Background to the USA 美国背景
------ By Li Yanping
Chapter 1 America, Americans, American English and the
Part 1 Gateway to the USA 进入美国的大门
Perhaps no single monument in the USA is as famous as the Statue of Liberty. Standing on a small island in
New York Harbor, the crowned lady, holding high in her right hand the torch of freedom and in her left
hand a tablet which is said "July 4 th,1776," is a symbol of American democracy. She is immense. She is 151ft. high and the pedestal on which she stands is almost as much. An lift takes visitors to the top of the pedestal, around which a balcony runs. A spiral staircase goes up to the crown, and another to the torch. The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the USA from France in 1886, as a mark of friendship and also in memory of the aid
France gave the Americans during the American Revolution.
Part 2 Blacks and Whites 黑人与白人
Although no longer slaves after Civil War, American blacks took no significant part in the life of white America
except as servants or laborers. Many thousands of them emigrated from the war-ravaged South to the North from 1865 to 1915 in the hope of finding work in the big industrial cities. Whole communities of blacks
crowded together into ghettos in New York City, Chicago and Detroit, where once the poor white immigrants had lived. These ghettos, neglected by the city authorities, became slums. The schools to which black children went were hopelessly inadequate. Unemployment in black ghettos remained consistently higher than in white
Part 3 American English and British English 美国英语与英国英语
Written English is more or less the same in both Britain and the USA, and in everyday speech the two peoples
have little difficulty in understanding one another. In fact, the Americans have exported a large number of their
words and phrases to Britain---through literature, the movies, TV, American soldiers during both wars,
and tourists. Some of the words that Americans now use come from the languages of
their immigrants, particularly from the Germans, who make up a large
proportion of the country's population.
Part 4 The 4 th of July---a Day of Rejoicing 7月4日是欢乐的日子 The 4 th of July is the most important
holiday in the USA, for it commemorates that famous day in 1776 when the Americans declared
their independence. Congress made the declaration in Philadephia, and
that night in the city there were joyful celebrations which soon became nationwide. Ever since, the 4 th of July has been marked in the American
calendar as Independence Day, and there are parades and festivities of
What does the Statue of Liberty commemorate
What did the blacks take over from white immigrants when they went from the South to the northern industrial cities
What has caused so many American words and phrases to become part of the British English vocabulary Chapter 2 Three Cities and A River
Part 5 New York 纽约
The Dutch bought Manhattan Island from the Indians for what today would be the equivalent of $24! They named it New Amsterdam. In 1653 New Amsterdam had a population of 800. The Dutch discovered that the island and the coastal strip was swamp. They filled the swamp with their garbage and so created what is today Brooklyn. They also improved the soil of the northern area, now known as the Bronx. In 1664 the English and the Dutch went to war. New Amsterdam was seized by the English fleet, and finally, in
1674, it became an English colony. It was renamed New York. The Dutch and English colonists got on well together, sharing the same spirit of independence. They were both fiercely separatist in the American
Revolution, and fought side by side against the British.
After the war, New York became the first capital of the United States, being already the largest city in North
America. By the end of the 18 th century it had a population of 60 thousand, but it grew rapidly during the 19 th century thanks to the millions of immigrants who landed there. However, New York did not remain the capital for long. In 1793
the foundation of a new capital city was laid by Washington, and the Americans called their new capital Washington, after their great leader. New York, however, became one of the largest and most powerful cities in
the and has at present a population of more than 8 million.
Part 6 Chicago 芝加哥
Chicagoans have a great pride in their city. They boast that it is of greater importance to the nation than New York. It is the center of American commerce and transportation. O'Hare Airport is the busiest airport in the
. 44million passengers pass through it every year, and there are 2,000 take-offs and landings every day. Chicago is still the center of the American railroad system.
Chicago is also a great inland port, unique in the . It can send goods by ocean-going ships all the way to
Europe-via the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence Seaway. It can send goods by barge, through waterways and canals, to the Mississippi and down it to the Gulf of Mexico.
Part 7 San Francisco 旧金山
San Francisco lies on a fault, or crack, in the Earth's surface which stretches right down the Pacific coast of America and has already produced one devastating earthquake.
After War II, many San Franciscans left the old city houses and moved to the suburbs, not because they were afraid of earthquakes, but because there was a trend for living in the suburbs. Now the trend for suburban
living is being reversed. Well-off people are buying and restoring many of these historic houses and are moving back into the city.
San Francisco has a mild climate, spoilt only by the summer sea fogs which creep over the city in the afternoon,
causing unsuspecting tourists to shiver in their cotton shirts and dresses. But many people still regard San Francisco as a paradise.
Part 8 The Mississippi 密西西比河
The River Indians used it as a highway and as a source of food, and it was they who gave it its name-"misi", meaning "great" and "sipi", meaning "water". When the length of its great tributary, the Missouri, is added to it, the Mississippi becomes the third longest river in the .
Great rivers are prone to floods. In 1927 the Mississippi swamped
26 thousand acres, sweeping away farms, towns, everything in its path. In 1938 its floods drowned or killed
200 people and made millions homeless. Today the river has largely been tamed. Levees, high banks built of earth, hold back the flood waters.
5. Why was New York the capital of the USA for such a short time
6. How is it possible for ocean-going ships to sail all the way from
Chicago to Europe
7. Did the San Franciscans start moving from the center of the city
through fear of another earthquake
8. What use did the Indians make of the Mississippi before the white man
took it over
Chapter 3 Life of Americans
Part 9 Disney 迪斯尼世界
Disney , Florida, is the biggest amusement resort in the . It covers 24.4 thousand acres, and is
twice the size of Manhattan. It was opened on October 1,1971, five years after Walt Disney's death, and it is a
larger, slightly more ambitious version of Disneyland near Los Angeles. Foreigners tend to associate Walt Disney with Snow White and
the Seven Dwarfs, and with his other famous cartoon characters, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto. There is very little that could be called vulgar in Disney . It attracts people of most tastes and most income groups. There are two expensive hotels, a golf course, forest trails for horseback riding and rivers for
canoeing. But the central attraction of the resort is the Magic Kingdom. You need two days to explore the Magic Kingdom properly. But it is worth it—and it is very inexpensive.
Part 10 College Students 大学生
There are more than 2,000 colleges, universities and institutes in
the USA which have the authority to grant degrees. There are 3,500
college students per 100 thousand of population. This is the highest proportion in the .
Although qualifying for a place is much easier than in most other countries, only 25% of young people from poor homes get places, as compared with 75% from rich homes. Many students from poor homes take a part-time job while they are at a university. They work in the
evenings as waiters and waitresses, for instance, where they can earn
a considerable amount of money from tips.
because of the points system. Although it is easy to get to a university, it is not so easy to stay there--The choice for a place in Higher Education
Private Universities Harvard(founded 1636) and Yale(1701) are the
best-known. Also Princeton, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell(partly private, partly run by New York University, and many others)
State Universities Large, with many campuses located across the
States-California(nine campuses, of which
Berkeley and UCLA are the foremost),Illinois
(30 thousand students), Minnesota, Michigan,
Small, with fewer campuses- New Hampshire,
Institutes of Technology There are many of these. California
Massachusetts, Illinois all have a high
Colleges Well-known, but small- Amherst, Antioch, etc. In
addition many other colleges do very good work.
Community Colleges and Technical Schools
Students in Community Colleges and Technical
Schools can learn a skill, while at the same time
preparing for the first two years of a degree
course. Some Community Colleges concentrate
Part 11 How Americans Eat and Drink 美国人的吃喝
Coca-cola is the best-selling soft drink in the . Coke is not the only "cola" drink. Pepsi Cola is a well-known rival and has its devotees, for it is not as sweet as Coke. But some Americans prefer stronger stuff.
Well-off Americans consume a lot of alcohol in the form of cocktails--mixtures based on spirits like whisky, gin and vodka.
Hamburgers and hot dogs are perhaps the best known American
foods. Hot dogs--sausages between bread rolls-can be bought in snack
bars and from hot dog stands on street corners. They come with French fries and crisp green salad.
Part 12 The Federal Government 联邦政府
the executive responsible for carrying out the laws
Secretaries of State
Appointed by the President, and forming the Cabinet
Congress Supreme Court nine judges,
the court deals with complaints
against the Constitution
Senate House of Representatives
each State appoints two members are elected by the
Senators, who serve for six electorate of each State according
Years, 1/3 of the Senators being to population and serve for two
elected every two years years
9. Where do most people go first when they visit Disney
10. Name the private Universities in the USA.
11.Which of the following are soft drinks: gin, orangeade, wine,
12.How many senators serve for six years
Chapter 4 Newspapers, TV and Arts
Part 13 Newspapers and TV 新闻报纸和电视
No country in the has more daily newspapers than the USA. There are almost 2,000 of them, as compared with 180 in Japan,164 in Argentina and 111 in Britain. Distinguished dailies like the Washington
Post or the New York Times exert a powerful influence all over the country. Thirty-four percent of the 's television sets are in the USA. There are a thousand stations in the 50 states.
The major networks- National Broadcasting Company, Columbia Broadcasting System and the American Broadcasting Company—introduce a spate of new shows of every description.
Part 14 The Performing Arts 表演艺术
In most universities there is a Center for the Performing Arts, where there are classes in theater, opera and
dance. Music and opera festivals are becoming a feature of American life. America's greatest contribution to the performing arts, however, is in the realm of dance. In 1926 Martha Graham's Dance Company appeared for the
first time in New York. Martha Graham is the mother of modern dance, the source from which springs all contemporary dance in the .
Lincoln Center, built in the 1960s, is the unofficial center of the performing arts in the USA. Grouped around a
central plaza with a
fountain in the middle are the New York State Theater, home of the New York City Ballet, the splendid "MET", the Avery Fisher Hall, home of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and also the Museum of Performing Arts. Part 15 Jazz 爵士乐
Jazz is a gift to the from the American blacks. It is rooted in the music that the black slaves sang as they
picked cotton in Alabama, or heaped up the earth on the levees along the Mississippi River. There are jazz concerts and jazz festivals all over the .
Part 16 Hollywood 好莱坞
Movies were first made in Hollywood before War I. The constant sunshine and mild climate of southern California made it an ideal site for shooting motion pictures. No country in the has developed so expertly
the skill of advertising as the Americans. They advertise everything, from ice cream to candidates for the Presidency. The Hollywood studios, by means of advertising, turned starlets into superstars. About 80% of all
American TV entertainment comers from Hollywood. Questions:
13. Which networks introduce new shows
14. What do you know about Lincoln Center
15. What music is Jazz from
16. What made Hollywood ideal for motion picture-making
Key words and sentences:
1. the Statue of Liberty 自由女神像
2. and another to the torch 另一架螺旋形梯子通到火炬处
3. American Revolution 美国革命
4. commemorates 纪念
5. 2000 take—offs and landings 两千架次的起飞和着陆
6. Saint Lawrence Seaway 圣劳伦斯航道
7. causing unsuspecting tourists to shiver in their cotton shirts and dresses 使那些始料不及的游客们穿着棉布衬衣和外套还直打哆嗦
8. tributary 支流
9. levee 大堤
10.qualifying for a place 具有资格进入大学读书
11.points system 教学上的记分制
12. hot dog stands 卖热狗的摊
13. in the realm of 在……的领域
14. heaped up the earth on 在…..上添加泥土
15. turned starlets into superstars 把小明星捧为超级明星
Answers to the questions on Background to the USA: Part 1 It commemorates the aid that France gave the Americans during the American Revolution.
Part 2 Ghettos.
Part 3 They are literature, the movies, TV, American soldiers during both wars and tourists.
Part 4 Because the Americans declared their independence on that day.
Part 5 In 1793, Washington laid a new capital city. Part 6 They can sail via the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
Part 7 No, it's because there was a trend for living in the suburbs.
Part 8 They used it as a highway and as a source of food. Part 9 They go to the Magic Kingdom.
Part 10 Harvard, Yele, Princeton, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell. Part 11 Orangeade and cola.
Part 12 Each state points two.
Part 13 National Broadcasting Company, Columbia Broadcasting System and the American Broadcasting Company. Part 14 It was built in the 1960s, and it's the unofficial center of the performing arts in the USA.
Part 15 It's from the music that the black slaves sang as they picked
cotton in Alabama, or heaped up the earth on the leaves along the Mississippi River.
Part 16 What made Hollywood ideal for motion picture-makin