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What Does It Mean When Something Is 'For Good' or Offered 'On a Plate'?

AA: I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble, and this week on Wordmaster: we answer some listener questions.

RS: Starting with this one from Rajpal Rawal in India, who sends us two sentences with questions about pronunciation -- more specifically, about the reductions that take place in spoken American English.

AA: Here is the first sentence: "I would not mention it." I would not mention it. The question is: Is it correct to keep the d at the end of "would" silent in rapid speech? Well, maybe the best thing we can do is model it, so you can listen for yourself:

RS: "I wouldn't mention it." "I wouldn't mention it."

AA: "I wouldn't mention it." Well, you can still slightly detect the 'd' once you form the contraction. And, by the way, most Americans are likely to use the contraction "wouldn't" rather than say "I would not mention it," unless of course, they were angry and speaking slowly on purpose.

RS: Rajpal also asks about this sentence: "That won't help." The question here is: Is it OK to keep the t at the end of both "that" and "won't" silent while speaking rapidly?

Well, listen again, first slowly and then fast.

AA: "That won't help."

RS: Now fast.

AA: "That won't help."

RS: Slowly.

AA: "That won't help."

RS: Fast.

AA: "That won't help."

RS: The t at the end of "that" is pretty much silent. But in this particular case we do hear the t at the end of won't.

AA: Next question. Iulian Grigoras in Romania asks what the expression "for good" means in the sentence: "He left the country for good."

RS: That's easy. When you do something "for good," that means you do it permanently.

Now Jeffrey Liu, an English learner from China, wants to know what it means to be offered something "on a plate." And he's not talking about a dinner plate.

AA: Nevertheless, imagine you are a guest at a dinner. All you have to do is sit there and wait until someone puts a platter of food down in front of you.

RS: Get the idea? Well, for an official explanation, we checked the newest addition to our small collection of slang dictionaries. It's the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, first published this year simultaneously in Britain and North America. It defines "on a plate" or "on a platter" this way: "easily acquired; with little or no effort required."

AA: Now speaking of slang, a listener named Java writes: "Dear slang casters, I have a suggestion as an English teacher. As you may know the best kind of learning takes place after a brainstorm, and what comes after fills the gaps made by the storm."

So Java suggests that one way to get a brainstorm going is to start by discussing the slang used in the top ten U.S. movies. And to fill the gaps in the minds of music lovers, Java writes that you can also brainstorm about the slang used in the top ten U.S. songs.

RS: So let's give that a try. We asked our buddy Larry London in VOA Music Mix what the top song in the country is this week on the Billboard charts. It's "S.O.S. (Rescue Me)" by Rihanna. See if you can catch some of the slang in the lyrics. We'll explain at the end.


"This time please someone come and rescue me
"'Cause you on my mind, it's got me losing it
"I'm lost, you got me looking for the rest of me,
"Got the best of me, so now I'm losing it
"Just your presence and I second guess my sanity

"Yes it's a lesson, it's unfair, you stole my vanity
"My tummy's up in knots so when I see you I get so hot
"My common sense is out the door, can't seem to find the lock
"Take on me (uh huh) you know inside you feel it right
"Take me on, I could just die up in your arms tonight.
"I'm out with you, you got me head over heels
"Boy you keep me hanging on the way you make me feel

"S.O.S. please someone help me.
"It's not healthy... for me to feel this way"

AA: OK, S.O.S. is the international distress signal, so that's not really slang. But if you were taking notes on the song, there's "losing it" ...

RS: Meaning, losing control.

AA: "Tummy up in knots" ...

RS: Literally, a nervous stomach.

AA: Common sense "out the door" ...

RS: Out the door. Gone. Get lost.

AA: Head over heels ...

RS: Really excited.

AA: Which keeps her "hanging on" ...

RS: Keeps her alive. And that's Wordmaster for this week. You can keep us hanging on with your questions. Our e-mail address is

AA: And our segments are all on our Web site, With Rosanne Skirble, I'm Avi Arditti.

MUSIC: "S.O.S. (Rescue Me)"/Rihanna