Window of Opportunity

windowRegular readers of this blog will know that I’m very interested in Environmental issues. That’s why I was interested to see this article on the Reuters website. I have lived in South-East Asia on and off for the last six years and have been interested to see the progress made in educating the public about endangered animals and habitats.

There is a lot of interesting vocabulary in the article, too. The first expresion I noticed was ‘on the brink‘ in the first paragraph. I have already explained the expression in detail in this post so I won’t go over it again. The other interesting word in this paragraph was ‘snaring‘. To ‘snare‘ something is to catch it in a trap using a rope or wire.

There is another great phrase slightly later in the article where William Robichaud is quoted as saying:

We are at a point in history where we have a small but rapidly closing window of opportunity to conserve this extraordinary animal,

A ‘window of opportunity‘ is a time period within which there is a chance to do something. We use ‘open‘ to talk about the time in which this chance is available and ‘closed‘ to talk about the time when this chance or opportunity is not available.

In the next paragraph, his colleague Barney Long uses the word ‘dozens‘ to talk about how many of these animals exist. ‘Dozen‘ is an old-fashioned word meaning ‘twelve’ and ‘dozens‘ usually means a number between twenty-four and about sixty.  Have a look here for some more number words.

There’s another great adjective in the next paragraph. The animal’s horns are described as ‘tapering‘. Something which ‘tapers‘ or is ‘tapered‘ is wider at one end than it is at the other. Sometimes we talk about ‘tapered‘ jeans where the legs get narrower as they get nearer to the ankle.

The last word I would like to look at is slightly later in the article where it is mentioned that one of the animals was kept in a ‘menagerie‘. This means a collection of animals like a small zoo.

Are there any rare or unusual animals in your country?

Today’s photo is by Ramzi Hashisho.

Go Nuts

nutsI am a terrible photographer. My photos never come out how I want them to. That’s why I was amused to see this funny article on the Guardian website last week with some great vocabulary in it. The first interesting expression is in the headline:

Photo enthusiasts go nuts for squirrel’s holiday snap

To ‘go nuts’ for something means to get really excited about it. We can also say ‘to be nuts about something‘ meaning to be very interested in it or to love it a lot. For example, I am nuts about cycling at the moment and try to do it whenever I have free time. We can also use the expression ‘to go nuts‘ to talk about getting really angry depending on the context.

The next interesting word is also in the title. We can say ‘snap‘ to talk about a causal photo which is taken outdoors, not in a photo studio.

In the subtitle, the author mentions the squirrel trying to ‘muscle in on‘ the couple’s picture meaning he forced his way into it even though he was not wanted.

There is another interesting phrase in the second paragraph where it is mentioned that the squirrel ‘adopted the position‘. To adopt a position is a nice natural way to say get into a position. We also often say to ‘take up‘ a position meaning the same thing.

It must be amazing for the photographer that her photo was included in National Geographic’s ‘Daily Dozen’ section. ‘Dozen‘ is an old-fashioned word meaning twelve but we also use it in its plural form (dozens) to mean lots of. For example, I have seen that movie dozens of times. The other old-fashioned words we often use to talk about numbers in English are:

  • couple – two
  • score – twenty
  • scores – lots of / many of

There is yet another interesting word in this paragraph:

Apart from the kind of tedious discussion on various blog sites of focal depth and remote control shutter releases which causes any squirrel with sense to tune out and go and see a man about some nuts, the hero of Lake Minnewanka has sparked a rash of tribute images.

Tedious‘ means boring or irritating and the phrasal verb ‘to tune out‘ in this example means to ignore. ‘See a man about some nuts‘ is a variation on the phrase ‘see a man about a dog‘ meaning to make an excuse to leave a boring or awkward situation.  To ‘spark a rash‘ of tribute images means to cause other people to produce a lot of other images inspired by the original.

There was also an interesting link in the last paragraph to a video of a drunk squirrel.  I guess that’s another one to add to our list of drunk animals!

Do you have any funny holiday snaps?

Today’s photo is by Eran Chesnutt.