Almanac – 18 August 2010 – Wednesday

Read the text first, then listen to the audio at the bottom of the page.

Good Morning!

It is the eighteenth of August 2010. It is Wednesday.


It is fine.
It is fine and clear.
There is not a cloud in the sky.
It is cold early in the morning but the sun quickly warms everything.
There is a big difference in temperature between being in the sun and being in the shade.

Look at this scale:

There is not a cloud in the sky.
There are a few clouds in the sky.
It is cloudy. (It is overcast)
It is very cloudy.
It is very very cloudy.

Here is another:

a big difference
a small difference
a slight difference
no difference at all

Now I want you to tell me about the weather where you are. What is the weather like where you are? Answer this question. Say your answer aloud.
What is the weather like today?

Now write an answer. What is the weather like today in your area? (Post the answer below in the “comments” section)


Here is a current news headline:

Mexican mayor kidnapped

This means:

A Mexican mayor has been kidnapped.

A past participle has replaced a passive verb phrase.

“Has been kidnapped”

has become simply


Here are the details:

In Santiago near Monterrey the local mayor has been kidnapped by cartels. Twenty-eight thousand people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006.

Look at these phrases:

has been kidnapped
have been killed

The grammar is exactly the same. They are both present perfect passive phrases. The first one is singular. The second one is plural.

Look at these degrees of injury:

he was frightened
he was hurt
he was injured
he was seriously injured
he was badly injured
he was critically injured
he was killed

Here is another headline:

French activists uproot vines

This means

French activists have uprooted grapevines

“Have uprooted vines”

becomes simply

“uproot vines”.

Present simple tense is used instead of present perfect tense.

A plant has a root. Plants have roots. A root is a noun. It is a thing. It is a concrete noun. Look at these phrases:

the root of the problem
dig it out by the roots

Propagation from a Cutting

The word, root has a verbal meaning too. If you take a cutting of a fruit tree and dip it in rooting powder then place it in good soil, it will “root”.

A plant “roots”.

You can say:

It roots.
It has rooted.


It takes root
It has taken root.

That means roots have grown out of the main stem and into the soil. The plant has taken root. Beautiful!

“To uproot”


“to pull out by the roots”.

Here are some details:

French activists have uprooted transgenic grape vines in a protest against the introduction of genetically-modified food. Global food supply is becoming increasingly more heavily centralized and transgenic food is a powerful tool in the armory of the food corporations as they struggle to maximize their profits. The French anti-GM food activist group Faucheurs Volontaires (voluntary reapers) wants to pull genetically engineered plants out by the roots.

Look at these phrases:

transgenic food
genetically modified food

is becoming increasingly more centralised
is becoming increasingly more difficult
is becoming increasingly more frequent
is becoming increasingly more common
is becoming increasingly more endangered

the French anti-GM food activist group
the Dutch anti-GM food activist group
the German anti-GM food activist group
the Norwegian anti-GM food activist group
the Danish anti-GM food activist group
the Swedish anti-GM food activist group
the Croatian anti-GM food activist group

the struggle to maximise profits
the struggle to minimise environmental damage

What do you think about genetically modified food? Think about it. Read about it. Are you aware of any dangers? Answer the question now. Answer it orally (Say your answer aloud!)
[audio:GM food.mp3]
What do think about genetically-modified food? Are you aware of any dangers?

Now write your opinion in the “comments ” section below.

Here is another headline:

Disaster unfolds in Pakistan.

In this case present simple tense is used instead of present continuous tense.



is unfolding

That means “catastrophe is taking place right now”.

A fifth of the country is underwater and millions of people have been made homeless. Little help has come. There is a danger of cholera epidemics.

You fold and unfold a scroll. A scroll is a long piece of paper or cloth. In the past everything was written on scrolls. All stories that were written, were written on scrolls. The scroll was unfolded and then folded up again when it was read.

Look at these passive phrases:

It was unfolded.
It was read.
It was folded up again.

Nowadays we say that a story unfolds because in the old days a scroll was unfolded to reveal the story (in the case of a written story or message).

A sad story is unfolding now in Pakistan. Is anybody in Pakistan listening? Are you OK?

News and weather Summary

Now listen to a summary. If you do not understand everything you hear, go back and read the text again. Look up all the new words in the dictionary.

Download audio file (nw180810.mp3)