Episode 1
Mexico hit with 3 big earthquakes; Apple’s new iPhone X
Plus English phrases 'bundle up' and 'comb through'

This week on Plain English, we talk about the series of three large earthquakes that have hit Mexico in the last month, including the strongest earthquake to hit the country in over a century. We also talk about the new features of the iPhone X, including what is possibly the newest word in the English language, “animoji.” In the second half of the program, we review examples of the English phrases “bundled up” and “comb through.”


Transcript

  • Hi everyone, welcome to Plain English for the week of September 26, 2017. Plain English is a new podcast for English learners; the audio here goes at a speed just a little bit slower than a native speaker. And the best part is that you can read a word-for-word transcript of the show online, at PlainEnglish.com. That should help you recognize every word spoken during the program.

    This week, we’ll talk about two things in the news: first, the series of earthquakes that has hit Mexico over the last few weeks, and second the release of the iPhone X. In the second part of the program, we’ll review two phrases that came up during the first half. Today, those phrases are bundle up and comb through.


    Earthquakes in Mexico

    Let’s start first with the earthquake. If you’ve been watching the news from Latin America, you probably know that Mexico has been hit hard by a series of earthquakes in the past several weeks. Together, these earthquakes have killed about 400 people and have destroyed thousands of buildings along the southern Pacific coast and in the central part of the country, near the capital of Mexico City.

    The first one to hit on September 7 had a magnitude of 8.1 and primarily affected the state of Oaxaca, in the southern part of the country on the Pacific coast. This earthquake hit in an area that was not densely populated, but it did a lot of damage to the towns nearby, including Juchitan, killing over 90 people in total. Although other earthquakes have done more damage over the years, this one was actually the most powerful earthquake to hit Mexico in over a century.

    The big one from a human perspective came on Tuesday, September 19, in cruel irony: it hit on the same date as the deadliest earthquake in Mexico’s history, which came in 1985. The epicenter on Tuesday was in the state of Puebla, about 100 miles from the capital city. In total, it caused about 300 deaths and destroyed dozens of buildings. One of the saddest stories was that of an elementary school in the southern part of Mexico City, where 19 students and six adults died after the school building collapsed.

    This earthquake caused more damage than the earlier one because it hit in a more densely-populated area. Mexico City, the capital, is also built on what was formerly a lake in Aztec times. That means that the ground it’s built upon is less stable—magnifying the property and human damage during an earthquake.

    While rescue workers were still combing through the damage in the capital, yet another earthquake hit in Oaxaca on Saturday morning. This one was officially categorized as an aftershock of the one at the beginning of this month.

    In the capital city, power has been restored to almost all residents and people are now going back to houses and apartments that were damaged.

    It’s been hard for Mexicans living in the United States who want to help but couldn’t return home or, in some cases, even get in contact with their friends and family due to power outages and downed phone lines. Among the tragedy, there is some good news, which is the amount of food, water, and blankets being donated.

    Part of the rescue and recovery effort has been the navy’s canine unit, which deployed 15 dogs in the capital city to look for survivors. The most popular dog is Frida, a yellow Labrador retriever, who’s now famous on social media for her protection goggles and blue boots. Over her career, Frida, who is named after the painter Frida Kahlo, has helped rescue 12 people from natural disasters, including a police officer in the state of Oaxaca earlier this week.


    iPhone X

    It seemed like it was years in the making, but Apple finally released its 10th anniversary iPhone this month, called the iPhone X – pronounced, “ten” but written with the Roman numeral X. Most of the features of the new iPhone had been leaked ahead of time, so the actual announcement didn’t have too many surprises, but the phone is still impressive.

    The most revolutionary change is facial identification. This means that you’ll be able to unlock your phone and make purchases just by looking at the camera. The camera will verify that you aere the one trying to unlock the phone, not someone else. There have always been a couple of obvious problems to facial identification and Apple has tried to overcome them. One such problem is security. Until now, facial ID has been relatively easy to fool. In many cases, all you’ve had to do is hold up a Facebook picture of someone to unlock devices like laptops and phones, which almost defeats the purpose of locking the device in the first place.

    Apple’s answer is to use a grid of 30,000 light dots to create a 3-D image of a user’s face—making it impossible to fool with a flat picture.  Another question that came up is, will this work in the dark? Millions of us like to use our phones in bed (even if maybe we shouldn’t), so Apple says the phone will work in the dark without having to flash a bright light in your face. Sometimes people’s faces change over time—if you have a beard, you might shave it off one day; if you wear glasses, you might switch to contact lenses. If you live in a cold-weather city, like I do, you might want to bundle up with a scarf and a hat. Apple says that its facial ID is smart enough to identify your face through all these changes. All right, so now picture this: facial ID works in the dark, and even if part of your face is covered. So could someone potentially unlock your phone while you’re sleeping? Apple has an answer for this one too: you have to be looking at the phone for it to unlock it.

    Facial ID isn’t just about security, though. One of the biggest surprises of the event was the introduction of animoji’s – where you can put your own facial expressions onto a standard emoji. Apple says its camera can pick up 50 muscle movements in your face, so if you make an expression at the camera, like a smile, for example, the phone can put that expression into an emoji, which you can then send to friends via iMessage. If you smile, the emoji will smile; if you talk, the emoji’s mouth will open and close with yours—and your voice is recorded at the same time. There are 12 animoji’s that will be supported initially.

    The new phone will have a full-screen design, meaning that there’s almost no space on the front of the phone that’s not part of the screen. Most phones have a strip of space at the top and bottom, plus a little bit on the sides, that were not covered by screen. No more; now, only a small cutout on the top for the camera is not taken up by the screen. That lets the phone put more screen area in a smaller package. But it also would mean doing without something iPhone users have known since the very beginning—the physical home button at the bottom. To unlock the phone, you’ll just have to tap on the screen to wake it up. While you’re using apps, you would swipe up from the bottom. It will probably take some getting used to for longtime iPhone users, but I have a feeling they’ll survive.

    There are a couple other changes to note: the iPhone X and the more moderately-priced 8 and 8 Plus will have wireless charging—but you’ll have to buy the charging pad separately. The rear cameras will be better, with better image stabilization and better performance in low light. The chip will be faster and the screen will be of much better quality.

    So how much does all this cost? In the US, the cheapest iPhone X will be $999 for 64 gigabytes or $1,149 for 256 gigabytes of storage and it will be the first time a mainstream phone will cross the $1,000 price point.

    I’m not sure about paying $1,000 for a phone. There are two conflicting opinions on that. The first one is that $1,000 for a phone and portable computer is just too much; the second opinion is that this is a device we use dozens, if not hundreds, of times each day—so we should spend more on this than we do on, say, our main computers or even our televisions.


    Anyway, in the second half of the episode, we’re going to review two expressions that you may have heard earlier on, and they are “bundle up” and “comb through.” Let’s start with “bundle up.”

    Bundle up

    You heard this one when I was describing the facial recognition software on the new iPhone X. I said if you’re outside in the cold weather, you might want to bundle up in a scarf and a hat, but you’d still want your phone to recognize you. In this sense, bundle up means to dress warmly. Where I live in Chicago, temperatures often hit 0 degrees Fahrenheit, which is equal to about 18 degrees below zero Celsius. If you want to go outside in that weather, you need to bundle up. You need to put on a hat to cover your head and ears, gloves for your hands, you need a heavy winter coat, and even a scarf to cover your neck and part of your face. It can be kind of a hassle to walk around all bundled up, but it’s definitely worth it when there’s snow and ice blowing in your face. Commuting to work and school can be a hassle. You first have to get bundled up before you leave the house, then maybe you get in the car or on a bus or train and you take some of your layers off. And then when you get to your destination, you have to bundle back up just to get those last few steps to work. This is a constant preoccupation of parents, who always want their kids to bundle up before going outside. And it’s not just humans who have to bundle up in the cold—you often see dogs outside with sweaters and protective boots on their feet.

    Comb through

    The second phrase from today’s program that you should know is “comb through”. I said that rescue workers are still combing through the damage in Mexico. In this sense, it means that rescue workers are still doing a detailed search of the area, looking for people who may be trapped. When you use comb through, you refer to looking through lots and lots of things, hoping to find something small or important. One time when people typically comb through stuff is when they are moving to a new house. When I first moved here to Chicago, I combed through listings of rental apartments and condominiums for sale, searching through hundreds of listings trying to find the right place to live. I wanted to find the very best place for me and my circumstances, so it made sense to comb through all those web sites, looking for the right fit. Then, when it comes time to actually move, you don’t want to move stuff you don’t need in your new house, so maybe you comb through all of your belongings to see what you don’t need.

    You probably have dozens of shirts, pants, belts, casual clothes—but if you’re like me, you don’t wear a lot of it. So although it might be hard, it makes sense to comb through all that stuff in order to separate the clothes you don’t want from the ones you do want. For the first few days in your new house—or, again if you’re like me, the first few weeks or even months—everything is in boxes or suitcases. But inevitably you need to find one document that’s filed away in a box somewhere, but you don’t remember where you packed it. Now you have to open all your paper files and comb through them just to find the one document you need. So now you can probably better understand the situation in Mexico, where there are thousands of buildings that are damaged, including many that have collapsed, and rescue workers want to comb through the damage, looking for survivors. They’re going house by house, building by building, looking for survivors; in most cases, there isn’t anyone trapped, but they need to do a detailed search, just in case someone needs help.

    That’s all for this week’s program. I hope you can start using bundle up and comb through soon in your own conversations. Speaking of which, if you’d like to practice your new words or ask questions about the show, make sure to send me a message on Facebook or Twitter. The show’s name is PlainEnglishPod on both. And if you’re listening on your phone, you might find the transcripts on the web site helpful. Each episode is available online at PlainEnglish.com. See you next week.

  • Hi everyone, welcome to Plain English for the week of September 26, 2017. Plain English is a new podcast for English learners; the audio here goes at a speed just a little bit slower than a native speaker. And the best part is that you can read a word-for-word transcript of the show online, at PlainEnglish.com. That should help you recognize every word spoken during the program.

    This week, we’ll talk about two things in the news: first, the series of earthquakes that has hit Mexico over the last few weeks, and second the release of the iPhone X. In the second part of the program, we’ll review two phrases that came up during the first half. Today, those phrases are bundle up and comb through.


    Earthquakes in Mexico

    Let’s start first with the earthquake. If you’ve been watching the news from Latin America, you probably know that Mexico has been hit hard by a series of earthquakes in the past several weeks. Together, these earthquakes have killed about 400 people and have destroyed thousands of buildings along the southern Pacific coast and in the central part of the country, near the capital of Mexico City.

    The first one to hit on September 7 had a magnitude of 8.1 and primarily affected the state of Oaxaca, in the southern part of the country on the Pacific coast. This earthquake hit in an area that was not densely populated , but it did a lot of damage to the towns nearby , including Juchitan, killing over 90 people in total. Although other earthquakes have done more damage over the years, this one was actually the most powerful earthquake to hit Mexico in over a century.

    The big one from a human perspective came on Tuesday, September 19, in cruel irony : it hit on the same date as the deadliest earthquake in Mexico’s history, which came in 1985. The epicenter on Tuesday was in the state of Puebla, about 100 miles from the capital city. In total, it caused about 300 deaths and destroyed dozens of buildings. One of the saddest stories was that of an elementary school in the southern part of Mexico City, where 19 students and six adults died after the school building collapsed .

    This earthquake caused more damage than the earlier one because it hit in a more densely-populated area. Mexico City, the capital, is also built on what was formerly a lake in Aztec times. That means that the ground it’s built upon is less stable magnifying the property and human damage during an earthquake.

    While rescue workers were still combing through the damage in the capital, yet another earthquake hit in Oaxaca on Saturday morning. This one was officially categorized as an aftershock of the one at the beginning of this month.

    In the capital city, power has been restored to almost all residents and people are now going back to houses and apartments that were damaged.

    It’s been hard for Mexicans living in the United States who want to help but couldn’t return home or, in some cases, even get in contact with their friends and family due to power outages and downed phone lines. Among the tragedy, there is some good news, which is the amount of food, water, and blankets being donated.

    Part of the rescue and recovery effort has been the navy’s canine unit , which deployed 15 dogs in the capital city to look for survivors . The most popular dog is Frida, a yellow Labrador retriever, who’s now famous on social media for her protection goggles and blue boots. Over her career , Frida, who is named after the painter Frida Kahlo, has helped rescue 12 people from natural disasters, including a police officer in the state of Oaxaca earlier this week.


    iPhone X

    It seemed like it was years in the making , but Apple finally released its 10th anniversary iPhone this month, called the iPhone X – pronounced, “ten” but written with the Roman numeral X. Most of the features of the new iPhone had been leaked ahead of time , so the actual announcement didn’t have too many surprises, but the phone is still impressive.

    The most revolutionary change is facial identification. This means that you’ll be able to unlock your phone and make purchases just by looking at the camera. The camera will verify that you are the one trying to unlock the phone, not someone else . There have always been a couple of obvious problems to facial identification and Apple has tried to overcome them. One such problem is security. Until now, facial ID has been relatively easy to fool . In many cases, all you’ve had to do is hold up a Facebook picture of someone to unlock devices like laptops and phones, which almost defeats the purpose of locking the device in the first place .

    Apple’s answer is to use a grid of 30,000 light dots to create a 3-D image of a user’s face—making it impossible to fool with a flat picture.  Another question that came up is, will this work in the dark? Millions of us like to use our phones in bed (even if maybe we shouldn’t), so Apple says the phone will work in the dark without having to flash a bright light in your face. Sometimes people’s faces change over time—if you have a beard , you might shave it off one day; if you wear glasses, you might switch to contact lenses . If you live in a cold-weather city, like I do, you might want to bundle up with a scarf and a hat. Apple says that its facial ID is smart enough to identify your face through all these changes. All right, so now picture this: facial ID works in the dark, and even if part of your face is covered. So could someone potentially unlock your phone while you’re sleeping? Apple has an answer for this one too: you have to be looking at the phone for it to unlock it.

    Facial ID isn’t just about security, though . One of the biggest surprises of the event was the introduction of animoji’s – where you can put your own facial expressions onto a standard emoji. Apple says its camera can pick up 50 muscle movements in your face, so if you make an expression at the camera, like a smile, for example, the phone can put that expression into an emoji, which you can then send to friends via iMessage. If you smile, the emoji will smile; if you talk, the emoji’s mouth will open and close with yours —and your voice is recorded at the same time. There are 12 animoji’s that will be supported initially .

    The new phone will have a full-screen design, meaning that there’s almost no space on the front of the phone that’s not part of the screen. Most phones have a strip of space at the top and bottom, plus a little bit on the sides, that were not covered by screen. No more; now, only a small cutout on the top for the camera is not taken up by the screen. That lets the phone put more screen area in a smaller package. But it also would mean doing without something iPhone users have known since the very beginning—the physical home button at the bottom. To unlock the phone, you’ll just have to tap on the screen to wake it up . While you’re using apps, you would swipe up from the bottom. It will probably take some getting used to for longtime iPhone users, but I have a feeling they’ll survive.

    There are a couple other changes to note: the iPhone X and the more moderately-priced  8 and 8 Plus will have wireless charging —but you’ll have to buy the charging pad separately. The rear cameras will be better, with better image stabilization and better performance in low light. The chip will be faster and the screen will be of much better quality.

    So how much does all this cost? In the US, the cheapest iPhone X will be $999 for 64 gigabytes or $1,149 for 256 gigabytes of storage and it will be the first time a mainstream phone will cross the $1,000 price point .

    I’m not sure about paying $1,000 for a phone. There are two conflicting opinions on that. The first one is that $1,000 for a phone and portable computer is just too much; the second opinion is that this is a device we use dozens , if not hundreds , of times each day—so we should spend more on this than we do on, say, our main computers or even our televisions.


    Anyway, in the second half of the episode, we’re going to review two expressions that you may have heard earlier on, and they are “bundle up” and “comb through.” Let’s start with “bundle up.”

    Bundle up

    You heard this one when I was describing the facial recognition software on the new iPhone X. I said if you’re outside in the cold weather, you might want to bundle up in a scarf and a hat, but you’d still want your phone to recognize you. In this sense, bundle up means to dress warmly . Where I live in Chicago, temperatures often hit 0 degrees Fahrenheit, which is equal to about 18 degrees below zero Celsius. If you want to go outside in that weather, you need to bundle up. You need to put on a hat to cover your head and ears, gloves for your hands, you need a heavy winter coat, and even a scarf to cover your neck and part of your face. It can be kind of a hassle to walk around all bundled up, but it’s definitely worth it when there’s snow and ice blowing in your face. Commuting to work and school can be a hassle. You first have to get bundled up before you leave the house, then maybe you get in the car or on a bus or train and you take some of your layers off. And then when you get to your destination, you have to bundle back up just to get those last few steps to work. This is a constant preoccupation of parents, who always want their kids to bundle up before going outside. And it’s not just humans who have to bundle up in the cold—you often see dogs outside with sweaters and protective boots on their feet.

    Comb through

    The second phrase from today’s program that you should know is “comb through”. I said that rescue workers are still combing through the damage in Mexico. In this sense, it means that rescue workers are still doing a detailed search of the area, looking for people who may be trapped . When you use comb through, you refer to looking through lots and lots of things, hoping to find something small or important. One time when people typically comb through stuff is when they are moving to a new house. When I first moved here to Chicago, I combed through listings of rental apartments and condominiums for sale, searching through hundreds of listings trying to find the right place to live. I wanted to find the very best place for me and my circumstances , so it made sense to comb through all those web sites, looking for the right fit . Then, when it comes time to actually move, you don’t want to move stuff you don’t need in your new house, so maybe you comb through all of your belongings to see what you don’t need. You probably have dozens of shirts, pants, belts, casual clothes—but if you’re like me, you don’t wear a lot of it. So although it might be hard, it makes sense to comb through all that stuff in order to separate the clothes you don’t want from the ones you do want. For the first few days in your new house—or, again if you’re like me, the first few weeks or even months—everything is in boxes or suitcases . But inevitably you need to find one document that’s filed away in a box somewhere, but you don’t remember where you packed it. Now you have to open all your paper files and comb through them just to find the one document you need. So now you can probably better understand the situation in Mexico, where there are thousands of buildings that are damaged, including many that have collapsed, and rescue workers want to comb through the damage, looking for survivors . They’re going house by house, building by building, looking for survivors; in most cases, there isn’t anyone trapped, but they need to do a detailed search, just in case someone needs help.

    That’s all for this week’s program. I hope you can start using bundle up and comb through soon in your own conversations. Speaking of which, if you’d like to practice your new words or ask questions about the show, make sure to send me a message on Facebook or Twitter. The show’s name is PlainEnglishPod on both. And if you’re listening on your phone, you might find the transcripts on the web site helpful. Each episode is available online at PlainEnglish.com. See you next week.

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