Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Language and Indirect Speech (Listening)

The following talk by psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker is quite similar to IELTS Listening Section 4.(This lecture does contain references to sex and dating, which are not likely to appear on the IELTS exam!)

The specific topic of the lecture is indirect language. He explains why people often avoid making commands or asking directly for something. It is partly due to politeness, but also due to the speaker's wish to avoid embarrassment and awkwardness.

Watching this video may help you to understand English-speakers better!

Before listening, look at the vocabulary words below. If necessary use an English to English Dictionary to find their meanings.

hostage        proffer        bribe       euphemism        infer

veiled         threat         literal     metaphorical     ethos

ubiquity       dominance      altruism    anomalous        cheeky

awkwardness    reciprocity    naive       innuendo    deniability

Now read the fill-in-the-blank questions below the video and look for key words. Make a guess about what word might logically complete each sentence. Then listen as many times as necessary to complete the exercise. Some words will appear within the video, so you'll have an advantage if you're a quick reader. It's ok if you don't understand everything! 

Complete the sentences below with NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS.

1. Language is a ______________ into social relations.

2. A kidnapper has a hostage tied up in the back seat of a car and, inconveniently, is ______________ by the police because he's missing ______________.

3. So the puzzle is why are bribes, ______________, seductions,solicitations and threats so often veiled when both parties presumably know _________________ they mean?

4. Behaviour that is acceptable in one ________________ type can be anomalous in another.

5. You wouldn't go up to your boss and ________________ to a prawn off his plate because what you can get away with in a communality relationship you can't get away with in a ________________ relationship.

6. One remaining ________________, which is why we resort to indirectness even when there is no ________________.

7. What is the psychological status of an overture that ________________ to be out there or on the record that makes it feel so much more ________________ than a veiled overture that is conveyed indirectly?

8. When a little boy said the emperor is ________________ he was not telling anyone anything that they did not already know and even if they could not see with their ________________.

9. Once again, that gave them the collective power to _______________ the dominance of the emperor through their  _______________

10. The moral of the story is that explicit language is an ________________ of creating mutual knowledge.

To read a transcript of the talk, and to check your answers, CLICK HERE.

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