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IELTS Preparation Series 2, Episode 2: Ginseng


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0:13

Hello. I'm Margot Politis. Welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation.

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Today we're going to look at using the word 'say' in four different ways - to give examples,

0:25

to narrow down, to quote and as a filler.

0:28

Our story looks at the anti-cancer qualities of the ginseng plant. Listen for the word

0:36

'say'.

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What they've found, say, in the case of ginseng, is that it is something that is difficult

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and slow growing, in the wild and even in field cultivation. So you can imagine ginseng,

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to have a mature plant, it might be there for a period of say 4 to 7 years.

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While it's in the ground, it can suffer from pests, pest problems. I've heard of instances

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where growers have had the crop in the ground for say 5 to 6 years. They've been keen to

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keep it that extra year or two, to say form the right shape of the ginseng plant, and

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then they've been struck by pests, virtually overnight.

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The speaker, Dr David Armstrong, uses the word 'say' in several different ways.

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Listen to the first one again.

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What they've found, say, in the case of ginseng, is that it is something that is difficult

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and slow growing.

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The word 'say' in this clip is used to introduce an example.

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In formal English, instead of using 'say', we would use 'for instance' or 'for example'.

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Have a look at these sentences:

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They have found, say, in the case of ginseng, that it is difficult to grow.

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They have found, for instance, in the case of ginseng, that it is difficult to grow.

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They have found, for example, in the case of ginseng, that it is difficult to grow.

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So 'say' can be used to introduce an example.

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Let's listen to another use of the word 'say'.

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So you can imagine ginseng, to have a mature plant, it might be there for a period of say

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4 to 7 years.

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'Say' in this clip has another meaning.

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It's used for narrowing down a time period. It means 'around' or 'approximately'.

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Listen for another example.

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I've heard of instances where growers have had the crop in the ground for say 5 to 6

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years.

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The crop has been in the ground for say 5 to 6 years.

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So the word 'say' here narrows down a time period.

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"The growers have had the crop in the ground for 'say', 5 to 6 years."

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"The growers have had the crop in the ground for 'around', 5 to 6 years."

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Dr Armstrong uses the word 'say' in one more way. Listen here.

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They've been keen to keep it that extra year or two to, say, form the right shape of the

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ginseng plant and then they've been struck by pests.

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He says "to, say, form the right shape of the ginseng plant".

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'Say' here is giving the speaker time to gather his thoughts. It's used as a filler. He could

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have said 'um', or one of the other language fillers.

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For example: "to say, form the right shape of the ginseng plant."

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"to, um, form the right shape of the ginseng plant."

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There is one more use for the word 'say' - to quote. When we report what someone else has

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said we call it indirect speech or reported speech.

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Speakers often introduce indirect or reported speech using the verb 'to say'.

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Listen how the reporter talks about Dr McManus's new approach to cancer treatment.

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Dr McManus says it's a whole new approach to cancer treatment, using the slower acting,

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milder, traditional herbal compounds as well as Western cancer drugs to try to make conventional

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treatment more effective.

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The reporter is quoting Dr McManus. She is talking about something that he has said.

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"Dr McManus 'says' it's a whole new approach."

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So we've looked at 4 different uses of the word 'say' in that one short story.

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This one word, 'say' turns out to be very useful in English!

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The story we've watched about ginseng provides us with lots of vocabulary relating to the

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topic of health and well being.

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Now let's listen to Dr McManus talking about the benefits of ginseng.

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Listen for the vocabulary that relates specifically to this topic.

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Dr McManus says it's a whole new approach to cancer treatment, using the slower acting,

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milder, traditional herbal compounds as well as Western cancer drugs to try to make conventional

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treatment more effective.

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Mild doses every day is believed to keep the body in equilibrium and just to maintain general

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health and vitality and stamina, and the other perhaps more valuable application is when

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someone's dying. It's believed to have life-enhancing properties, so because of that it commands

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very high prices. I saw in, in Beijing, in a herbal pharmacy there, one plant, a 50-year-old

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ginseng plant, worth $100,000. It's because of the active components increase with age

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over time, so a one-year-old root is nowhere near as valuable as a six-year-old root and,

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of course a wild 50-year-old root is incredibly valuable.

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He uses a lot of health related words.

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He says: doses body

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equilibrium health

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vitality and stamina.

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Did you notice how these words were combined together?

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Let's listen again.

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Mild doses every day is believed to keep the body in equilibrium and just to maintain general

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health and vitality and stamina.

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Dr McManus says, 'Mild doses every day is believed to keep the body in equilibrium'.

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The phrase 'mild doses' is a collocation.

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In English, some word combinations commonly go together. These combinations are called

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collocations.

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There is no particular reason for these words to go together. They just sound right to a

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native speaker, because of habit, history or usage.

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Collocations occur in both noun phrases like 'mild doses', and verb phrases such as to

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'keep the body in equilibrium'.

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Let's look at some common noun phrase collocations.

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We say 'high prices'.

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'High' collocates with 'prices'. We don't say 'large prices' or 'big prices', we say

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'high prices'.

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We say a 'tall building', not a 'high building'.

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Collocations are not just about the words that go together, but also the order they

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go in.

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We always say 'black and white', not white and black.

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We say 'salt and pepper', and 'hot and cold'.

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Another important collocation is the way we say 'directions'. English speakers always

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say 'north, south, east and west', in that order.

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The topic of today's story is a collocation as well - 'health and well-being'. These nouns

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are often used together, in this order.

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Listen to Dr McManus again. You'll hear him use a number of other collocations, such as

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'general health', 'valuable application', life-enhancing properties' and 'high prices'.

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Mild doses every day is believed to keep the body in equilibrium and just to maintain general

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health and vitality and stamina, and the other perhaps more valuable application is when

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someone's dying. It's believed to have life-enhancing properties, so because of that it commands

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very high prices.

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Choosing the right word combination will make your speech and writing sound more natural.

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Also, choosing the best collocation will enable you to express yourself more clearly and precisely.

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So today we've looked at the word 'say' for giving an example, narrowing down, quoting,

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and as a filler. We also looked at some collocations relating to health words.

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Don't forget that you can go to our website for the transcript, study notes and exercises

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for today's story.

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And I'll see you next time for Study English. Bye bye.

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