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UNIT 16





RUSSIA AND AMERICA THROUGH CULTURAL LENSES

Words to be remembered.

human beings – люди

significance – значение, важность

milieu ['mi:lj¶:] – окружение, окружающая среда

to shape – формировать

way – способ, образ (действия)

to seem – казаться

to assume – предполагать

sane – здравомыслящий

infancy – раннее детство

to reenact – повторять действие

precisely – точно

to take for granted – считать само собой разумеющимся

to surround – окружать

different – различный, отличающийся

to behave – вести себя, поступать

lens [lenz] – объектив, линза, призма

to judge – судить

likewise – также

dissimilar – непохожий

to encounter – встретить (неожиданно или враждебно)

cuisine [kwi 'zi:n] – кухня

to exist – существовать

soul – душа

major – главный

to measure ['me¯¶] – измерять

value – ценность, дорожить

event – событие

to trust – доверять

experience – испытывать

influence – влияние, влиять

view [vju:] – взгляд

xenophobia [,zen¶ 'f ¶ubi¶] – неприязненное отношение к иностранцам

hardship – лишение, трудности

shortage – недостаток

appear – по-видимому

to prefer – предпочитать

goal – цель

to insist – настаивать

to treat –обращаться

equality – равенство

to signify – означать

hospitality –гостеприимство

society [s¶ 'sai¶ ti] – общество

 

Exercises (Pre-reading tasks).

1. Practise the pronunciation of the following words:

human ['hjum¶n], milieu ['mI:lj¶:], assume [¶'sju:m], infancy ['Inf¶nsI], precisely [prI'saIslI], judge [d¯Λd¯], dissimilar [dI'sImIl¶], encounter [In'kaunt¶], cuisine [kwI'zI:n], measure ['me¯¶], value ['vælju:], equality [I:'kwlItI], signify ['sIgnIfaI], influence ['nflu¶ns], stereotype ['sterI¶taIp], bureaucracy [bju'rkr¶sI], authoritative [:'θrIt¶tIv], xenophobic [zen¶ 'fbIk], efficient [I 'fI∫¶nt], doubt ['daut].

 

2. Read and guess the meaning of the following words:

cultural, normal, natural, aquarium, to visit, to stereotype, to interview, roubles, emotional, bureaucracy, oriented, idea, to discuss, distance, skeptical, optimistic, situation, progress, detailed, instruction, risk, innovation, materialistic, authoritative, disciplinarian, traditional, formal, factor, vitamin, economical, public, transportation, position, instinct, feminism.



3. Read and translate the following derivatives paying attention to the suffixes and prefixes:

to signify – significance – significant; nature – natural – naturally; patience – patient – impatient; to trust – trustful – trustless – distrust; to invite – inviting – invitation; to educate – education – educated; to differ – difference – different – differently; to surprise – surprising – surprisingly; to limit – limitless – limited - unlimited; similar – similarity – similarly – dissimilar; to laze – lazy – laziness; signify – significance – significant – unsignificant; to depend – dependence – independence; to understand – understanding – misunderstanding.

4.Translate the following sentences. Pay attention to the construction, which is called Complex Subject.

1. He is known to work at his English hard. 2. The British are known to be very polite. 3. The British people are considered to be the world’s greatest tea drinkers. 4. The Scots are said to be serious, inventive (находчивый) and mystical.5. The Welsh are said to be rather emotional but sometimes reticent (сдержанный). 6. Both the English and the Russians are reputed (имеют репутацию) to have a good sense of humour. 7. Every Englishman is said to be a countryman at heart. 8. The Dutch are considered to be realistic, prudent (благоразумны) and careful (аккуратный). 9. We happened to be in Osaka on that day. 10. They are sure to understand your English quite well. 11. The artist is thought by most people to be a genius. 12. The President is reported to have left Moscow for New-York. 13. I happened to hear his speech yesterday. 14. Foreign guests are reported to have visited a number of schools. 15. Older cultures are said to be more skeptical. 16. American culture is considered to be an optimistic one. 17. Russian people are known to be generous and hospitable. 18. Russian teachers are said to be friendly and sympathetic (благожелательный). 19. Russian women are reputed to be beautiful, patient and loyal.

5. Translate the following sentences. Pay attention to different forms and functions of the Infinitive.

1. It is usually difficult to find a place to park in the city centre. 2. Neil Armstrong was the first man to step on the Moon. 3. He is learning English so that he can study in the USA. 4. There were no chairs to sit on, so we had to sit on the floor. 5. To learn two foreign languages at one and the same time is not easy. 6. What way to choose must be decided now. 7. The question to be discussed at the meeting is very important. 8. Would you like me to tell the whole story? 9. Not to hear the other side of the story will be unwise (неблагоразумно). 10. It is useful to be aware (знать) that stereotypes do exist. 11. The goal is to be patient and persevere (упорно добиваться цели). 12. Moscow is a very expensive city to live in. 13. You promised not to tell anyone. 14. She made them work hard. 15. I was advised to follow the rules. 16. I’d like you to listen to this song. 17. Feminism doesn’t seem to exist.



6. Translate the following sentences. Pay attention to Passive Constructions.

1. Some banks are not trusted. 2. I’m afraid that bureaucracies are not depended upon. 3. Progress was not always made. 4. There is a cultural belief that things can’t easily be changed. 5. Doctors and teachers in Russia are underpaid.6. Foreigners are often moved by generosity and self-sacrifice of Russian people. 7. The traffic system is well-organized. 8. When you are invited to someone’s home in Russia, you are asked to have tea or some food. 9. Being direct is often valued over “beating around the bush” (вокруг да около). 10. Many Americans are more dependent upon their cars.

 

 

RUSSIA AND AMERICA

THROUGH CULTURAL LENSES.

Text 1.

All human beings are cultural beings too. As cultural beings, we are like fish in an aquarium. Most of the time we pay as little attention to the significance of our cultural milieu as fish do to water. Our culture shapes the way we act and see the world. The rules of our culture seem perfectly natural to us. We assume that the way we act is normal and good – and that any sane or civilized person would agree with us.

Of course you never shake hands across a doorway. Of course you lend money to a friend in need! Any educated person knows these things.

The rules of our culture are normal and natural to us because we begin learning them from infancy. We see the same rules reenacted every day. They are so much “second nature” to us that we cannot see them clearly or describe precisely what they are.

We take our culture for granted, the same way fish in an aquarium take the water in which they swim and the tank that surrounds them for granted.

When we meet people who are culturally different from us, they may seem strange to us. Why, we may ask. Why do they behave the way they do?

Russian people who visit America often ask:

Why do Americans always smile?

Why are many Americans fat?

These Russians, quite naturally, are looking at Americans through their own cultural lenses. They notice ways in which Americans are different from Russians. They judge Americans by the rules of their own culture. Likewise, Americans see Russians through American cultural lenses.

This is a universal human quality. We encounter people from dissimilar cultures and we find them somewhat strange. They are not walking and talking and dressing and eating in ways we are used to. Our ways seem so natural, universal and correct to us and we forget that these dissimilar others are, at the same time, looking back at us and thinking how strange we are!

Americans who visit Russia ask:

Why do Russians never smile?

Why are many Russians thin?

They notice ways in which Russians are different from Americans and they are surprised too.

Exercises.

1. Suggest the Russian for:

human beings, to pay little attention, to shape the way we act to assume, sane, the rules of culture, from infancy, second nature, to see clearly, to describe precisely, the same way, a fish in an aquarium, to surround, to look through cultural lenses, to judge, likewise, universal, human quality, to encounter people, dissimilar culture, to look back at.

3. Suggest the English for:

культурные существа, большая часть времени, значение, окружающая среда, образ жизни, здравомыслящий, цивилизованный, предполагать, через порог, одалживать деньги, друг, находящийся в нужде, образованный человек, культурные нормы, смотреть на кого-то через призму своей культуры, замечать, отличаться, судить, таким же образом, свойство, встречать, непохожий.

3. Match each word with its meaning:

(a) human beings (b) encounter (c) milieu (d) sane (e) to assume (f) significance (g) infancy (h) reenact (i) to take for granted - meet unexpectedly - people - not crazy - surroundings - importance - to believe - to perform again - babyhood - to not notice

4. Answer the questions on the text.

1. Why are human beings like fish in an aquarium? 2. What are unwritten rules of Russian culture that are not universal? 3. Why is it so easy to forget that the rules of our culture are not universal? 4. How do human beings sometimes react to people of other cultures? 5. Why do people react in such a way? 6. What details about Americans do stand out? 7. What is a universal human quality? 8. How do you understand the notion (понятие) “to see somebody through cultural lenses”? 9. Why do people think and act the way they do?

5. Together with your teacher uncover (откройте) some of the unwritten rules of Russian culture:

1. People should not shake hands and pass objects across a doorway as it may cause (вызвать) a quarrel (ссора).

2. A gift of an even (чётный) number of flowers is unlucky.

3. You should sit quietly before taking a long journey.

4. One should look in a mirror if something has been forgotten.

5. It’s good to have a bowl of soup a day.

6. Vodka has medicinal properties – if you’ve catching a cold, you should have a cup of tea with a little vodka.

Go on with this list.

6. Try to answer the following commonly asked questions about Russia and America. When you have finished, compare your responses (ответы) with those given at the end of the unit.

1. Why do Americans always smile?

2. Why do many Russians – especially adults (взрослые) – drink tea so often? Why is soup a very common, even daily, element of Russian cuisine? Why do Americans drink so much water?

3. Why are many Russians thin?

Why are many Americans fat?

7. Find answers to the following questions. Share your ideas with your groupmates. You can create (создать) some drawings or visuals (зрительные образцы) to help show your ideas.

 

8. Read the dialogue.

Dialogue 1.

We all stereotype others. It can be a shock to hear about how others stereotype us, but it is useful to be aware (знать) that these stereotypes exist.

If we can understand what lies behind the stereotypes, we shall be able to politely correct others’ misperceptions (непонимание) if we choose.

Russian scholar Victor Razumov gives an interview to an American observer. His name is Christopher Thomson.

Thompson: Hello! I’m Christopher Thomson from “Daily Express”. Mr. Razumov,

would you kindly answer some of my questions about a mysterious

Russian soul.

Razumov: Certainly. Go ahead.

Thompson: Here in Russia I noticed major differences between us, for example

Americans are doers and Russians are dreamers. What do you think

of it?

Razumov: Well, as a general rule, you Americans are oriented towards doing.

You measure your own value by what and how much you do.

Russians are more oriented towards contemplating (обдумывание)

ideas and valuing (оценивать) ideas of themselves.

Thompson: I see. A friend of mine who attended (посещать) a Russian conference

described the different way – each group spent conference evenings.

The Russians sat all nights drinking coffee, discussing and reflecting

upon (размышлять) the events and ideas of the day, while the

Americans were thinking of what they had to do the next day and

were preparing for it.

Razumov: You’ve got it to a “t”. (Вы попали в самую точку).

Thompson: Russian people are known to value familiar faces and distrust those to do not know. Is that so?

Razumov: Sure. A famous Russian saying is: “It’s better to have 100 friends

than 100 rubles”. Russian people depend upon (рассчитывают) a close

network (сообщество) of friends, family and familiar (знакомый)

faces, people they can trust. Banks, bureaucracies are not trusted or

depended upon. Strangers are not immediately (тотчас же) trusted

and are kept at an emotional distance.

Thompson: We, Americans, always want to change things but Russians are said to

be fatalistic, aren’t they?

Razumov: You see, the USA is just a little more than 200 years old and American

culture tends to be an optimistic one. Older cultures are more skeptical

because they have experienced more and have been in situation in

which progress was not always made. It is a general Russian cultural

belief that people can’t easily change things or influence events. The

goal is to be patient and persevere (упорно добиваться цели). This

may be because of the physical hardships of Russian life – from the

long winters to shortages of goods.

Thompson: Russians are said to be lazy. If you don’t tell them what to do and

supervise (руководить) them they will do as little as possible or nothing at all. Is that true?

Razumov: It’s a myth. It depends of course (как сказать). On the one hand Russian workers and students appear to prefer (предпочитать) detailed and precise (точный) instructions from supervisors. People may prefer to follow clear directions from above rather than risk errors (ошибки) or innovations that may harm (повредить) their careers.

On the other hand Russian people can do miracles (чудеса) if they have a distinct (ясный) goal. They have won the last war and restored cities and towns. Nowadays doctors, teachers, scientists, military men areunderpaid but they are able to work under difficult conditions. Look, how the common people spend their weekends. They work hard on their dachas. The vegetables they grow help them to survive (выжить).

Can you call these people lazybones?

Thompson: Certainly not. I see your point now.

Well, I’ve met a lot of friendly people in Russia. I think sympathy is the key to understanding a mysterious Russian soul. In some cases I was moved (тронут) by generosity and self-sacrifice of Russian people. I hope you’ll get through the hardship.

Razumov: I dare swear (я в этом уверен).

9. Translate into English.

загадочная русская душа; основные различия; мечтатели; нацелены на перемены; склонны к обдумыванию; ценить идеи; размышляя (обсуждая) прошедшие события; ценить знакомые лица; недоверие к незнакомцам; не имей 100 рублей, а имей 100 друзей; рассчитывать на близких; знакомый; чиновники; держать на расстоянии; более древние цивилизации; изменить вещи; влиять на события; трудности; нехватка товаров; руководить, как сказать; с одной стороны, с другой стороны; любить точные указания; следовать указаниям; совершать ошибки (рисковать); нововведения (инновации); вредить карьере; совершать чудеса; ясные цели; получать маленькую зарплату; работать в трудных условиях; простые люди; выживать; лентяи; сочувствие, ключ к пониманию, щедрость, самопожертвование, пройти сквозь все испытания.

10. Do you share Mr.Razumov’s opinion? Read the dialogue again and try to answer the reporter’s questions by yourselves.

 

11. We will play a game called “stereotype busters” (разрушение стереотипов). You will choose a stereotype from the list below and read it aloud. The person sitting next to you will challenge (бросить вызов, ответить) the stereotype – finding a polite way to point out that it is a mistaken idea or that it is not true of every single member of a group. You may agree to some stereotypes as well.

For example: Men don’t like to cook.

Polite challenges: I can’t agree with you. I know men who love to cook and who cook very well. My brother makes the best pizza I’ve ever tested.

Some useful phrases to help you:

It depends – как сказать

It’s not quite so – это не совсем так

I hold a different view – я по-другому смотрю на это

I wouldn’t say that – я бы так не сказал

I’m not sure if this is right because … - не уверен, что это так, потому что …

No doubt – несомненно

I believe so – кажется так

I agree, what is more … - я согласен, более того …

1. Russians are not materialistic.

2. Russians are certain that they are right, they know everything and they have all the answers.

3. Russians don’t think about the future. - If they have money today, they spend money today.

4. Every woman wants to marry an American.

5. Russians disapprove (не одобряют) of people who are different.

6. Russian teachers are authoritative and strong disciplinarians.

7. Russians are formal (официальны) when you first meet them.

8. Russians are more traditional, especially the way women want to be treated (относиться) by men. Feminism doesn’t seem to exist.

9. Russian women dress like hookers.

10. Many people push in front of others (расталкивают).

11. Some Russian people are always on the make (заниматься чем-то исключительно с корыстной целью), trying to make money by taking advantage of others (обогащаться за счет других).

12. Americans say “excuse me” when they bump into (сталкиваются) strangers and Russians don’t.

13. People spit (плевать) and blow their noses (сморкаться) onto the street.

14. There are large injustices (несправедливость) in society, for example, why teachers are paid so little and then expected to buy their own textbooks.

15. Russians are emotional, prejudiced (с предрассудками) and xenophobic (неприязненно относятся к иностранцам).

16. There is a right and wrong way to do almost anything in Russia, and Russians will not hesitate (колебаться) to tell you when you are doing something wrong or “nyekulturno”.

17. Russians have a good sense of humour.

18. Russians can adapt and survive (выжить) in very difficult conditions and get through the hardship.

19. All Russians are sharing, generous and hospitable.

12. Read the dialogue and say what new fact you have learnt about Russians and Americans.

Dialogue 2.

Two friends Nikita and Denis are talking about Nikita’s visit to the USA.

Denis: When you first arrived in the USA, what stood out (бросилось в глаза)?

Nikita: First, the traffic system is well-organized. Drivers are polite and stop for

pedestrians. Second, how Americans are relaxed (свободны не церемонны). They have relaxed postures, free behaviour, a relaxed way of

dressing, usually sport clothes. And third, they use computers a lot in everyday life.

Denis: How has your experience changed your original view of Americans?

Nikita: I know now that not all Americans are rich. Statistics shows that 13 percent

of Americans – one of every eight – live below the poverty line. That means they do not have enough money to pay for the basic necessities of life.

Denis: Can you describe any situation in which your expectations (ожидания)

caused a misunderstanding?

Nikita: When you are invited to someone’s home in Russia, you are asked to have

tea or some food. In the USA it does not happen in every house.

Denis: What other things did you notice?

Nikita: Americans are so impatient (нетерпеливы). They don’t like to stand in line

and wait, and they originated “fast food”. Another thing that stands out is

their social equality – treating (обращение) everyone the same.

Denis: I see. But I wonder if you liked any features that are common to many

Americans?

Nikita: Their optimism. Many Americans tend (склонны) to believe that the only

obstacle (препятствие) to things getting better is “not trying enough”.

Another thing I like in them is they don’t complain (жаловаться) and

don’t look to others to solve their problems. And I like their “sorry” which

you hear everywhere.

Denis: And what things did you most notice about Russian people when you returned home?

Nikita: People are less polite. And the weight of swear words! (ругательства)

Denis: I’m with you in this point. I hate obscenities too.

Nikita: Being in the USA I always felt Russian and I told people I was from Russia

with a sense of pride.

Denis: Great. I believe it’s important to be able to see the faults (недостатки) of your country and love it at the same time.

13. Suggest the English for:

бросилось в глаза, вежливый, пешеходы, свободная манера одеваться, опыт, изменить сложившиеся взгляды на, за чертой бедности, оплачивать насущные расходы, ожидания, вызывать недопонимание, приглашать в дом, нетерпелив, общие черты, склонны верить, единственное препятствие, приложить старания, брань, бранные слова, чувство гордости, видеть недостатки, в тоже самое время.

14. Here is a list of values common to many Americans.

Read about the reasons some cultural anthropologists have offered to explain why Americans can appear the way they do to people from other cultures.

Make a dialogue between an American professor and a Russian

reporter.

1. Americans are always in such a hurry to get things done.

- They do it because it’s only then that they feel they have proven their worth (ценность) to other people.

2. Americans insist on treating everyone the same.

– Americans have a deep cultural instinct toward social equality and not having a class system. This is a reaction to the European class system. American insistence on egalitarianism (эгалитаризм), or social equality, may be annoying (раздражать).

3. Americans always have to say what they are thinking.

– Americans believe that being direct is the most efficient way to communicate (общаться). Being direct is often valued over “beating around the bush” (вокруг да около). In some cultures, the normal way to disagree or to say “no” is to say nothing or be very indirect.

4. Americans don’t show very much respect for their elders.

– They believe people must earn by their actions whatever respect they are given. Merely attaining (достижение) a certain age or holding a certain position does not in itself signify achievement (достижение).

5. An American can become acquainted with a complete stranger and in the next breath will describe that person as a friend.

– American friendships center around collegues, neighbours or participants in recreational activities. This reflects the American reluctance (нерасположение) to get too deeply involved (вникать) with the personal problems of others.

6. In the US everything is about money.

– Asking how much money you make is a taboo question in the States.

7. Americans are ethnocentric.

– “Ethno” means cultural group. Ethnocentrism means that human beings often see themselves – their country, their culture, their people - as being the center of the World. They are concerned (озабочены) only with the events at home.

15. What appeals to you in Americans? Point out positive things about others.

16. Have you changed your mind after reading those texts? What new information have you got?

17. We are better able to understand the cultures of other peoples when we compare them with our own culture. Make out a dialogue between two students – American and Russian and speak about your similarities and differences.

18. Write an essay on the topic Russia and America through cultural lenses.

19. Here are the answers for task number six.

1. Why do most Russians not smile in public, for example, at strangers in the street?

In general, Russians have a “public face” and a “private face”. In public, most Russians are formal and reserved. They do not openly express emotions or reveal thoughts in front of people they don’t know well and trust. At home and among friends they are warm, expressive, willing to reveal (открыть) much about their life histories, their deepest thoughts and inmost (сокровенные) feelings.

Most Americans smile often. They smile in public to “break the ice” – to create a feeling of community, equality. Americans may also smile out of a sense of optimism, a belief that one’s happiness lies in one’s hands.

2. Why do many Russians drink tea so often? Why is soup a very common element of Russian cuisine?

Tea drinking among adults is traditional. Tea is comforting and warming. When the weather is cold, it is far more pleasant to drink a cup of hot tea than a glass of cold or lukewarm (тепловатый) water. Tea is also a physical and mental stimulant welcome (желанный) during the long winter. Drinking tea is a social event. You can have a nice, long conversation over a cup of tea but not over a glass of water. Soup is also a traditional part of Russian cuisine, no doubt (несомненно) due to material and historical factors. Many families have soup every day. It is highly nutritious (питательный) – full of vitamins and minerals – and economical. Like tea, it warms the body. As both tea and soup contain a lot of water, one doesn’t need to drink so much.

Most Americans eat soup rarely. Americans generally favour coffee over tea though they do not drink it often. They consider drinking lots of water good for health, especially when they exercise.

3. Why are many Russians thin?

Many Russians walk a great deal. They walk or take public transportation to and from work. Russians walk to do daily tasks like shopping for groceries and paying bills (счета).

Many Americans are more dependent upon their cars. Besides they eat more.

For some young American women share (разделяют) this belief, it is not a universal belief about beauty. There are different ideas about female beauty – in the USA, in Russia, and throughout the world.

UNIT 17








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