Listen to the videos and answer the questions.
(You can write your answers in the comments section at the bottom of the page)
America was a British colony. The first settlements were in the west. European Americans gradually spread west. The west was wild and dangerous and rugged so it was called The Wild West.
Listening – Cowboy Culture Today
Listen for these phrases and try to understand the whole sentences that they come from. What percentage of the audio can you understand?
Present Simple Tense
I hear stories about people using them for…
Present Perfect Tense
I have never had to do that.
It may be thought of as a decoration.
It might be thought of as a decoration.
It is just something I put on.
It is just something I wear.
something I have worn most of my life
something I have worn all of my life
if I was gonna be out in the weather for a day
if I was gonna be out in the weather for the whole day
if I was going to be out for the whole day
basically it is the same thing
like I was going to be holding up a stagecoach
as if I was going to be holding up a stagecoach
States in the USA
I am from ..Nebraska
Jack Smith from Idaho
Adverbial Phrases of Location
I purchased here
in the far northeastern corner of California
most of the people in our part of the country
Hyperbole – Exaggeration – Comparative Phrase
the skies are bluer out west
A US State with a Spanish Name
Present Simple Tense
we wear the scarves because of the cold
Present Continuous Tense
whether we are riding or walking in it
the silver which our locals make
the silver that our locals make
probably about fifteen or twenty years ago
Present Perfect Continuous Tense
I have been making ponchos for about …
the cowboy arts
Points of the Compass
in our part of the country it is more functional than it is decorative
Future “will” to describe routine action
they’ll tie ’em kinda loose
and the reason is because it keeps my neck warm
in my happy little home out west
Do country people wear a special style of clothing in your culture? Do you have a national dress?
That video was about people in cowboy country today. The next video is more historical.
Cowboys and the Cattle Industry
This video talks about the origin of the “cowboys”:
Listen for these phrases:
Listen and try to understand the sentences that the phrases come from. Are you able to complete the sentences?
Texas was famous for its cattle.
a crowd of Mexican boys from
was worth but two or three dollars
the annexation of Texas to the United States
day and night
in good weather and bad weather
the whole herd
quiet and unmolested
the fugitives driven back to their proper grazing ground
Has your country always been independent?
The passive phrase is highlighted: in bold:
the care was left to a few men
not much money could be paid in wages
were accompanied by such numbers (so many)
were called Texas cowboys
will be carted
are divided up into reliefs
their trail must be followed up
must be driven back
great watchfulness and labor are required for their care
the grass is covered with snow
If you want to practise passive voice, try the Carmen interactive story
Simple laws govern the use of grammar. It is not like the American west which was wild and lawless.
The west was wild and dangerous. It was a place of freedom and danger. It was place of adventure. There were many famous outlaws in the old west. Do you know any of these?
Listen for these phrases:
William H. Bonney
Today we are going in search of …
… one of the west’s most notorious outlaws
she passed it on to her boys
little or nothing
is believed to be a picture of …
the only authenticated picture of Billy the Kid
believed to have been taken
people who knew Billy
a good-looking boy
That was the story of Billy the Kid. Had you heard of him before? Listen to this story of another outlaw who was not as famous as Billy the Kid.
Listening Practice – A Lesser Known Outlaw
Each sentence has a verb. Sometimes it is a verb phrase. Look at these verb phrases. Listen to them in context as you watch the video. They are the base of the sentences.
has been called
had already robbed
was a florist
left town in 1866
met and fell in love with
married and had two children
tried to settle down
could choose her or a life of crime
was about to run up against
was born in
was determined not to be like his father
rode into Little Boulder
had been given advance warning
clipped Wesley in the shoulder
dropped to the ground
Some of the verb phrases are passive. Some of them are past simple tense in active voice. Some of them are past perfect tense (also in active voice).
Reading – Grave Sites of the Old West
This next video has images of the grave sites of people from the old west. Notice the words:
Passive Voice and Active Voice
“Passive voice” and “active voice” have nothing to do with “singing voice”. They are just grammatical terms. They describe how the verb works.
He was born
“He was born” originally meant “he was carried”.
He was born.
He was carried.
He was carried by his mother.
He was born by his mother.
He was borne by his mother. (old fashioned spelling)
He was born by his mother for nine months.
He was born by his mother for nine months as he grew.
He was born by his mother for nine months as he grew in her womb.
Then he came out!
He was born. (passive – note the be verb and past participle pattern)
He grew up. (active voice – two word verb)
He lived. (active voice)
He died. (active voice)
Note that although we think of dying as a passive act (death takes us) in grammar we actively die (I die) and we are born (I am born) passively.
In life there are many different kinds of people. On the road of life there are many different kinds of people. What is an outlaw? Where does the law come from?
The Case of Judge Roy Bean – An Unusual Case
The historical figure Judge Roy Bean was an unusual case. He broke some laws but he also upheld some laws. He was a judge. Do you have a personal sense of morality which is stronger than the laws of the country where you live?
This is a story about a man who lived in violent and dangerous times. The problem is that it is a Hollywood movie. Is it true? What is the truth? Look at the video clip and listen for the phrases below:
Listen for these phrases:
the only real attempt
Bad Bob is in town
“Don’t you ever question what I say!”
It’s me, Bob!
You can find out more about the historical figure Judge Roy Bean here: Judge Roy Bean Interactive Story
That was a clip from the Hollywood version of the life of Roy Bean. There was also a television program about him.
The Television Version of the Life of Roy Bean
Present Perfect Tense
Hollywood has romanticized the past
Hollywood has sentimentalized the past.
Hollywood has fictionalized the past.
Hollywood has made up the past.
Hollywood has modified the past.
The Hollywood Perspective on the West
We subconsciously accept events in the media and think that they are real but look at this clip of the Lone Ranger:
Do you think that life in the west was really like that?
Marlon Brando’s Protest against Hollywood’s Treatment of the Indians
Marlon Brando refused to accept his Oscar for the Godfather because of the treatment of American Indians in stereotypical Hollywood movies and the damage he perceived that it did to the young native Americans in terms of their self-image.
Miss Sasheen Littlefeather
I am Apache
I am representing Marlon Brando this evening.
the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry.
and on television in movie re-runs
and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee
will meet with love and generosity
thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando
Cowboys and Indians
You can find out more about the great American actor, Marlon Brando and his political views in this interactive Story:
The Life of an American Actor
Look at the phrases and variations. Try to hear the complete sentence that the phrase is taken from. Look at the variations. Observe which one Marlon Brando uses:
These people are injured by seeing themselves represented …
These people are injured by seeing themselves portrayed …
the adults to a lesser extent
not so much the adults
children – Indian children
the children of the native Americans
seeing Indians represented as savage nasty vicious treacherous drunken
seeing them portrayed as savage brutal untrustworthy subhuman
they grow up with only a negative image of themselves
they were raised with only a negative portrayal of themselves
Did that surprise you?
Were you surprised by that?
I wasn’t surprised, no.
No, it didn’t surprise me.
There were number of people who thought ..
There were a few people who were of the opinion that
I received an awful lot of mail in support of that
I got a large number of letters in the mail in support of that
you are ruining our fantasy with the intrusion of a little reality
you are spoiling our dream with the intrusion of a little reality
there is a larger issue
there is a bigger issue
the blacks have brought about changes
the blacks have managed to bring about changes
they were damn angry
they were extremely angry
if they had just been silent
if they had just been quiet
in the business of the movies
in the movie business
and they will do right by us
and they will do the right thing by us
the image of blacks was changed ..is changing
the image of Arabs was changed … is changing
it is a block by block fight
it is a step by step process
showing blacks in an unkindly light
portraying African Americans in an unbalanced way
the Filipino houseboy
little yellow-bellied rats
the thing that bugged me
the thing that bothered me
a social cause bandwagon
a protesters bandwagon
fishing with the …
angling with the …
there are a couple of books
there are one or two books
to the interviewee
to the person who is being interviewed
I always wondered why you did that.
I was always curious why you did that?
looked at them or said it?
I don’t know what to say about that.
I’m not sure what to say about that.
I don’t think it is worth going into
I don’t think it is worth talking about
some are two dollar items
some stories are two dollar stories
news is business
the media is not impartial
people sell news
creating images is a huge business
people in the public eye
something that you do with your fingernails after you cut them off
something that you might do with your fingernails after you cut them off
if you smoke the grime from your navel
if you smoke the dirt from your belly button
that is news
that is important
that is considered to be important
I thought I could trust you
I thought you could be trusted
It doesn’t matter
it is not important
People don’t really believe all the nonsense they read.
People don’t really believe most of the nonsense they read
She brings you a cup of coffee
she serves a cup of coffee
a courteous person
a polite person
kind of a funny person
kind of a strange person
threw horse manure out the window
threw horse shit out the window
is not relevant
where do they come from
where on earth do they come from
and did you?
I think that is the kind of question that ….
Marlon Brando was an early voice against the negative treatment of native Americans in the American media. There is a documentary which elaborates on some of these ideas:
Media Distortion of the Past – Cowboys and Indians
This documentary talks about the idea which Marlon Brando championed decades ago. It charts the history of the film industry and points out the error it has made.
Listen for these phrases and try to get the rest of the sentences that they come:
they say history is written by the victors
more than four hundred movies
the role of bloodthirsty savages
common plot devices
that was in the late forties
the only indians in the neighbourhood
we had to fight our way out of those theatres
we had to create our own image
our land just like they owned it
have been made for white audiences
and to make money
and to portray history
who slaughtered our parents
the bottom line is
a native American story
a euro-American story
Cheyenne, wasn’t it?
Cheyenne, Apache, Blackfoot, Sioux
often unrealistically positive
the white guy
on the one hand
the white guy beats them every time
the bloody annals of indian warfare
slaughtered to the last man
a classic western formula
outnumbered and threatened by an overwhelming force
it was just the opposite historically
the native Americans were overwhelmed by white settlement
history has turned around and modified to suit the formula
thanks to Hollywood, this country refuses to face what happened …
a nation that does not know its history has no future
Native Americans – The American Indians
The native Americans were called Indians. Do you know why?
Colombus sailed in search of India. He tried to reach the east by going west. He tried to get to India from the west. He thought America was India. He called the people “Indians”.
There were many different groups of “indians”.
The city of Seattle is named after Chief Seattle. He was a great native American. He criticized the rapacious nature of modern culture. He lamented the passing of the old ways. He lamented the loss of beauty and simplicity and reverence for nature.
Videos with Music and Images of Native Americans
Videos with Examples of Languages of Native Americans
Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce
Oil Company Video about Indians Giving Away Land
Historical Video narrating History of the Nez Perce War
the history of the twelve tribes is replete with great chiefs
the tribe remained at peace
it had never drawn the blood of whites
the saddest and most unnecessary war
it was absolutely uncalled for
Washington had decided to move these
old Chief Joseph fought back
he had refused to sign
lands on which gold had been found
conceded that Joseph had been correct
the executive order was revoked because of the outcry by land hungry Oregonians
thrown open to settlement
the younger Chief Joseph continued his father’s
gold was discovered
US forces moved in to dislodge the peaceful..
advanced eastward into Idaho and Montana
failed to defeat the elusive well-disciplined warriors
could never prevail
sought to lead his people north to Canada
over some fifteen hundred miles
evading two pursuing armies
while resting in Montana
about forty miles from the Canadian border
on October fifth
have been much quoted
I am tired of fighting
the little children are freezing to death
I want to have time to look for my children
maybe I shall find them among the dead
my heart is sick and sad
I will fight no more forever.
were sent to a reservation in present day Oklahoma where many died of illness
were allowed to move
where he devoted the rest of his life to the peaceful betterment of his people
Listening and Writing
Listen for the phrases and then use punctuation and extra words that you hear to complete the sentences.
When chief Joseph said he will fight no more forever …
their Nez Perce language ties them to their native land
there are only a handful of native speakers
I think our backs are against the wall so to speak
three or four or five who think in the language
that’s how close we are
that handful of people are the only ones left
and they are in their eighties and nineties
to understand the importance
were forced from their land
in search of gold
the trauma of leaving
refused to give up their lands
including women, children and elders
our valuable stories of the past
sometimes the language defines us in a different sort of way than can be done with English
but if you understand our language
there is more to us than meets the eye
we have a law
we have a way
we are in a sense civilized in that way
we are a people
if we lost the language, we would lose the heart of that
Chief Joseph’s Speech
good words do not …
it makes my heart sick
all the god words and all the broken promises
A Visual Journey to the Grave of Chief Joseph
This video is a clip of a journey to the reservation.
Are your people the dominant group in your country? Did your people take the land from people who were there first like the Americans took the land from the Indians and the Australians took the land from the Aborigines?