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IELTS Preparation Series 2, Episode 12: Cane Toads


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Hello. I'm

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Margot Politis. Welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation.

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Today, we're going to talk about expressing attitude, and using the words so and such.

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And we're going to find out about some nasty creatures called cane toads, and all the trouble

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they can cause.

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Curious? Let's watch the clip.

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You can see these large glands he's got behind his eyes, which contain a lot of toxin. It's

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got various compounds in there but basically what it does is give you a heart attack. The

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toxin's actually all throughout the skin but the main concentration is in these glands.

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So basically, something bites it, if it gets into its bloodstream, there's a good chance

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it will be killed very quickly.

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We found a dead freshwater crocodile, which was apparently killed. Certainly a one death

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adder, which is a venomous snake, quite an important Australian snake, we found one of

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those freshly dead with a small toad in its mouth. And even to small children, if a child

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was to put them in their mouth, the toxin is quite severe.

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The flip side of that is that there are a whole lot of animals which will be out-competed

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by cane toads. So they're other animals, which eat insects for instance, 'cause cane toads

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are so numerous that they suck up all the insects from the biota, like big vacuum cleaners

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and so they can actually cause other animals to starve.

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Why are we literally sitting back and watching the cane toad invasion move further and further

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up through Kakadu and through the Northern Territory?

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Well there has actually been quite a lot done, in fact, over a period of perhaps 10 years

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prior to this, a huge amount of effort and money has already been spent on looking at

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some way and means of controlling cane toads. All that work has come to nothing, and most

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people understand that now.

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What we have to do is wait on the big guns in Canberra with their genetic engineering

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and biological control work. That's the only hope there is.

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Cane toads are such prolific breeders, each female would produce 50 thousand eggs. There

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will be millions of cane toads out there.

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Unfortunately, cane toads are a big environmental problem in Australia. They're a species that

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was introduced from another country. We'll use their story to talk about attitude or,

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more specifically, attitude markers.

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Attitude markers can indicate the attitude of someone to what they are saying or what

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others have said.

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I just used one. I said: Unfortunately', cane toads are a big environmental problem.

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The word unfortunately indicates my attitude to cane toads.

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Other words that are attitude markers include:

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actually

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in fact

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certainly

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of course

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really and

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surprisingly

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Let's listen to a Wildlife Ranger, Greg Miles, answering a reporter's question. Listen for

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attitude markers.

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Why are we literally sitting back and watching the cane toad invasion move further and further

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up through Kakadu and through the Northern Territory?

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Well there has actually been quite a lot done, in fact, over a period of perhaps 10 years

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prior to this, a huge amount of effort and money has already been spent on looking at

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some way and means of controlling cane toads.

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Greg Miles says: There has actually been quite a lot done in fact.

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He uses the attitude markers, actually and in fact to show that he disagrees with the

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reporter, and to advance his own view.

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It's a polite way of expressing an opposing opinion.

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Other examples of words and phrases that are used to do this include:

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as a matter of fact

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to tell the truth, or well

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Let's see some examples.

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Cane toads look harmless, but as a matter of fact, they're dangerous.

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I thought you liked cane toads? Well, I don't.

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Can you hear the attitude expressed in these phrases?

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Now here's ecologist, James Smith again.

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You can see these large glands he's got behind his eyes, which contain a lot of toxin. The

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toxin's actually all throughout the skin but the main concentration is in these glands.

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James uses actually here to introduce details. Because the details of the toxins are surprising

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in nature, and perhaps unexpected, 'actually' provides this subtlety of meaning.

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Now here's Greg Miles again. He uses two other attitude markers.

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We found a dead freshwater crocodile, which was apparently killed. Certainly, one death

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adder, which is a venomous snake, quite an important Australian snake, we found one of

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those freshly dead with a small toad in its mouth.

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He says: apparently and certainly.

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He says: the crocodile was apparently killed.

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He uses apparently because he got his information from someone else, and he's not certain that

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it's true. Based on appearances, it looks like the crocodile was killed by the cane

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toad.

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Greg says: certainly one death adder was found dead.

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Here, Greg is emphasising that there's no doubt that this is true, that the death adder

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was killed by the toxins in the cane toad.

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From the use of these attitude markers, we can tell that he's not completely sure the

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crocodile was killed by a cane toad, but he's definitely sure the death adder was killed

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by one.

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Okay. Let's turn our attention to another way you can express subtleties of meaning

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in English.

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They're corelative subordinating conjunctions.

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The words themselves are short and simple:

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so that and

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such that

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Listen to Greg Miles talking about the number of cane toads eating insects.

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The flip side of that is that there's a whole lot of animals which will be out-competed

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by cane toads. So they're other animals, which eat insects for instance, 'cause cane toads

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are so numerous that they suck up all the insects from the biota, like big vacuum cleaners.

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Greg says: Cane toads are so numerous that they suck up all the insects from the biota.

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This means that cane toads are numerous enough to suck up all the insects from the biota.

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There are enough of them to do that.

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So that is called an amount construction. It expresses a meaning similar to enough,

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which means an adequate number or amount.

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But this construction also adds a meaning of result, using the 'that-clause'.

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Let's study a sentence to see how this construction works.

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Cane toads are numerous.

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How numerous?

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So numerous.

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With what result?

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That they suck up all the insects from the biota.

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Cane toads are so numerous that they suck up all the insects from the biota.

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The sentence uses the amount structure 'so that' to define an amount and a result.

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Here's another example: Have you seen the film Cane Toads?

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The film was so good that we went to see it twice.

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So tells us how good the film was.

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That tells us the result: We went to see it twice.

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Let's listen to how Professor Madsen expresses amount in relation to cane toads.

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Cane toads are such prolific breeders, each female would produce 50 thousand eggs. There

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will be millions of cane toads out there.

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He uses another construction to express the amount. He says such:

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Cane toads are such prolific breeders.

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He adds the result clause there will be millions of them, but without using the word that.

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'That' is sometimes omitted in informal English. It is understood without being stated. More

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formally he would have said:

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Cane toads are such prolific breeders that there will be millions of them.

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So and such in these constructions also provide emotive emphasis.

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For example:

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Cane toads are so ugly!

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Cane toads are such a pest!

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So today we've looked at attitude markers and language for expressing emotion.

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We've also talked about the degree or amount constructions so and such.

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Using these language features will make your language more interesting, and will show an

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appreciation of subtleties of meaning.

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And it's time for me to go, but you'll find today's story and a lot more on our Study

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English website.

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I'll see you next time. Bye bye.

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