dede: (mock emotion) So embarrassed was I!
Jonathan: If we hear it in speech, like we did with Dave, it is usually a situation where people are acting emotionally.
Dede: (mock emotion) Never shall I attempt to use inversion again!
Jonathan: Oh, knock it off! You’re being a drama queen!
Dede: (Laughs) As you can see, this construction sounds a bit odd for use in normal conversation, but it is appropriate when you are upset or defending yourself.


Jonathan: Okay, well I think that’s going to do it for today! We hoped you enjoyed this lesson. Bye-bye, everyone!
Dede: See you soon!