Give way

When one system replaces another, the old one 'gives way' to the new one

Today's story: Tony Bennett
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Give way

Let’s talk about what it means to “give way.” This is a phrasal verb, it has multiple meanings. But today, we’ll talk about just one meaning, which is to describe a change in the way things happen or the way things are.

When we use it in this sense, we mean that one system, or one way of doing things, replaces another. The old system gives way to the new system. The old way of doing things gives way to the new way of doing things.

Today I said that in the 1960s, the age of the Great American Songbook gave way to rock and roll . That means, rock and roll became the new way of doing things, rock and roll replaced the older jazz club songs. Singers like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett—they were the big stars in the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s.

But then—the British invasion. The British invasion was a time in the mid-1960s when British bands suddenly became popular in America. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, and more—they all started in Britain and became very popular in the U.S. And this wasn’t a fad. It became clear that the most popular styles were not going to be “The Way You Look Tonight,” but songs like “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones—a totally different vibe.

So I said today, the Great American Songbook gave way to rock and roll. It gave up its dominant position and something else took its place. One system replaced another. The old jazz and musical songs gave way to rock and roll.

“Globalization.” Do you remember that term? This term described a global movement where there was much more trade between countries, where goods and services could be made in many places around the world, where costs came down, but a lot of manufacturing jobs in rich countries were shifted to lower-wage countries like China.

Well, that’s kind of over. The age of globalization has given way to a much more protective, insular world. The U.S. and China are engaged in a high-tech economic rivalry. After the pandemic, multinational companies are bringing jobs and functions closer to home. They want to make their supply chains less complicated. Populist politicians want to promote industries inside their countries’ borders. Globalization has given way to a much more protected system of international trade. One system replaced another.

Will we remember the 2020s as the decade in which gasoline-powered cars gave way to electric cars? We might. It’s only 2023. Carmakers are introducing more and more electric vehicles. Batteries are lasting longer. Charging stations are still a problem . But in Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, gas-powered vehicles are giving way to electric ones. Almost 90 percent of new cars sold in Norway are electric. So I think it’s safe to say that gas-powered vehicles are giving way to electric vehicles at least in Norway.

Perhaps, perhaps we will look back on the 2020s as the decade in which gas-powered vehicles gave way to electric vehicles. Perhaps we will recognize this decade as the one in which the system changed. Who knows.

See you next time!

All right, that’s all for today. This was Plain English lesson number 597. It seems like just yesterday we were doing number 500 and now we’re almost at 600!

Anyway, you know, you can find all the lesson resources for today’s episode at PlainEnglish.com/597. That is thanks to JR, the producer. He makes sure that’s always there for you, bright and early every Monday and Thursday morning.

By the way! I keep forgetting to tell you this. One of the most-requested features has been a PDF of each lesson. How can I download a PDF of the lesson? I got that question all the time. And I never made it a priority because I would never have wanted it. But a lot of you wanted it, so who am I to stand in the way of what you, in the audience, want?

So, now each lesson—not just the new ones, by the way, I mean each and every one of our 597 lessons, can be downloaded as a PDF right from the transcript page. There’s a link on the right-hand side of the transcript. Find any lesson, any lesson you want, from our catalog of 597 stories, and almost 597 expressions, and you’ll see on the right-hand side, a bright blue button that says “Download PDF.”

That is my gift to you, as a thank-you for being a great podcast audience.

Next lesson, remember, is on Monday, August 14, 2023. See you then.

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Story: Tony Bennett