This week's crossword has the differences between American English and British English vocabulary as its theme. The clues are in British English and you have to find the US equivalent. Click here for a PDF version and here for an interactive web version which will work on iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch).
The UK government has defended a controversial campaign featuring vans with billboards urging illegal immigrants to "go home or face arrest", after criticism from a senior minister.
Two trucks, each displaying a huge poster with a number for migrants to text if they wish to return to their country of origin, were driven around six London boroughs for a week in a pilot scheme by the Home Office.
Posters, leaflets and advertisements in local newspapers will run for a further month.
Business Secretary Vince Cable called the campaign "stupid and offensive".
But Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman defended the vans Monday, saying it was "clear that this is already working" and that getting illegal immigrants to leave voluntarily was the most cost-effective solution. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Mac from The Daily Mail shows a lorry plastered with "Go Home" campaign messages arriving in the Channel port of Dover (we are meant to assume that it has come from the Continent). The driver is banging on the back of the lorry and saying, "Alright, lads. We're in England. You can come out now."
EXPLANATION The joke is that the lorry is full of illegal immigrants, which is ironic since it's part of the campaign telling them to go home.
VOCABULARY In informal British English you can refer to a group of men as lads. • Right lads, let's get moving.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: A miniature palace for a baby prince. Legoland Windsor has created a royal scene to celebrate the birth of Prince George. The stately topic is not new to the theme park says director Sue Kemp. SUE KEMP: "Last year we did The Queen's golden jubilee, the year before we did the royal wedding so we thought it only right, proper and a fantastic opportunity for our guests to come and see the new royal baby for themselves." REPORTER: The model of Prince George comprises just 8 blue Lego bricks and his royal stroller took 55 pieces. Legoland Windsor is situated close to one of the Queen's residences, providing the perfect location from which to watch and construct its version of the little prince's development.
It's been a while since I featured a new English learning site on The English Blog. There was a time (a few years ago) when new sites seemed to be appearing every week, but my Top English Learning Sites list (see left-hand sidebar) has remained unchanged for I don't know how long. Why is this? Perhaps there's not much money to be made in creating super-duper sites for English learners. But I think another possible reason is that everyone is into mobile learning and apps these days. The heyday of the English learning website seems to have passed.
Having lamented the decline of the online English learning site, I now have to backtrack slightly because I did come across a rather good one recently. iStudyEnglishOnline was created by Sançar Sahin, an English teacher based in Barcelona. According to Sançar, "The site has been created to provide a clean and easy-to-use free resource for students learning English", and I have to say that I was very impressed by the overall look and design.
The site has four main sections: Vocabulary, Grammar, Expressions & Idioms, and Verb Conjugations. I liked the Vocabulary section best, which is organized by theme (Clothes, Kitchen, Food, etc.), and features attractive pictures with English and American pronunciations. I particularly liked the video quiz, which tests your knowledge of the vocabulary.
There's nothing earth-shatteringly new here, but it's all very nicely done and would be a good resource for lower-level to intermediate learners. Sançar and his team have also created the iOS application iUnderstandEnglish, which features 12 different native speakers, each with a regional British accent, talking about real-life situations (find out more here). The app is currently free, so you should definitely download it today (if you have an iOS device, of course).
The cartoon shows all the King Georges from George I (1660-1727) to the present Queen's father George VI (1895-1952). We then have Prince William holding the future George VII and finally, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, who looks very pleased with himself now that the UK economy is finally showing signs of growth.
LANGUAGE 1. When referring to kings and queens, we use Roman numerals in writing, but the definite article and the ordinal number when speaking. George I = George the First Henry VIII = Henry the Eighth Elizabeth II = Elizabeth the Second 2. In British English '0.6' would be pronounced 'nought point six', and in American English 'zero point six'. Note that 0.63 would be said 'nought point six three' (not 'nought point sixty-three').
Recovery crews remove debris from the site of a massive train derailment in Spain in which at least 77 people were killed. Julie Noce reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Daybreak Thursday morning in northwestern Spain and recovery crews begin removing the mangled pieces of a high speed train that derailed the day before. At least 77 people are now confirmed dead after a train coming from Madrid went off the tracks just before 9pm near the town of Santiago de Compostela. More than 130 people are being treated for injuries. Family members rushed to hospitals to find their relatives and await news. A temporary morgue has been set up in a community center for the victims. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE FAMILY MEMBER: "We heard about the accident and they are neither on the list of injured nor dead so we're just waiting." UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE FAMILY MEMBER , SAYING: "It's my niece, the daughter of my sister and my brother-in-law. We're as broken as you can imagine." REPORTER: It's still not clear what caused the derailment. Officials are reviewing the train's black boxes but are investigating the incident as an accident.
As the death toll in Spanish train disaster reaches 80, the focus has fallen on the 52-year-old driver Francisco Jose Garzon, who had allegedly boasted online about speeding in the past. Full story >>
VOCABULARY mph is an abbreviation for 'miles per hour' and is written after a number to indicate the speed of something such as a vehicle. • The current world land speed record stands at 763.035 mph. The equivalent of 120mph in kilometres per hour is 193.12kph.
There has only been one topic of conversation in Britain over the past few days — the royal baby. And the trend looks set to continue now that the baby has got a name.
However, not everyone wants to join in the royal baby conversation, and this cartoon by Mac from The Daily Mail imagines a "Royal Baby Conversation Free Zone" outside a pub, where people can gather to talk about something else. One man tells a fellow drinker, "Me too. I'm trying to give it up - I'm down to six mentions a day."
EXPLANATION The analogy is with smokers who are addicted to smoking and gather outside the pub (smoking is banned inside) to have a cigarette. Just like smokers try to give up smoking, the man is trying to give up talking about the royal baby. In fact, he only mentions it six times a day now!
VOCABULARY If you give up something such as smoking or drinking, you stop doing it. • People should give up eating meat to halt climate change, according to a leading authority on global warming.
Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate have chosen three traditional royal names by calling their newborn baby boy George Alexander Louis, William's office said. Katharine Jackson reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Britain's royal baby has a name: Prince William and his wife Kate will call him George Alexander Louis, William's office announced on Wednesday (July 24). Born on Monday to global media frenzy, the newborn who is third in line to the British throne will be known as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. The world waited just two days to hear the name...a relatively short time by royal standards, but one that still prompted a global guessing game. DASHA, NEW YORK CITY TOURIST FROM ENGLAND: "I think it should be a royal, regal name, just for the tradition." DREW LAUFFER, NEW JERSEY RESIDENT: "Why not have like a common first name and a royal middle name?" SUSAN, NEW YORK CITY TOURIST FROM OHIO: "It's kingly and it was our first president too, so a lot of leaders of businesses are named George." REPORTER: George has been the name of six British kings. The last, George VI, was the father of Queen Elizabeth.
The future King of England, who is third in line to the throne, has been revealed as George Alexander Louis, in a statement released by Kensington Palace. Full story >>
VOCABULARY The Express's headline is a play on words. By George is an expression used to indicate surprise. • By George, I think she's got it! The origin of the expression is not clear. One source explains that By George is the modern version of the old battle cry of English soldiers, most well known in Shakespeare's Henry V where the King shouts: "For Harry, England and St George!". But The Phrase Finder has several alternative explanations.
I must admit I had to think about this cartoon a bit before "getting" it. At first, I thought it showed Princes Charles and William waiting in the hospital, er, waiting room for the royal baby to be born (which is obviously what the cartoonist wants us to think). But then why is that man bringing in a high chair? Then the penny dropped. Of course, they are all waiting to become king. When the Queen dies, Charles, the present heir to the throne will become king. When he dies, it will be William's turn. And the new baby is now third in line to the throne.
COMMENT Mac in The Daily Mail and Paul Thomas in the Daily Express also use the theme of succession in their cartoons.
Prince William and his wife Kate said their son's birth was a ''very emotional'' experience during their first public appearance with the young royal, who is now third in line to the British throne. Deborah Gembara reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Just a day old, Britain's new prince made his debut in the arms of his mother. It's a royal tradition, stopping outside the hospital to allow the public their first peek at the newest member of the family. PRINCE WILLIAM: "Well, he's got a good pair of lungs on him that's for sure. He's a big boy. He's quite heavy. We are still working on a name so we will have that as soon as we can. But it's the first time we've seen him really so we're having a proper chance to catch up ..." PRINCE WILLIAM AND KATE: "It's very emotional. Yeah, it's very emotional. It's such a special time. I think any parents, having sort of been though, know what this feeling feels like." REPORTER: Asked who the baby looks like, Prince William had this to say. PRINCE WILLIAM: "He's got her looks thankfully." REPORTER: And then, a domestic moment for the glamorous new parents ahead of their arrival at Kensington Palace.
The front pages of today's UK national dailies are dominated by news of the first appearance of the as-yet-unnamed royal baby. The Daily Star has a picture of Kate waving as she holds her newborn son and features the punning headline, "Mum's Looks, Dad's Heir". Full story >>
VOCABULARY As he greeted well-wishers outside the hospital Prince William (who is losing his hair) joked: “He’s got her looks, thankfully, and way more hair than me." The Daily Star changes 'hair' to 'heir' in the headline since an heir (the 'h' is silent by the way = air) is someone who has the right to inherit a person's money, property, or title when that person dies. So the new baby is William's heir.
The scene takes place in Kate's hospital room. The new mother is surrounded by members of the royal family (the Queen, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Prince William, the Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince Philip). The Queen is telling her daughter-in-law about the baby's upcoming schedule, "It's so exciting. There's going to be photographic sessions, foreign dignitaries for the baby to meet, concerts, Morris dancers..." Meanwhile the newborn baby can be seen crawling off through the doors ...
EXPLANATION The baby obviously can't face the prospect of all those tiresome meetings and events — especially the Morris dancers!