Silver lining

Lesson #
March 2, 2020

A “silver lining” refers to a bit of good in a bad situation.


Transcript

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Silver lining

The expression I have for you today is a silver lining. I’m going to tell you what a “lining” is, and then give you the full expression. A lining is usually the thin fabric that covers the inside of a garment. A garment is a piece of clothing. A common place to find a lining is in a sport coat or a suit coat for men. So you gentlemen out there—or you ladies with a gentleman in your life—check out your suit coat and look on the inside, the part that touches your shirt. There’s probably a silky-smooth fabric in that part—that is the lining.

There’s an old expression in English that goes like this, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” In this case, a cloud is a symbol of something dark and gloomy, something sad, something unpleasant. The silver lining is the part of a bad situation that is good. So the expression, “every cloud has a silver lining” means that you can find a little bit of good in any bad situation.

It’s common in speech to simply refer to a silver lining; you don’t need to mention the “cloud” because everyone knows what it means. Earlier in this episode, you heard me say this: There is a silver lining for travelers who keep their heads and assess the risks: they can get lower prices on hotels and cheaper flights. No doubt, the situation in countries like Thailand and Indonesia is bad. Even though they are not suffering directly from coronavirus, people are staying away out of fear of the virus. It’s safe to travel to those countries, but they’re hurting because of general unease.

That opens up an opportunity for people who want to travel and who know that it’s not too risky to do so. That opportunity is the one good thing about this crisis. I want to emphasize that when you say “silver lining,” you’re not minimizing the gravity of the situation. In fact, when you say “silver lining,” you’re acknowledging that the main part of the situation is pretty bad. But nevertheless, there can be something good about it.

Can you think of another silver lining to this crisis? I can think of one. Do you remember when we talked about the race to develop a vaccine for coronavirus? Researchers are attempting to create a DNA-based vaccine. That is something that has not been tried on such a large scale before. The race to develop the coronavirus will give vaccine researchers practice developing DNA-based vaccines. The work they do now under pressure may help develop other vaccines for other diseases in the future.

The silver lining in this situation is that we are going to learn more, as a society, about DNA-based vaccines. That doesn’t mean I’m happy that the work is necessary—far from it. But it is nevertheless a small positive effect from an overall bad situation.

For many people, losing their job is traumatic. It’s a terrible feeling to get the notice that your job is being eliminated or that you have been let go because they company doesn’t want you working there anymore. But for some people, there is a silver lining. They can take the occasion to start a new business or look for a job in a field they like better. It’s never good to lose a job, but the silver lining is that it gives you the opportunity to start a business or find something better.

Did you watch the Oscars this year? Netflix was hoping to have a big night; “The Irishman” was nominated for ten awards but came home empty-handed. Netflix wants to be taken seriously as a movie studio, and a big night at the Oscars would have given the streaming giant some much-needed validation. But it wasn’t to be, as the South Korean film “Parasite” cleaned up. But there is a silver lining for Netflix. The fact that the Oscars were given to an international film is a silver lining for Netflix, because Netflix is so strong with international films. Sure, Netflix didn’t win a lot this year. But they are so strong with international films, and international films are gaining greater acceptance at the Academy Awards. So there is some hope for next year. That is the silver lining for Netflix.

A friend of mine is going through a tough time with his family. One of his uncles has cancer and the prognosis isn’t very good: his uncle is probably going to die. In talking to him about it, though, he acknowledged that there is a silver lining to the situation. And that is, his family is becoming closer as a result. Family members who had drifted apart are now re-connecting in their support of my friend’s uncle. The situation is undoubtedly very sad, but the silver lining is that it is helping some family members to re-connect with one another.

Quote of the week

I’ve got a language-related quote of the week for you today. Before I read you the quote, I need to teach you a word, and that is “dialect.” A dialect is a regional variety of a language. Speakers of different dialects can usually—but not always—understand one another. Spanish has several dialects. European Spanish and the Spanish of Latin America are different dialects. The differences include pronunciation and the use of “vosotros” in Europe versus “ustedes” in the Americas. Even within Latin America, some regions use “vos” instead of “tú”. Regardless, though, almost any Spanish speaker can understand any other Spanish speaker around the world, even if they speak different dialects.

It’s different in China. Mandarin is the biggest dialect, but even within Mandarin, there are regional varieties. But about 35 percent of Chinese speakers speak dialects other than Mandarin—and not all are mutually intelligible. A Min dialect speaker and a Mandarin dialect speaker might not understand each other, for example.

So what is the difference between a “dialect” and a “language”? Here’s today’s quote, from the scholar Max Weinreich: “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.” Get it?

The point he’s making is that different “dialects” of Chinese are farther apart than the differences between, say, Spanish and Portuguese. So why are Spanish and Portuguese considered languages? Because Spain and Portugal had armies and navies.

The quote is not entirely serious, but it’s meant to draw attention to the fact that what we call a “language” versus a “dialect” is a little arbitrary and related as much to politics and warfare as to actual differences between writing and speech. “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.”


That’s all for today’s episode—written, recorded, and produced all in Chicago, since JR is here visiting.

Coming up on Thursday: we humans may have a new member of our collective family tree. For all of you who have read the book “Sapiens,” or if you’re interested in archaeology and the origins of the human race—this is the episode for you. That will be out on Thursday: don’t miss it.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, then you’ll love Plain English Plus+, our new membership. One of the best parts about it is the video lessons, which help you express more complicated ideas. I mentioned earlier that the video lesson for this episode is about how to add emphasis to a point you’re making with the phrase “not to mention.” If that sounds interesting, then you’d love exploring the more than 50 similar videos we have on our web site, just for Plain English Plus+ members. And we make two new video lessons each week—they’re each about ten minutes long, so really accessible and easy to follow. So if you think that would be helpful, come join us at PlainEnglish.com/plus.

¿Hablas español?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into Spanish. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

How can I access the translations?

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你说中国话?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Parlez-vous français?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Você fala português?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

日本語は話せますか?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Parli italiano?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Sen Türkçe konuşmayı biliyor musun?

The transcripts of Plain English lessons are available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation. Turkish translations are available starting at Lesson 278.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Mówisz po polsku?

The transcript of Plain English lessons are available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation. Polish translations are available starting at Lesson 278.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

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