Nude runners get cold feet

evilmelonDid you celebrate Halloween? It’s not such a popular holiday here in Indonesia but I still like to watch a scary movie in the evening to get into the Halloween spirit a bit.

In lots of parts of the world, people like to dress up for Halloween but it looks like the runners in this article were ready to take it a step further. They wanted to go running naked! Now, that’s scary!

There were some fun words and expressions in the article, too. ‘Quash‘ was the first word that caught my eye. It was in the title of the article and means to stop something using threats or force.

There was another interesting word in the first paragraph. The run was described as a ‘zany‘ tradition. ‘Zany‘ means the same as ‘crazy but in a positive way.

In the caption under the photo, there’s and interesting idiom. It says that many of the runners ‘got cold feet‘. When you ‘get cold feet‘ you don’t do an activity because you are afraid or nervous.

Later on in the article, the author mentions a ‘handful‘ of runners. When we use the expression a ‘handful‘ we mean a small amount.

The last expression I would like to look at in this article is ‘public exposure‘. This means to take your clothes of in public. What a scary idea for Halloween!

How did you celebrate Halloween this year?

Today’s image is by Wil Procter.

Crackdown on smuggled clothing

clothesI buy all my clothes second-hand. Well, almost all of them. I wouldn’t consider buying second-hand boxer shorts or socks but other than that, all my clothes are already used when I buy them.

Until I saw this article on the Reuters website, I didn’t know that dealing in used clothes was such big business. There was some really interesting vocabulary in the article, too.

The first interesting word was in the title:

Crackdown on smugglers of used clothing

A ‘crackdown‘ is when the police or authorities make a serious effort to stop something from happening. We can also use it as a phrasal verb and say to ‘crack down‘.

The other interesting word here is ‘smuggler‘. Before we look at what a ‘smuggler‘ is, let’s have a look at the verb in its base form. To ‘smuggle‘ is to bring something into a country illegally. People smuggle for two main reasons. The first is that whatever they are importing is illegal in that country. The second reason is to avoid paying tax on whatever they are bringing in.

A ‘smuggler‘ is a person who smuggles things into a country. Later in the article, the phrase ‘smuggling ring‘ is used. This is the group of people that smuggle things into a country then distribute them.

The last expression I would like to look at in this article is the phrasal verb ‘turned up‘. In the context of this article, it means found or discovered. It is more common to use it to mean ‘arrived’ or ‘appeared’. For example, ‘he wasn’t invited to the party but he turned up anyway’.

Is it common to buy second-hand clothes in your country?

Today’s image is by Sanja Gjenero.

The big breakfast

breakfastI love to take my time over breakfast at the weekend. I like to eat slowly, read the news and start the day in a nice, relaxed mood. It seems that the people in this article on the ABC News website like their breakfast, too. I think they chose a more spectacular place than my kitchen to eat it, though!

You’ll notice that in the title of the article, the author writes ‘brekkie‘ rather than ‘breakfast’. ‘Brekkie‘ is a common Australian abbreviation and is a useful casual word when talking to an Australian friend about the start of your day.

The next interesting word in the article is ‘picnic spot‘. A ‘picnic‘ is when you take some food to a place to eat it outdoors and a ‘picnic spot‘ is the place you have your picnic.

There’s another interesting word slightly later on in the article. It is mentioned that the bridge was covered in ‘turf‘. ‘Turf‘ is grass with a small layer of earth attached to it underneath. We can say an area covered in grass is ‘turfed‘.

Further on in the article, we can see another really useful English expression. Nathan Rees uses the expression ‘having a ball‘ meaning to have a very entertaining time.

The article finishes with one more interesting expression where James Beauchamp is quoted as saying that everyone ‘got into the spirit‘ meaning that everyone was keen to contribute to the positive atmosphere.

What kind of breakfast did you start your week with?

Today’s image is by Dirk.

Yudhoyono sworn in for second term

BatikWhatever you think of the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – or ‘SBY’, as people here call him – he’s here to stay. After winning the election last July, he is set to enjoy another five years in power. There was an interesting article about him and the challenges he faces on the BBC News website yesterday.

There was some great political vocabulary in the article that I would like to have a look at. The first piece is in the title:

Indonesia leader starts new term

In this case, a ‘term‘ is the time period for which someone works in a certain political position. We sometimes call it a ‘term of office‘, too. In this case, his ‘term of office‘ will be the next five years.

There were some great words in the first and second paragraph, too. We have seen all of them before on the World of Words. ‘Sworn in‘ was in this article, as was ‘polls’. We have also seen ‘clamp down on‘ before, meaning to eliminate or stop an activity from happening.

In the third paragraph, there is an interesting expression where the author mentions a ‘state body’. This expression means an organisation or agency run by the government.

Slightly later on, the expression ‘poverty line‘ is mentioned. The ‘poverty line‘ is the minimum income required to live adequately in a country. The current level set for the poverty line by the World Bank is about one dollar a day. If you earn less than this, you are below the poverty line, if you earn more you are above it.

There’s another really nice specific piece of vocabulary further into the article. Indonesia is described as an ‘archipelago‘. This means a chain of islands. There are thousands of islands in Indonesia and that helps make it a really diverse place. In fact, part of the national philosophy is ‘Unity in Diversity’.

This paragraph, slightly later in the article, is packed with great expressions:

Analysts have said President Yudhoyono must appoint technocrats and professionals rather than career politicians to his new cabinet in order to attract flagging foreign investment.

A ‘technocrat‘ is a real expert who is active in party politics, whereas a ‘career politician‘ is someone who is in politics to make a lot of money or just to become powerful. The ‘cabinet‘ is the group of politicians making up the main government. In this situation, ‘flagging‘ foreign investment means that foreign investment is decreasing or not developing to a satisfactory level.

The last interesting word in this article is right near the end where it is mentioned that some of the other candidates tried to have the election results ‘annulled‘. This just means that they tried to have them dared ‘not valid’.

Do you have a lot of ‘career politicians‘ in your country?

Today’s image is by B.S.K.

Facebook turns cash positive

cash positiveDo you use Facebook? I thought so. If you don’t, you’re probably in the minority nowadays. I find it interesting that Facebook seems to have become so much more popular than its old rivals MySpace and Friendster. It’s great that they got users to help translate it into new languages, too.

This article on the Reuters website caught my eye over the weekend. It seems that Facebook has started earning money now and is keen to become as rich and powerful as Google.

There’s a lot of interesting business vocabulary in the article, too. The first interesting expression is in the second paragraph where it is mentioned that Facebook had turned ‘cash positive‘. This is an expression meaning that there is more money coming into the company than there is going out.

There is some great expressions in this paragraph slightly later in the article:

Sandberg, who has long fought the perception Facebook lacked a revenue model, laid out a gameplan to turn the company into a cash machine by describing how the company aimed to bring in revenues from novel ads aimed at its 300 million users.

To ‘lay out a gameplan‘ means to present a plan of action. In this case, the plan is related to how to alter the company so that it becomes a ‘cash machine‘ and starts making a lot of money.

There’s another interesting word later on when Sheryl Sandberg is quoted describing advertising as like a ‘funnel‘. A funnel is a shape which is wide at one end and narrow at the other, as in the picture below.


The last expression I would like to look at is in the last paragraph where it is mentioned that Starbucks ‘won kudos‘ from Facebook members. ‘Won kudos’ means that it gained their respect or they gave it credit.

I think Facebook are going to need to do all they can to go to stay ahead of newer rivals like Twitter and even some more specialist social-networking sites related to hobbies or education.

What’s your favourite social-networking website?

Today’s photos are by Ivan Prole and Antonio Jiménez Alonso.

Free Honeymoon

couple on beachCan you imagine being given a free honeymoon? Well, that’s just what the Malaysian government are offering couples in a bid to decrease the divorce rate. I saw this article about it on the BBC News website yesterday and started imagining where I would go on a second honeymoon.

In the first paragraph, the author mentions that these honeymoons will be offered to couples ‘on the brink’ of divorce. I explained ‘on the brink‘ in more detail in this post, but in this situation, it means couples who are very likely to divorce.

The next interesting expression is slightly later in the article where it is mentioned that the scheme is aimed at building ‘family ties‘. ‘Family ties‘ means the relationship between family members.

Further on in the article, the expression ‘in-laws‘ is mentioned. Your ‘in-laws‘ are your wife or husband’s parents. We can also use ‘in-law‘ after a word to indicate that a person is related to your husband or wife. For example, my brother in-law is my wife’s brother.

A few weeks ago, we saw here that machines can ‘break down‘. Marriages can, too. We also often use the phrasal verb ‘fall apart‘  to talk about when a relationship starts to become difficult and unsustainable.

The last interesting expression in this article ‘pilot project‘. We use the word ‘pilot‘ in this sense to talk about something being done for the first time as a test or trial. Another example of this would be when a TV company makes a ‘pilot episode‘ of a TV show to test whether viewers will like it or not.

Where would you like to go on a free honeymoon?

Today’s image is by Fran Flores.

Clinton on second leg of European tour

legsIt’s been a busy weekend for lots of people. President Obama was busy accepting his Nobel Prize, I was busy looking for interesting vocabulary in the news, and Hilary Clinton was busy travelling around Europe. This article on the BBC website has an good summary of her tour.

There’s some useful vocabulary in the article, too, starting in the first paragraph:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in the UK on the second leg of a five-day tour of Europe.

People only have two legs, but tours can have more. In this situation, a ‘leg‘ just means a ‘stage’ or ‘part’ of the tour.

In the second paragraph, the author mentions that the war in Afghanistan and Iran’s nuclear programme are going to be ‘high on the agenda‘. An ‘agenda‘ is a list of topics to be discussed in a meeting and when we say a topic is ‘high on the agenda‘ we mean it is important and will probably be discussed at the beginning of the meeting.

The third paragraph contains some interesting vocabulary, too. A historic ‘pact‘ is mentioned, meaning a historic agreement or promise.

There is a great expression in this paragraph slightly later in the article:

She is expected to press the Russian leader for a strong commitment for tough new sanctions on Tehran.

When we ‘press‘ a person for commitment we try to persuade him or her to commit to something by putting him or her under pressure.

What did you do this weekend?

Today’s image is by Agata K.

Read my brooch

broochPeople often mention the importance of body language in communication. I find it interesting how body language varies around the world. A gesture may be perfectly polite in one county but deeply offensive in another. That’s why I was interested to see this article an learn that sometimes, something as simple as jewelery can be used to send a hidden message.

There is lot of really interesting vocabulary in this article, too. The first is the expression ‘Read my lips‘. This quite a rude way to tell someone to ‘pay close attention‘ to something you are about to say.  There is an other interesting expression in this paragraph where the author mentions the ‘state of play‘ meaning the current situation.

There are two more words in this paragraph I would like to look at. The first is ‘brooch‘. A ‘brooch‘ is a piece of jewelery you pin to your clothes like a badge. The other word is ‘lapel‘. This is the folded-back piece of material on the front of a jacket. Have a look at the picture with the original article to see a ‘brooch’ pinned to a person’s ‘lapel’.

The next paragraph is full of interesting words, too. The first to catch my eye was ‘fad‘. A ‘fad‘ is a style or activity which people only find interesting for a certain period of time. Later in this paragraph, the author mentions a ‘flea market’ this is a market where you can buy second-hand (used) items very cheaply.

There is also some interesting vocabulary in the final paragraph where the author uses the phrase:

but her brooch idea has already broached the Labour stronghold

In this situation ‘broached‘ means  to enter into and the ‘Labour stronghold‘ means the closely-protected  group of people that form the Labour party.

Do you have any clothes you use to convey a particular message?

Today’s photo is by Romina Chamorro.