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赖世雄高级美国英语 Lesson 24

2006-08-12 09:18

  Lesson 24

  Coffee or tea break?

  Do you prefer a coffee break or a tea break? Are you getting off the lift at the ground floor, or are you going to get off the elevator on the first floor? Travelers to English-speaking countries have to adjust to differences between British and American English. There are also cultural traditions to understand, ways of life which differ between London and New york, Auckland and Toronto, and Sydney and San Francisco. Learning these differences is fun, and, when you travel to different English-speaking countries, it's very useful.

  So, what is a coffee or a tea break? Americans and Canadians prefer coffee drinking to tea drinking. Tea lovers need not worry, though; millions of North Americans drink tea and only tea every day. Though teahouses are rare there, every supermarket has a wide variety of Far Eastern, South Asian, and herbal teas to choose from. Still, coffee is the preferred drink in the Americas; after all, South America is one of the world's greatest coffee-producing areas. One social custom is the US and Canada is the mid-morning and mid-afternoon coffee break. This is very informal; it may be spontaneous (Hey! Let's break for coffee) or institutionalized (The coffee break in our office is from 3:30-3:50 daily)。 Coffee (or tea) may be drunk only, or, more likely, a selection of baked goods such as doughnuts, cookies, slices of cake, or crackers will be available, too. These breaks are not only for eating and drinking but also for chatting.

  In Great Britain, New Zealand, and Australia, people prefer a spot of tea during their tea break in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, and later on at home, they have high tea in the early evening. High tea consists of a light, cold meal or baked goods, followed by a more substantial meal later in the evening. Tea breaks may be formal in homes, witha silver tray filled with tea cups on saucers, a silver bowl with sugar, and a silver pitcher with cream brought into a living room, dining room, or drawing room. Baked goods are also served at tea breaks. In both the UK and the US as well as in other English-speaking countries, most people eat three full meals daily, but stopping for coffee or tea breaks has also become customary.

  Another useful difference to understand between the British and American ways of life concerns traffic, which is of the utmost importance to travelers or visitors. In London, one takes the underground, whereas in New York it's the subway (whether or not traveling below the ground)。 Streetcars are taken in American cities, but trams are found in Britain. Make sure you fill up with gas at the gas station in Miami, but in Manchester you should top up the tank with petrol at the petrol station. Not sure whether you need oil? Check under the bonnet in Bristol but the hood in Houston. Check your wing mirror in Wales but your side mirror in Rochester. And watch out for those traffic circles in Tampa but those roundabouts in Reading.

  It should not surprise anyone that British and American English are a little different grammatically (Americans say, “I don't have” and “I have a lot” but the British say “I haven't” and “I have much”)。 Their pronunciation and vocabulary also differ. These should not be sources of consternation when you visit different Anglo countries; instead, they should be occasions for adventure and enjoyment. Just as Mandarin-speaking foreigners can manage their way through the various dialects of Mandarin spoken in mainland China, so, too, should anyone versed in conversational English——of any stripe——succeed in having fun witht he different worlds of English.

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