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Episode 4
American family escapes pirate attack in Brazil; Selena gets her Hollywood star
Plus English expressions ‘hitch a ride’ and ‘on behalf’

In this episode of Plain English, we talk about the American family that escaped a pirate attack in a remote area of the Brazilian Amazon and survived in the jungle for three days. We also talk about Selena, the Mexican-American artist known as the Queen of Tejano music. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this month. In the second half of the program, we review the English expressions ‘hitch a ride’ and ‘on behalf’.

Listen


Transcript


  • Hi again, welcome to Plain English for November 16, 2017. We’re just getting started on this new podcast, which we hope to be a tool for English learners. So many resources online are for beginners just learning their first words, or for experts. But this podcast is intended for an audience of intermediate learners—those who know a lot of words already, but have a hard time watching television or listening to the radio because native speakers go so quickly. This podcast is for all of you in the middle. We go at a slower speed than a native speaker and we post full word-for-word transcripts online so you can follow along as you listen. In addition, if you speak Spanish, you can use our interactive transcripts that translate difficult words and phrases instantly right on your computer screen or smart phone.

    Like always, we present two current events topics. This week, we’ll talk about the American family that escaped a pirate attack in the Brazilian Amazon and the newest star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, Mexican-American artist Selena. In the second half of the program, we review two expressions—hitch a ride and on behalf.


    American family survives pirate attack in Brazil

    We start this week with a harrowing tale of survival in the Amazon region of Brazil, where an American family staged a daring escape from pirates and spent three days hiding in the jungle before being rescued by a passenger ferry.

    Got all that? Let me start at the beginning. Adam and Emily Harteau and their two young daughters, six-year-old Collete and three-year old Sierra, were living in Brazil. Their family had left the United States in 2012—five years ago—on what was supposed to be a one-year road trip to the very southern tip of South America. But the family fell in love with South America and Adam and Emily decided to raise their kids on the road, using their travels as educational experiences. They had most recently been staying in Brazil and had decided to make their way back to California to be closer to the rest of their family.

    Their route home took them through the remote Amazon region of Brazil. Since there are few roads in this region, so they hitched a ride with a barge—a ship that generally only carries cargo, not passengers. As they were going upriver, the barge was hijacked by pirates, who took the Harteau family and the entire crew hostage at gunpoint and locked them all in a tugboat while they robbed the ship. The robbery took place over several hours as the pirates unloaded everything of value on the ship.

    At about 1:00 a.m., after the robbery was already about ten hours old, the Harteau family decided to make a run for it instead of staying in captivity. So Adam and Emily grabbed the family’s surf board and they jumped into the river. They swam about a mile and a half, towing their two daughters on the surf board, and escaped off the opposite bank of the river. They then fled into the jungle in the middle of the night.

    Now this part of the Brazilian jungle is extremely dangerous. The family weathered thunderstorms and extreme heat and had to avoid jaguars and snakes. They survived by eating fruit and insects. In case you’re wondering why they didn’t just look for help right away, they were afraid that the locals might be working with the pirates. In this part of the Amazon, there are few roads and people get around by boat, so there are few police around to ask for help.

    Meanwhile, police had arrived at the hijacked boat and discovered the family was missing. They assumed the family was either killed or kidnapped. The US embassy made contact with the Harteau family’s relatives in California, saying they were missing.

    Finally, after three days in the jungle, the family heard a passenger ferry along the river and they jumped back into the water to get the ship captain’s attention. The captain was filling out paperwork on board the ship when he heard the family calling for him. As soon as he spotted the two young girls floating on the surfboard, he knew it was the missing family.

    The crew took them on board and offered blankets, clean clothes, and a hearty meal of beef and bean stew. The family was taken to a local hospital, where they were treated for sunstroke, dehydration, and insect bites. They told their story to Brazilian police, and eventually flew back to the United States. They posted a message on their Instagram account that said, “We couldn’t be more ecstatic to say WE ARE ALIVE.”

    The locals in this region were very surprised that a family was able to survive under those conditions. Some told newspaper reporters that nobody over there swims in the water due to strong currents. They also said that the jungle is too dangerous. At the same time, they validated the family’s fears. Many local villagers said that because the region is so remote, they are especially vulnerable to pirates and crime since there is little police presence. The Amazon region is the size of all of Western Europe combined and police say they don’t have the ability to provide security to all of it, since the only way to get around is via the rivers.

    Can you imagine escaping from pirates with a six year old and a three year old on a surfboard? This family is extremely lucky, but something tells me that after spending five years driving through South America in a van, they learned a few things about survival.


    Selena honored with star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame

    In some happier news from back home in the United States , Selena Quintanilla-Perez, known primarily as just Selena, was awarded the 2,622nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. Even though she lived a short life, Selena, who died in 1995, was one of the most prominent Mexican-American entertainers of the 20th Century. The city of Los Angeles proclaimed November 3, the day the star was unveiled, “Selena Day.”

    Selena’s sister Suzette officially accepted the star on behalf of the family. Her husband and former guitarist Chris Perez was also at the ceremony, along with her parents. Over 4,500 people attended the event, a record breaking crowd for the debut of a new star. Among the speakers at the event was actress Eva Longoria, who said Selena made a path for Latinas with a dream to make it big in show business.

    Selena was originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, and began her music career in 1980, when she was just nine years old. She played in a band called Selena y Los Dinos, which also included her older brother and sister. She was recording just two years later. Her style was called Tejano, the name given to a style of music that originated in Texas by Mexican-American artists. At the time, it was dominated by male artists and Selena was often refused the opportunity to perform because she was a woman.

    But by 1989, she landed her first record contract with EMI Latin. Selena’s first popular album was called Entre a Mi Mundo and included Como la Flor, one of her most popular songs. Other signature albums included Live!, which won a Grammy Award, and Amor Prohibido, one of the best-selling Latin albums in American history. Due to her success, she was credited with bringing Tejano music into the mainstream.

    Selena was active in her community and was known as a philanthropist. She visited school groups to talk about the importance of education and staying away from alcohol and drugs. She volunteered for DARE, an organization dedicated to reducing drug use, and she performed various concerts for charity.

    Selena’s death was tragic and untimely. In 1995, when she was just 23 years old, she was shot and killed by a friend, former manager, and the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldívar. She would have been 46 years old this year.

    Soon after her death, Dreaming With You, her final album, was released and debuted on top of the Billboard 200 charts—the first time a Spanish language album did so. She left a strong musical legacy, with many publications calling her one of the most important Mexican-American artists of the 20th Century, the Queen of Tejano music, and one of the most celebrated cultural icons of the Mexican-American border area. When she was recording, she was the best-selling Latin artist worldwide.

    A few years after her death, Warner Brothers released a movie about her life starring Jennifer Lopez.

    There has been a flurry of attention paid to Selena of late. Google recently commemorated her with one of their doodles, or customized drawings on the Google home page. Madame Tussaud’s museum revealed a wax sculpture of her. There is a new Selena line of makeup, and she was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.

    But the biggest honor is her place on the Walk of Fame, which is a stretch of about 18 blocks on Hollywood Avenue and Vine Street in Los Angeles, which has five-pointed stars embedded in the sidewalk commemorating the greatest figures of the entertainment world.


    Did you ever listen to Selena’s music? Are you glad she got her star? If so, tell me (in English of course) on Twitter or Facebook; the show’s handle is PlainEnglishPod on both.

    Now it’s time to review a couple of expressions. We conclude each episode by talking about a couple of expressions that you heard earlier on. This week, the two expressions are hitch a ride and on behalf.

    Hitch a ride

    Let’s start with hitch a ride. This originated with the practice of hitchhiking, which is not very common anymore. However, you’re probably familiar with the concept. If you don’t have a car, or any money for a bus ticket, what can you do to get from point A to point B? You can stand on the highway and stick your thumb out and hope a generous driver pulls over to take you part of the way to your destination. That’s hitchhiking. And that’s the origin of the phrase to hitch a ride. The way we use the phrase today, it means you go with someone who’s offering you a ride along a route they were taking anyway.

    So, if I offer to drive you to the airport, that’s not hitching a ride, since I probably wasn’t going to the airport anyway. But if I’m driving home from work, and a colleague lives between my office and my home, that person can hitch a ride with me, since I was going that way anyway. That person is just coming along on a trip I was going to take anyway. In the original context, you heard that the Harteau family hitched a ride on a barge going upriver. The barge was going along the route and offered to let the Harteau family ride along. In that sense, the Harteau family hitched a ride on the barge. When’s the last time you hitched a ride? Maybe if you ran out of gas, you hitched a ride to the nearest gas station with someone driving by. Or if you had a few drinks at a party and didn’t want to drive home, maybe you hitched a ride with one of your fellow partygoers. I’m not sure when the last time was for me. I live in big city and with buses, trains, taxis and Uber, I don’t usually need to hitch a ride anymore. Actually, hasn’t Uber has transformed the whole idea of hitching a ride with Uber pool, which lets multiple people share an Uber if they’re going in the same direction?

    On behalf

    The other expression today is on behalf. I originally said that Selena’s sister accepted the Walk of Fame star on her behalf. That just means in her place. Selena isn’t alive to accept her own star, and her entire family couldn’t accept the award, so someone had to accept it on behalf of the family and that person was her sister Suzette. You do something on behalf of someone, or on someone’s behalf, when you are acting in place of another person or if you are the representative of a group. I couldn’t accept the award last night, so my coworker accepted it on my behalf. You can also make a phone call on behalf of someone. Maybe you’re an executive assistant and you call a restaurant to make a reservation on behalf of your boss. You’re not the one going to lunch; your boss is. But you’re making the call for him, so you’re calling on his behalf. Or, maybe you want to say something that comes from a whole group and you are just the representative. You could say, “On behalf of the whole company, I want to thank you for being a loyal customer.”


    Well, on behalf of the whole entire team of two behind the Plain English podcast, I want to say thanks for listening this week. If you haven’t been to the web site, PlainEnglish.com, I encourage you to visit and check out the transcripts. I think it’s easier to listen if you have the full word for word transcript nearby just in case you miss a word. The website looks great on your smart phone, so you can always listen and read along on the go. And if you want to test out on behalf of, or hitch a ride, you can send me your examples on Facebook or Twitter—the show’s handles are PlainEnglishPod on both. Thanks again for listening and we’ll be back in a week’s time.


  • Hi again, welcome to Plain English for November 16, 2017. We’re just getting started on this new podcast, which we hope to be a tool for English learners. So many resources online are for beginners just learning their first words, or for experts. But this podcast is intended for an audience of intermediate learners—those who know a lot of words already, but have a hard time watching television or listening to the radio because native speakers go so quickly. This podcast is for all of you in the middle. We go at a slower speed than a native speaker and we post full word-for-word transcripts online so you can follow along as you listen. In addition, if you speak Spanish, you can use our interactive transcripts that translate difficult words and phrases instantly right on your computer screen or smart phone.

    Like always, we present two current events topics. This week, we’ll talk about the American family that escaped a pirate attack in the Brazilian Amazon and the newest star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, Mexican-American artist Selena. In the second half of the program, we review two expressions—hitch a ride and on behalf.


    American family survives pirate attack in Brazil

    We start this week with a harrowing tale of survival in the Amazon region of Brazil, where an American family staged a daring escape from pirates and spent three days hiding in the jungle before being rescued by a passenger ferry .

    Got all that ? Let me start at the beginning. Adam and Emily Harteau and their two young daughters, six-year-old Collete and three-year old Sierra, were living in Brazil. Their family had left the United States in 2012—five years ago—on what was supposed to be a one-year road trip to the very southern tip of South America. But the family fell in love with South America and Adam and Emily decided to raise their kids on the road, using their travels as educational experiences. They had most recently been staying in Brazil and had decided to make their way back to California to be closer to the rest of their family.

    Their route home took them through the remote Amazon region of Brazil. Since there are few roads in this region, so they hitched a ride with a barge —a ship that generally only carries cargo, not passengers. As they were going upriver , the barge was hijacked by pirates, who took the Harteau family and the entire crew hostage at gunpoint and locked them all in a tugboat while they robbed the ship. The robbery took place over several hours as the pirates unloaded everything of value on the ship.

    At about 1:00 a.m., after the robbery was already about ten hours old, the Harteau family decided to make a run for it instead of staying in captivity . So Adam and Emily grabbed the family’s surf board and they jumped into the river. They swam about a mile and a half, towing their two daughters on the surf board, and escaped off the opposite bank of the river. They then fled into the jungle in the middle of the night.

    Now this part of the Brazilian jungle is extremely dangerous. The family weathered thunderstorms and extreme heat and had to avoid jaguars and snakes. They survived by eating fruit and insects. In case you’re wondering why they didn’t just look for help right away , they were afraid that the locals might be working with the pirates. In this part of the Amazon, there are few roads and people get around by boat, so there are few police around to ask for help.

    Meanwhile , police had arrived at the hijacked boat and discovered the family was missing . They assumed the family was either killed or kidnapped . The US embassy made contact with the Harteau family’s relatives in California, saying they were missing.

    Finally, after three days in the jungle, the family heard a passenger ferry along the river and they jumped back into the water to get the ship captain’s attention. The captain was filling out paperwork on board the ship when he heard the family calling for him. As soon as he spotted the two young girls floating on the surfboard, he knew it was the missing family.

    The crew took them on board and offered blankets , clean clothes, and a hearty meal of beef and bean stew . The family was taken to a local hospital, where they were treated for sunstroke , dehydration, and insect bites . They told their story to Brazilian police, and eventually flew back to the United States. They posted a message on their Instagram account that said, “We couldn’t be more ecstatic to say WE ARE ALIVE.”

    The locals in this region were very surprised that a family was able to survive under those conditions. Some told newspaper reporters that nobody over there swims in the water due to strong currents . They also said that the jungle is too dangerous. At the same time, they validated the family’s fears. Many local villagers said that because the region is so remote , they are especially vulnerable to pirates and crime since there is little police presence. The Amazon region is the size of all of Western Europe combined and police say they don’t have the ability to provide security to all of it, since the only way to get around is via the rivers.

    Can you imagine escaping from pirates with a six year old and a three year old on a surfboard? This family is extremely lucky, but something tells me that after spending five years driving through South America in a van, they learned a few things about survival.


    Selena honored with star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame

    In some happier news from back home in the United States , Selena Quintanilla-Perez, known primarily as just Selena, was awarded the 2,622nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. Even though she lived a short life, Selena, who died in 1995, was one of the most prominent Mexican-American entertainers of the 20th Century. The city of Los Angeles proclaimed November 3, the day the star was unveiled , “Selena Day.”

    Selena’s sister Suzette officially accepted the star on behalf of the family. Her husband and former guitarist Chris Perez was also at the ceremony, along with her parents. Over 4,500 people attended the event, a record breaking crowd for the debut of a new star. Among the speakers at the event was actress Eva Longoria, who said Selena made a path for Latinas with a dream to make it big in show business .

    Selena was originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, and began her music career in 1980, when she was just nine years old. She played in a band called Selena y Los Dinos, which also included her older brother and sister. She was recording just two years later. Her style was called Tejano, the name given to a style of music that originated in Texas by Mexican-American artists. At the time, it was dominated by male artists and Selena was often refused the opportunity to perform because she was a woman.

    But by 1989, she landed her first record contract with EMI Latin. Selena’s first popular album was called Entre a Mi Mundo and included Como la Flor, one of her most popular songs. Other signature albums included Live!, which won a Grammy Award, and Amor Prohibido, one of the best-selling Latin albums in American history. Due to her success, she was credited with bringing Tejano music into the mainstream .
    Selena was active in her community and was known as a philanthropist . She visited school groups to talk about the importance of education and staying away from alcohol and drugs. She volunteered for DARE , an organization dedicated to reducing drug use, and she performed various concerts for charity .

    Selena’s death was tragic and untimely . In 1995, when she was just 23 years old, she was shot and killed by a friend, former manager , and the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldívar. She would have been 46 years old this year.

    Soon after her death, Dreaming With You, her final album, was released and debuted on top of the Billboard 200 charts —the first time a Spanish language album did so . She left a strong musical legacy , with many publications calling her one of the most important Mexican-American artists of the 20th Century, the Queen of Tejano music, and one of the most celebrated cultural icons of the Mexican-American border area . When she was recording, she was the best-selling Latin artist worldwide .

    A few years after her death, Warner Brothers released a movie about her life starring Jennifer Lopez.

    There has been a flurry of attention paid to Selena of late. Google recently commemorated her with one of their doodles, or customized drawings on the Google home page. Madame Tussaud’s museum revealed a wax sculpture of her. There is a new Selena line of makeup , and she was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.

    But the biggest honor is her place on the Walk of Fame, which is a stretch of about 18 blocks on Hollywood Avenue and Vine Street in Los Angeles, which has five-pointed stars embedded in the sidewalk commemorating the greatest figures of the entertainment world.


    Did you ever listen to Selena’s music? Are you glad she got her star? If so, tell me (in English of course) on Twitter or Facebook; the show’s handle is PlainEnglishPod on both.

    Now it’s time to review a couple of expressions. We conclude each episode by talking about a couple of expressions that you heard earlier on. This week, the two expressions are hitch a ride and on behalf.

    Hitch a ride

    Let’s start with hitch a ride. This originated with the practice of hitchhiking , which is not very common anymore. However, you’re probably familiar with the concept. If you don’t have a car, or any money for a bus ticket, what can you do to get from point A to point B? You can stand on the highway and stick your thumb out and hope a generous driver pulls over to take you part of the way to your destination. That’s hitchhiking. And that’s the origin of the phrase to hitch a ride. The way we use the phrase today, it means you go with someone who’s offering you a ride along a route they were taking anyway .

    So, if I offer to drive you to the airport, that’s not hitching a ride, since I probably wasn’t going to the airport anyway. But if I’m driving home from work, and a colleague lives between my office and my home, that person can hitch a ride with me, since I was going that way anyway . That person is just coming along on a trip I was going to take anyway. In the original context, you heard that the Harteau family hitched a ride on a barge going upriver. The barge was going along the route and offered to let the Harteau family ride along. In that sense, the Harteau family hitched a ride on the barge. When’s the last time you hitched a ride? Maybe if you ran out of gas, you hitched a ride to the nearest gas station with someone driving by. Or if you had a few drinks at a party and didn’t want to drive home, maybe you hitched a ride with one of your fellow partygoers . I’m not sure when the last time was for me. I live in big city and with buses, trains, taxis and Uber, I don’t usually need to hitch a ride anymore . Actually, hasn’t Uber has transformed the whole idea of hitching a ride with Uber pool, which lets multiple people share an Uber if they’re going in the same direction ?

    On behalf

    The other expression today is on behalf. I originally said that Selena’s sister accepted the Walk of Fame star on her behalf. That just means in her place. Selena isn’t alive to accept her own star, and her entire family couldn’t accept the award, so someone had to accept it on behalf of the family and that person was her sister Suzette. You do something on behalf of someone, or on someone’s behalf, when you are acting in place of another person or if you are the representative of a group. I couldn’t accept the award last night, so my coworker accepted it on my behalf. You can also make a phone call on behalf of someone . Maybe you’re an executive assistant and you call a restaurant to make a reservation on behalf of your boss . You’re not the one going to lunch ; your boss is. But you’re making the call for him, so you’re calling on his behalf. Or, maybe you want to say something that comes from a whole group and you are just the representative. You could say, “On behalf of the whole company, I want to thank you for being a loyal customer .”


    Well, on behalf of the whole entire team of two behind the Plain English podcast, I want to say thanks for listening this week. If you haven’t been to the web site, PlainEnglish.com, I encourage you to visit and check out the transcripts. I think it’s easier to listen if you have the full word for word transcript nearby just in case you miss a word. The website looks great on your smart phone, so you can always listen and read along on the go.

    And if you want to test out on behalf of, or hitch a ride, you can send me your examples on Facebook or Twitter—the show’s handles are PlainEnglishPod on both. Thanks again for listening and we’ll be back in a week’s time.

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