Docstoc

The English

Document Sample
The English Powered By Docstoc
					                              TEXT 1
                            The English
Almost every nation has a reputation of some kind. The French are
supposed to be amorous, gay, fond of champagne; the Germans dull,
formal, efficient, fond of military uniforms, and parades; the
Americans boastful, energetic, gregarious and vulgar. The English are
reputed to be cold, reserved, rather haughty people who do not yell in
the street, make love in public or change their governments as often as
they change their underclothes. They are steady, easy-going, and fond
of sport.
      The foreigner's view of the English is often based on the type of
Englishman he has met travelling abroad. Since these are largely
members of the upper and middle classes, it is obvious that their
behaviour cannot be taken as general for the whole people. There are,
however, certain kinds of behaviour, manners and customs that are
peculiar to England.
      The English are a nation of stay-at-homes. There is no place like
home, they say. And when the man is not working he withdraws to the
company of his wife and children and busies himself with the affairs
of the home. "The Englishman's home is his castle", is a saying known
all over the world; and it is true that English people prefer small
houses built to house one family, perhaps with a small garden. But
nowadays the shortage of building land and inflated land values mean
that more and more blocks of flats are being built, and fewer detached
and semi-detached houses, especially by the local councils.
      The fire is the focus of the English home. What do other nations
sit round? The answer is they don't. They go out to cafes or sit round
the cocktail bar. For the English it is the open fire, the toasting fork
and the ceremony of English tea. Even when central heating is
installed it is kept so low in the English home that Americans and
Russians get chilblains, as the English get nervous from stuffiness in
theirs.
      Foreigners often picture the English dressed in tweeds, smoking
a pipe, striding across the open countryside with his dog at his heels.
This is a picture of the aristocratic Englishman during his holiday on
                                   3
his country estate. Since most of the countryside is privately owned
there isn't much left for the others to stride across. The average
Englishman often lives and dies without ever having possessed a
tweed suit.
      Apart from the conservatives on a grand scale that the attitude to
the monarchy typifies, England is full of small-scale conservativisms,
some of them of a highly individual or particular character. Regiments
in the army, municipal corporations, schools and societies have their
own private traditions that command strong loyalties. Such groups
have customs of their own that they are very reluctant to change, and
they like to think of their private customs as differentiating them, as
groups, from the rest of the world.
      Most English people have been slow to adopt rational reforms
such as the metric system that came into general use in 1975. They
have suffered inconvenience from adhering to old ways, because they
did not want the trouble of adapting themselves to new. All the same,
several of the most notorious symbols of conservatism are being
abandoned. The twenty-four hour clock was at last adopted for railway
timetable in the 1960s, though not for most other timetables, such as
radio programmes. In 1966 it was decided that decimal money would
become regular from in 1971 - though even in this matter
conservatism triumphed when the Government decided to keep the
pound sterling as the basic unit, with its one-hundredth part, an over-
large "new penny".

I. Answer the following questions:
   1. What kind of reputation do the French, Germans and Americans
      have?
   2. What words and expressions can be used to describe English
      people? Which of them sound positive and which are negative?
   3. What is a foreigner‟s view of the English usually based on?
   4. What do English people say about their homes?
   5. What does an Englishman look like from the point of view of a
      foreigner?
   6. Where can one see conservativism in England?
   7. When did the metric system come into general use in Great
      Britain? What other changes are you aware of?
                                   4
  8. What new facts about the British have you learnt from the text?

II. Give the antonyms of the following adjectives:
      Dull, formal, efficient, energetic, vulgar, cold reserved, small,
      steady, easy-going, slow, reluctant, notorious, gregarious,
      boastful.

III. Talking points:
   1. Television, films, books have probably given you an idea about
      what British people are like. Perhaps you‟ve been to England
      yourself. Do you agree with the author of the text? What do you
      think about the English character?
   2. What kind of reputation do you think the Russians have? What
      words would you use to describe the Russian character?

                                TEXT 2
                         Why I Like England
                         (after Sue Townsend)

I like living in England because everywhere else is foreign and
strange. The only language I speak is English. But I wouldn't like
anyone to think that I don't like Abroad. I do. Abroad means adventure
and the possibility of danger and delicious food, but Abroad is also
tiring and confusing and full of foreigners who tell you that the bank
is open when it's not.
      Being a town dweller I passionately love the English
countryside. Though I must admit it looks better on the telly than it
does in real life. I only fully appreciated the varied nature of the
English countryside after driving for two days through a Swedish pine
forest.
      I like English weather; like the countryside, it's constantly
drawing attention to itself. I started this article in a room filled with
piercing sunlight, but now a strong wind has materialized and the
room is full of gloom.
      I like the reserve of English people, because I don't particularly
want to talk to strangers in trains either, unless of course there is a
crisis such as a "cow on the line" causing an hour's delay. In which
                                    5
case my fellow passengers and I will happily spill our life stories to
anybody we can get to listen.
      I like the way in which the English cope with disasters: cut our
water off and we will cheerfully queue at a standpipe in the snow.
Throw us into rat infested foreign jails and we will get out saying that
our brutal-looking jailers were "decent chaps who treated us well." I
bet somewhere, pinned on a dirty prison wall, is a Christmas card: "To
my friend and captor, Pedro, from Jim Wilkinson of cell 14."
      The England I love best is, of course, the England of childhood,
when children could play in the street without the neighbours getting a
petition. I'm happy to live in a country that produces important things:
wonderful plays, books, literature, heart surgeons, gardeners and
Private Eye. I was asked to write about why I like England in 700
words. Now if I'd been asked to write about why I don't like England
I'd have needed 1000, and I suspect, it would have been easier to
write. It's our birthright and privilege to criticize our own country and
shout for revolution. I asked a friend of mine where, given the choice
and enough money, he would choose to live. He replied gloomily,
"There isn't anywhere else."

I. Answer the following questions:
     1. Why does the writer like living in England?
     2. What difficulties can a tourist run into abroad?
     3. What's peculiar about English weather?
     4. Are the English really very reserved?
     5. What England does Sue Townsend love best?
     6. Why is she happy to live in England?
     7. Are there any things people dislike while living in this
     particular country?
     8. Why did the man refuse to live anywhere else?
     9. What do you think is the tone the story is written in? What is
     the author‟s real attitude towards England?

II. Explain the following words and phrases or give synonyms:
      Abroad is tiring and confusing; the varied nature of the
      countryside; a strong wind has materialized; piercing sunlight; to
      spill life stories to somebody; queue at a pipe; birthright.
                                    6
III. Talking points:
   1. Give your opinion of the things the English people could be
      proud of in their country. What do you like about England?
   2. If you were to write about the things you like and don‟t like in
      your own country what particularly would you write about?

                              TEXT 3
                  The English Comedy of Manners
English Social Habits. All letters concerning social affairs - invitations
to parties, dinners, weddings, etc.- have to be directed to the wives, or
wives and husbands together, never to the husband alone. They are, as
a rule, written by the hostess who is responsible for the social affairs
of the household. The habit of taking flowers to the hostess is not
observed in England (one reason for the scarcity of flower shops in
English towns).
       Whenever you have spent a night or a weekend in somebody
else's house, you have to write a letter, if possible at once when you
get back. It would be considered very bad manners not to observe this
custom - even if you haven't enjoyed yourself at all.
       General Behaviour. When a gentleman walks with a lady in the
street or on the pavement he does not always go on her left side, but
keeps to that side of his companion where he can protect her from
passing traffic; he will thus have to change sides according to whether
they walk with or against the traffic. When crossing the street, he
supports his lady companion by the elbow, thus steering her through
the cars and over to the other side. When a lady comes into a room
where there are a number of gentlemen, these will have to get up and
will not resume their seats until she has sat down herself - often one of
them will have to pull out or bring a chair for her to sit on. The habit
of helping each other into overcoats is not compulsory in England,
especially not with men who, anyhow, very often do not wear a coat at
all, even in winter.
       Eating Habits. Cutting potatoes with a knife is allowed, the fork
has to be held with the hump pointing upwards, thus everything -
including peas, which is difficult for the beginner - has to be balanced
on top of, not placed inside the hump. Soup is eaten with the spoon
                                    7
held sideways, thus the liquid has to be sucked out or sipped rather
than just to be emptied into the mouth. The sweet - be it cake,
pudding, or ice cream - is eaten with spoon and fork. There is a rule
for children (and grown-ups): do not eat between meals, and never in
the street or any other public places; it is, however, not always
observed.

I. Answer the following questions:
   1. Who is responsible for the social affairs of the household?
   2. What kind of letter do you have to write coming home after your
      stay with some relatives or friends? What if you didn‟t enjoy
      your stay with them?
   3. Why does a gentleman have to change sides while walking with
      a lady in the street?
   4. What way do gentlemen demonstrate their attention to the lady
      coming into the room?
   5. Do English eating habits seem strange to you?
   6. What is different in them from Russian eating habits?

II. Explain the following words and phrases or give synonyms:
      Social affairs; the habit is not observed; scarcity of flower shops;
      to change sides; resume their seats; compulsory; the hump
      pointing upwards.

III. Talking points:
   1. How are social affairs organized in Russian families?
   2. What eating habits are observed in the Russian homes? Are they
      different from public eating habits and from eating habits in
      England? What rules do you have to observe at table? Which of
      them seem unnecessary to you?

                               TEXT 4
                              The Family
A "typical" British family used to consist of mother, father and two
children, but in recent years there have been many changes in family
life. Some of these have been caused by new laws and others are the
                                    8
result of changes in society. For example, since the law made it easier
to get a divorce, the number of divorced has increased. In fact one
marriage in every three now ends in divorce. This means that there are
a lot of one-parent families. Society is now more tolerant than it used
to be of unmarried people, unmarried couples and single parents.
      Another change has been caused by the fact that people are
living longer nowadays, and many old people live alone following the
death of their partners. As a result of these changes in the pattern of
people's lives, there are many households that consist of only one
person or one adult and children. You might think that marriage and
the family are not so popular as they once were. However, the
majority of divorced people marry again, and they sometimes take
responsibility for a second family.
      Members of a family - grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins -
keep in touch, but they see less of each other than they used to. This is
because people often move away from their hometown to work, and
so the family becomes scattered. Christmas is the traditional season
for reunions. Although the family group is smaller nowadays than it
used to be, relatives often travel many miles in order to spend the
holiday together.
      In general, each generation is keen to become independent of
parents in establishing its own family unit, and this fact can lead to
social as well as geographical differences within the larger family
group.
      There are about 10 million old-age pensioners in Britain, of
whom about 750,000 cannot live entirely independently. The
government gives financial help in the form of a pension but in the
future it will be more and more difficult for the national economy to
support the increasing number of elderly. At the present time, more
than half of all old people are looked after at home. Many others live
in Old Peoples' Homes, which may be private or state-owned.
      Relationships within the family are different now. Parents treat
their children more as equals than they used to, and children have
more freedom to make their own decisions. The father is more
involved with bringing up children, often because the mother goes out
to work. Increased leisure facilities and more money mean that there
are greater opportunities for the individual to take part in activities
                                    9
outside the home. Although the family holiday is still an important
part of family life (usually taken in August, and often abroad) many
children have holidays away from their parents, often with a school
party or other organized group.

I. Answer the following questions:
   1. How many members did a typical English family use to consist
      of?
   2. What changes have taken place in the English family life in
      recent years?
   3. What are the results of these changes?
   4. Why do members of a family see each other less often than they
      used to?
   5. How many old-age pensioners are there in Great Britain?
   6. Who looks after them?
   7. What are the relations within the family?

II. Give a word or phrase opposite in meaning to the following:
      Full-time, majority, elderly, to be keen, to go out to work, state
      owned, recent years, married, increasing, to keep in touch.

III. Talking points:
   1. One in every three marriages in Britain ends in divorce. What
      effects might this fact have on society and children? How easy
      do you think it should be to get a divorce? What are the usual
      obstacles to getting it?
   2. From your point of view what are the most important aspects
      keeping families together?

                                TEXT 5
                                Leisure
British people now have more free time and holidays than they did
twenty years ago. Nearly all British people in full-time jobs have at
least four weeks' holiday a year, often in two or three separate periods.
The normal working week is 35 - 40 hours, Monday to Friday.
      Typical popular pastimes in the UK include listening to pop
                                   10
music, going to pubs, playing and watching sport, going on holidays,
doing outdoor activities, reading, and watching TV. Pubs are an
important part of British social life (more than restaurants) and more
money is spent on drinking than on any other form of leisure activity.
In a recent survey, seven out of ten adults said they went to pubs, one
third of them once a week or more often. Types of pubs vary
considerably from quiet rural establishments with traditional games,
such as skittles and dominoes, to city pubs where different sorts of
entertainment such as drama or live music can often be found. Some
pubs have become more welcoming to families with younger children
than in the past, although children under fourteen are still not allowed
in the bar.
      Holidays is the next major leisure cost. If they have enough
money, people travel more (the increase in private cars is an
influence) and take more holidays. The most obvious - and traditional
- British holiday destination is the coast. No place in the country is
more than three hours' journey from some part of it. The coast is full
of variety, with good cliffs and rocks between the beaches, but the
uncertain weather and cold sea are serious disadvantages. People who
go for one or two weeks' holiday to the coast, or to a country place,
tend now to take their caravans or tents to campsites, or rent static
caravans, cottages or flats. Many town dwellers have bought old
country cottages, to use for their own holidays and to let to others
when they are working themselves. People on holiday or travelling
around the country often stay at farms or other houses providing "bed
and breakfast". These are usually comfortable and better value than
hotels. The number of people going abroad increased from 7 million
in the early 1970s to 17 million in the mid-80s, and even more now,
with Spain, France and Greece still the most popular foreign
destinations.
      England is famous for its gardens, and most people like
gardening. This is probably one reason why so many people prefer to
live in houses rather than in flats. Particularly in suburban areas it is
possible to pass row after row of ordinary small houses, each one with
its neatly kept patch of grass surrounded by a great variety of flowers
and shrubs. Enthusiasts of gardening - or do-it-yourself activities - get
ever-growing help from radio programmes, magazines and patient
                                   11
shopkeepers. Although the task of keeping a garden is essentially
individual, gardening can well become the foundation of social and
competitive relationships. Flower shows and vegetable shows, with
prizes for the best exhibits, are popular, and to many gardeners the
process of growing the plants seems more important than the merely
aesthetic pleasure of looking at the flowers or eating the vegetables.
      Visitors to provincial England sometimes find the lack of public
activities in the evenings depressing. There are, however, many
activities that visitors do not see. Evening classes, each meeting once a
week, are very popular, and not only those preparing people for
examinations leading to professional qualifications. Many people
attend classes connected with their hobbies, such as photography,
painting, folk dancing, dog training, cake decoration, archaeology,
local history, car maintenance and other subjects. In these classes
people find an agreeable social life as well as the means of pursuing
their hobbies.
      Despite the increase in TV watching, reading is still an important
leisure activity in Britain and there are a very large number of
magazines and books published on a wide variety of subjects. The
biggest-selling magazines in Britain (after the TV guides which sell
over 3 million copies a week) are women's and pop-music
publications. The best-selling books are not great works of literature
but stories of mystery and romance sold in huge quantities (Agatha
Christie's novels, for example, have sold more than 300 million
copies). It has been estimated that only about 3 per cent of the
population read "classics" such as Charles Dickens or Jane Austen,
whereas the figures for popular books sales can be enormous,
particularly if the books are connected with TV shows or
dramatisations.

I. Answer the following questions:
     1. What kind of holiday do people in full-time jobs have?
     2. What are the typical pastimes of the British people?
     3. What is an English pub? Do pubs differ across the country?
     4. Describe different ways British people spend their holidays
        in.
     5. What is gardening to an Englishman?
                                   12
     6. What kind of public activities are British people involved in?
     7. Are British people fond of literature? What are their
        preferences in reading?

II. Explain the following words and phrases or give synonyms:
      Full-time jobs, popular pastimes, leisure activity, holiday
      destination, "bed and breakfast", suburban areas, enthusiasts of
      gardening, the foundation of social and competitive
      relationships, lack of public activities, in huge quantities, an
      agreeable social life, the means of pursuing hobbies.

III. Talking points:
   1. British people are fond of travelling. What are the different ways
      of travelling popular with them? Where do they usually go on
      holidays? Do you think there is some difference in travelling for
      city-dwellers and people from countryside places?
   2. Gardening is Englishmen‟s passion. Russian people are fond of
      gardening too. Compare the activity in these two countries.

                             TEXT 6
                       The History of English

When the Angles and Saxons invaded Britain in the 5th century A.D.,
they brought with them their language: 'Englisc' or, as we call it now,
Old English. Examples of Old English words are: sheep, dog, work,
field, earth, the, is, you. Two hundred years later, when St. Augustine
brought Christianity to Britain in the 7th century, hundreds of Latin
and Greek words were adapted into Old English: words such as hymn,
priest, school, cook. In the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries, the Viking
invaders added their own Norse words: get, wrong, leg, want, skin,
same, low.
       When the Norman Duke William defeated the Anglo-Saxon
King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and became King
William I, French became the language of the educated classes for the
next two or three centuries. This meant that there was no conservative
influence on the English language, which was spoken mainly by
uneducated people, and so the Middle English period (1150-1500) was
                                   13
characterized by tremendous changes. Grammatically, most of the
inflections or case endings of Old English disappeared, and word
order therefore became of prime importance, as it is in modern
English; at the same time, there was a massive transfer of French
words into English (some estimates say over 10,000 words). Latin,
however, remained the language of the church and of education, and
this mixing of Latin, French and native English is the reason why
there are so many synonyms even today in the English language, e.g.
ask (English), question (French), interrogate (Latin); time (English),
age (French), epoch (Latin).
       The introduction of the printing press in about 1476 gave rise to
the need for a standard, uniform language that could be understood
throughout the country. Modern English may be said to have begun in
1500, and the most important influence on the language was William
Shakespeare - 'pure' English was the language in which Englishmen
best expressed themselves.
       English was exported to Britain's growing number of colonies,
which by the 19th century accounted for one quarter of the world's
population. In the 20th century, even though Britain's role as a world
power has declined considerably, the hegemony of the USA has meant
that the English language has almost achieved the status of a world
language. It is estimated that one in five people in the world speak
English - 300 million as their first language; 600 million as a second
or foreign language; 1 million as a foreign language.
       As English has spread, so has it changed, and there are now
several recognized varieties of English. While the English spoken in
Britain's former 'white' colonies - the United States, Canada, Australia
and New Zealand - is still very similar to British English, and differs
from it only in matters of vocabulary and phraseology, the English
spoken in the West Indies and in countries such as India where
English is the second language can be very different in syntax and
grammar.
       American English, for example, has been influenced by
American Indian languages, by Spanish, and by the languages of all
the ethnic groups that have emigrated to the US over the years. But it
is still understood without difficulty by speakers of British English.
Indeed, many 'Americanisms' - words or phrases which originated in
                                   14
America - have been assimilated back into British English, words such
as skunk (American Indian), canyon, banana, potato (Spanish) or
expressions such as to take a back seat, to strike oil, to cave in. Other
words -automobile, cookie, crazy, highway, mail, movie, truck - still
have an American flavour but are increasingly used by speakers of
British English. A few words - faucet (tap), candy (sweets), fall
(autumn), gas (petrol) - remain decidedly American, as do some forms
of spelling (color - colour, theater - theatre, tire - tyre).
      Australian English also has its own 'home-grown' words, some
of which have made their way into international English (boomerang,
budgerigar), though others (cobber = friend, sheila = girl, tucker =
food, dinkum = good) remain distinctively Australian.

I. Answer the following questions:
   1. List the languages that have had an important influence on
      English. Why did they influence the English language?
   2. What is the main grammatical difference between Old English
      and Modern English?
   3. What gave rise to the need of a uniform language?
   4. When did Modern English begin?
   5. What factors helped English achieve the status of a world
      language?
   6. How can you characterize the different varieties of English?
   7. What is the process of influence of the varieties on each other?

II. Explain the following phrases or give synonyms:
      Became of prime importance, a massive transfer of French
      words into English, gave rise to the need, throughout the
      country, recognized varieties of English, American flavour,
      'home-grown' words.

III. Talking points:
   1. What do you know about the influence of other languages on
      English? What way do you think a language is developing? Are
      there any changes that are undesirable?
   2. Can you speak about the development of the Russian language?
      What family does Russian belong to? What do you know about
                                   15
     different influences on it? Which language in your opinion is
     easier to learn for a foreigner?

                              TEXT 7
 Eight ways of telling whether Mr. Smith is English or American
                     (before he opens his mouth)

People are dressing and looking more and more alike, and national
stereotypes are fast vanishing. Very few Americans parade around the
world in Stetson hats, cowboy boots, with huge Havana cigars and
Hawaiian shirts with string ties. Englishmen are equally unlikely to
travel abroad in tropical topis and knee-length shorts, bowler hats,
monocles, thick hairy tweed suits, or any of the other 'milord' kit that
once announced their island home at a thousand paces. Nonetheless,
there are still subtle ways of distinguishing on which side of the
Atlantic Mr. Smith resides, by careful observation.
       If he signs his name 'James M. Smith', he's very likely to be
American. Few Americans can comfortably live without a middle
initial, whether it means anything or not. (The 'F' in John F. Kennedy
stood for Fitzgerald; the 'S' in Harry S. Truman stood for nothing,
except the security that middle initial gives to an American name.) 'J.
Smith' will undoubtedly be an Englishman who doesn't feel that it's
entirely decent to expose his first name in front of strangers. He may
give away as much as J.M. Smith but seldom more, and if he's called
James, you know immediately that he's English, for all American
Jameses are instantly reduced to Jim or Jimmy by their fellow
countrymen, even if they happen to be, as Mr. Carter was, President of
the United States.
       A signet ring on Mr. Smith's little finger tells you he's English.
It's a long and rather aristocratic habit shared by Prince Charles. The
American would probably find a ring on a man's little finger a bit
effeminate. On the other hand, the American Mr. Smith may have a
large high school, college or fraternity ring on his ring finger, which
the Englishman would probably find a bit vulgar. Well, there you are!
       Striped ties are common and popular on both sides of the
Atlantic, but spot the subtle difference: the American's stripes go
down from left to right (as you look at him), and the Englishman's
                                   16
stripes go down from right to left. There is no significance in this,
political or otherwise - just one of those funny little things.
       If you can detect the line of tee-shirt sleeves under Mr. Smith's
long-sleeved white shirt, or if he's wearing a short-sleeved shirt with a
tie, he's American. (The tee-shirt undershirt is for extra warmth during
the summer months when Americans set their air-conditioning at
slightly above freezing, and the short sleeves are to keep cool in the
winter when their homes and offices turn into centrally-heated sauna
baths. Americans never do anything by halves!) If, on the other hand,
Mr. Smith is wearing a striped shirt with pure white collar and cuffs,
he's certain to be English, posh or pretentious, as this fashion makes a
public announcement that he has his shirts custom made, and hopes
you'll think it was in Jermyn Street in London. (The fact is, it's really
more likely to be made in Hong Kong at half the price.)
       Not by brand, as the English are just as likely to smoke
Marlboros as the Americans are to smoke Benson & Hedges, but if
Mr. Smith offers you a cigarette, he's English. Most Americans don't
smoke anymore, but even if they do, it's not a custom to offer
cigarettes, partly because in the USA they are too cheap to make the
gesture appear generous (about half the UK price), but also because
brand loyalty amongst American smokers has always been so fierce
that a Benson & Hedges smoker would turn up his nose at Mr. Smith's
Marlboros, or the other way around.
       If the fellow has a glass filled with so much ice that there is
hardly any room for any kind of liquid in it, he's an American beyond
any doubt. Having enough ice is as much an obsession for Americans
as getting a good cup of tea is for an Englishman. If, on the other
hand, the glass contains only one or two meagre melting ice cubes, or
perhaps no ice at all, he is, of course, English, and comes from a
climate where chilling drinks artificially is not normally necessary.
       If he's drinking ice water with his meal, he's surely American.
Americans crave water seemingly round the clock. The USA is filled
with drinking fountains for constant replenishment, and the first thing
you get at an American restaurant is not the menu or the wine list, but
a glass of water. The drinking of ordinary water is not as disdained in
England as it is in other European countries, but, as every American
tourist to Britain discovers to his discomfort, it is neither common nor
                                   17
customary, and if Mr. Smith the Englishman is quite happy with beer
or wine with his fish and chips, Mr. Smith the American cannot enjoy
the first bite of his hamburger without a tumbler of ice water with
which to wash it down. If he asks the English waiter for water, and ask
he must, he'll be lucky if he gets it before he gets the bill. Unless, of
course, he orders Perrier water, for which he will be charged as much
as if he had beer or wine.
       If it's the third of November and Mr. Smith writes the date as
11/3, you know he's American, but if he writes 3/11, he's English.
Consider the English businessman who has an important sales contract
to sign with Mr. Smith on 1 /4, and arrives on the first of April only to
discover that this Mr. Smith is American and that the appointment was
on the fourth of January, three months before. The contract, alas, went
to a competitor who arrived on the correct date. Happy April fools,
and have a nice day!
       The benefit of all this advance information is that when you are
finally introduced to Mr. Smith, you'll know whether to say 'How do
you do James', or 'Hi, Jimmy. How are you?'

  I.    Answer the following questions:
        1. What kind of article is it? (Is it a serious one?)
        2. Describe typical Americans and Englishmen of the past.
        3. What do Americans use the middle initials in their names
           for?
        4. What may the American Mr. Smith have on his ring
           finger?
        5. Where are striped ties popular?
        6. Why do Americans wear t-shirt undershirts?
        7. Where are cigarettes more expensive?
        8. Do English people like tea with ice?
        9. What is the first thing you get at an American restaurant?
        10.Why do you think it is important to know what way dates
        are written by the English people and Americans?

  II.   Explain the following words and phrases or give
        synonyms:
          Huge cigars, stand for, undoubtedly, first name, instantly,
                                   18
        reduced, a shared habit, a bit effeminate, a subtle difference,
        significance, posh, custom made, a generous gesture, the
        other way around, an obsession, meagre melting ice cubes,
        chilling drinks, for constant replenishment, appointment,
        benefit.

  III. Talking points:
       1. Do you find the information given in this article useful?
          Why? Prove it.
       2. What customs and habits described in the text do you find
          reasonable or nice? Which of them would you like to
          follow?

                            TEXT 8
                       The American Family

The United States has many different types of families. While most
American families are traditional, comprising a father, mother and one
or more children, 22.5 percent of all American families are headed by
one parent, usually a woman. In a few families in the United States
there are no children. These childless couples may believe that they
would not make good parents; they may want freedom from the
responsibilities of child-rearing; or, perhaps they are not physically
able to have children. Other families in the United States have one
adult who is a stepparent. A stepmother or stepfather is a person who
joins a family by marrying a father or mother.
      Americans tolerate and accept these different types of families.
In the United States people have the right to privacy and Americans
do not believe in telling other Americans what type of family group
they must belong to. They respect each other's choices regarding
family groups.
      Families are very important to Americans. One sign that this is
true is that Americans show great concern about the family as an
institution. Many Americans believe there are too many divorces, they
worry that teenagers are not obeying their parents. They are concerned
about whether working women can properly care for their children.
They also worry that too many families live in poverty. In one
                                  19
nationwide survey about 80 percent of the Americans polled said the
American family was in trouble. At the same time, when these people
were asked about their own families, they were much more hopeful.
Most said they were happy with their home life.
       Unlike their parents, many single adult Americans today are
waiting longer to get married. Some women and men are delaying
marriage and family because they want to finish school or start their
careers; others want to become more established in their chosen
profession. Most of these people eventually will marry. One survey
showed that only 15 percent of all single adults in the United States
want to stay single. Some women become more interested as they
enter their 30s.
       One positive result may come from men and women marrying
later. People who get married at later ages have fewer divorces. Along
with the decision to wait to marry, couples are also waiting longer
before they have children, sometimes in order to be more firmly
established economically. Rearing a child in the United States is
costly.
       Some couples today are deciding not to have children at all. In
1955 only one percent of all women expected to have no children.
Today more than five percent say they want to remain childless. The
ability of a couple to choose whether they will have children means
that most children who are born in the United States are very much
wanted and loved.
       How do problems arise in American families? One view is that
American families do not have enough stability and that people move
too much to have community roots. Of course, many American
families remain for generations in the same town or even in the same
house. At the same time the United States is a mobile, adaptable
country. People are willing to work hard in order to advance in their
jobs. Good workers are offered new opportunities in their jobs,
sometimes in a different city. Families must make the decision. Do
they want to take the new job in a new town? Or do they want to give
up the opportunity?
       The thousands of American families who do decide to move
each year may face a difficult time adjusting to a new life. They leave
behind a community that they know. They leave behind schools that
                                  20
they trust and friends and family members whom they love. They
leave behind a church or religious group. They leave behind a web of
supports that helps to keep a family strong.
      In a new town children and parents can become lonely. This
loneliness strains a family. For example, the area of the United States
where people move the most often, the Southwest, also is the area
with the greatest number of divorces. Some children and parents, on
the other hand, mature from meeting new people and living in a new
place. These experiences can bring families closer together.
      In a perfect world families would have no problems. Parents
would know how to rear their children to be responsible adults.
Americans and others throughout the world are trying to learn what
makes strong families. Perhaps families can learn how to solve their
problems. Researchers at the University of Nebraska have found some
answers. Strong, happy families share some patterns whether they are
rich or poor, black or white.
      Strong families spend time together. After dinner, for example,
happy families may take walks together or play games. Strong
families also talk about their problems. They may even argue so that
problems can be resolved before they get too big. Members of strong
families show each other affection and appreciation. Members of
strong families are also committed to one another and they tend to be
religious. Finally, when problems arise strong families work together
to solve them.

  I. Answer the following questions:
       1. What is the traditional type of family in America?
       2. What other family types does the American society have?
       3. Why do many Americans consider the family to be in
       trouble?
       4. What does the delay in marriage usually mean?
       5. Why are Americans thought to be mobile? What does
       moving about the country usually cause for the family?
       6. Is it important for a family to be strong?

  II. Explain the following words and phrases or give synonyms:
        Child-rearing, a stepparent, the right to privacy, to show great
                                  21
        concern about, live in poverty, single adult Americans,
        delaying marriage, established in the chosen profession, to be
        more firmly established economically, to have community
        roots, adjusting to a new life, a web of supports, affection and
        appreciation.

 III. Talking points:
        1. Why is child-rearing difficult? Speak about responsibilities
           in different types of families.
        2. Analyze different kinds of problems in the American
           family. Are they similar to the problems in Russian
           families?

                            TEXT 9
           Two Nations Separated by the Same Language

Is there such a thing as an American language? The differences
between the English language as spoken in Great Britain and the
variety spoken in the United States is a subject much discussed by
laymen and linguists alike. Some laymen, both American and English,
have been known to claim that American English is now a different
language, but the reasons they wish to stress the differences usually
have more to do with national pride than linguistics. In Britain, the
'two language' theory is generally espoused by anti-American purists
who want to distance themselves from the 'vulgar' New World
corruption of their language, as though it were 'the true church', and in
the United States, talk of an American language usually comes from
boastful nationalists who pretend that what is spoken there is a home-
grown product and not a 'foreign' import.
      The truth is that there is less difference between what is spoken
in Boston, Massachusetts and Boston, England than there is between
the American spoken in New York and Oklahoma, or the English
spoken in East London and West Devonshire. The difference between
a standard British English and a standard American English can
probably be equated with the difference between the Spanish spoken
in Spain and that spoken in, say, Argentina, or the German spoken in
the Federal Republic as opposed to Austria.
                                   22
       It is a matter of some vocabulary differences (though usually not
very important words) and expressions, some minor spelling changes,
a few differences in prepositions, and of course a matter of accent
which affects the pronunciation, but then these variations, and more,
can be heard travelling (US traveling) from one area to another within
the same country. Certainly the differences are not extensive enough
to block normal comprehension, and a very English film where all the
characters speak pure British English, such as Chariots of Fire, can be
perfectly understood and be as popular in America as the All-
American movies, such as Indiana Jones, are in Britain. Neither the
accents of the actors, nor the colloquial expressions in the dialogue,
nor the local references or national subject matter come between the
audience and the entertainment.
       Nonetheless, variations do exist and are endlessly fascinating to
academics in both nations.
       The distinguished American professor of linguistics, Alien
Walker Read, aged 82, has spent the last 50 years of his life
researching and compiling a dictionary of 'Briticisms' to explain to
Americans how their version of English differs from that spoken on
the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Professor Read, who is professor
emeritus of English at Columbia University in New York City, first
became fascinated by the idea of a British dictionary for Americans
when he was at Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship, and was
involved in working on a dictionary of Americanisms.
       It was George Bernard Shaw who first made the observation that
America and Britain were 'two nations separated by the same
language', but Professor Read acknowledges that this is less true today
than in Shaw's time. With the speed the media transmit language, in
books, films and television, the differences are fast eroding, and if
British youths are picking up the latest American slang from
Hollywood films or television soap operas, trendy Americans
nowadays pepper their conversation with classic Briticisms like posh
and bloody. Professor Read hopes to have his dictionary ready for
publication in about three years' time, but the rate things are changing,
it's possible that by then the book will be out-dated or old hat.


                                   23
I. Answer the following questions:
   1. Why do some laymen in the USA and Great Britain wish to
      stress the difference between the two varieties of the English
      language spoken in their countries?
   2. What can the differences between standard British English and
      standard American English be equated with?
   3. In what language aspects can one see differences?
   4. Do these differences block normal comprehension of the other
      variety of the language?
   5. What did the distinguished American professor of linguistics
      devote 50 years of his life to?
   6. Who is the author of the aphorism used as the title of the text?
      What do you know about him?

II. Explain the following words and phrases or give synonyms:
      Boastful, a home-grown product, be equated with, minor spelling
      changes, local references, professor emeritus, to pick up the
      latest American slang, soap operas, trendy Americans, pepper
      the conversation with some words, to be out-dated.

III. Talking points:
   1. What variety of the English language would you speak in
      different situations? Characterize the two varieties.
   2. Do you agree with anti-American purists saying the English
      language is corrupted in the New World? Can you prove your
      point of view?

                           TEXT 10
           The Long Road of the American Indians
Native Americans‟ struggle against an invading society began five
hundred years ago. The stories of two American peoples, the Sioux
and the Navaho, show how it continues to this day.
     North American history from a native American Indian point of
view makes sad and terrifying reading. From the beginning of
European colonization in the seventeenth century, the native peoples
were pushed out of their homelands. They tried to live with the settlers
                                   24
in peace, but the agreements that were made were always broken. The
whites hardly seemed to see them as human beings. The Indians only
fought as a last resort, but even if they won a few battles, they could
not possibly win the war.
      By the 1890s all the tribes had been pushed into reservations,
while the European settlers had the freedom of the huge continent that
had once been the Indians'. Even the land that was left to them was
usually poor, because the good land was given to white farmers.
      But the Indians' first wars with European society were only the
beginning of a long fight for their whole culture and identity. The
Sioux were once the masters of the vast plains between the
Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains. Their way of life was what we
always imagine when we think of the traditional Indian ways, hunting
the buffalo over huge areas. Their buffalo-hide tents, or tepees, were
designed to be put up or taken down quickly, so that the tribe could
move after the herds. They were great warriors and even chased the
whites out of part of their land for a while. But even they were
defeated in the end.
      By the 1880s, most of the once-proud Sioux were confined to
reservations. Even their most sacred land, the Black Hills, was taken
from them. It was realized the hills contained gold, so the government
pressured them to sell them. Years later, the great holy man Black Elk
spoke of the end: „The nation's hoop is broken and scattered‟, he said.
„There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.‟
      The Navaho did slightly better than the Sioux and other Indian
nations. The United States began to try to round them up in the 1860s
in their territories in Arizona and New Mexico. The Navaho were
farmers and sheepherders. But raiding had always been a normal part
of their way of life. Everyone, other tribes of Indians as well as the
local Mexican herders, took livestock and had theirs taken in return.
When the US army moved into the area, it promised to protect the
Mexicans against the Indians.
      A reservation was organized, and the Navaho were told all their
males would be killed unless the people agreed to come in. There was
a long war, but eventually most of the Navaho surrendered, taking part
in what they still call their „Long Walk‟. In a very bad winter they had
to travel a long way to the reservation that was outside their own
                                   25
lands. Many died on the way, and when they got there they found that
the land was too poor to be cultivated. More people died from disease
and malnutrition in the crowded conditions, and many risked their
lives to escape.
       Eventually, the government realized it would never be able to
keep the Navaho peacefully in such a place. So they were allowed to
go back to their homelands that were made into a new reservation.
Much of the best land was kept for white settlers. But at least they
held onto large parts of their own country, and could return to their
traditional way of life.
       Once they had control of all the Indians, the government's policy
was to 'civilize' them and bring them into line with the rest of
American society. The practice of tribal culture and religion was
outlawed. Children were taken away to special boarding schools, often
hundreds of kilometers from home, where they were taught that their
parents' culture was bad and beaten for speaking their own language
As a result whole generations of Indians grew up with no confidence
in their own culture, and no place in white society. The result was
depression, alcoholism, self-destructive violence and suicide.
       But Indians never quite gave up their struggle. Since the mid-
thirties they have had the right of limited self-government, and they
have tried more and more to take control of their own fate. Sometimes
they have succeeded, seemingly against the odds.
       The Sioux have been asking for the return of the Black Hills. In
1980, after more than fifty years of court action, it was decided that
the United States had taken them illegally. The Sioux were offered
$105 million in compensation, but refused to take it. They want their
sacred territory back. The movement to regain the Black Hills is
focusing the energies of the people, and many believe that it can
rebuild the Sioux as a nation.
       The Navaho have declared their reservation independent. By
encouraging tourism, building an industry of native crafts and, above
all, making sure they are paid for any minerals that leave their land,
the Navaho are building their own economy as well as their
independence and self-respect. They have taken control of their
children's education to make sure they are taught all the ancient stories
and traditions so that the people's identity is never forgotten.
                                   26
      Meanwhile there are still great problems. Young Indians are torn
between their own traditions and the attractions of modern American
society. While Navaho elders call them to remember the old farming
ways of life, many young Navaho would rather take government
handouts to spend on motorbikes, beer and electric guitars.
      But the Indians' identity survives. Five hundred years ago the
Europeans began to dominate and push aside their cultures. But the
native Americans have lived through it all. Perhaps one day their long
road down what they call their 'trail of tears' will turn upwards again.

I.     Answer the following questions:
       1. What happened to the Indians from the 1890s onwards?
       2. What does the text say about the Sioux‟s way of life?
       3. Where do the Indians live nowadays?
       4. Why are the Sioux asking for the return of the Black Hills?
       5. What were the results of the government‟s policy to “civilize”
       the Indians?
       6. What have the Navaho gained in their struggle for freedom?
       7. Have the Indians solved all their problems?

     II. Explain the following words and phrases or give synonyms:
        European colonization, settlers, to live in peace, the agreements
        were broken, as a last resort, vast plains, once-proud Sioux,
        sacred land, livestock, eventually, boarding schools, to outlaw,
        tribal culture and religion, court action, handouts.

     III. Talking points:
     1. Say whether you agree or disagree with the point of view
         expressed in the sentence, “From the landing of the first settlers,
         the Indians have been the victims of almost unrelieved woe”.
     2. Why do you think nothing has helped the Indians preserve their
         lands? Expand upon the problem.
     3. You happen to be talking to Mr. Welsh, an American Indian.
         Take this opportunity and find out from him: a) how native
         Americans met the first settlers who came to the New World, b)
         whether they were happy to settle on reservations, c) about the
         living standard on the reservations and the opportunities for
                                      27
      employment, promotion, education, etc., d) about the present
      status of Indians and the changes that are taking place.

                                TEXT 11
                            Strokes of Genius
"Though the origin of most of our words is forgotten, each word was at first a
stroke of genius" - Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher.
The vocabulary of a language is as much a part of its native speakers'
history and cultural characteristics as any artifact displayed in a
national museum. Most English words show a fairly clear derivation
from one of the several different language roots which together have
provided us with our general vocabulary: wife from Anglo-Saxon,
husband from Norse, cousin from Norman French, triumph from
Latin, catastrophe from classical Greek.
      Some words have simply been borrowed directly from other
modern languages: kitsch from German, tycoon from Japanese, cargo
from Spanish, ghetto from Italian, bungalow from Hindi, chimpanzee
from Malay, cuisine from French, alcohol from Arabic, typhoon from
Chinese, sauna from Finnish, ombudsman from Swedish, tomato from
Portuguese, canoe from the Caribbean Indians.
      Other words, however, are truly original native creations, with
no links to any other Indo-European language. Some appear suddenly
and mysteriously, like pig and dog, to perplex etymologists for
centuries. Others have fascinating stories behind their origins, like the
words tawdry and necklace. When the English language was in its
infancy, there was an Anglo-Saxon princess named Audrey who
became a nun, and finally a saint - remembered not only for her piety
but also for her love of expensive clothes and jewelry. By the
sixteenth century, fashionable women were wearing, in her memory,
decorative silk collars known as Saint Audrey's lace. Typically, this
fashion of the rich was soon imitated by the poor, and street markets
began selling cheap garish imitations of this ornamental neck-wear,
shortening its name by syllabic merging to Tawdry lace. By the
eighteenth century, Saint Audrey and her stylish collars had given the
English language these two new words: tawdry, with its modern
meaning of showy, gaudy, cheap; and necklace, for a string of jewels
                                      28
or beads worn around the neck.
       Tawdry from St. Audrey is only one of many English words
formed by contraction. A famous old lunatic asylum in London, St.
Mary of Bethlehem, gave us the word bedlam (from Bethlehem)
meaning a state of noise and confusion.
       The word maudlin, describing someone who is tearfully
sentimental, usually from too much drink, comes from slurring the
syllables of Magdalene, the biblical lady often represented with red
eyes from weeping. Similarly, the Englishman's favourite all-purpose
adjective bloody also has religious rather than sanguineous
associations, being a contraction of the antiquated oath 'by our Lady'.
Likewise, fancy (ornate, decorated) is a reduction from fantasy; curtsy
(a lady's gesture of respect) from courtesy.
       Chopping off syllables from one word to create another word is
an equally characteristic way of increasing the English vocabulary.
The wooden fence at the bottom of the garden may not keep out the
neighbour's cat, but the word fence is a cut down version of defence,
just as cab (taxi) is a shortening of cabriolet, car and van are simply
different syllables of caravan, and sport is only one half of disport (to
amuse oneself). Mob (masses of often disorderly people), is only the
first syllable of the Latin mobile vulgus (a moveable, fickle crowd),
whereas bus, the now universal form of transport, is only the last
syllable of the Latin omnibus, meaning 'for all'.
       More recently we have taken pop (music, stars, culture) from
popular, fan (a devoted admirer) from fanatic, mod cons from modern
conveniences (washing machines, dishwashers, etc.), phone from
telephone, admin from administration, ad (US) or advert (UK) from
advertisement, info from information, rep from representative, pro
from professional and many, many more.
       Acronym (a word formed by using the first letter(s) of a series of
words) is another favourite way of adding to the language. People may
no longer realize that radar is an acronym of RAdio Detecting And
Ranging, or that posh (meaning deluxe, expensive, elegant) began life
on a first class return ticket from England to India, which was stamped
P.O.S.H. because the smart way to travel East was Port Out, Starboard
Home. (If you paid more, your cabin out to India was on the left side
of the ship (port), and your cabin back home to England was on the
                                   29
right side (starboard) to avoid the hot sun).
       The origin of the American acronym OK, or okay, is still in
considerable dispute. Some Americans claim that OK first appeared
on official White House documents approved by US President
Andrew Jackson, who, in his alleged ignorance, thought that All
Correct was spelt Oll Korrect. Professor Alien Read, the foremost
authority on Americanisms, supports the theory that it came from Oll
Korrect, but attributes it to Boston phonetic slang of the 1830's, rather
than an illiterate president. Another widely held theory is that it came
from the New Orleans docks as a result of the French-speaking Creole
cotton producers saying au quai (to the quay) to the plantation workers
to indicate that the bales of cotton were ready for shipment up the
Mississippi. The workers, who were not French-speaking, would
indicate the clearance for shipment by phonetically writing OK in
chalk on the bales, assuming that this is what their French-speaking
bosses had said. Wherever OK came from, it is unquestionably the
most widely used acronym in history.
       Today's speech abounds with modern acronyms from NATO
(North Atlantic Treaty Organization) to AIDS (Acquired Immuno-
Deficiency Syndrome), and no doubt many more are being created at
this moment.
       As if it isn't enough that English already has by far the largest
vocabulary of any language in the world, experts claim that six and a
half new words are added to the English language every day - and
that's over 2,000 strokes of genius a year. If the British and American
governments could find a way of imposing a tax on new words, this
could provide a solution to their balance of payment deficits.

Talking points:
  1. Is it true that you should look into the history of the language
     and the people‟s culture to understand the meaning of the words?
  2. What way are there to coin new words? Give some examples.
     Can you invent new words in your own language?




                                   30

				
DOCUMENT INFO