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Lesson 11 English in the Caribbean

When we hear the word English, we naturally think of the language spoken by those living in the United Kingdom or of the people living in England. We also often think of their language as the international language, the one spoken as a native language in Ireland, the United States, Canda, Australia, and New Zealand, countries which have had a close association with England for centuries. However, English is spoken as a native or second language in a large number of other countries which were once colonies of the British Empire.


Latin America, including Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America, is often thought of as a linguistically homogenous area of Latinate languages (those languages like French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish which originated from Latin.). This is generally true, as the vast majority of people there speak Spanish or Portuguese as their mother tongue. However, a number of small Caribbean island nations were also once part of the British Empire, accordingly, their citizens even after independence speak English. These nations include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Bardados, and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.


Do the Caribbean English speakers speak British English? Not exactly. All over the world where English ahs been spoken for hundreds of years by speakers of other language, certain special accents or dialects have arisen. India is famous for "Indian English", "Irish English" is unmistakable, too. Likewise, Caribbean English has its own special paterns, vocabulary, and even grammatical forms different from the standard RP (received pronunciation, also referred to as Received Standard) of British English. These special features include a lilt or "sing-song" sound to the language, and plenty of local slang.


As only a relatively few people live on these islands, how can we hear their special dialect or accent? One kind of pop music called reggae is the easiest way outside of befriending someone from these naions. Reggae music has been popular since the 1980s, when performers like Bob Marley of Jamaica pleasantly surprised the world with their own original reggae music as well as their interpretations of other well-known pop Anglo music. Reggae is famous for its strong, often syncopated beat, laid-back singing style, and, of course, the "island" dialect. Another perennial music favorite if calypso, which is also sung in the Caribbean island English dialect. The hit song "Yes, We Have No Bananas", is reminiscent of this drum-heavy musical style, especially from Trinidad and Tobago.


Given the islands' historic ties to both the United Kingdom and the United States, it is little wonder that today the people of these small nations continue to use English in government, academic, business, and trade. Lacal language still exist alongside the Caribbean English dialect, too, but they are mostly the patoies of the marketplace and home. Many of the residents of this area, also referred to as the West Indies of the Antilles, have emigrated to the UK or the US and, because of their linguistic prowess, have done relatively well as so-called "third world" immigrants. A few writers of contemporary renown also hail from this area, as do some sports figures.


If you plan to visit any of the above-mentioned islands for any purpose, do not worry about yoru language skills. Caribbean people are well-known for their friendly, patient dispositions. After a few days, your ear will become attuned to the lilting cadence of the lovely Caribbean English dialects, and your stay in this tropical paradise will be all the more rewarding.


Lesson 12 The Louvre: The World's Best Museum?

Paris, City of Light, and of art. A playland for lovers and a painter's dream. What better place to situate the Louvre, considered by many to be the world's best museum of art? what makes this museum so worthy of that honor?

The museum building, or, more properly, the complex of buildings themselves is a good place to start. As with most Western and a few Asian and South American museums, large palaces or other traditional architecture are used to house museums of art and of natural science. In the case of the Louvre, officially known as Palais du Louvre (The Palace of the Louvre), the main building used today was formerly the fortress of King Philip Augustus in the 12th Century. Not until 1546 did King Francis I befin to redesign and add onto the fortress. Subsequent kings did the some, especially during the 17th century with major additions by Louis XIII and Louis XIV. Not only did these kings and their ministers add to the buildings, they also stocked within their rooms the finest art that money could buy. After the French Revolution, the Palais du Louvre was opened to the public. In the early 19th century, both Napoleon and Napoleon III added to both the structures and the collections. A controversial see-through glass pyramid-shaped structure was added by the architect I. M. Pei in the 1980s. As a consequence of centuries of continuous construction and the amassing of art treasures, today the Louvre offers a world-class collection of both French and foreign art.

The outer shell of a museum, however, no matter how artistic or historic, cannot alone make a museum truly great. The inner collections are of course of paramount interest to both the art researcher and art lover alike. The Louvre does not disappoint them. Three of the West's premier works of art are here: the statues Victory of Samothrace and Venus de Milo accompany Leonardo da Vinci's most famous painting, the Mona Lisa. These alone attract art devotees from around the world, but for more awaits them. The French painting collection is , not surprisingly, unsurpassed. Other major painting collections include works from the middle ages and Renaissance. The treasures of the French royalty are on display here, too, such as their bronzes, miniatures, pottery, tapestries, jewelry, and furniture. Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian antiquities as well as early Christian artifacts are also considered important collections. This clearly is not a museum to be seen in one morning.

Finally, the site of the museum complex contributes to the mystique of the Louvre. Paris has long been considered one of the world's most charming cities, with its endless winding streets amidst spectacular royal and religious architecture. The fortress built by King Philip Augustus was situated on the right bank of the Seine, overlooking- at that time- splendid bucolic scenery. Today this prime location is within walking distance of man major Parisian tourist attractions, like the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Royal Palace, and the National Liberary. One could easily spend a whole week touring the heart of Paris centered around the Louvre.

Taken altogether, then, the Louvre holds its own as one of the best museums - If not the best- among the dozens of major and internationally famous art museums around the world. Its many and varied buildings, the unparalleled collection of prestigious works of art, and the delightful site of the grounds overlooking France's most famous river all contribute to make the Palais du Louvre a must-see attraction for the serious art connoisseur and art museum-goes alike. Meet you at the Louvre!



Lesson 13 The Ivy League Schools: Excellence in Education



The first permanent English settlement in the New World was at Plymouth Bay in what in now the state of Massachusetts in 1620. Merely 16 years later, a group of successful settlers in New Town renamed Cambridge after their alma mater started a college. They named it after the Puritan minister who willed half his estate and all his books to the college. This clergyman's name was John Harvard, and his namesake remains the most prestigious among the more than 2000 institutes of higher education in the United States today.


Harvard is not the only great school in the US, of course. A small industry has grown up around the ranking of the best tertiary schools, and year after year, seven schools dominate most of these Top Twenty or Top Fifty lists. Harvard is nearly always at or close to the top, joined frequently by Yale in Connecticut, Princeton in New Jersey, Dartmouth in New Hampshire, Cornell in New York state, Columbia in New York city, the University of Pennsylvania, and Brown in Rhode Island)。 These eight private universities are collectively referred to as the Ivy League schools.


Why the name Ivy is a vine that is, a plant which grows up or along the surface of other plants such as trees, or, in the human landscape, along the sides of stone buildings. As these eight universities are old the youngest among them, Cornell, was founded in 1853, ivy has had plenty of time to decorate the outsides of the more historic buildings on these campuses. The word league, however, is more an invention of imagination than a reality. Though there is an association called the Ivy League, it refers to the above schools' participation in an American football athletic conference rather than to any academic alliance. Further, despite the lengthy academic lineage of these schools, the footballing Ivy League was not formally formed until 1956, though highly cometitive football and other athletic games have been hotly contested among the schools for many generations.


Since these institutes of higher learning had such an early start in the history of the United States, it is not surprising that they should individually and collectively have exerted a great influence on American society. Their status whithin national scholarly circles is unparalleled. Admission to these universities is highly demanding many students apply for every one lucky enough to be accepted.As these universities are private, they are relatively expensive. Offsetting the extremely high tuition are many opportunities for scholarships. These scholarships are awarded to meritorious students regardless of their backgrounds.


Additionally, the roster of the faculties of these schools reads like a Who's Who list of important Americans and quite a few foreigners, as well)。 Their intellectual integrity shows in the number of Nobel and other major prizes awarded which they have garnered over the years. Some of the country's most famous doctors, statesmen, engineers, scientists, and educationists have studied and taught within these ivy-covered walls. No fewer than 14 US presidents have earned degrees here, including six at Harvard, six at Yale, and two at Princeton.


Though only a select few can join the ranks as Ivy Leaguers each year, Americans are endowed with a world-class tertiary educational system second to none. Not every graduate from an Ivy League school "makes the grade" in life even a first-rate education is no guarantee of success. Still, those who do enter and leave the Ivy League universities in the northeastern United States have a much better than average chance to join the ranks of the movers and shakers of not only the US cociety, but, once back in their home countries, of their native lands as well.


Lesson 14 Alpine Treasures


From the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains stretches the continent of Europe. The most striking geographic feature within this densely-populated area is the Alps Mountain Range, commonly called the Alps, The Alps covers most of Austria and Switzerland as well as significant areas of Germany, France, and Italy. The picture-perfect land and lifestyle of the Alps contain many treasures for all the peoples of the world. Who hasn't dreamed of visiting the Alps for a vacation If you are lucky enough to vacation in the Alps, what delights await you


The ladies can look forward to dirndls and Alpine flowers. A dirndl is a special Alpine dress worn particularly by the German-speaking populations of the Alps in most of the Swiss and all of the German and Austrian areas)。 This long, often colorful and simple-paterned dress includes a full skirt, gathered waist,and tightfitting bodice. Most women fall in love with a dirndl the moment they see one. Save up to buy one, though. Most dirndls are hand-made and rather pricey. Compared to the cost of the intercontinental voyage to the Alps, though, a dirndl is well worth the expense.The wearer will have a cool weather treasure to wear for many years.


If dirndls are really too expensive, though, the hundreds of species of Alpine flowers will also delight notonly women, but all nature lovers, for free. Of course, to see these botanical wonders, one must visit the Alps during its relatively brief spring through fall, that is, between June and September for most blossoms. The hills are alive with tiny, multi-colored petals in sometimes bizarre shapes. Don't touch Most plant species are protected by laws carrying stiff fines, even for unsuspecting tourists. Instead, these natural treasures are available on the many postcards or in the coffee table books available at the ubiquitous souvenir shops and bookstores throughout the region. Taking one's own pictures or movies is an even better idea. With luck, it is still possible to find the rare edelweiss growing on a mountain slope. Its yellow center with white star-like petals has become an Alpine symbol, present in many folk art handicrafts.


Speaking of handicrafts, in addition to the dirndl, there are other assorted wares which can be taken home as a fond remembrance of one's all-too-brief stay in this mountainous playground.Alpine women take pride in their embroidery. Scarves, shirts, blouses, wall hangings, and table coverings can still be bought in the smaller, more remote hamlets in tiny mountain valleys. Many modern imitations are also available, however, so be sure of any item's authenticity before buying. In the off-season from farming, some Alpine men enjoy woodcarving. Items from as large as grandfather also called "cuckoo" clocks to palm-sized miniature animals, farm utensils or equipment, or creations from the imagination can be had at roadside stands or local markets.


It's a pity that so much local food does not carry well otherwise, Alpine dairy products, sausages,and breads are well worth taking home. On the other hand, bottled wild honey with its extra-thick consistency and exotic wildflower tastes and scents is relatively easy to transport with care in one's carry-on baggage. Mountain wine and liquor may also be carefully taken home. In the meantime, enjoy the calorie-laden but delicious Alpine cuisine where it was meant to be eaten.


Some Alpine treasures cannot be taken home. World-class skiing, mountain climbing, mountain hiking, and white-water rafting are among them. The views of the permanent glaciers of Mount Blanc, the Alps's highest peak at just over 4700 meters will last a lifetime. Jolly Alpine music and dancing quicken the heart and set the feet tapping. With so much to see and appreciate, perhaps the next priority vacation spot on the discriminating traveler's list should be the Alps.


Lesson 15 Webcams: Electronics tool or the end of privacy?


What are webcams The word webcam is a compound word formed from two abbreviations, "web" from the World Wide Web and "cam" from camera. Webcams are cameras which are situated at various places and linked to the World Wide Web. They allow 24-hour viewing of a wide array of places and activities around the world. They can be as educational as they are fascnating, entertaining as they are eye-epening. Not everyone raves about this new technology, however. Some cite sinister implications in a technology which can unobtrusively spy on our goings-on without our permission. Others note that with rapid increases in telephotography and the science of acoustics, the days of privacy are numbered. Anyone can mount a webcam with a telephoto lens and microphone, aim it at his neighborsliving room or bedroom, and then broadcast ones "private" life to the whole world. A script for the next sci-fi film, or a current reality Are these doomsayers overreacting, or is their charge legitimate

On one side of the debate are those who point out that webcams offer more real advantages than supposed disadvantages. They cite numerous websites on which people can observe the world around them for educational or aesthetic purposes. Today one can watch urban scenes like city streets and squares or even haunted houses Nature lovers can revel in the undetectable webcasting of bats, sharks, and penguins at various sites around the world. A huge collection of webcams can be found at www.earthcam.com. Another great collection can viewed at www.discovery.com. Most educators, parents, and politicians would agree that these websites allow for a better understanding of both the human and natural environments in the world we all live in. Certainly, they would say, webcams provide an invaluable service and should not be restricted.

Others are not so sure. every technology cuts both ways. Even fire can cook food as it can burn our flesh. Railroads gave us faster and more convenient transportation as they simultaneously signaled the death knell of many species of migratory animals as well as served up noise and air pollution. Nuclear energy gives millions heat, light, and power just as it creates unwanted radioactive side effects. Seemingly harmless technologies such as telecommunications also have their dark side.

Opponents of webcams note that the sleazy, commercial instinct of some people is unleashed with the offering of for-pay viewing of certain starlets or other celebritieshome lives, which most people prefer to think of as their "private" life. Perhaps not much longer. In some controversial cases, webcams have been mounted in public installations such as washrooms so that voyeurs may watch the intimate goings-on of anonymous people. Even more sinister in the capacity for the new technology to be used in both economic espionage and "good old" state-to-state spying. Webcams mounted surredptitiously in business offices or factories can reveal on-screen "secrets" from those unaware that they are being bugged. With microelectronics technology reducing the size of telecommunications devices, this is no paranoid fantasy any longer.

The human mind is as devious as the many progressive devices it produces. No matter what technology mankind develops in the future, we must move forward and allow these new technologies. Only by practicing them——for good or bad——can we realize our human potential. On balance, too, despite the horrific deadly or sinister potential in technology, the world offers a more productive, comfortable, and progressive environment today than in our previous low-tech centuries. At the end of the day, it is not our technology that we must learn to control so much as ourselves.


Lesson 16 When is the best time

Some people go so far as to say that time does not really exist it is all in the mind, they claim. Others note that according to astrophysicists, time really does exist it is inseparable from space, coexisting in what these scientists call the "time-space continuum." No matter which view you may hold, time is of relative importance in different cultures….


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