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unit 7 阅读技巧、文化背景和好句子分析numbers and omens

UNIT 7: Numbers and Omens

Reading skills---scanning
? 1. How did Cutrona carry out her studies of college students? ? She compared their college entrance exam scores to grade point averages. Students also filled out questionnaires on their families. ? 2. What are the two key findings by Cutrona? ? Students with the cheerleading parents showed less anxiety about challenges; lower anxiety was linked to more self-confidence, which predicted better grades. Having supportive friends or romantic partners didn't affect grade point average.)

? 3. What is Cutrona's conclusion based on her findings? ? Parents' attitudes toward their children seem to affect the way students think of themselves and self-image seems to influence performance.

Cultural and background notes
1) The I Ching or Book of Changes ? A compilation which records an ancient Chinese system of divination. In the system, an oracle is cast by flipping coins or more traditionally, by manipulating yarrow stalks. The oracle is one of 64 different hexagrams. The hexagram itself is composed of two trigrams, each consisting of three lines. Those lines are either straight (Yang) or broken (Yin).

? 2) Yin-Yang ? Meaning much more than just female/male, Yin-Yang are the Chinese terms for the basic polarities of the Universe. Yang is time, light, strong. Yin is space, dark, weak. Yang is the direction upwards; Yin downwards. Yang is the closed circle; Yin is the open angle. Yang is clockwise; Yin counter-clockwise. Yang is hard, resistant and tense; Yin is soft, yielding and relaxed.

? 3) the five elements ? Metal, wood, water, fire and earth. The following is the productive cycle of the five elements in ancient Chinese philosophy. ? Wood burns producing Fire. Fire leaves behind Earth. Earth is the source of Metal. Metal liquefies into flowing liquid like Water. Water then becomes the nourishment for the Wood.

? 4)

Lao Tzu

? Also called Tao Te Ching (literally, "the classic of the way of virtue"), is attributed to Lao Tzu, though scholars disagree about his actual existence. In its very poetic form, it teaches that there is a dynamic, cosmic structure underlying everything that happens in the world. We humans need to discover that Way (Tao), which is immanent in all aspects of the world, not a rule imposed from without; and we need to fit into it, letting things take their course, not exerting ourselves in opposition to it by trying to bend things to our will. ? Our naming (describing) of things always falls short of the way things are, since things are not limited as our language presupposes. Even the Tao which we are trying to talk about here eludes our words. The original polarity is that of being and non-being, and it will be found to interplay throughout the world, with non-being (emptiness, what is not) having as much significance as does being (the fullness of things, what is). Thus the notion of the Tao recaptures the earlier Chinese concept of Yin and Yang, the polarities running through all things.

? 5)

doing the sevens

? Traditional Chinese funeral ceremony, traditionally lasts over 49 days, the first seven days being the most important. Prayers are said every seven days for 49 days if the family can afford it. If the family is in poor circumstances, the period may be shortened to from 3 to 7 days. Usually, it is the responsibility of the daughters to bear the funeral expenses. The head of the family should be present for, at least the first and, possibly the second, prayer ceremony. The number of ceremonies conducted is dependent on the financial situation of the family. The head of the family should also be present for the burial or the cremation.

? 6)

ghost month

? The seventh month of the lunar year when Ghost Festival is celebrated. Just as Western people have Halloween for ghosts, Chinese people also have a holiday to fete the departed spirits of the underworld - Ghost Festival. It is a popular occasion celebrated throughout China on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. Historically, families offer sacrifices of the newly harvested grain to departed ancestors on this day. The Chinese believe that the dead become ghosts roaming between Heaven and earth. Spirits without descendants to care for them are prayed to during Ghost Festival so that they may also enjoy the warmth of life among the living. This custom, an extension of the traditional Chinese ethic of "universal love."

Language notes
? 1) Many foreign visitors can't help but exclaim that the Chinese are really creative and can line numbers up so "auspiciously." ? (许多外国游客赞叹不已,说中国人真有创造性,竟能够把 数字排列得如此“吉祥”。) ? To line sth up means to arrange or organize sth. ? e.g. He's lined up a live band for the party. ? 2) Chinese not only use numbers to appeal for good fortune, they also bring them out to chew people out.... ? (中国人不仅用数字来求好运,而且还用数字骂人......) ? To chew sb. out means to speak angrily to sb. ? e.g. He chewed out his secretary for being late to work.

? 3)...and a whole set of auspiciousness-attracting and evil-expelling habits took shape. ? (......于是就形成了一整套祈福避祸的风俗习惯。) ? To take shape means to take on a definite form. ? e.g. The plan is beginning to take shape in my mind. ? 4) We often say "three yang make good fortune" to describe the hope that misfortune will be held at bay and good luck will follow. ? (我们常说“三阳开泰",以期远离凶险,万事亨 通。) ? To hold sb at bay means to prevent (an enemy, pursuers, etc) from coming near. ? e.g. I'm trying to hold my creditors at bay.

? 5) ...says that the only significance numbers have is what people ascribe to them. ? (李恒力认为数字和祸福并无任何联系,他们的意义是人们 强加上去的。) To ascribe sth to sb/sth means to consider sth to be caused by, written by or belonging to sb/sth. ? e.g. He ascribed his failure to bad luck. ? This play is usually ascribed to Shakespeare. ? You can't ascribe the same meaning to both words. ? 6) They are more wary of one, three, five, seven, and nine. (他们对一、三、五、七、九等数字比较谨慎。) ? To be wary of is to be cautious of. ? e.g. She was wary of strangers.

? 7) Thus in odd-numbered months holidays have been stipulated to help people get by. ? (因此单月里定下了一些节日让人们来过。) ? To get by is to manage to live. ? e.g. How does he get by on such a small salary? ? 8) When inquiring into the other's name and the "eight character horoscope" of the other party.... ? (向女方“问名”或互换“生辰八字”时......) ? To inquire into sth means to try to learn the facts about sth. ? e.g. We must inquire further into the matter.

? 9) The number of characters in the Chinese text would always have to add up to an even number.... ? (所用字数也要凑成偶数......) ? To add up to means to amount to. ? e.g. These numbers add up to 100. ? ? 10) "...Thus five fits in well with the idea of the ‘mean' always promoted by Confucian scholars," he has written. ? (......“因此‘五’正好符合儒家所提倡的‘中庸’ 思想”,他这样写道。) ? To fit in with sth means to be in harmony with sth. ? e.g. Do these plans fit in with your arrangements?

? 11) Six is the largest number on a die, so wouldn't one win by coming up with two sixes? ? (骰子上最大的数字是六,如果你掷出了 两个六,不就赢了吗?) ? To come up with sth means to find or produce (an answer, a solution, etc). ? e.g. She came up with a new idea for increasing sales.

? Fast reading time! ? Your homework: please list some ten words or phrases or sentences in this passage which you prefer. The more, the better.