News Words: Espouse
Long ago, espouse only meant "to marry." Now it is rarely used that way.
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News Words: Espouse
January 11, 2018
Long ago, espouse only meant "to marry." Now it is rarely used that way.
On March 5, Jazmine Hughes wrote in a New York Times blog,
“Recently, at an IRL party — that is, a party that takes place ‘in real life,’ as opposed to where I generally live, which is on the Internet — a guest asked a friend and I how we met.”
The sentence includes a common error I have been seeing and hearing more and more often lately.
The error is using the subject pronoun “I” when the object pronoun “me” should be used.
Even President Obama can be heard using “I” for the object of a sentence. At his first press conference, on November 7, 2008, he spoke about being invited to tour the White House. “Well, President Bush graciously invited Michelle and I to -- to meet with him and First Lady Laura Bush.”
The rule for object pronouns
English has eight subject pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, you and they. Subject pronouns show the actor in a sentence. For example, in the sentence “I speak English,” “I” is the actor.
English also has eight object pronouns: me, you, him, her, it, us, you and them. We use an object pronoun to show the receiver of the action in a sentence, as in “She gave the book to me.” In that sentence, “me” is the receiver.
People often confuse subject pronouns and object pronouns in sentences with two receivers.
Take the sentence “President Obama gave an award to my brother and me.” We can easily see the need for an object pronoun because of the preposition “to.”
But some sentences do not have prepositions, as in “Obama asked my brother and me some questions.” The sentence still needs the object pronoun “me.”
However, some people might want to say “Obama asked my brother and I some questions.” You know that sentence has a grammar error because “I” is not an object pronoun.
Why people say “I” instead of “me”
I think the confusion about “I” and “me” comes from instruction we get as children: to be polite. When we mention ourselves and another person in a sentence, we are told to put the other person first.
For example, we might be reminded to say, “My brother and I went to the White House.” Saying “I and my brother went to the White House” is grammatically correct but would sound impolite, or rude.
So, English speakers who are faced with two people in the object position in a sentence often grab for the phrase “someone and I.” They do not notice the phrase is grammatically incorrect. It just sounds more polite.
Another theory about the “I” or “me” error comes from a 2009 New York Times article “The I’s Have It.”
Writers Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman guess that people correct children who use “me” instead of “I” so much, the children grow up using “I” even when it is wrong. They explain the term for this linguistic phenomenon is “hypercorrection.”
Back to Ms. Hughes, her party and the New York Times blog. Her sentence should be re-written as “…a guest asked a friend and me how we met.” Shortly after I called the error to the newspaper's attention, the sentence was corrected in this way.
Now you will always know the right pronoun to use – take it from me!
I’m Jill Robbins.
Dr. Jill Robbins wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.
Words in This Story
error - n. something that is not correct; a wrong action or statement; mistake
instruction - n. the action or process of teaching : the act of instructing someone
phenomenon - n. something (such as an interesting fact or event) that can be observed and studied and that typically is unusual or difficult to understand or explain fully
hypercorrection – n. the mistaken use of a word form or pronunciation based on a false analogy with a correct or prestigious form
Now it’s your turn. In the comments section, tell us about your own grammar gripes. What do people say in your language that bothers you?
US Street Named after Russian Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov
The local government in Washington, D.C. has approved plans to rename one of the city’s streets after Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
The street is in front of the Russian embassy to the United States. Nemtsov, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was killed in 2015.
Time magazine reports that Russian lawmakers have criticized the plan.
On January 9, the Council of the District of Columbia passed a measure called the Boris Nemtsov Plaza Designation Act. Every member of the council voted to approve the renaming of the street "on an emergency basis."
The measure renames the part of Wisconsin Avenue that is home to the Russian Embassy in honor of the opposition leader. Boris Nemtsov was a reformist politician and fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Nemtsov was shot and killed nearly three years ago on a bridge in Moscow.
People come to lay flowers at the site, where Boris Nemtsov was shot dead, with St. Basil's Cathedral (R) and the Kremlin walls seen in the background, in central Moscow, February 28, 2015.
A change coming at a tense time
D.C. officials are seeking permission from the U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Homeland Security before they make the change. Council officials said that a ceremony to set up a plaque honoring Nemtsov has been set for the third anniversary of his death on February 27.
Federal legislation to rename the area along Wisconsin Avenue was first proposed in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in 2017. The proposal has yet to be approved.
The Senate bill states that the address of the property containing the embassy, the Russian ambassador’s home and consulate would be changed to 1 Boris Nemtsov Plaza.
In the past, Russian officials have expressed opposition to the renaming. However, Dimitry Peskov, a government spokesman, said it is the decision of the D.C. officials for how to name the street in front of the embassy.
"This is a prerogative of the city authorities,” he said, while noting it comes at a time when relations between the two countries have been tense. Russia’s state-operated TASS news agency reported his comments.
FILE - Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov attends a rally in central Moscow, April 6, 2013.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that Nemtsov supporters set up an unofficial memorial in his honor on the bridge where he was shot dead. But it has been repeatedly damaged or removed by unknown individuals.
Last September, a plaque honoring Nemtsov was placed on the Moscow building where the opposition leader lived. But city officials declared the plaque illegal. It was removed after less than one week by a pro-government activist group.
In June, a Moscow court found five men from Russia's North Caucasus area of Chechnya guilty of Nemtsov's murder. It sentenced them to prison for terms between 11 to 20 years.
However, Nemtsov’s relatives and other contacts believe the killing had been ordered at a higher level. They say there will be no justice until the person or people who ordered his murdered are identified and brought to trial.
Symbols can create change
Last month, Nemtsov’s daughter Zhanna Nemtsova spoke at a public hearing in Washington. She told D.C. council members that Putin's government wanted to completely remove the memory of her father. She said the Kremlin believes correctly that symbols are important and can sometimes incite change.
"This explains the nervous reaction from the Russian Foreign Ministry when they first heard of the Washington, D.C., [street-naming] initiative," Nemtsova said.
I’m Lucija Millonig.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on this story. Phil Dierking adapted the story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Do you think streets in front of Embassy’s should be named after political activists? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
consulate – n. a diplomatic office
initiative – n. the power to act or take charge before others do.
plaque – n. a piece of metal or wood with writing on it
prerogative – n. a special right or power
symbol – n. something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship or ties
address – n. a place where you can contact or communicate with an individual or organization
Route 66: 'The Highway That's The Best'
October 17, 2015
It was not the first American highway. It was not the longest either. And it might not have been the fastest. But the road inspired musicians, writers and filmmakers. It appealed to explorers and dreamers. It’s known as Route 66.
How did this road become a major symbol of freedom and adventure in America? Why does this road, now unofficial, continue to draw so many onto its well-worn path?
VOA Learning English took the long drive from Illinois to California to find the answers to those questions. For the next three months, we will share what we learned when we motored west down "the highway that’s the best.”
A journey west
In 1946, the songwriter Bobby Troup and his wife drove across the country to Los Angeles on Route 66. Troup wrote a song about the experience. Singer Nat King Cole recorded “(Get Your Kicks) on Route 66.” It became a huge hit.
Route 66 crosses eight states, “from Chicago to L.A.,” as the song goes. Between Illinois and California there is Missouri, a little Kansas and a lot of Oklahoma. After a brief stretch in Texas come New Mexico, Arizona, and finally, California.
The road cuts through cornfields, deserts, mountains and unique red rock formations of the west.
As the scene outside the car window changes, so, too, do the people and cultures found along the road. Route 66 connects farm communities, small towns and major urban centers. For the traveler, it opens up the worlds of cowboy culture, Native American life, Mexican traditions and more.
One of many scenic areas along Route 66.
From dust to road of dreams
The idea for Route 66 started in Oklahoma. Citizens there wanted to link their state with states to the east and west. U.S. federal officials also saw the benefit of connecting state roads to provide a more direct and faster way across the country.
Oklahoma businessman Cyrus Avery is credited with developing the plan to connect existing state roads into one long national highway. He is known as the father of Route 66.
It was disaster that fueled the road’s early success. A series of powerful dust storms in the 1930s destroyed a huge amount of farmland across the prairie states. Hundreds of thousands of mostly poor farm workers and their families began to leave.
The migrants headed west on Route 66, hoping the path would lead to a better life in California, the land of opportunity.
American writer John Steinbeck immortalized the road in 1939 with his novel “The Grapes of Wrath.” The book also gave Route 66 its most famous nickname, the Mother Road.
Steinbeck wrote, "66 is the path of a people in flight, refugees from dust and shrinking land … 66 is the mother road, the road of flight."
The (car) king of the road
Exploring the open road has long been an important part of the American experience. And Route 66 became even more popular as the car culture exploded in the 1940s and 50s.
By the 1960s, large parts of Route 66 were not fit for driving. And by 1985, the road was officially decommisioned from the national highway system.
The U.S. government built bigger highways, with faster speed limits and fewer traffic lights. These new interstates bypassed small towns, the heart of Route 66. Many of these small towns had depended on Route 66 for business and income. The economies of bypassed small towns suffered.
When the traffic stopped on Route 66, so did many of the towns themselves. Along the road today, run-down motel signs, abandoned service stations, and empty houses are signs of these forgotten towns.
Jeannie Tait is from Lebanon, Missouri. She has lived her whole life right along Route 66. She remembers clearly what the road did for her small community.
"It changed a lot...it changed a lot of lives for Lebanon, because …so many businesses, it made the industry, it made it more attractive for industry. It made the city grow, because people wanted to be here. But its just, it’s one of the hotspots of Route 66."
Today, Jeannie Tait is concerned about an historic part of the road, the Hazel Green Bridge on the edge of town. The state of Missouri, she said, does not want to pay money for the repairs the bridge needs. It has been closed now for many months.
"I would like to see them repair it and not tear it down and build a new one. We need to hang on to what we have, even though it might not be as modern. But modern isn’t always the best anyway."
A Brazilian motocycle group celebrates at the end of the road.
While most American motorists may have forgotten Route 66, foreign tourists have not. International interest in the road is growing each year.
People come from places as far as Brazil and Germany, Japan and China, to fulfill what they consider a lifelong dream.
Ednilso Gablak is from Brazil. We met him at the Santa Monica Pier, the official end of Route 66. He and 15 other Brazilians had just finished traveling the Mother Road.
“We just finish(ed) our dream trip. We start, like, 15 days ago. Well, it's kind of a dream. We saw movies, we saw on the television, magazines…saw photos. Today, we can see the Internet so many videos, so, I think everybody knows something about Route 66, right?”
Fran Houser has worked along the road for more than 20 years in Adrian, Texas. The town is considered the midpoint of the original Route 66.
Fran owns the Sunflower Station gift shop along Route 66. She said the number of tourists traveling the Mother Road has been growing year by year.
“It has grown bigger every single year. We are seeing this year tons of people from China, which we had not see a few years ago. We see them from Japan, New Zealand, Italy, as our friends back there are from. It's all over the world and it is wonderfully gratifying.”
Interest among American tourists is growing as well, thanks in part to the 2006 movie "Cars." Fran herself was represented in the film. She was the inspiration for the character Flo.
“We are now, because of the movie "Cars" seeing more and more Americans, all looking for Radiator Springs.”
'Very much alive'
Bryan Rodriguez works at a Route 66 information booth on the Santa Monica Pier. He recently took his first trip along part of the Mother Road.
“I ended up finding out that Route 66 is very much alive. It just kind of like is kind of like the movie Cars. He’s just racing in the fast world, and then he finds out about 66, and it teaches him to slow down. And in L.A., unfortunately, that's how the world is in L.A., everything is just so fast-paced. You forget to slow down, and enjoy the everyday life.”
For supporters of Route 66, its future is as important as its storied past. Small communities may have been bypassed by high-speed interstates, but the towns can still thrive.
A mix of new business and old architecture is plentiful on Route 66.
Galena, Kansas, is an example of that. The small town went from a population of 1,500 in 2006 to a little over 3,000 today.
Melba Riggs lives in Galena. She and her siblings opened the Cars on the Route café in 2006. Melba knows people all up and down Route 66, both locals and fellow business owners. And people all along Route 66 know all about Melba, or “Melba the Mouth” as she is known. Her fast-talking ways earned her the nickname.
The people along Route 66 share a connection. Whether they live in California, or Texas, Missouri or Kansas, they support each other. They want Route 66 to thrive. Melba the Mouth sums up their common bond with these seven words: “Friends don’t let friends take the interstate.”
I'm Ashley Thompson.
And I'm Caty Weaver. Join us next week for a special report on Chicago, Illinois where Route 66 begins its journey west.
Ashley Thompson and Caty Weaver wrote this story. Hai Do was the editor. Adam Brock was the videographer.
Words in This Story
adventure - n. an exciting or dangerous experience
get your kicks - expression have fun
opportunity - n. an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done: chance
immortalize - v. to cause (someone or something) to be remembered forever
decommission - v. to officially stop using (a ship, weapon, dam, etc.) : to remove (something) from service
abandoned - adj. left by the owner
gratifying - adj. giving pleasure or satisfaction
fast-paced - adj. happening very quickly
thrive - v. to grow or develop successfully; to succeed
Ex-Yakuza crime boss hiding in Thailand fingered after tattoo photos appear on Facebook
national January 12, 2018 01:00
By THE NATION
A FORMER “Yakuza” crime boss who is involved in a murder case in his country and laid low in Thailand for the past 13 years was arrested in Lop Buri province after photos were posted on Facebook showing his body covered in tattoos.
A Facebook user who himself has colourful tattoos all over his body, posted photos of Shigeharu Shirai, 72 in August last year and wrote: “When I grow old, I want to be like him. He is my idol.”
The photos were shared more than 10,000 times online and were believed to have caught the attention of Japanese police, who asked Thai authorities to move in.
Thai police spokesman Pol General Wirachai Songmetta told a press conference yesterday that Pol Colonel Keisuke Hosaka, first secretary and police senior liaison officer of the Embassy of Japan in Bangkok met Thai national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda on December 21 last year.
Hosaka asked Thai police to help locate Shirai, who he described as being a senior member of a faction of Japan’s largest “Yakuza” gang, Yamaguchi-Gumi gang.
He was alleged to have been involved in killing the boss of his rival faction by shooting him in the head in 2003.
Seven other accomplices to the crime were subsequently arrested and convicted. The Japanese officials told Chakthip in December that they had information that he had entered Thailand in 2005.
Wirachai said the suspect, who was arrested while he was on a walk in a park, admitted that he was the leader of the Yakuza sub-gang “Kodokai”.
“The suspect has not confessed to murder but has admitted that the victim used to bully him,” the spokesman said.
Following the request from the Japanese police, Thai police started tracking the suspect and found that he entered Thailand in 2005.
An investigation led police to a man with a similar identity who was married to a Thai woman identified only as “Arisara”. He earned an income working as a general worker, such as a painter. However, his marriage ended as he and his wife had frequent quarrels, the police spokesman said.
Tawatchai Jenakom, owner of a rice storage facility, said the suspect used to ask him for a job after his wife chased him out of the house.
Tawatchai described the former crime boss as having a bruised face after fighting with his wife.
Wirachai said the suspect had spent a quiet life in a bid to avoid being noticed and having his secretive past life revealed. Wirachai said police will invite Arisara for questioning.
According to the spokesman, Shigeharu’s friends would visit him about three times a year and give him money, about Bt10,000 each time. Police will expand their investigation to know about his friends and whether they were involved in any crimes in Thailand.
Thai police have charged the suspect with illegal entry, staying without permission and failing to notify authorities of his residence.
Wirachai said police will check whether Shigeharu committed any crimes in Thailand. If he did, he would be tried here first before being deported to his home country.
Knot a problem: Thai capital tackles street cables
national January 11, 2018 11:29
By Agence France-Presse
Bangkok's Wireless Road may soon live up to its name.
Like many streets in the Thai capital, the thoroughfare is festooned with electrical and telecom cables, a black web that hangs menacingly overhead like dystopian Christmas decorations.
But Bangkok authorities are now untangling the cables and moving them underground as part of an urban renewal pushed by the Thai junta that seized power in 2014.
The aim is to make Bangkok not only safer, but easier on the eyes and less prone to blackouts.
Frayed cables -- often live -- dangle at head-height onto Bangkok's streets, making safe navigation of the already treacherous pavements even harder. Other wires are left to bunch up near pylons, creeping hazardously across the narrow walkways of the city centre.
Exposure to the elements has also meant the cables are easily damanged, which can cause problem's for the city's electrical system.
Wireless Road, which got its name from hosting one of Thailand's first radio transmitting stations, is among dozens of streets targeted in the early phase of the de-cluttering campaign.
Large stretches of Sukhumvit Road, a central artery that cuts through high-end neighbourhoods and tourist hotspots, have already been cleared since November.
"This is a commercial road. We see hotels and foreigners living around here. When they see the beautiful road, they will spread the word," Prasonk Kumpradit, an official with Bangkok's Metropolitan Electricity Authority, told AFP.
The project has been planned for years, but many suspect it received an unexpected jolt after Microsoft founder Bill Gates visited Bangkok in 2016 and took a disapproving photo of one street's wiry web.
The billionaire later deleted the Facebook post, which blamed the cluster of wires on people illegally tapping into the grid.
Netizens quibbled with his diagnosis of the cable bunches, which include both telecom connections and power supply wires, but less than a week later the government announced that cleanup was moving forward.
'No more disorderly stuff'
So far 1,184 utility poles have been removed from three of the city's biggest roads.
Over the next five years authorities plan to strip cables from 39 more streets totalling 127 kilometres, reinstalling the new connections under the road.
While there are no hard figures, Bangkok authorities say that is just a fraction of the city's cables but is still a mjor improvement on the status quo.
"The main advantage we get is the security of the electrical system," said Prasonk.
"When the cables are underground, the problem with disturbances that can cause blackouts will be gone."
Thailand's military rulers have launched a flurry of campaigns to impose some order on their chaotic capital in recent years, including clearing away many of Bangkok's famous street-food stalls.
But while that decision caused dismay in some quarters, few will shed a tear when the cable clusters disappear.
"Taking the wires away is really great. It makes the city clean, clear and pleasant to look at," Sukanya Phuangdech, a 45-year-old Bangkokian, told AFP from a newly-cleared Sukhumvit Road.
"No more disorderly stuff. I feel like people are happier."
Martin Fletcher, a 30-year-old teacher from England, agreed.
"Bangkok's very famous for having all the electrical wires -- and it's a bit like spaghetti, and they've been cleared... it's a lot nicer now," he said.
January 12, 2018