Jan 23, 2009

Creator of Peter Rabbit: Beatrix Potter

A5 Speech, Rebecca Chou  


This figure is well-known around the world like Disney cartoon characters but he is from England. A naughty rabbit likes carrot!  Maybe you haven’t read the book but you must have seen him before.


Peter Rabbit is one of the imaginary characters from Beatrix Potter. She was from a wealthy family but she had a lonely childhood as she didn’t go to schools. She stayed in the family with her different pets. When she was a little girl, she started to sketch her pets and that helped her to practice the drawing skills and be a world famous illustrator around her 30s. If you think she’s only a child book writer, you will be surprised to know that her contribution is much more important than doing that only.


She is from a traditional upper class family but she is economic independent and makes her own living. At that time, the mission of females is to get married and take care of her spouse and children especially women like her background. And the social status of them is nothing but belongings of their husbands. However, she never gives up her dream and finally she has her books published and after decades, they have been translated into varied versions. She learnt drawing from the nature beauty and developed the stories based on her surroundings, the countryside view of England. If we were her, maybe we just married to a gentleman under the parents’ and social pressure.  We may not fulfill our dream like she did. When we face difficulties, we may change our mind and try to get an easy life. I am also in my thirties now and I am still quite confused of myself and the future. I hope I could be as brave as her and find my way and go for it.


When she fell in love with the publisher, Mr. Warne and was engaged with him, the wedding never came true as he passed away in a sudden disease. She might be in huge grief but she wasn’t beaten off by the fate. I remembered when I first watched the film “Miss Potter”, I was sad to see this scene. She was so close to happiness but she lost it easily and she couldn’t do anything but just accepted it. Even though it didn’t say much in the movie, we can imagine how difficult to make our lives back to normal when someone we loved disappeared. She then became a farmer in the countryside and lived there as a normal person. A journalist would like to interview her so he went to visit her. She was busy in her garden and he asked her if she knew where the famous author lived. She said “You are looking at her so now you can leave”. She enjoyed her life and didn’t expect to grab other’s attention.


Before she died, she gave away all her property and lands to National Trust which is a private organization aims on preserving natural views in England to prevent further destruction from economic development. This is the reason why Lake District now is still famous for its beautiful landscape. Miss Potter or you can call her Mrs. Heelis, is like her story books. Simple person with enormous imagination and those cute characters always make you feel good when you are low.

Jan 11, 2009

November Reading: How Do the Candidates Communicate?



mesmerize/ˋmɛsmǝˏraɪz/ [transitive usually in passive]

►if you are mesmerized by someone or something, you cannot stop watching them or listening to them because they are so attractive or have such a powerful effect [= captivate]

--The first time I saw Diana I was mesmerized by her beauty.


verdict /ˋvɝdɪkt / [countable]

►an official decision made in a court of law, especially about whether someone is guilty of a crime or how a death happened

--The jury has retired to consider its verdict.

►an official decision made by a person or group with authority

--The players anxiously awaited the verdict of the umpire.

verdict on

--What's your verdict on the movie?


cadence /ˋkedns/ [countable]

►the way someone's voice rises and falls, especially when reading out loud:

--the cadence of my mother's voice


scrutinize /ˋskrutnˏaɪz / [transitive]

►to examine someone or something very carefully:

He scrutinized the document.


primary season / primary election

"Primary election" is the term used in America for the elections which will select the two parties’ presidential nomination. The primary elections start in January of election year in what is called the "primary season".

pork barrel [singular, uncountable]

►a government plan to increase the amount of money spent in a particular area, done in order to gain a political advantage -- used to show disapproval

--pork-barrel spending


cliché /kliˋʃed/ [countable]

clichéd [adjective]

►an idea or phrase that has been used so much that it is not effective or does not have any meaning any longer

--There is plenty of truth in the cliché that a trouble shared is a trouble halved.


►able to express your ideas and opinions well, especially in a way that influences people

--an eloquent appeal for support

►showing a feeling or meaning without using words

--The photographs are an eloquent reminder of the horrors of war.


chant /tʃænt/ [intransitive and transitive]

►to repeat a word or phrase again and again:

--The crowd chanted their demand in front of the city hall.


fumble /ˋfʌmbl/ [intransitive and transitive]

►if you fumble with your words when you are speaking, you have difficulty saying something

fumble for

--Asked for an explanation, Mike had fumbled for words.

►(also fumble around) to try to hold, move, or find something with your hands in an awkward way

--She reached round to fumble the light on.

fumble at/in/with

--She dressed, her cold fingers fumbling with the buttons.

fumble for

--I fumbled around in my bag for a cigarette.

►to drop a ball after catching it

--Quarterback Rattay was hit and fumbled the ball.


project /prəˋdʒekt/ project your voice

►to speak clearly and loudly so that you can be heard by everyone in a big room

tune out [phrasal verb]

►to ignore or stop listening to someone or something

--A bored child may simply tune out.


mandatory /ˋmændəˏtorɪ/

►if something is mandatory, the law says it must be done [= compulsory, obligatory; discretionary]

--Crash helmets are mandatory for motorcyclists.


vie /vaɪ/ past tense and past participle vied, present participle vying, third person singular vies [intransitive]

►to compete very hard with someone in order to get something

vie for

--Simon and Julian were vying for her attention all through dinner.

vie with

--There are at least twenty restaurants vying with each other for custom.

vie to do something

--All the photographers vied to get the best pictures.


off-the-cuff [adj./adv.]

►an off-the-cuff remark, reply etc is one that you make without thinking about it first [= spontaneous]


ill at ease

►nervous, uncomfortable, or embarrassed

--He always felt shy and ill at ease at parties.



►intending to be helpful, but not succeeding

--A lot of problems can be caused by well-meaning friends.


constituent /kǝnˋstɪtʃuǝnt/ [countable]

►someone who votes in a particular area

►one of the substances or things that combine to form something

constituent of

--Sodium is one of the constituents of salt.


pick-up truck

vehicle [countable]

►a small truck with low sides that is used for carrying goods



op-ed page/article

►a page in a newspaper that has articles containing opinions on various subjects, or one of these articles


bamboozle /bæmˋbuzl/ [transitive]

►to deceive, trick, or confuse someone


charlatan /ˋʃɑlətn/ [countable]

►someone who pretends to have special skills or knowledge -- used to show disapproval


bona fide

►real, true, and not intended to deceive anyone

-- Only bona fide members are allowed to use the club pool.

October Reading: Set SMART Goals for Speaking Progress



a means to an end

Something that you are not interested in but that you do because it will help you to achieve something else.

--Mike doesn't have any professional ambitions. For him, work is just a means to an end. (not used with the)



Showing great courage or confidence in a way that is impressive or slightly shocking

--His plan was audacious, and could have come only from a man combining cunning with iron determination.


see something through

To continue doing something until it is finished, especially something difficult or unpleasant.

--It'll take a lot of effort to see the project through.



[uncountable] The act of choosing someone or something for a particular purpose, or of giving them a particular description.

--Lott opposed the designation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a national holiday.

[countable] A name or title.

--Her official designation is Systems Manager.



[transitive] To expect that something will happen and be ready for it.

--Schools anticipate an increase in student test scores.




[countable] Someone who starts a new business or arranges business deals in order to make money, often in a way that involves financial risks.

--In the very early stages of the evolution of a business concern, the entrepreneur is not much concerned with security.



Having such a great effect on you that you feel confused and do not know how to react.

--She found the city quite overwhelming when she first arrived.



A thin book giving information or advertising something.



[countable] A special plan of food, exercise etc that is intended to improve your health.



[countable] A written request signed by a lot of people, asking someone in authority to do something or change something.

--A petition signed by 1000 hospital doctors will be handed to the Minister of Health at lunchtime today.

[intransitive and transitive]

To ask the government or an organization to do something by sending them a petition.

petition somebody to do something

--Villagers petitioned the local authority to provide better bus services.

December Reading: Spinning on the Stump




►unable or unwilling to believe something

--She shot him an incredulous look.



►unwilling to believe that people have good, honest, or sincere reasons for doing something

--a cynical view of human nature

cynical about

--The public is cynical about election promises.

►not caring that something might not be morally right, might hurt someone etc, when you are trying to get something for yourself

--a cynical disregard for international agreements



►someone who is jaded is no longer interested in or excited by something, usually because they have experienced too much of it

--The concert should satisfy even the most jaded critic.



►someone who is trained or skilful in the art of persuading or influencing people through speech or writing [ orator]



►[countable] a description of events in a story, especially in a novel

--At several points in the narrative the two stories cross.

►[uncountable]the process or skill of telling a story



►a short simple story that teaches a moral or religious lesson, especially one of the stories told by Jesus in the Bible



►consisting of short stories based on someone's personal experience

--His findings are based on anecdotal evidence rather than serious research.


rapport[singular, uncountable]

►friendly agreement and understanding between people [ relationship];

a relationship of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people

rapport with/between

--He had an excellent rapport with his patients.



► [countable] a serious speech or piece of writing on a particular subject

discourse on/upon

--a discourse on art

►[uncountable] serious conversation or discussion between people

--Candidates should engage in serious political discourse.

► [uncountable] the language used in particular types of speech or writing

--a study of spoken discourse



discourse on/upon something [phrasal verb]

►to make a long formal speech about something, or to discuss something seriously



►kind and generous

--A benevolent uncle paid for her to have music lessons.



►[countable] an important victory or success after a difficult struggle

--Winning the championship is a great personal triumph.

►[uncountable] a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction that you get from victory or success

--a shout of triumph

►[singular] a very successful example of something

triumph of

►The gallery is a triumph of design.



►if a government or organization retrenches, it spends less money [= economize]



►to die, especially in a terrible or sudden way



►someone who supports something or persuades people to do something [= advocate]



►to treat a group of people unfairly or cruelly, and prevent them from having the same rights that other people in society have



►the use of something in a way that it should not be used [= misuse]