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New Concept English 3-18

18. Porpoises


What would you say is the main characteristic of porpoises?


There has long been a superstition among mariners that porpoises will save drowning men by pushing them to the surface, or protect them from sharks by surrounding them in defensive formation. Marine Studio biologists have pointed out that, however intelligent they may be,  it is probably a mistake to credit dolphins with any motive of life-saving. On the occasions when they have pushed to shore an unconscious human being they have much more likely done it out of curiosity or for sport, as in riding the bow waves of a ship. In 1928 some porpoises were photographed working like beavers to push ashore a waterlogged mattress.  If, as has been reported, they have protected humans from sharks, it may have been because curiosity attracted them and because the scent of a possible meal attracted the sharks. Porpoises and sharks are natural enemies. It is possible upon such an occasion a battle ensued, with the sharks being driven away or killed. 


Whether it be a bird, fish, or beast, the porpoise is intrigued by anything that is alive. They are constantly after the turtles, who peacefully submit to all sorts of indignities. One young calf especially enjoyed raising a turtle to the surface with his snout, and then shoving him across the tank like an aquaplane. Almost any day a young porpoise may be seen trying to turn a 300-pound sea turtle over by sticking his snout under the edge of his shell and pushing up for dear life. This is not easy, and may require two porpoises working together. In another game, as the turtle swims across the oceanarium, the first porpoise swoops down from above and butts his shell with his belly. This knocks down the turtle several feet. He no sooner recovers his equilibrium than the next porpoise comes along and hits him another crack. Eventually the turtle has been butted all the way to the floor of the tank. He is now satisfied merely to try to stand up, but as soon as he does so a porpoise knocks him flat. The turtle at last gives up by pulling his feet under his shell and the game is over. 



There has long been a view among Chinese that, “Spare rod, spoil the child.” 


credit sb. with (doing) sth

to believe or admit that someone has a quality, or has done sth. good

Do credit me with a little intelligence



She was found alive but unconscious. 

knock/beat sb unconscious

be unconscious of sth


to not realize what is happening:

not know, not realize, have no idea, be unaware

not be aware, have no knowledge of, 

unbekown to sb., little did I know 

for all I know, be unconscious of



sci = know





likely to do/be sth

Children who live in the country’s rural areas are very likely to be poor. 

more/less/most/least likely

Young drivers are far more likely to have accidents than older drivers. 


It is more than likely (=almost certain) that the votes will have to be counted again. 

It could have been an accident, but that was hardly likely (=not very likely). 

He could offer no likely explanation when I asked him. 


eager beaver; sb. who is too keen and works harder than they should. 


enthusiastic, keen, eager, be full of enthusiasm, be/get excited about sth, be raring to go, zealous


ensue: to happen after or as a result of sth


ensue from 

problems that ensue from food and medical shortages


to happen after sth else

follow, come after, ensue, on the heels of sth, in the wake of sth. 


assure: tell sb. positively or confidently

ensure: to make sure or certain, insure

assuage: make sth. less severe, soothe



Whether … or: be … 


All substances, whether they may be gaseous, liquid or solid, are made up of atoms. 

All substances, be they gaseous, liquid or solid, are made up of atoms. 

Tears, be they of sorrow, anger or joy, typically make Americans feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. 





Other people’s houses always intrigue her. 


to make sb interested

interest, get sb interested, fascinate, intrigue, rekindle/revive interest


submit to: to agree to obey a person, group, set of rules, esp. when you have no choice. [=give in]

Derek has agreed to submit to questioning. 


submit an application/claim/proposal: to give a plan, piece of writing etc to someone in authority for them to consider or approve

All applications must be submitted by Monday. 



the indignity of doing sth. 


Two of the diplomats suffered the indignity of being arrested. 


the final (ultimate/crowning) indignity


the feeling of being ashamed

shame, disgrace, humiliation, indignity, lose face, stigma


for dear life 

If you run, fight, hold on etc, for dear life, you do it as fast or as well as you can because you are afraid. 

She grasped the side of the boat and hung on for dear life. 


equilibrium: equilibria


The government is anxious not to upset the economic equilibrium. 

She struggled to recover her equilibrium. 


crisis, crises

datum, data

medium, media

basis, bases

curriculum, curricula

index, indices

thesis, theses


appendix, appendices

criterion, criteria

memorandum, memoranda 

phenomenon, phenomena

alumna, alumnae

alumnus, alumni