Курс лекций на английском языке Минск: 2014

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Н.А. Новик


Course Pack
Американская культура

Курс лекций

на английском языке

Минск: 2014

Рецензенты: Могиленских Н.П., заведующий кафедрой межкультурной экономической коммуникации, кандидат филологических наук, доцент

Рекомендовано кафедрой профессионально ориентированной английской речи

Новик, Н.А.

Американская культура =Аmerican culture. Курс лекций на английском языке / Н.А.Новик. - Минск: БГЭУ, 2014. – 116 с.

Предлагаемый вниманию читателей курс лекций представляет собой учебное пособие по дисциплине «Культура страны изучаемого языка». В нем приводятся интересные, полезные и новейшие сведения о настоящем и прошлом Соединенных Штатов, культуре американцев, национальной политике, языке, вкладе иммигрантов в формирование американского государства и менталитета, т.д. Тексты информативны, сопровождаются словарем, кратким содержанием и ключевыми вопросами по теме. В каждую тему включена дополнительная информация, которая может быть использована на семинарских занятиях. При подготовке издания использованы оригинальные источники информации - в т.ч. книги, периодические издания и Интернет.

Пособие предназначено для студентов, изучающих английский язык и межкультурную коммуникацию, для преподавателей, переводчиков, персонала туристических фирм, деловых людей, туристов и просто для тех, кто изучает английский язык.


LECTURE 1. The U.S.A. and Its Cultural Regions 4

Lecture 2. The United States - Nation of Immigrants 20

Lecture 3-4. The United States Culture 41

Lecture 5. American English 76

Lecture 6. Tourist Attractions in the United States 98


This lecture will cover the following items:

  • the U. S. political geography

  • origin of states' names

  • the U.S. capital and largest cities

  • large country with many differences

  • cultural regions: the Northeast, the South, the West, the Midwest, the Southwest

  • Americanization,

Key Words and Proper Names: affiliation, arid (semi-arid), contiguous county, cradle, drainage, encompass, extant political entities, forested ridges, gorge, insular, parish, statehood, township, tributary, urban sprawl; coextensive, cultural identity, converge, drawl, homogenizing influence, intermixing of cultures, level off regional differences, metro area, pronounced peculiarities, resentment, reverence for the past, , tolerance, unsophisticated;

Martin Waldseemüller, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, Katherine Anne Porter, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Thomas Wolfe; Sunbelt and Frostbelt.

Native American tribes; the Appalachian Mountains, the Adirondacks, the Cordilleran system, the Great Plains, the Interior Highlands, the Interior Plains, the Ozark Plateau, the Intermountain Plateaus, the Laurentian Highlands, the Rocky Mountains; the Great Lakes (Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Erie), the St. Lawrence River, the Mississippi-Missouri rivers; the Colorado Desert, the Great Basin, the Mojave Desert, the Sonoran Desert.
The United States of America is a constitutional federal republic, it comprises 50 states and one federal district, and has several territories in the Caribbean and Pacific.

To call the country as America is not absolutely correct. It is called as the United States, the U.S., the U.S.A., the U. S. of A., America, the States, or (poetically) Columbia depending on a degree of formality

In 1507, German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller made a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere as "America" after Amerigo Vespucci, Italian explorer and cartographer. The former British colonies first used the country's modern name in the Declaration of Independence, the "unanimous Declaration of the 13 united States of America" adopted by the "Representatives of the united States of America" on July 4, 1776. The current name was finalized on November 15, 1777, when the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, they state, "The Stile (name) of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America."

The United States of America is the third largest country in the world after Russia and Canada with an area of 9,826,630 (9.8) sq km.

The estimated U.S. population as of July 2013 was over 316,590,000 people. So, in size of population it is also the third in the world behind China and India.

The US political geography: The U.S. has the longest undefended ground border in the world with Canada and also shares a long ground border with Mexico.

The country is divided into three distinct sections:

a) the continental United States also known as the lower 48;

b) Alaska, which is physically connected only to Canada,

c) and the archipelago of Hawaii in the central Pacific Ocean.

49 states (all except Hawaii) lie on the North American continent; and 48 of them (all except Alaska) are contiguous and form the continental United States.

The state’s names are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Now look at the names of the states again and listen to the song.

As said above, the U.S. also holds several other territories, districts and possessions, first of all, the federal district called the District of Columbia, which is the nation’s capital, and several overseas areas, the most significant of which are Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands. The U.S. Navy has held one military base called Guantanamo at an occupied portion of Guantanamo Bay on Cuba since 1898.

The 50 U.S. states vary widely in size and population. The largest states in area are Alaska with an area of 1.7 ml sq km, followed by Texas, and California. The smallest state is Rhode Island, with an area of 4,002 sq km. The state with the largest population is California (35.8 ml people), followed by Texas, and New York. Only a bit more than 500,000 people live in Wyoming, which is also the least populous state. New Jersey, on the other hand, is the most densely populated state.

A few words about the origin of some states’ names. State names speak to the circumstances of their creation. We may find:

British names. Southern states on the Atlantic coast originated as British colonies named after British monarchs: Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland. Some northeastern states, also former British colonies, take their names from places in the British Isles: New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York.

Native American names. Many states' names are those of Native American tribes or are from Native American languages: Nebraska, Kansas, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Connecticut, Missouri, Idaho, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Mississippi, Texas, Utah, and others.

Spanish names. Many states in the southeast and southwest have Spanish names, because they are on territories previously controlled by Spain or Mexico. They include Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, California and Nevada.

French names. Because it was previously a French colony, Louisiana is named after the Louis XIV (King of France at the time).

Washington, D.C., or the District of Columbia (also known as the Nation's Capital; the District; and, historically, the Federal City) is the capital city and administrative district of the U.S.A.

Washington, D.C. is a part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, which includes parts of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. It should not be confused with the U.S. state of Washington, located in the Pacific Northwest.

The District of Columbia is a federal district. As specified by the U.S. Constitution, the District is ruled by the U.S. Congress, though it is unrepresented in that body. The population of the District of Columbia is more than 5 mln people.

The centers of all three branches of the U.S. federal government are situated in Washington, D.C., as well as the headquarters of most federal agencies. Washington also serves as the headquarters for the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organization of American States, and other international (and national) institutions. Washington is also the site of numerous national landmarks, museums, and is a popular destination for tourists.

Largest cities: The U.S. has dozens of major cities, including several important global cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The figures expressed below are for populations within 10 city limits (as of October 2008 U.S. Census Bureau estimates).






New York City




Los Angeles




















Washington, D.C.















Extensive areas of urban sprawl exist in larger metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; and New York City.

The U.S. politics: The states are generally divided into smaller administrative regions, including counties, cities and townships, with the exception of Louisiana, where counties are called parishes, and incorporate cities, villages, towns. Altogether, there are an estimated 85,000 extant political entities in the U.S. including counties, municipalities, townships, school districts, and special districts.

The U.S. politics is represented by 50 state governments plus the government of the District of Columbia, and further down the ladder are still smaller units that govern counties, cities, towns, boroughs and villages.

Like the national government, state governments have three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial; these are roughly equivalent in function and scope to their national counterparts. The chief executive of a state is the governor, elected by popular vote typically for a four-year term (although in a few states the term is two years).

All states have a bicameral legislature, the upper house is usually called the Senate and the lower house is called the House of Representatives, the House of Delegates, or the General Assembly, except for Nebraska, which has a unicameral legislature.

There are three general types of city government: the mayor-council, the commission, and the council-manager. These are the pure forms; many cities have developed a combination of two or three of them. Almost all city governments have some kind of central council, elected by the voters, an executive officer or mayor, assisted by various department heads, to manage the city’s affairs, a judge as well as a sheriff to provide law enforcement services.

51st state: The phrase 51st state refers to the territories considered candidates for addition to the 50 states of the country. Sometimes it is used in a serious political context, but often it has a humorous or a negative meaning referring to associates, which act based on American influences, such as Israel, Canada or the United Kingdom.

The District of Columbia is widely recognized to be one of the most likely candidates for statehood. The term is also used in Canada and other countries as a term signifying excessive negative American influence. In Europe, people who believe their local or national culture has become too Americanized sometimes use the term “51st state” in critical reference to their respective countries and governments.

Large country with many differences: The U.S. is a spacious country of varying terrains and climates. Roughly it can be divided into 4 main cultural regionsthe Northeast, the South, the Midwest, the West, and Southwest often treated together.

Interesting to know: The Northeast consists of New England: Connecticut | Maine | Massachusetts | New Hampshire | Rhode Island | Vermont; Mid-Atlantic :Delaware | Maryland | New Jersey | New York | Pennsylvania | Washington D.C.

The South: Alabama | Arkansas | Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | Louisiana | Mississippi | North Carolina | South Carolina | Tennessee | Virginia | West Virginia; the Midwest Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Michigan | Minnesota | Missouri | Nebraska | North Dakota | Ohio | South Dakota | Wisconsin; The Southwest: Arizona | New Mexico | Oklahoma | Texas; The West: Alaska | Colorado | California | Hawaii | Idaho | Montana | Nevada | Oregon | Utah | Washington | Wyoming

Each of these regions maintains a certain degree of cultural identity. People within a region generally share common values, economic concerns, and a certain relationship to the land, and they are usually identified with the history and traditions of their region.

But today, we are witnessing the gradual convergence of these regional identities as a result of globalization. The mobility of people and the spread of pop culture through television and other mass media have greatly advanced this convergence.

However, some regional differences are noticeable. E.g., the food Americans eat. Most of it is standard wherever you go. A person can buy packages of frozen peas bearing the same label in Idaho, Missouri, and Virginia. Cereals, candy bars, and many other items also come in identical packages from Alaska to Florida. Generally, the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables does not vary much from one state to the next. On the other hand, it would be unusual to be served hush puppies (a kind of fried dough [ou]) or grits (boiled and ground corn prepared in a variety of ways) in Massachusetts or Illinois, but normal to get them in Georgia.

American speech also often differs according to what part of the country you are in. Southerners tend to speak slowly, in what is referred to as a “Southern drawl.” Midwesterners use “flat” [ae] (as in bad or cat), and the New York City features a number of Yiddish words (schlep, nosh, nebbish) contributed by the city’s large Jewish population.

Among differences there are also regional attitudes and outlooks, e.g., the attention paid to foreign events in newspapers. In the East, where people look out across the Atlantic Ocean, papers tend to show greatest concern with what is happening in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Western Asia. On the West Coast, however, news editors give more attention to events in East Asia and Australia. To understand regional differences, let’s take a closer look at each cultural region.

The Northeast: The Northeast, comprising the New England and Mid-Atlantic states, has traditionally been at the cradle of the nation’s economic and social progress. The Northeast is more urban, more industrial, and more culturally sophisticated. A sense of cultural superiority sets Northeasterners apart from others.

During the 19th – 20th centuries and well into this century, the Northeast produced most of the country’s writers, artists, and scholars. New England’s colleges and universities are known all over the country for their high academic standards. Harvard is widely considered the best business school in the U.S. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) surpasses all others in economics and the practical sciences.

New England does not possess rich farmland or a mild climate. Yet it played a dominant role in the U.S. development. Between the 17th - 19th centuries, New England was the country’s cultural and economic center. New Englanders were engaged in shipbuilding, fishing, and trade, in manufacturing such goods as clothing, rifles, and clocks. Most of the money to run these businesses came from Boston, which was the financial heart of the nation. New England also supported a vibrant cultural life. New Englanders often describe themselves as thrifty, reserved, and dedicated to hard work, qualities they inherited from their Puritan forefathers.

The economic and cultural dominance of New England gradually reduced after WWII. In the 20th century, most of New England’s traditional industries were relocated to the South and West or foreign countries where goods could be made much cheaper. Many factories and mills were closed. As a result of this outsourcing, in many factory towns skilled workers were left without jobs. However, now some parts of New England are experiencing economic recovery thanks to the development of microelectronics and computer industries. New high-tech industries are boosting foreign investment and employment.

If New England provided the brains and dollars for 19th-century American expansion, the Middle Atlantic states provided the muscle. The region’s largest states, New York and Pennsylvania, became centers of heavy industry (iron, glass, and steel). Like New England, the Middle Atlantic region has much of its heavy industry relocated elsewhere. Other industries, such as drug manufacturing and communications, have taken up the slack.

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