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Talk the Talk:
English Speech Is Within Your Reach

This week: Table Talk
by Victor Greeson

Since the food - and the eating style - of every country is diferent, the language of food - of buying food, preparing it for storage, storing it, cooking it, eating it, and so on - is also distinctive to each country. This week, we look at some language you may hear used in people's homes, around the kitchen and around the dining table, when preparing and eating a meal. In a future column, we'll look at the perils of eating out at an American restaurant.

If any word or phrase is unfamiliar to you, just click it.

Marc, Heather, and Damien are bantering while they all prepare to eat

Marc: Do you need us to help in the kitchen, Damien?
Heather: (to Marc) Hey, thanks for volunteering me!
Damien: Yeah - could you make me a better chef?
Heather: We're only offering to help - not to perform miracles.
Damien: You really don't have to do anything - you're guests, after all.
Marc: S'okay. It's fun to putter around in the kitchen.
Heather: Plus, this way we can make sure you don't give us food poisoning.
Damien: Cool. Well, uh... Let's see. You could get the greens ready for the salad.
Marc: What!?! Veggies!?!
Damien: What? You have issues with veggies?
Marc: No, I don't. They don't bother me, I don't bother them.
Heather: Ah. (To Damien) Since Carnivore Boy here won't touch the dreaded veggies, I guess I'll take care of those. Better find something to take his mind off the green manace in the meanwhile.
Damien: Well...

Eating out is eating a meal at a restaurant, as opposed to eating in your home, or at someone else's home.

To banter is to talk lightly, and with a superficial hostilty.

Once again, we have to deal with the American habit of forming contractions. S'okay is a shortened version of "It's okay".

Plus can mean "also", "as well as", or "furthermore", plus its usual meaning from math.

Cool is a cool word. It means that one approves of something. It can be an adjective: "That's a cool car." It can describe a general attitude: "Meet you at seven?" "OK, that's cool." It can also be used by itself to indicate a positive response: "The Clippers beat the Lakers." "Cool." "I'll pick you up at six." "Cool."

Well, Uh... and Let's see. are all basically space-fillers. They allow the speaker to collect their thoughts before they say something meaningful.

Greens can refer to the above-ground part of a root vegetable (as in beet greens, or mustard greens) or, sometimes, to any leafy vegetable. The leafy ingredients of a salad are sometimes called salad greens. Oddly enough, greens don't have to be green, and not all green vegetable - let alone all green foods - count as greens.

Salad refers to an assortment of raw vegetables served with dressing and other toppings. The main ingredients are usually lettuce and other leafy vegetables. However, the word salad is also used as part of the name of other cold dishes that feature an assortment of ingredients, such as potato salad, fruit salad, pasta salad, and so on. The word salad by itself, though, always refers to the leafy kind.

What, like most "simple" words, has hundreds of uses. Is the dialogue above, it's first used by Marc to protest the presence of vegetables - a humorous expression of outrage - and then by Damien to challenge Marc's point.

Veggies is short for "vegetables".

The word issues is an ironic borrowing from the language of psychotherapy. There, a therapist or counselor may work with a patient to help that patient work through, or resolve their issues - for example, with anger (anger management issues), with their family, and so on. Issues is often used humorously - for exmple, one might jokingly suggest that a friend is out of line by saying "Dude, you've got issues."

Do you still have unanswered questions about this topic -- or about anything else? Is there something that you would like to see an article about? Do you have advice, ideas, or experiences you would like to share with other international students? Let us know -- send us a message at: CityHall@istudentcity.com

This week: Idioms and Imagery
Back Issues
Table Talk

Shop Talk

Talk Turkey

Talk The Vote


Spanish Roots: Why American English Is American (II)

Talking College

Native Roots: Why American English Is American (I)

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Life in 'Hell'

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