Many people have some funny cultural traits, like superstitions, they consider the thirteenth the unluckiest of days but they don’t know the reasons for that. The origins of Friday superstitions are many. If you read the Bible you will notice that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden on a Friday. Tradition also has it that Noah’s flood started on a Friday, and Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday.
There are also many superstitions about the number 13. In the United States, some hotels have no room with this number, and some buildings have no 13th floor. Some people believe that on Friday, each week, twelve witches and the devil meet, so Friday and 13 make a deadly combination.
In the U.S.ª, if an actor told you “Break your leg”, he wishes you good luck.
Some people believe that :
· A boy is killing a spider
· A girl is carrying an umbrella on a sunny day
· A boy is walking under a ladder
· An old man is breaking a mirror;
they are kinds of bad luck
· There is a horseshoe above the door
· There is a beautiful rainbow
· A lucky charm, a rabbit’s foot
· A four-leaf clover
· A falling star;
they are kinds of good luck
Some famous people have funny traits too. For example, the coach Zagallo believes that the number 13 brings good luck so he likes to use a T-shirt with the number 13. Roberto Carlos prefers blue clothes and he never wears brown. Ana Maria Braga always wears white clothes on Friday.
What about you? Do you believe in superstitions? Would you say superstitions are serious or just silly?
English is the most widely spoken language in the world. It is the first language, or mother tongue, of around 400 million people living in Britain, Ireland, the US, Australia, New Zealand. Canada and South Africa, it is spoken as a second language by anther 300 million people. English is learned by many more worldwide as a foreign language. Altogether about 1.3 billion ( = 1 300 million) people speak English, and the number is increasing. English has become a global language or international language, used by people who speak different native languages to communicate with each other.
English has achieved the status of a world language over a long period of time, and for various historical and cultural reasons. In the 17th century English was spread by settlers going from Britain to America, and in the 18th and 19th centuries by the expansion of the British Empire. Many countries which were part of the empire kept English as their official language after independence. This avoided their having to choose between competing local languages. As an official language, English is generally used in government, public administration and the law, and children may be taught in English. Some countries feel that using English gives them an advantage in international affairs. More recently, the military and political power of the US has contributed to the spread of English. People in many countries who have had contact with these great powers have been expected to learn English. Since the middle of 20th century, English has been an official language of international organizations such as the United Nations.
Economic factors are also important. Britain and the US are both mayor business and financial centres, and many multinational corporations started in these countries. Elsewhere, a knowledge of English is often seen as necessary for success in business, and in countries which have become tourist destinations English has been chosen as the main foreign language used in hotels and tourist attractions.
Advances in technology and telecommunications have also helped to establish English as a global language. Many inventions important to modern life, e.g. electricity, radio, the car and the telephone, were developed in Britain or the US, English became the language for international communications in air traffic control and shipping. Now, major computer systems and software developers are based in the US, and English is the lingua franca ( = common language) of the internet. English is also spread through leisure activities. The US is the home of the cinema, and English language films are shown throughout the world.
Britain and the US have invested a lot of money in English Language Teaching (ELT). The British Council has offices worldwide which promote British culture and support the teaching of English. The United States Information Agency also has libraries and cultural programs in many countries. English language broadcasts of BBC World Service, Voice of America and other services are widely popular, and many people listen to their news broadcast in order to get an independent account of events in their own region. They also broadcast study programs for learners of English. ELT has become a growth industry. Language schools have been established throughout the world and publishers bring out many books for students.
As an international language, English continues to develop. People who speak English as a first or second language have their own variety of the language, each of which is changing independently of other varieties. There are many differences, for instance, between British English and American English, and between Australian, South African, Indian, African and Jamaican English. As a global language, English can no longer be thought of as belonging only to British or American people, or to anyone else This loss of ownership is often uncomfortable, especially in Britain. As the number of people using English as a second or foreign language is increasing faster than who speak it as a first language, further drifts away from a British or American standard are likely.
The status of English as a global language has unfortunately tended to mean that British and American people assume everyone speaks English, so they do not bother to learn foreign languages. However, better language teaching, and an awareness of the advantages of speaking anther language, are slowly changing this situation.
1. Why a knowledge of English is necessary for success in business?
2. Why English language films are shown throughout the world?
3. Why major computer systems and software are in English?
Crowther, Jonathan. Oxford Guide to British and American Culture. Oxford University Press. New York, 2000.
Falk, Randee. Spotlight on the USA. Oxford University Press. New York, 1993.
McDowal, David. An Illustrated history of Britain. Longman Group UK Limited, 1989.
Sheerin, Susan. Spotlight on Britain. Oxford University Press. New York, 2002.
1) Write (A) for American and (B) for British characteristics:
1. They believe, at least in principle, that is better to share what they think and feel. ( )
2. They are reserved, they avoid showing strong emotion of any kind. ( )
3. They most believe that the state should provide education free of charge and to a high standard. ( )
4. They prefer to limit the influence of government, this is not so where education is concerned. ( )
5. They feel uncomfortable if a stranger stars to talk to them. ( )
6. They can be quick to make friends with people. ( )
7. It is often said to be an individualistic society. ( )
8. They are perfectly polite. ( )
2) Choose the correct answer:
1. It was the official name that first appears in the Declaration of Independence of 1776:
a) the US
b) the United States of America
c) the States of America
d) South America
e) North and South America
2. British people call Americans...
3. It’s considered a dialect:
e) Standard English
4. The America Civil war was fought between...
a) England and the USA
b) The USA and Britain
c) The USA and Africa
d) The nothern and southern states
e) England and Africa
5. English people who sailed to America on the Mayflower in 1620...
Watch the movie Gone with the Wind.
Many people’s ideas about the Old South are influenced by Gone with the Wind. Think about this movie. What kinds of impressions and ideas about the United States do you think the movie gives people? Do you think those impressions are accurate? Why or why not? Write several paragraphs describing and discussing the movie.
Disciplina: Cultura Anglo Americana A1 Data: