Unit 5
Text A
Pre-reading Activities

  1. As you listen to the passage, write down the idioms and expressions that match each definition below. Warning: One of the definitions fits two expressions that you'll hear.
a) a child who learns to survive by observing life on city streets
b) competitive strategies used in business
c) 100% American
d) unhealthy food
e) a popular American dessert
f) an activity, decision, problem, etc., that concerns only family members

  2. How would you answer Li's last question?
The ABCs of the U.S.A.: America Seen with European Eyes
Michael Dobbs
America can be a strange experience for a foreigner. My wife and I arrived in the United States in January after seven years overseas ? four in France, three in Poland. From the jumble of first impressions, we compiled an A-to-Z explanation of why America can be such a foreign country to those who arrive here from Europe.
I should explain at the outset that I am from Britain, but my Florida-born wife Lisa is as American as apple pie. In our list, however, A doesn't stand for apple pie. It stands for:
Ambition. In the Old World, people are taught to hide it. Here it's quite proper to announce that you're after the boss's job or want to make a million dollars by the age of
  30.
Breakfast. The American habit of conducting business at breakfast has reached Europe, but I doubt it will ever really catch on. In France and Britain, breakfast is a family affair. Here, it's become part of the power game.
Credit Cards. You really can't leave home without them. It's interesting, and somewhat frustrating, to discover that bad credit is better than no credit at all: I was refused a VISA card on the grounds that I didn't have a credit profile.
Dreams. The American Dream is still very much alive. Dreaming great dreams is what keeps American society going ? from the waitress who wants to become a car dealer to the street kid who wants to become a basketball star. Europeans dream dreams too, but don't seem to believe in them so much.
Exercise. A couple of years ago I came to Washington with some French journalists. As our bus passed a health club on the way to the hotel, the French visitors cheered at the sight of body-conscious Americans bending, stretching and leaping around. America's obsession with physical fitness really amuses ? and puzzles ? Europeans.
First names. In Europe, people progress in a natural and orderly way from the use of last names to the use of first names. Here, it's first names at first sight. This can cause confusion for Europeans. With everyone on a first-name basis, how can you tell your acquaintances from your friends?
Gadgets. These can be addictive. It's difficult to imagine now how we survived for so long without automatic ice machines and microwave ovens.
Hardware Stores. If I were in charge of arranging the programs of visiting delegations from lessdeveloped countries, I'd include a compulsory visit to a hardware store. These temples of American capitalism reveal a whole range of American values, from the do-it-yourself pioneer spirit through a love of comfort that absolutely astonishes most foreigners.
Insurance. Americans have policies to cover every possible risk, no matter how remote. So far, we've refused supplementary insurance for our car radio, death insurance for our mortgage and accident insurance for our cat. It gives us a feeling of living dangerously.
Junk food. Anyone who wants to understand why Americans suffer from higher rates of cancer and heart disease only has to look at what they eat.
Ketchup. I had to come to America to discover that it can be eaten with anything ? from French fries to French cheese.
Lines. American lines ? beginning with the yellow line at immigration control ? are the most orderly in the world. The British queue, once internationally renowned, has begun to decay in recent years. The French queue was never very impressive, and the Italian line is simply a mob.
Money. In Europe, everybody likes money, but no one shows it off. Unless it's been in the family for several generations, there's often an assumption that it was acquired dishonestly. In America, no one cares how you got it.
No smoking. No longer just a polite request in America, this phrase has become the law. Nobody would dare ask a Frenchman to put out his Galoise in a restaurant.
Oliver North. What other major Western democracy lets army officers take over foreign policy? A hero for some, a traitor for others, Ollie (see First Names) is an example of an American recklessness that awes and alarms Europeans.
Patriots. They exist everywhere, of course, but the American version is louder and more self-conscious than the European. In Britain, it's taken for granted that politicians love their country. Here, they're expected to prove it.
Quiet. American cities are quieter than European cities ? thanks to noise controls on automobiles and to recent environmental legislation. This was a major surprise for someone brought up to assume that America was a noisy place.
Religion. The idea of putting preachers on TV is alarming to Europeans. It's even more alarming to see them in action.
Sales. Ever since arriving in Washington, we've been hurrying to take advantage of this week's unrepeatable offer, only to discover that it's usually repeated next week. We're just catching on that there's always an excuse for a sale.
Television. That grown-ups can watch game shows and sitcoms at 11 AM amazes me ? but the national habit, day or night, is contagious. I recently found myself nodding in agreement with a professor who was saying that American kids watch too much television. Then I realized that I was watching him say this on television.
Ulcers. See Work.
Visas. Americans don't need visas to visit Britain (or most European countries, for that matter). To enter the United States, I had to sign a document promising that I would not overthrow the government by force and had no criminal record. One wonders if many terrorists and criminals answer "yes" on these questionnaires.
Work. People in less developed countries often imagine that they can become rich simply by emigrating to America. But America became a wealthy society through work, work and more work. It's still true.
X-rated movies. We have them in Europe too, but not on motel-room TVs.
Yuppies. The European counterpart remains a pale shadow of the all-American original. The animal seems more ambitious, and more common, on this side of the Atlantic.
Zillion. What other nation would invent a number that's infinitely more than a billion? America may not always be the best, but it certainly thinks big.
(1,030 words)
New Words
jumble
n. a confused or untidy group of things 杂乱的一堆
* compile
vt. produce by putting together many pieces (e.g., of information) 汇编;编制
outset
n. beginning 开始;起始
ambition
n. strong desire for success, power, money, etc. 对(成功、权力、金钱等的)强烈欲望,野心;雄心
profile
n.
  1. a short article or programme which describes a person's life and character 传略,人物简介

  2. a side view, esp. of sb.'s head; a shape of sth. seen against a background 侧面,侧影;轮廓
vt.
  1. 写…的传略

  2. 给…画侧面像;描…的轮廓
* dealer
n. a person whose business involves buying and selling 商人;证券经纪人
journalist
n. a person who works on a newspaper or magazine and writes articles for it 新闻记者;报纸撰稿人
journal
n.
  1. a magazine for people with a particular interest 杂志,期刊

  2. an account which one writes of one's daily activities 日志;日记
leap (leapt or leaped)
vi. jump high in the air or jump a long distance 跳跃
n. a sudden jump or movement; a sudden increase in number, amount, etc. 跳跃;激增
* obsession
n. a fixed idea from which the mind cannot be freed 着迷;困扰
physical fitness
healthy body conditions 身体健康
amuse
vt. make (sb.) laugh; cause to spend time in a pleasant way 逗乐;给…提供娱乐或消遣
amusing
a. (of sth.) that makes people laugh 有趣的;逗笑的
orderly
a. well arranged or organized 有条理的;整齐的
confusion
n.
  1. the state of being mixed up, more difficult to understand 辨别不清;混淆

  2. disorder 骚乱;混乱
confuse
vt. make more difficult to understand; cause to be mistaken; mix up 使模糊不清;混淆;使混乱
acquaintance
n.
  1. a person you know, but who is not a close friend 相识的人;熟人

  2. knowledge of or familiarity with sb./sth. 了解;认识
gadget
n. (infml) a small machine or device 小巧的机械;精巧的装置
addictive
a. (使人)入迷的;(使人)上瘾的
microwave
n. 微波;微波炉
oven
n. 烤炉,烤箱
microwave oven
n. 微波炉
delegation
n. 代表团
delegate
n. 代表;会议代表
vt.
  1. appoint as one's representative 委派…为代表

  2. entrust (duties, rights, etc. to sb.) 授权;把…委托给(某人)
* capitalism
n. 资本主义(制度)
do-it-yourself
n. & a. (the activity of) making or repairing things oneself 自己动手(的),自行维修(的)
* supplementary
a. additional 补充的,增补的
* mortgage
n. 抵押;抵押贷款
vt. use (one's land or house) as a guarantee to the lending institution in order to borrow money from it 抵押
ketchup
n. (= catchup) 调味番茄酱
fry
n. (see French fry)
v. cook (food) in hot fat or oil 油煎,油炸
French fries
(美)法式炸薯条
immigration
n. the coming of people into a country in order to work or settle there 移居;移民
queue
n. a line of people waiting (for a bus, to be served, to enter a place, etc.) (排队等候的)一队人
vi. form or join a line 排队(等候)
* renowned
a. famous; well-known 有名的;享有声誉的
impressive
a. 给人以深刻印象的;感人的
* mob
n. (often derog.) a large, disorganized and often violent crowd of people [贬]人群;乌合之众
assumption
n.
  1. sth. that is taken as true without proof 假定;臆断

  2. the taking (of power or responsibility) 夺取;篡夺
democracy
n. a country or a system of government in which the people choose their government or make important decisions by voting 民主;民主国家;民主政治
traitor
n. a person who is disloyal, esp. to his country 卖国贼,叛徒
recklessness
n. 不顾后果,鲁莽
* reckless
a. (of a person or one's behaviour) not caring about danger or the result of one's actions 不顾后果的,鲁莽的
* patriot
n. a person who shows love for and loyalty to his or her country 爱国者
patriotic
a. having or expressing the quality of a patriot 爱国的;有爱国心的
legislation
n. l. laws 法律,法规

  2. the act of making laws 立法,法律的制定
preacher
n. 传道士,牧师
* preach
v.
  1. make known (a particular religion) by speaking in public 布道

  2. advise or urge others to accept (a thing or course of behaviour) 竭力劝说;说教
grown-up
n. 成年人
sitcom
n. (infml) situation comedy 情景喜剧
contagious
a.
  1. (of a feeling or attitude) spreading quickly from person to person (情绪等)感染性的

  2. (of a disease) that can spread from person to person (疾病)传染的
ulcer
n. 溃疡
* visa
n. 签证
document
n. a paper that gives information, proof or support of sth. 文件
vt.
  1. 为…提供文件(或证据等)

  2. (在影片、小说中)纪实性地描述
* overthrow
vt. defeat; remove from official power 推翻;打倒
criminal
a. of or related to crime 犯罪的;犯法的
n. a person who is guilty of a crime 罪犯
* questionnaire
n. a written list of questions to be answered by a number of people in order to get information for a survey, etc. 调查表,问题单
* emigrate
vi. leave one's own country to live in another one 移居国外
X-rated
a. (电影等)X级的,禁止(十六岁以下)儿童观看的
* motel
n. hotel specially built for people traveling by car 汽车旅馆
yuppie
n. 雅皮士(Young Urban Professional的缩写,即城市职业阶层中的年轻人士)
* ambitious
a. having a strong desire for success, power, riches, etc. 有野心的,有抱负的
zillion
n. (sl.) 无限大的数目,无法计算的大数目
Phrases and Expressions
the ABCs
the most basic facts about a subject (学科等的)基本知识;入门
at the outset
at the beginning 首先,一开始
stand for
represent; mean 代表;意味着
be after sth.
in search of sth.; with a desire for sth. 追求
catch on

  1. become popular 流行起来

  2. understand 懂得,理解
on (the) ground(s) that
because 根据,以…为理由
at the sight of
as soon as seeing (sth. or sb.) 一见之下;立即
leap around
jump about 跳来跳去
at first sight
when seen or examined for the first time 乍一看,一见之下
be on a first-name basis [with sb.]
call (sb.) by his or her first name (因关系亲密而)相互直呼其名
tell A from B
distinguish A from B 辨别,分辨
be in charge of sth.
be responsible for 管理,负责
so far
up to the prese
 

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