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Люди и общество.doc
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Post-reading Activity

Mark the statements as true (T) or false (F). Support your idea by some facts from books, films or your personal experience.

  1. The English are reputed to be boastful, energetic and vulgar.

  2. The traditions of five o'clock tea and toasting fork are closely connected with their home loving nature.

  3. The way the foreigners describe the English fully corresponds to the actual situation.

  4. The English are generally adhered to old ways and traditions.

T E X T 6

Pre-reading Activity

Answer the following questions.

  1. Do you know who the ancestors of the Belarusians are?

  2. What features differ Belarusians from other nationalities?

  3. What influences the formation of these qualities?

Reading Activity

(!) Read the text and see whether the description of a typical Belarusian corresponds to your personal view-point.

The people of belarus

Have you ever thought what kind of person a Belarusian is? What kind of people are they? As a matter of fact, it is very difficult to give an answer to this question, for it is one that can hardly be answered at all.

There is a certain something about his appearance - very elusive though. It lies in the shape of his nose, ears, eye sockets and the set of the eyes themselves, his manner of moving about, gesticulating, speaking and many other things.

The general appearance is gentle, and the constitution may seem at first glance, a little delicate, but this is deceptive. The show of outward strength that might impress you for a moment and soon vanish is substituted here by endurance, wiriness, and staying power. Where another person might give up, the Belarusian will stick it out. Otherwise in ancient times they would not have survived in the midst of these thick forests and boundless swamps, on this unprolific land. This hardening has become a permanent part of their character. Not for nothing were Belarusians, even in old times, considered indispensable for such hard tasks as earth clearing and timber-drifting. Later also it was turned to good account, for instance in unbearably difficult war situations, and in partisan warfare.

Before the revolution public opinion often discredited the quiet, patient Belarusian, by making him out to be a “poor wretch”. This opinion arose in the thirties of the 19th century, and then it caught on. With generous compassion, with anguish and a bleeding heart, the great Hertzen wrote about him as a person who “had lost his tongue”. He said that many generations of serfs had given birth to this outcast with a narrow skulk the great Nekrasov portrayed him as inarticulate overburdened by toil. The same opinion has found an expression in the works of some Belarusian poets. All this was, midly speaking far from the truth. Those who lived with these people, who deeply understood their way of life were of a different opinion. Here are the words of the publicist Gruzinsky: “The current notion of the Belarusian pleasant type makes him out to be an unprepossessing feeble fellow down-trodden by a hard life in a marshy, barren country. My personal impression was otherwise. I saw him as strongly built, although rather gaunt… The main thing, however, is that I did not notice any trace of depression, or drooping spirits. His carriage and manner of speech differed from those of Great Russians in its deliberateness and restraint, but it showed rather a dignified self esteem, to be more exact, a deep pensiveness, not lacking in nobility. Expressive features are very frequently found, and there are many genuinely beautiful faces among the women and young girls”.

At the same time these people were, as always, instinctively conscious to the highest degree of the right and the wrong. Its main characteristics was a love of freedom.

Belarusians are noted for their generosity, and their unfailing willingness to come to your aid when you are in trouble.

Formerly, in time of famine, people from more prolific places used to come to Belarusians for help.

True, many ancient customs of hospitality are slowly going out of use. A city dweller is often not acquainted with the person living next door. However, even today you would hardly find a home where they would hesitate to give a guest an open-handed welcome.

Generally speaking, Belarusians are characterized by an innate respect for other peoples, and tolerance towards those who hold a different opinion. Naturally, there are deplorable exceptions but these are just exceptions, and nothing else.

A practical-minded man in real life, a Belarusian is a great fantasy-weaver, romanticist and dreamer in his ambitions.

This is why the Belarusian tales recorded by folk-lore collectors could not possibly be squeezed into even a hundred volumes. Such tales, by the way, are unparalleled by similar subjects in the folk-lore of the neighbouring peoples.

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