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Movimiento de independencia de Cataluña; Los Astros ganan la Serie Mundial Además las frases en inglés ‘stop short’ y ‘a stretch’

En Plain English esta semana, hablamos sobre la apuesta de Cataluña por la independencia, incluido el arresto del presidente regional Carles Puigdemnont. También hablamos de béisbol, ya que los Astros de Houston ganaron la Serie Mundial por primera vez en la historia de su franquicia. En la segunda mitad del programa, revisamos las expresiones en inglés “stop short” y “a stretch”.

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Transcripción

  • Hi, welcome to Plain English for the week of November 9, 2017. Plain English is a new podcast for English language learners. We go just a little bit slower than the pace of a native speaker, which is the right speed for many learners.  Each episode features a discussion of two current events, usually (but not always) from the English-speaking world. And at the end of each episode, we look back at two expressions that came up during the first half and talk more about how to use them. This week, our current events are the independence movement in Catalonia, a region in Spain, and the World Series of baseball, which just wrapped up. Our two phrases this week are “a stretch” and “stop short.”


    Catalonia’s independence movement

    Let’s dive right into our first topic this week. Spain is in the middle of a political battle that threatens its unity and may have a lasting impact on its democracy. You may have heard that Catalonia, one of Spain’s 17 semi-autonomous regions, is in the midst of deciding whether it wants to be an independent country, and the central government of Spain is fighting back, arguing that the Spanish constitution does not permit the country to be broken up in this way.

    Like many countries, Spain is organized with a central government that shares powers with 17 semi-autonomous regions, meaning that the central government has certain powers, but each region has a local government that has certain other powers. This is similar to how the United States, Canada and Mexico are organized, for example. What makes Spain unique is that some of the regions, especially Catalonia, have a very strong regional identity and culture. In fact, Catalonia has its own language, Catalan, and unique traditions in culture, food, and literature. In this way, Catalonia is similar to the province of Quebec in Canada. It’s part of the larger country, but many of the residents identify more with the region than with the country as a whole.

    Catalonia is the far northeast corner of Spain, just south of France, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Although it’s only about 6% of Spain’s land area, it represents about 20% of the national economy, and many people think they are paying too much in taxes to the central government without getting their fair share in return. There are local political parties in Catalonia that support independence, and these parties have gradually gained more and more power in the local Catalan government.

    The Catalan government, led by regional President Carles Puigdemont, held a referendum last month in which 90% of the votes were in favor of declaring independence from Spain. But that’s not the whole story. The vote was declared illegal by Spain’s constitutional court beforehand, and the central government confiscated ballots and closed polling stations. They even insisted that Google remove a polling station finder from its app store. You can imagine, then, that the majority of the people who managed to vote were those who strongly favored independence and who were willing to go against the ruling of Spain’s highest court.

    The fact that the vote was declared illegal and that only 42% of people voted didn’t stop Puigdemont from declaring victory and saying that Catalonia would be independent, although he stopped just short of actually declaring the state independent from Spain. The central government responded swiftly and ordered the arrest of the leaders of the Catalan government who were the driving force behind the vote. The central government based in Madrid has taken over administration of Catalonia and is acting in place of a regional government for the first time in its history. Puigdemont and three other officials surrendered to police in Brussels.

    All this drama has taken its toll on the region. The public is sharply divided over the question of independence, and on how each side is behaving. Large protests have been a fact of life in the streets of Barcelona in recent months—first, in favor of independence, later in favor of unity. About 1,000 people were injured in one protest, for example.

    Banks and large businesses have been scared off, too. Many have moved their headquarters out of Barcelona and into other Spanish regions, fearing the uncertainty of a true declaration of independence. For now, the parties are at a stalemate: the central government is administering the region and Catalonia remains part of Spain. Even if the drama has calmed down a little, Spain will still have to grapple with the strong emotions in Catalonia and may have to introduce changes to the constitution to give the Catalonia regional government more powers.


    Astros win baseball’s Wold Series

    They’re celebrating in Houston, where the home town baseball team, the Houston Astros, defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, the championship of Major League Baseball. Here’s how the last out sounded on the radio in Houston:

    Grabacion: “Astros lead five to one. Pitch on the way. Ground ball, right side, into the shift. To his left Altuve, has it in short-right. Throws to first. And the Astros are 2017 World Series Champions! For the first time ever, the Astros are baseball’s best!”

    Did you follow that? It was quick, but that’s what they heard on the radio in Houston at the end of the last game, which the Astros won 5-1. The World Series is decided over the course of seven games, and many people think that this World Series was considered one of the best in recent history. That’s because the teams seemed evenly matched—the Astros won four games, including the decisive game 7, and the Dodgers won three games—and because most of the games were exciting. Two went into extra innings, which is necessary when the game is tied after the usual nine innings, and many of the games featured multiple lead changes and comebacks. Unfortunately, the last game, Game 7, which decided the series, was fairly one-sided. The Astros took an early lead and the Dodgers couldn’t even make that last game competitive.

    This World Series also illustrated a trend in baseball toward more analytics—the staff of all major league teams study all aspects of the game and their statistical analysis helps the managers make decisions on the field. For example, they use this information to decide which pitchers should appear in which situations and where players should position themselves on the field. The downside for fans to so many small in-game adjustments is that the games are longer; one of the World Series games ended at 1:30 in the morning.

    Even so, the series was extremely exciting. It featured 22 home runs, the most ever in a World Series. Game 5, for example, featured five lead changes and seven home runs; it was tied after nine innings and the Astros won 13-12 in the tenth inning. 13-12 is a very high-scoring game; it was even more surprising because both teams had their best pitchers starting, which would usually indicate a low-scoring game.

    The Series was also exciting this year because both teams were facing championship droughts—meaning, they hadn’t won a title in a long time. The Dodgers last won the World Series in 1988 (29 years ago) and the Astros had never won a title in their entire history; they entered the league way back in 1962.

    And the Astros had been horrible for a very long time. They lost in the World Series in 2005, but in the ensuing years had been a consistently bad team, with a couple of really awful seasons. But there is another side to that coin, which is that the worst teams in baseball get the first chance to select, or draft, the best newest players coming out of high school programs. That means that for many years, while the Astros were losing lots of games, they had the right to draft the best future stars. And some of those stars, including George Springer and Carlos Correa, were among the stars of this year’s World Series-winning team. Springer, for example, was named Most Valuable Player (or MVP) of the World Series this year. In fact, Sports Illustrated, an American sports magazine, predicted back in 2014 that the Astros would win the World Series this year—a prediction that seemed like a stretch at the time, but actually came true three years later.

    The Astros know how to celebrate too. During the games in their home park, they drove a gigantic model train back and forth high above the seats in left field every time they hit a home run. And after the Series, the team announced they were all going to Disney World together.


    Now I have my life back after watching those World Series games—I stopped short of watching until the final out of every game, but I did stay up late to watch most of the games. And that’s a good transition to the first phrase that we’ll review this week—to stop short. In each episode, after the current events, we review two common phrases or expressions that came up during the course of the episode. And this week those expressions are to stop short, and a stretch.

    Stop short

    Let’s start with stop short. You say “stop short” when you want to say you didn’t quite do something completely, or you didn’t take the final step in a process. In the original context, I said that Catalan President Carles Puigdemont stopped short of declaring independence for Catalonia. What I meant by that is, he didn’t actually declare independence, but he did do a lot of other things along the path to declaring independence. For example, he did call a referendum on independence. He did say that if the people voted in favor, then Catalonia would seek independence. The vote did come in favor, and Puigdemont did say the vote confirms Catalonia’s desire to be independent. But he didn’t take that one final step of actually declaring Catalonia an independent country. He stopped short of declaring independence.

    Just now, I said I stopped short of watching until the very end of every game of the World Series. By now you can probably guess what that means. I watched a lot of these games, and I stayed up very late, but I didn’t watch the whole game every time. Sometimes I fell asleep before the end. I stopped short of watching every inning, but I came close. A lot of people thought this World Series was one of the best they had ever seen, but most experts stopped short of saying it was the very best. Many experts think a handful of other World Series (like the ones in 1991, 2001 or even 2016) were more exciting. So while they think this year was very exciting, they stopped short of saying it was the best World Series in recent memory.

    A stretch

    Ready for the second phrase? When Sports Illustrated predicted in 2014 that the Astros would win the World Series in 2017, many people, including me, thought that prediction was a stretch. We thought that it was unlikely. When you think that a prediction or a goal is too optimistic, or not likely to come true, you can say it’s a stretch. Let me give you a couple of other predictions or goals that might be a stretch. This week, I want to get up at 6:00 every morning and go to the gym before work. Now, you have to know that I am the king of the snooze alarm and I don’t like to get up right away. Knowing that, you probably agree that it’s a stretch to say that I’ll be up with the sun all five days this week. Here’s another one. Some people in Spain are hoping that the independence movement dies down now that the leaders have been removed from office. I would say that’s a stretch, since although the leaders may not be in office, there is still a strong desire for either independence or at least additional powers for the Catalonia region. Here’s one more. The Astros were a great team in 2017 and I’m sure in Houston they’re already predicting they’ll win again in 2018. However, I think that’s a stretch because no team has won two World Series in a row since the Yankees did it eighteen years ago.


    That’s all this week – thanks so much for listening. If you’re listening on your phone, don’t forget to visit the web site, PlainEnglish.com to read a word-for-word transcript of the entire program. It makes it easier to follow the program when you know you’re going to catch every word. If you’d like to be in touch, look us up on Twitter and Facebook under the name PlainEnglishPod. We’ll be back in two weeks with another episode; see you then.

  • Hi, welcome to Plain English for the week of November 9, 2017. Plain English is a new podcast for English language learners. We go just a little bit slower than the pace of a native speaker, which is the right speed for many learners.  Each episode features a discussion of two current events, usually (but not always) from the English-speaking world. And at the end of each episode, we look back at two expressions that came up during the first half and talk more about how to use them. This week, our current events are the independence movement in Catalonia, a region in Spain, and the World Series of baseball, which just wrapped up. Our two phrases this week are “a stretch” and “stop short.”


    Catalonia’s independence movement

    Let’s dive right into our first topic this week. Spain is in the middle of a political battle that threatens its unity and may have a lasting impact on its democracy. You may have heard that Catalonia, one of Spain’s 17 semi-autonomous regions, is in the midst of deciding whether it wants to be an independent country, and the central government of Spain is fighting back , arguing that the Spanish constitution does not permit the country to be broken up in this way.

    Like many countries, Spain is organized with a central government that shares powers with 17 semi-autonomous regions , meaning that the central government has certain powers , but each region has a local government that has certain other powers. This is similar to how the United States, Canada and Mexico are organized, for example. What makes Spain unique is that some of the regions, especially Catalonia, have a very strong regional identity and culture. In fact , Catalonia has its own language, Catalan, and unique traditions in culture, food, and literature. In this way, Catalonia is similar to the province of Quebec in Canada. It’s part of the larger country, but many of the residents identify more with the region than with the country as a whole.

    Catalonia is the far northeast corner of Spain, just south of France, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Although it’s only about 6% of Spain’s land area , it represents about 20% of the national economy, and many people think they are paying too much in taxes to the central government without getting their fair share in return . There are local political parties in Catalonia that support independence, and these parties have gradually gained more and more power in the local Catalan government.

    The Catalan government , led by regional President Carles Puigdemont, held a referendum last month in which 90% of the votes were in favor of declaring independence from Spain. But that’s not the whole story. The vote was declared illegal by Spain’s constitutional court beforehand , and the central government confiscated ballots and closed polling stations . They even insisted that Google remove a polling station finder from its app store. You can imagine, then, that the majority of the people who managed to vote were those who strongly favored independence and who were willing to go against the ruling of Spain’s highest court.

    The fact that the vote was declared illegal and that only 42% of people voted didn’t stop Puigdemont from declaring victory and saying that Catalonia would be independent, although he stopped just short of actually declaring the state independent from Spain. The central government responded swiftly and ordered the arrest of the leaders of the Catalan government who were the driving force behind the vote. The central government based in Madrid has taken over administration of Catalonia and is acting in place of a regional government for the first time in its history. Puigdemont and three other officials surrendered to police in Brussels.

    All this drama has taken its toll on the region. The public is sharply divided over the question of independence, and on how each side is behaving . Large protests have been a fact of life in the streets of Barcelona in recent months—first, in favor of independence, later in favor of unity . About 1,000 people were injured in one protest, for example.

    Banks and large businesses have been scared off , too. Many have moved their headquarters out of Barcelona and into other Spanish regions, fearing the uncertainty of a true declaration of independence. For now, the parties are at a stalemate : the central government is administering the region and Catalonia remains part of Spain. Even if the drama has calmed down a little, Spain will still have to grapple with the strong emotions in Catalonia and may have to introduce changes to the constitution to give the Catalonia regional government more powers.


    Astros win baseball’s World Series

    They’re celebrating in Houston, where the home town baseball team, the Houston Astros, defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, the championship of Major League Baseball. Here’s how the last out sounded on the radio in Houston:

    Grabacion: “Astros lead five to one. Pitch on the way. Ground ball , right side, into the shift . To his left Altuve, has it in short-right. Throws to first. And the Astros are 2017 World Series Champions! For the first time ever, the Astros are baseball’s best!”

    Did you follow that? It was quick , but that’s what they heard on the radio in Houston at the end of the last game, which the Astros won 5-1. The World Series is decided over the course of seven games, and many people think that this World Series was considered one of the best in recent history. That’s because the teams seemed evenly matched —the Astros won four games, including the decisive game 7 , and the Dodgers won three games—and because most of the games were exciting. Two went into extra innings , which is necessary when the game is tied after the usual nine innings, and many of the games featured multiple lead changes and comebacks . Unfortunately, the last game, Game 7, which decided the series, was fairly one-sided . The Astros took an early lead and the Dodgers couldn’t even make that last game competitive.

    This World Series also illustrated a trend in baseball toward more analytics —the staff of all major league teams study all aspects of the game and their statistical analysis helps the managers make decisions on the field . For example, they use this information to decide which pitchers should appear in which situations and where players should position themselves on the field. The downside for fans to so many small in-game adjustments is that the games are longer; one of the World Series games ended at 1:30 in the morning.

    Even so, the series was extremely exciting . It featured 22 home runs, the most ever in a World Series. Game 5, for example, featured five lead changes and seven home runs; it was tied after nine innings and the Astros won 13-12 in the tenth inning . 13-12 is a very high-scoring game; it was even more surprising because both teams had their best pitchers starting, which would usually indicate a low-scoring game.

    The Series was also exciting this year because both teams were facing championship droughts meaning , they hadn’t won a title in a long time . The Dodgers last won the World Series in 1988 (29 years ago) and the Astros had never won a title in their entire history ; they entered the league way back in 1962.

    And the Astros had been horrible for a very long time. They lost in the World Series in 2005, but in the ensuing years had been a consistently bad team, with a couple of really awful seasons. But there is another side to that coin , which is that the worst teams in baseball get the first chance to select, or draft , the best newest players coming out of high school programs. That means that for many years, while the Astros were losing lots of games, they had the right to draft the best future stars . And some of those stars, including George Springer and Carlos Correa, were among the stars of this year’s World Series-winning team. Springer, for example, was named Most Valuable Player (or MVP) of the World Series this year. In fact , Sports Illustrated, an American sports magazine, predicted back in 2014 that the Astros would win the World Series this year—a prediction that seemed like a stretch at the time, but actually came true three years later.

    The Astros know how to celebrate too. During the games in their home park, they drove a gigantic model train back and forth high above the seats in left field every time they hit a home run. And after the Series, the team announced they were all going to Disney World together .


    Now I have my life back after watching those World Series games—I stopped short of watching until the final out of every game, but I did stay up late to watch most of the games. And that’s a good transition to the first phrase that we’ll review this week—to stop short. In each episode, after the current events, we review two common phrases or expressions that came up during the course of the episode. And this week those expressions are to stop short, and a stretch.

    Stop short

    Let’s start with stop short. You say “stop short” when you want to say you didn’t quite do something completely, or you didn’t take the final step in a process. In the original context , I said that Catalan President Carles Puigdemont stopped short of declaring independence for Catalonia. What I meant by that is, he didn’t actually declare independence, but he did do a lot of other things along the path to declaring independence. For example, he did call a referendum on independence. He did say that if the people voted in favor, then Catalonia would seek independence. The vote did come in favor, and Puigdemont did say the vote confirms Catalonia’s desire to be independent. But he didn’t take that one final step of actually declaring Catalonia an independent country. He stopped short of declaring independence.

    Just now, I said I stopped short of watching until the very end of every game of the World Series. By now you can probably guess what that means. I watched a lot of these games, and I stayed up very late, but I didn’t watch the whole game every time. Sometimes I fell asleep before the end. I stopped short of watching every inning, but I came close. A lot of people thought this World Series was one of the best they had ever seen, but most experts stopped short of saying it was the very best. Many experts think a handful of other World Series (like the ones in 1991, 2001 or even 2016) were more exciting. So while they think this year was very exciting, they stopped short of saying it was the best World Series in recent memory.

    A stretch

    Ready for the second phrase ? When Sports Illustrated predicted in 2014 that the Astros would win the World Series in 2017, many people, including me, thought that prediction was a stretch. We thought that it was unlikely . When you think that a prediction or a goal is too optimistic , or not likely to come true, you can say it’s a stretch. Let me give you a couple of other predictions or goals that might be a stretch. This week, I want to get up at 6:00 every morning and go to the gym before work. Now, you have to know that I am the king of the snooze alarm and I don’t like to get up right away . Knowing that, you probably agree that it’s a stretch to say that I’ll be up with the sun all five days this week. Here’s another one. Some people in Spain are hoping that the independence movement dies down now that the leaders have been removed from office. I would say that’s a stretch, since although the leaders may not be in office, there is still a strong desire for either independence or at least additional powers for the Catalonia region. Here’s one more. The Astros were a great team in 2017 and I’m sure in Houston they’re already predicting they’ll win again in 2018. However , I think that’s a stretch because no team has won two World Series in a row since the Yankees did it eighteen years ago.


    That’s all this week – thanks so much for listening. If you’re listening on your phone, don’t forget to visit the web site, PlainEnglish.com to read a word-for-word transcript of the entire program. It makes it easier to follow the program when you know you’re going to catch every word. If you’d like to be in touch, look us up on Twitter and Facebook under the name PlainEnglishPod. We’ll be back in two weeks with another episode; see you then.

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