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  • There are reports of major damage in the Pacific island of Tonga,

  • after a huge volcanic eruption and widespread tsunami.

  • This is BBC News Review from BBC Learning English.

  • I'm Rob and joining me to talk about this story is Roy.

  • Hello Roy.

  • Hello Rob and hello everybody.

  • If you would like to test yourself on the vocabulary around this story,

  • all you need to do is head to our website

  • bbclearningenglish.com to take a quiz.

  • But now, let's hear more about this story from this BBC News report:

  • So, a massive volcanic eruption and tsunami hit Tonga,

  • an island nation in the Pacific Ocean.

  • At the moment, due to this event,

  • it has been difficult to get news from Tonga.

  • New Zealand has sent a plane to look at the level of damage,

  • and aid agencies and charities are planning to try and help,

  • for fear that a number of people are without shelter and water.

  • And we have three words and expressions from the news headlines

  • to help us talk about this story.

  • What are they please, Roy?

  • Yes, we do. We have 'cut off', 'step up' and 'go dark'.

  • That's 'cut off', 'step up' and 'go dark'.

  • OK. Could we have a look at the first news headline please, Roy?

  • OK. So, our first news headline is from the Independent and it reads:

  • That's 'cut off' — isolated; unable to be contacted.

  • Yes. So, 'cut off' is usually seen as a phrasal verb, which is separable.

  • First word: 'cut' — C-U-T. Second word: 'off' — O-F-F.

  • And, as I said, it's separable so you can 'cut somebody or something off'

  • or you can 'cut off' something or somebody.

  • And it means to... to be out of contact or to stop contact.

  • OK. Now, I'm familiar with those two words.

  • We know what a 'cut' is.

  • That's something you can do with...

  • with scissors: like 'cut' your hair.

  • And 'off', of course, is the opposite of 'on'.

  • So, it's — to stop something you turn it 'off'.

  • Yeah. So, for example, 'cut' is about severing a communication

  • or severing contact, if you like.

  • And in the sense of 'cut off', what it means in the headline

  • is that all communications have been stopped for a period of time.

  • Now, we also use 'cut off' when we're talking about utilities,

  • like electricity or water;

  • they get 'cut off' sometimes, don't they?

  • Yes, they do. If you don't pay a bill for your internet,

  • the provider may decide to 'cut you off': to stop your supply.

  • Getting back to the, kind of, natural environment,

  • we can use the expression 'cut off' when,

  • maybe, a village gets 'cut off' because the road is blocked with snow;

  • or if there's a storm, an island might get 'cut off' —

  • there's no way of getting the ships in because the sea is rough.

  • That's when we can say somewhere is 'cut off'. Is that right?

  • Yeah. I mean, in that sense, it's more about, sort of, a lack of access,

  • or again it's that idea of communicationbeing able to contact somebody

  • but a village, in that sense, 'cut off' by the snow

  • means that there is no way to get to the village or for people to leave.

  • It's 'cut off', isolated, from the outside world.

  • Now, there is also a very...

  • another interesting way to use 'cut off'.

  • It's when somebody is speaking

  • and they're trying to say something like, for example, tell a story

  • and the other person stops them from speaking

  • Oh yeah! Can I just 'cut you off' there please, Roy?

  • Well, you did, didn't you?

  • I don't want to hear one of your stories again, OK?

  • But it's about my dog!

  • I'm going to 'cut you off' there.

  • Great example! So, you stopped me from speaking.

  • You ended my communication again, if you like.

  • Yeah, I'm going to 'cut you off' again

  • and let's have a summary of that expression:

  • Very good.

  • We've talked quite a bit about coronavirus here on News Review.

  • Now, one of the strains that developed last year

  • meant that the UK was 'cut off' —

  • there's that expression again: 'cut off' —

  • because we weren't allowed to travel.

  • So, how can we watch that video again please, Roy?

  • All you need to do is click the link in the description below.

  • Just down below. Thank you.

  • Right, it's time now to look at our next news headline please.

  • OK. So, the next news headline comes from the Taiwan News and it reads:

  • So, that's 'step up' — increase intensity of something.

  • OK. So, it's another phrasal verb: 'step up'.

  • First word: 'step' — S-T-E-P. Second word: 'up'.

  • And it means to increase the intensity of something:

  • for example, 'step up' efforts.

  • Quite commonly we say: 'Step up my effort.'

  • Or: 'Step up our efforts.'

  • OK. And also another example, I guess,

  •   when a situation becomes dangerous,

  • we might 'step up' the security.

  • Yeah, that's correct.

  • So, for example, maybe there's a bomb threat

  • and people are worried,

  • so they decide to increase the number of security guards:

  • they 'step up' security.

  • OK. Now, my boss said the other day that I should 'step up' and take control.

  • I mean, what does he mean by that?

  • Well, this is another meaning of the word 'step up'

  • and it basically means to assume responsibility or to...

  • to take responsibility.

  • So, for example, he was telling you to take responsibility for the situation.

  • OK. Message understood.

  • And finally, you can have 'a step-up' or 'a big step-up' in your career as well.

  • Yeah, great example.

  • So, for example, maybe you're a worker

  • just a, sort of, middle, mid-level worker,

  • middle management — I don't know.

  • And suddenly you get promoted several levels

  • to become the CEO of the company.

  • It's 'a big step-up' in your career.

  • The step up in that sense is hyphenated and it's a noun,

  • so the hyphen comes: 'step-up'.

  • Great. Thanks for that explanation of 'step up'.

  • Let's have a summary:

  • We've made a programme about the active and passive voice.

  • So, Roy, tell us how we can watch it.

  • Well, all you need to do is click the link in the description below.

  • Just down below. Great.

  • Let's have a look now at your next news headline please.

  • Yes. OK. So, our next headline comes from 9News Australia and it reads:

  • That's 'go dark' — stop communications, especially for a long period of time.

  • Yes. So, this is a two-word expression.

  • First word: 'go' — G-O. Second word: 'dark' — D-A-R-K.

  • And it means to be out of communications or to stop communication.

  • OK. And I've heard this expression used quite a bit in spy movies

  • when, you know, spies 'go dark'.

  • Yeah. Great example.

  • So, for example, maybe a spy or a secret agent is on a secret mission

  • and we say that they are undercover,

  • where they are on this secret mission pretending to be somebody different,

  • and then suddenly they are worried

  • that somebody has discovered that they are a spy,

  • so they decide to 'go dark',

  • which means they stop communications.

  • Effectively they... they disappear.

  • Yeah, just to clarify, they're not 'going dark' by turning the lights off.

  • No, no. An interesting expression there

  • is when we talk about their secret identity being discovered,

  • we say they have a cover identity and then we say:

  • 'Their cover has been blown.'

  • To blow somebody's cover, which means to reveal them,

  • and that is the reason that they disappear.

  • They stop communicating.

  • They 'go dark'.

  • But we're not talking about spies here, are we?

  • We're getting back to this news story here.

  • No, we're not. So, for example,

  • in the case of the headline when we're talking about Tonga 'going dark',

  • it basically means, because of this situation,

  • their communications have gone down.

  • It means that they're no longer able to communicate.

  • Now, another way that we maybe use 'go dark' is,

  • for example, a celebrity on social media.

  • If they stop using social media for a while,

  • we could say that the celebrity has 'gone dark'.

  • Or in terms of a company, if they cease or stop activities,

  • or again communication,

  • we may say that that company has 'gone dark',

  • but it's... it's more commonly used to talk about general communication.

  • Great. Yeah, and of course, at the end the day,

  • when the sun sets, it 'goes dark', doesn't it?

  • It does. No more daylightthe end of the day.

  • Suddenly the world 'goes dark'.

  • OK. Let's have a summary of that expression:

  • It's time now to have a recap of the expressions we've talked about today.

  • Could you tell us what they are please, Roy?

  • Yes. We had 'cut off' — isolated; unable to be contacted.

  • We had 'step up' — increase intensity of something.

  • And we had 'go dark' — stop communications,

  • especially for a long time.