Prince Charles does the weather forecast with emphasis on BalmoralPrince Charles does the weather forecast with emphasis on Balmoral / dullhunk

The Power of Small Talk (1) 

Breakstone comments on the weather and is surprised when Umemura responds with a detailed account of upcoming conditions. Umemura explains the he's been following weather forecasts in order to make small talk, as a friend told him the weather was a common topic.
Collins cautions him that people will find such statements odd. Umemura admits he's uneasy with small talk and compliments Americans' skill at it. 

 NHK CD ラジオ 実践ビジネス英語 2013年4月号


■□■□ Words and Phrases ■□■□
  • How about...?
Kay Breakstone: How about this lovely spring weather?

Breakstone is using this expression to mean "Wow" about something. "Isn't it impressive/memorable/shocking?" We use it about things both the speaker and the listener know about or have experienced. 

How about that speech yesterday? Wasn't it inspiring? 
How about that meeting yesterday? It was really boring, wasn't it?


And it can also be used more in the sense of "What do you think about this thing that we both know or have experienced?" 
So how about this talk of a merger? Do you think it's a good idea? 


  • make for ...をもたらす、...のほうに(急速に)進む
Kay Breakstone: Sure makes for a pleasant change, doesn't it?

In this case make for means create or lead to. One or more elements in a certain situation created or led to the outcome X. 
Cool temperatures have made for slow sales of summer clothing. 
Changing trains three times makes for an inconvenient commute.

  • cold snap 急な冷え込み、突然の寒波
Umemura Seiji: However, the weather forecast predicts a cold snap with lower-than-average temperatures for this time of year. 

Here snap means a sudden spell of weather. I'd say we always use it regarding cold weather. I've never head it anybody talk about a warm snap.

cold spellとも言う。

We also use snap to mean something that can be accomplished very easily. 
This website makes comparing prices a snap. 
  • low-pressure trough 気圧の谷 /trɔ́ːf | trɔ́f/

  • meteorological update on ...についての最新の気象情報 
発音/miːtiərəlάdʒikəl | -lɔ́dʒ-/
Don't worry if you have trouble pronouncing meteorological. As you can see here even native speakers like me stumble over all those syllables. 

  • follow something closely ...を注意深く見守る、...を綿密にチェックする
Breakstone: I didn't realize you followed the weather so closely.

When we follow something we stay informed of its course, progress, the events related to it. 
Many people follow sports. Others follow technological developments. 

  • commendable 称賛に値する、感心な、立派な
Worthy of being commended, praised, Collins means. 
An official award or citation given in praise of something is often referred to as a commendation.

He received a commendation for exceeding his sales quota six months in a low.

  • to level with you  正直 [率直] に言って、正直なところ
Alyce Collins: But to level with you, Seiji, people will find it a bit strange if you come off like the weatherman.

To tell you the truth, Collins is saying, as if you were coming straight at someone on the same level, and not trying to evade things.

The company leveled with us about the need to cut jobs.


Likewise when something or someone is on the level, they're honest or true. 
Let's say someone offers you a very high interest rate on an investment. You might think they weren't on the level that the investment was fraudulent.

on a level playing field というフレーズもよく使われる。二国間の交渉などにおいて同じ条件でとか、同じ土俵でという意味で使われる。 

  • come off ((米)) (...のように) 見える [振る舞う]
Appear a certain way, Collins means, give a certain impression through one's actions. 
She comes off as very professional.
He came off as very disorganized.  

■□■□ Daily Exercise □■□■□

1. Seiji gives Kay a very ___ account of upcoming weather conditions.


ビニェットの中ではKay Breakstoneが"I didn't realize you followed the weather so closely."と言っている。follow something closelyで「...を注意深く見守る」

2. What does it mean when you level with someone?

You speak honestly to them.

to level with you「正直に言って、率直に言って」

3. Seiji isn't at ___ making casual conversation.


ビニェットでは梅村聖四がuncomfortableという単語を使っている。それに相当するのはisn't at ease。/iːz/