Dialogue-main Text I Pre-Reading Questions General Reading Background Notes Text Comments on the Text Exercises
Dialogue-main Text II Text Comprehension
Questions on specific details 1 Pre-Reading Questions Think about the following questions before you read the text. 1. Does the title of the text strike you as unusual? Would you be inclined not to answer a telephone call at any time? Yes, it does. As a rule, any time the telephone rings, we answer it.
Questions on specific details 1 2. Does the title tell you what kind of writing the passage is, a narrative or an argument? Yes. The title suggests that the writer is expressing his opinion about not answering the telephone. Some of his opinions may be shared by others but some of his opinions may not. So this passage may well be an argument. Titles beginning with the preposition on are usually titles of argumentative writing, e.g., On Smoking, On Gambling, On Hygiene.
Questions on specific details 1 3. What do you think is the writer’s intention in writing this article? Is he commenting on some people’s unwillingness to answer the telephone or is he himself giving some reasons for not answering the telephone? Perhaps it is the writer’s intention to tell us that some people, including himself, are justified in not answering the telephone by presenting some of his reasons.
Questions on specific details 1 4. Can you imagine some of the things the writer might mention in his article? This is an open question. You may discuss the question with your classmates.
Questions on specific details 1 General Reading Go over the text rapidly once and then decide which of the following statements best sums up the content. ___ ___ ___ 1. It is not necessary to have a telephone because ill news travels just as fast as good news. 2. The writer states his reasons for not having a telephone. 3. The writer does not like the telephone at all. √
Questions on specific details 1 Background Notes public telephone box A public telephone box is a small structure furnished with a payphone. Today public telephone boxes become fewer and fewer largely due to the increased usage of mobile phones.
Questions on specific details 1 2. the Bible
Questions on specific details 1 The Bible is the account of God’s action in the world and his purpose with all creation. The writing of the Bible took place over sixteen centuries and is the work of over forty human authors. It is a quite amazing collection of 66 books with very different styles. This compilation of booklets contains an astonishing variety of literary styles. It provides many stories about the lives of good and bad people, about battles and journeys, about the life of Jesus along with letters written to groups of Christians that met in homes.
Dialogue-Text1 On Not Answering the Telephone If, at the end of a conversation somebody says to me, “As soon as I know, I’ll ring you up”, he is taking too much for granted. He is proposing to attempt the impossible. So I have to say, “I’m afraid you can’t. You see, I’m not on the telephone. I just haven’t got a telephone.”
Dialogue-Text2 Why don’t I have a telephone? Not because I pretend to be wise or pose as unusual. There are two chief reasons: because I don’t really like the telephone and because I find I can still work and play, eat, breathe and sleep without it. Why don’t I like the telephone? Because I think it is a pest and a time-waster. It may create unnecessary suspense and anxiety, as when you wait for an expected call that doesn’t come; or irritating delay, as when you keep ringing a number that is always engaged.
Dialogue-Text3 As for speaking in a public telephone box, that seems to me really horrible. You would not use it unless you were in a hurry, and because you are in a hurry you will find other people waiting before you. When you do get into the box, you are half asphyxiated by stale, unventilated air, flavoured with cheap face-powder and chain-smoking; and by the time you have begun your conversation your back is chilled by the cold looks of somebody who is fidgeting to take your place.
Dialogue-Text4 If you have a telephone in your own house, you will admit that it tends to ring when you least want it to ring; when you are asleep, or in the middle of a meal or a conversation, or when you are just going out, or when you are in your bath. Are you strong-minded enough to ignore it, to say to yourself, “Ah, well, it will all be the same in a hundred years’ time”? You are not. You think there may be some important news or message for you. Have you never rushed dripping from the bath, or chewing from the table, or dazed from the bed, only to be told that you are a wrong number?
Dialogue-Text5 Suppose you ignore the telephone when it rings, and suppose that, for once, somebody has an important message for you. I can assure you that if a message is really important it will reach you sooner or later. Think of the proverb: “Ill news travels apace.” I must say good news seems to travel just as fast. And think of the saying: “The truth will out.” It will.
Dialogue-Text6 Perhaps, when you take off the receiver, you give your number or your name. But you don’t even know whom you are giving it to! Perhaps you have been indiscreet enough to have your name and number printed in the telephone directory, a book with a large circulation, a successful book so often reprinted as to make any author envious,a book more in evidence than Shakespeare or the Bible, and found in all sorts of private and public places.
Dialogue-Text7 It serves you rightif you find it impossible to escape from some idle or inquisitive chatterbox, or from somebody who wants something for nothing, or from some reporter bent on questioning you about your own affairs or about the private life of some friend who has just eloped or met with a fatal accident.
Dialogue-Text8 But, you will say, you need not have your name printed in the telephone directory, and you can have a telephone which is only usable for outgoing calls. Besides, you will say, isn’t it important to have a telephone in case of sudden emergency — illness, accident or fire? Of course, you are right, but here in a thickly populated country like England one is seldom far from a telephone in case of dreadful necessity.
Dialogue-Text8 Is there any conclusion to be drawn from my obstinacy and wilfulness, my escapism, if you like to call it that? I think perhaps I had better try to justify myself by trying to prove that what I like is good. At least I have proved to myself that what many people think necessary is not necessary at all. I admit that in different circumstances — if I were a tycoon, for instance, or bed-ridden, I might find a telephone essential. But then if I were a secretary or taxi-driver I should find a typewriter or a car essential.
Dialogue-Text9 Let me put it another way: there are two things for which the English seem to show particular aptitude: one is mechanical invention, the other is literature. My own business happens to be with the use of words but I see I must now stop using them. I have just been handed a slip of paper to say that somebody is waiting to speak to me on the telephone. I think I had better answer it. After all, one never knows, it may be something important. By William Plomer (abridged)
ring sb. up ring sb. up: call someone on the telephone e.g.: I will ring her up when I reach home after the long journey. When is the best time to ring you up?
take sth. for granted take sth. for granted: expect something to be available all the time and forget that it is lucky to have it e.g.: Today young people take so many things for granted in this country — like having hot water whenever they need it. We take it for granted that our children will be better off than we are.
propose propose:v. suggest something as a plan or course of action e.g.: The government is about to propose some changes to some institutions soon. It was a hard decision for the president to propose the package solution.
attempt attempt:v. try to do something, especially something difficult e.g.: In this article the author attempts to explain what led up to the war. The only time that they attempted to do something like that was in the city of New York.
pose pose: v. behave in an insincere or exaggerated way to make a particular impression on other people e.g.: He criticized them for dressing outrageously and posing pretentiously. She loves to pose when men are around.
pest pest:n. an annoying thing or person e.g.: Tell that boy to stay away from here. He is such a pest. That child is an absolute pest. He keeps ringing the doorbell and then running away.
suspense suspense:n. a feeling or state of excitement or anxiety about something that is going to happen very soon e.g.: Come on then, tell me what happened; the suspense is killing me. The patient’s parents waited in great suspense for the doctor’s opinion.
irritating irritating:a. annoying e.g.: She told me that Tom was the most irritating man she had ever met. Students’ habitual tardiness is irritating to their teachers.
engaged engaged:a. (a telephone or a telephone line) already being used by someone else so that the person one is phoning cannot be reached e.g.: I tried to call you back but you were engaged. The number is engaged at the moment. Try again in five minutes.
horrible horrible:a. very unpleasant and often frightening, worrying, or upsetting e.g.: I have a horrible feeling that we’re going to miss the plane. August is so horrible that even dedicated psychiatrists abandon posts and patients for the entire month.
asphyxiate asphyxiate:v. prevent someone from breathing normally, usually so that they die e.g.: It was reported that an old man died in his bath, asphyxiated by the fumes from a gas water-heater. Unfortunately, all the people working in the coalmine were asphyxiated by the bad gas.
stale stale:a. (air) not fresh or pleasant, (food) no longer fresh or good to eat e.g.: I did this to remove the horrible stale cigarette smell from our car — the previous owners smoked heavily in it. The owner of the bakery had to empty sacks of stale rye bread into the vat.
unventilated unventilated:a. no fresh air getting into (a room or building) e.g.: That explosion was set off by an accumulation of gas in an unventilated tunnel. She asked me to wear protective gloves and never use cleaning products in an unventilated area.
chill chill:v. make sb. feel very cold; suddenly frighten someone, especially by seeming very cruel or violent e.g.: Soon after I sat on the marble seat in the wintry garden, it was beginning to chill me. The anger in his face chilled her.
fidget fidget:v. keep moving one’s hands or feet, especially because he or she is bored or nervous e.g.: One myth people believe is that we fidget more when we lie. Actually, the opposite is true. People don’t actually fidget or look away when they’re lying.
strong-minded strong-minded: a. not easily influenced by other people to change what you believe or want [= determined] e.g.: He is so strong-minded that nothing can bring him to his knees. The strong-minded rarely follow the crowd.
dazed dazed:a. unable to think clearly, especially because of a shock, accident, etc. e.g.: At the end of the long interview I was dazed and exhausted. The frightened girl looked dazed and remained speechless for the rest of the day.
apace apace:ad. happening quickly e.g.: The business has been growing apace for the last year. If red the sun begins his race, expect that rain will flow apace.
indiscreet indiscreet:a. careless about what one says or does, especially by talking about things which should be kept secret e.g.: Making an exceptionally high profit is sometimes indiscreet and asking for trouble. One indiscreet remark at the wrong moment could ruin the whole plan.
inquisitive inquisitive:a. asking too many questions and trying to find out too many details about something or someone; interested in a lot of different things and wanting to find out more about them e.g.: Excuse me, I do not want to seem inquisitive, but what exactly are you doing? We still have a lot to learn about life, medicine, and healing but we need to approach these things with an open, inquisitive mind.
chatterbox chatterbox:n. someone, especially a child, who talks too much e.g.: My aunt is a chatterbox who never shuts up. I remember when I was studying in college, all my professors acted like chatterboxes repeating zero tolerance for plagiarism in any writing assignments and academic papers in any course.
fatal fatal: a. resulting in someone’s death e.g.: This type of allergy can very occasionally be fatal. Nervousness or anxiety is in most cases a fatal killer of success.
obstinacy obstinacy:n. resolute adherence to one’s own ideas or desires e.g.: I resisted their proposal with obstinacy. Sheer obstinacy prevented him from apologizing.
willfulness willfulness:n. the trait of being prone to disobedience and lack of discipline e.g.: I refuse to stand by and see the company allowed to run aground because of one person’s willfulness. For most parents, occasional willfulness is tolerable, but continual willfulness can create a problem as it quickly gathers shaping power of its own.
escapism escapism:n. an inclination to retreat from unpleasant realities through diversion or fantasy e.g.: Suicide is regarded as the ultimate act of escapism by some people. Books were a form of escapism from the real world.
justify justify:v. show or prove that something is reasonable or necessary e.g.: I don’t have to justify myself to you or anyone else. Many reasons have been put forward to justify the imposition of censorship.
aptitude aptitude:n. natural ability or skill, especially in learning e.g.: In language learning it is attitude, not aptitude, that determines success. He has demonstrated a great aptitude for carpentry skills.
slip slip:n. a small or narrow piece of paper e.g.: The odd thing is, when the poster arrived, there was a slip of paper telling me there was no receipt included. My friend wrote down his address and telephone number on a slip of paper.
Why don’t I have a telephone Why don’t I have a telephone? Not because I pretend to be wise or pose as unusual. Here is an ordinary question followed by the writer’s own answers and explanations. The ordinary question and answer is a rhetorical device to begin a paragraph or to organize small units of an essay. The second question in the same paragraph “Why don’t I like the telephone?” leads to further explanations on the part of the writer.
Ill news travels apace Ill news travels apace. We may also say: Bad news has wings. Bad news travels quickly. Ill news flies fast.