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THE LANGUAGE OF DESCRIPTION: A dog’s life — in numbers


Spotlight - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 6/2019 vom 08.05.2019

lt@Infografiken, Diagramme und Tabellen sind im Idealfall selbsterklärend. Aber wie übersetzt man die dargestellten Zahlen in Sprache? Könnten Sie auf Englisch beschreiben, was Sie da sehen? VANESSA CLARK hilft Ihnen dabei.


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If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about a graph? Graphs, charts and other infographics can show complex statistics in a simple form. They can tell a whole story, if we know how to read them, and if we know the right words to describe them properly. The ability to talk about statistics in English is a key skill in many jobs. The ability to describe a graph, chart or ...

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... table is also required in the academic option of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. On the following pages, you can find out how to talk about various types of info graphics and practise your skills as you go along.

A pie chart: a typical day for Finlay

A pie chart is a good way to show proportions, or shares. The information always adds up to a complete whole, such as 24 hours or 100 per cent. The name comes from the sort of pie that we eat in slices. The pie chart on page 40 shows what Finlay, a very good doggy friend of mine, does in the course of a typical day.

A doughnut chart: another typical day for Finlay

The same information can also be presented in a ring shape. Our pie becomes a doughnut, but the statistics remain the same.

A bar chart: popular pets

A bar chart shows the popularity of different categories, so that it is easy to see their ranking (i.e. their relative positions, from first to last). The numbers don’t have to add up to 100 per cent, as some respondents may appear in more than one category (for example, people with more than one pet), or in no categories at all (people with no pets). The bar chart above shows what percentage of people in the UK own what kind of pet.

Answers

3. Popularity
A. cat
B. birds, guinea pigs, hamsters
C. rabbit
D. cats, rabbits
AE. dog

4. Ranking
A. in joint first place
B. the third most popular category
C. three times as popular as
D. by a margin of 10 per cent
E. equally popular

A double bar chart: cats and dogs

Sometimes, it is necessary to compare two sets of data in a single graphic image; for example, to compare the opinions of men and women, or to compare data for two different years. In these cases, a double bar chart can be used, such as the one at the bottom of the page, which compares opinions about cats and dogs among ten of my pet-owning friends.

“Number” or “amount”?

• The number of people (countable nouns)
⋅ theamount of money (uncountable nouns)

Opinion polls
Our chart comparing cats and dogs represents the results of a small opinion poll. When talking about this kind of data, it’s helpful to know some key verbs for reporting opinions (see exercise 6 below).

Answers

5. Comparing
A. Compared to
B. Slightly more
C. Significantly more
D. An equal number of
E. While

6. Opinions
A. agree
B. express
C. seen
D. regarded

A graph showing change over a period of time: how many pets?

A graph like the one at the top of this page allows us to see the changes that take place over a period of time. The curve shows upward and downward trends, high points and low points.

7. Up and down
Read the following statements about the graph above and choose the right synonym (1–5) for each of the highlighted verbs.

A. From 2009 to 2012, the number of petsfluctuated around the 65-million mark.
B. From 2012 to 2013, the pet populationgrew .
C. The populationpeaked in 2013.
D. Overall, the number of pets hasdeclined since 2013.
E. The number of petsremained stable in 2015 and 2016.

1. stayed more or less the same
2. reached a high point
3. went up and down
4. increased
5. decreased

Large and small changes

In exercise 7, you practised how to describe a direction of growth (up or down). It’s also useful to have some adjectives (and their partner adverbs) to describe the degree of change (large or small) and the speed of change (fast or slow). You can practise these in exercise 8.

8. Large and small changes
Read the statements below from my pet-owning friends and decide if the changes they describe are large or small, fast or slow.

A. Our puppy grewsignificantly during the first weeks of his life.
B. Our vet’s bills have risenconsiderably recently.
C. The cost of our pet insurance rosenegligibly year.
D. I am doingnoticeably more exercise than before.
E. My husband isgradually starting to like the cat.
F. Our kids’ interest in the dog droppedsharply after the first few weeks.

Answers

7. Up and down
A–3
B–4
C–2
D–5
E–1
8. Large and small changes
A. large change
B. large change
C. small change
D. large change
E. slow change
F. fast change

Compare and contrast: parents and children

Now, let’s bring together some of the different words and phrases from these pages, and you can test yourself on what you’ve learned. Maria and her family got their dog last June. The graph at the bottom of this page shows how much time and effort her teenage children have put into looking after the family pet, compared to the parents.

9. Test yourself What does the graph tell you? Complete the text on the right with the words and phrases you have just learned, which are also contained in the following list.

an equal amount of | compared to | decreased | dropped dramatically | gradually | how much time | less sharply | low point | remained stable | significantly | six times as long | spent caring

Answers

9. Test yourself
A. how much time
B. spent caring
C. significantly
D. compared to
E. an equal amount of
F. dropped dramatically
G. low point
H. remained stable
I. decreased
J. less sharply
K. gradually
L. six times as long

Author Vanessa Clark would like to thank her pet-owning friends for their help with this article.


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@@Illustrationen: majiveka, Dos GatosStudio, Ellika, chipmunk, Airin..dizain, DnBr, oleksyak/Shutterstock.com

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