Unit 1, Book1
Anne's best friend
Do you want a friend whom you could tell everything to, like your deepest feelings and thoughts? Or are you afraid that your friend would lau
gh at you, or would not understand what you are going through? Anne Frank wanted the first kind, so she made her diary her best friend.
Annie lived in Amsterdam in the Netherlands during World War II. Her family was Jewish so they had to hide or they would be caught by the German Nazis. She and her family hid away for nearly twenty-five months before they were discovered. During that time the only true friend was her diary. She said, "I don't want to set down a series of facts in a diary as most people do, but I want this diary itself to be my best friend, and I shall call my friend Kitty." Now read how she felt after being in the hiding place since July 1942.
I wonder if it's because I haven't been able to be outdoors for so long that I've grown crazy about everything to do with nature. I can well remember that there was a time when a deep blue sky, the song of the birds, moonlight and flowers could never have kept me spellbound. That's changed since I was here.
For example, one evening when it was so warm, I stayed awake on purpose until half past eleven in order to have a good look at the moon by myself. But as the moon gave far too much light, I didn't dare open a window. Another time five months ago, I happened to be upstairs at dusk when the window was open. I didn't go downstairs until the window had to be shut. The dark, rainy evening, the wind, the thundering clouds held me entirely in their power; it was the first time in a year and a half that I'd seen the night face to face...
...Sadly... I am only able to look at nature through dirty curtains hanging before very dusty windows. It's no pleasure looking through these any longer because nature is one thing that really must be experienced.
The road to modern English
At the end of the 16th century, about five to seven million people speak English. Nearly all of them lived in England. Later in the next century, people from England made voyages to conquer other parts of the world and because of that, English began to be spoken in many other countries. Today, more people speak English as their first, second or a foreign language than ever before.
Native English speakers can understand each other even if they don't speak the same kind of English. Look at this example:
British Betty: Would you like to see my flat?
American Amy: Yes. I'd like to come up to your apartment.
So why has English changed over time? Actually all languages change and develop when cultures meet and communicate with each other. At first the English spoken in England between about AD 450 and 1150 was very different from the English we spoke today. It was based more on German than the English we speak at present. Then gradually between about AD 800 and 1150, English became less like German because those who ruled England spoke first Danish and later French. These new settlers enriched the English language and especially its vocabulary. So by the 1600's Shakespeare was able to make use of a wider vocabulary than ever before. In 1620 some British settlers moved to America. Later in the 18th century some British people were taken to Australia too. English began to be spoken in both countries.
Finally by the 19th century the language was settled. At that time two big changes in English spelling happened: first Samuel Johnson wrote his dictionary and later Noah Webster wrote the American Dictionary of the English language. The latter gave a separate identity to American English spelling.
English now is spoken as a foreign or second language in South Asia. For example, India has a very large number of fluent English speakers because Britain ruled India from 1765 to 1947. During that time English became the language for government and education. English is also spoken in Singapore and Malaysia and countries in Africa such as South Africa. Today the number of people learning English in China is increasing rapidly. In fact, China may have the largest number of English learners. Will Chinese English develop its own identity? Only time will tell.
Standard English and Dialects
What is standard English? Is it spoken in Britain, the US, Canada, Australia, India and New Zealand? Believe it or not, there is no such thing as standard English. Many people believe the English spoken on TV and the radio is standard English. This is because in the early days of radio, those who reported the news were expected to speak excellent English. However, even on TV and the radio you will hear differences in the way people speak.
When people use words and expressions different form “standard language”, it is called a dialect. American English has many dialects, especially the midwestern, southern, African American has many dialects. In some parts of the US, two people from neighbouring towns can have a little different dialect. American English has so many dialects because people have come from all over the world.
Geography also plays a part in making dialects. Some people who live in the mountains of the eastern US speak with an older kind of English dialect. When Americans moved form one place to another, they took their dialects with them. So people from the mountains in the southeastern US speak with almost the same dialect as people in the northwestern US. The US is a large country in which many different dialects are spoken. Although many Americans move a lot, they still recognize each other’s dialects.
Journey down the Mekong
My name is Wang Kun. Ever since middle school, my sister Wang Wei and I have dreamed about taking a great bike trip. Two years ago she bought an expensive mountain bike then she persuaded me to buy one. Last year, she visited our cousins, Dao Wei and Yu Hang at their college in Kunming. They are Dai and grew up in western Yunnan Province near Lancang River, the Chinese part of the river that is called the Mekong River in other countries. Wang Wei soon got them interested in cycling too. After graduating from college, we finally got the chance to take a bike trip. I asked my sister, "Where are we going?" It was my sister who first had the idea to cycle along the entire Mekong River from where it begins to where it ends. Now she is planning our schedule for the trip.
I am fond of my sister but she has one serious shortcoming. She can be really stubborn. Although she didn't know the best way of getting to places, she insisted that she organize the trip proper ly. Now I know that the proper way is always her way. I kept asking her, "When are we leaving and when are we comingback ?" I asked her whether she had looked at a map yet. Of course she hadn't; my sister doesn't care about details. So I told her that the source of the Mekong is in Qinghai Province. She gave me a determined look- the kind that said she would not change her mind. When I told her that our journey would begin at an altitude of more than 5000 meters, she seemed to be excited about it. When I told her the air would be hard to breathe and it would be very cold, she said it would be an interesting experience. I know my sister well. Once she has made up her mind, nothing can change it. Finally, I had to give in.
Several months before our trip, Wang Wei and I went to the library. We found a large atlas with good maps that showed details of world geography. From the atlas we could see that the Mekong River begins in a glacier on a mountain in Qinghai Province. At first the river is small and the water is clear and cold. Then it begins to move quickly. It becomes rapids as it passes through deep valleys, traveling across western Yunnan Province. Sometimes the river becomes a waterfall and enters wide valleys. We were both surprised to learn that half of the river is in China. After it leaves China and high altitude, the Mekong becomes wide, brown and warm. As it enters Southeast Asia, its pace slows. It makes wide bends or meanders through low valleys to the plains where rice grows. At last, the river delta enters the South China Sea.
PART 2 A NIGHT IN THE MOUNTAINS
Although it was autumn, the snow was already beginning to fall in Tibet. Our legs were so heavy and cold that they felt like blocks of ice. Have you ever seen snowmen ride bicycles? That’s what we looked like! Along the way children dressed in long wool coats stopped to look at us. In the late afternoon we found it was so cold that our water bottles froze. However, the lakes shone like glass in the setting sun and looked wonderfull. Wang Wei rode in front of me as usual. She is very reliable and I knew I didn't need to encourage her. To climb the mountains was hard work but as we looked around us, we were surprised by the view. We seemed to be able to see for miles. At one point we were so high that we found ourselves cycling through clouds. Then we began going down the hills. It was great fun especially as it gradually became much warmer. In the valleys colourful butterflies flew around us and we saw many yaks and sheep eating green grass. At this point we had to change our caps, coats, gloves and trousers for T-shirts and shorts.
In the early evening we always stop to make camp. We put up our tent and then we eat. After supper Wang Wei put her head down on her pillow and went to sleep but I stayed awake. At midnight the sky became clearer and the stars grew brighter. It was so quiet. There was almost no wind – only the flames of our fire for company. As I lay beneath the stars I thought about how far we had already travelled.
We will reach Dali in Yunnan Province soon, where our cousins Dao Wei and Yu Hang will join us. We can hardly wait to see them!
A night the earth didn't sleep
Strange things were happening in the countryside of northeast Hebei. For three days the water in the village wells rose and fell, rose and fell. Farmers noticed that the well walls had deep cracks in them. A smelly gas came out of the cracks. In the farmyards, the chickens and even the pig were too nervous to eat. Mice ran out of the fields looking for places to hide. Fish jumped out of their bowls and ponds. At about 3:00 am on July 28, 1976, some people saw bright lights in the sky. The sounds of planes could be heard outside the city of Tangshan even when no planes were in the sky. In the city,the water pipes in some buildings cracked and burst.But the one million people of the city. who thought little of these events, were asleep as usual that night.
At 3:42 am everything began to shake. It seemed as if the world was at an end! Eleven kilometers directly below the city one of the greatest earthquake of the 20th century had begun. It was felt in Beijing, which is more than two hundred kilometers away. One-third of the nation felt it. A huge crack that was eight kilometers long and thirty meters wide cut across houses, roads and canals. Steam burst from holes in the ground. Hard hills of rock became rivers of dirt. In fifteen terrible seconds a large city lay in ruins. The suffering of the people was extreme. Two-third of them died or were injured during the earthquake. Thousands of families were killed and many children were left without parents. The number of people who were killed or serious injured reached more than 400.000.
But how could the survivors believe it was natural? Everywhere they looked nearly everything was destroyed. All of the city's hospitals, 75% of its factories and buildings and 90% of its homes were gone. Bricks covered the ground like red autumn leaves. No wind, however, could blow them away. Two dams fell and most of the bridges also fell or were not safe for travelling. The railway tracks were now useless pieces of steel. Tens of thousands of cows would never give milk again. Half a million pigs and millions of chickens were dead. Sand now filled the wells instead of water. People were shocked. Then, later that afternoon, another big quake which was almost as strong as the first one shook Tangshan. Some of the rescue workers and doctors were trapped under the ruins. More buildings fell down. Water, food, and electricity were hard to get. People began to wonder how long the disaster would last.
All hope was not lost. Soon after the quakes, the army sent 150,000 soldiers to Tangshan to help the rescue workers. Hundreds of thousands of people were helped. The army organized teams to dig out those who were trapped and to bury the dead. To the north of the city, most of the 10,000 miners were rescued from the coal mines there. Workers built shelters for survivors whose homes had been destroyed. Fresh water was taken to the city by train, truck and plane. Slowly, the city began to breathe again.
My name is Elias. I am a poor black worker in South Africa. The time when I first met Nelson Mandela was a very difficult period of my life. I was twelve years old. It was in 1952 and Mandela was the black lawyer to whom I went to for advice. He offered guidance to poor black people on their legal problems. He was generous with his time, for which I was grateful.
I needed his help because I had very little education. I began school at six. The school where I studied for only two years was three kilometers away. I had to leave because my family could not continue to pay the school fees and the bus fare. I could not read or write well. After trying hard, I got a job in a gold mine. However, this was a time when one had got to have a passbook to live in Johannesburg. Sadly I did not have it because I was not born there, and I worried about whether I would become out of work.
The day when Nelson Mandela helped me was one of my happiest. He told me how to get the correct papers so I could stay in Johannesburg. I became more hopeful about my future. I never forgot how kind Mandela was. When he organized the ANC Youth League, I joined it as soon as I could. He said:
"The last thirty years have seen the greatest number of laws stopping our rights and progress, until today we have reached a stage where we have almost no rights at all."
It was the truth. Black people could not vote or choose their leaders. They could not get the jobs they wanted. The parts of town in which they had to live were decided by white people. The places outside the towns where they were sent to live were the poorest parts of South Africa. No one could grow food there. In fact as Nelson Mandela said:
"...we were put into a position in which we had either to accept we were less important, or fight the government. We chose to attack the laws. We first broke the law in a way which was peaceful; when this was not allowed...only then did we decide to answer violence with violence."
As a matter of fact, I do not like violence...but in 1963 I helped him blow up some government buildings. It was very dangerous because if I was caught I could be put in prison. But I was happy to help because I knew it would help us achieve our dream of making black and white people equal.
The rest of Elias' story
You cannot imagine how the name of Robben Island made us afraid. It was a prison from which no one can escape. There I spent the hardest time of my life. But when I got there Nelson Mandela was also there and he helped me. Mr Mandela began a school for those of us who had little learning. He taught us during the lunch breaks and the evenings when we should have been asleep. We read books under our blankets and used anything we could find to make candles to see the words. I became a good student. I wented to study for my degree but I was not allowed to do that. Later, Mr Mandela allowed the prison guards to join us. He said they should not be stopped from studying for their degrees. They were not cleverer than me, but they did pass their exams. So I knew I could get a degree too. That made me feel good about myself.
When I finished the four years in prison, I went to find a job. Since I was better educated, I got a job working in an office. However, the police found out and told my boss that I had been in prison for blowing up government buildings. So I lost my job. I did not work again for twenty years until Mr Mandela and the ANC came to power in 1994. All that time my wife and children had to beg for food and help from relatives or friends. Luckily Mr Mandela remembered me and gave me a job taking tourists around my old prison on Robben Island. I felt bad the first time I talked to a group. All the terror and fear of that time came back to me. I remembered the beatings and the cruelty of the guards and my friends who had died. I felt I would not be able to do it, but my family encouraged me. They said that the job and the pay from the new South African government were my reward after working all my life for equal rights for the Blacks. So now I am proud to show visitors over the prison, for I helped to make our people free in their own land.
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