Anne’s Best Friend
Do you want a friend whom you could tell everything to, like your deepest feelings and thoughts? Or are you afraid that your friend would laugh at you, or would not understand what you are going through? Anne Frank wanted the first kind, so she made her diary her best friend.
Anne lived in Amsterdam in the Netherlands during World War Ⅱ. Her family was Jewish so nearly twenty-five months before they were discovered. During that time the only true friend was her diary. She said, ”I don’t want to set down a series of facts in a diary as most people do, but I want this diary itself to be my friend, and I shall call my friend Kitty.” Now read how she felt after being in the hiding place since July 1942.
Thursday 15th June, 1944
I wonder if it’s because I haven’t been able to be outdoors for so long that I’ve grown so crazy about everything to do with nature. I can well remember that there was a time when a deep blue sky, the song of the birds, moonlight and flowers could never have kept me spellbound. That’s changed since I was here.
…For example, one evening when it was so warm, I stayed awake on purpose until half past eleven in order to have a good look at the moon by my self. But as the moon gave far too much light, I didn’t dare open a window. Another time five months ago, I happened to be upstairs at dusk when the window was open. I didn’t go downstairs until the window bad to be shut. The dark, rainy evening, the wind, the thundering clouds held me entirely in their power; it was the first time in a year and a half that I’d seen the night face to face…
…Sadly …I am only able to look at nature through dirty curtains hanging before very dusty windows. It’s no pleasure looking through these any longer because nature is one thing that really must be experienced.
the Road to Modern English
At the end of the 16th century, about five to seven million people spoke English. Nearly all of them lived in England. Later in the next century, people from England made voyages to conquer other parts of the world, and because of that, English began to be spoken in many other countries. Today, more people speak English as their first, second or a foreign language than ever before.
Native English speakers can understand each other even if they don’t speak the same kind of English. Look at this example:
British Betty: Would you like to see my flat?
American Amy: Yes. I’d like to come up to you apartment.
So why has English changed over time? Actually all languages change and develop when cultures meet and communicate with each other. At fist the English spoken in England between about AD 450 and 1150 was very different from the English spoken today. It was base more on German than the English we speak at present. Then gradually between about AD 500 and 1150, English became less like German because those who ruled England spoke first Danish and later French. These new settlers enriched the English language and especially its vocabulary. So by the 1600’s Shakespeare was able to make use of a wider vocabulary than ever before. In 1620 some British settlers moved to America. Later in the 18th century some British people were taken to Australia to. English began to be spoken in both countries.
Finally by the 19th century the language was settled. At that time two big changes in English spelling happened: first Samuel Johnson wrote his dictionary and later Noah Webster wrote The American Dictionary of the English language. The latter gave a separate identity to American English spelling.
English now is also spoken as a foreign or second language in South Asia. For example, India has a very large number of fluent English speakers because Britain ruled India from 1765 to 1947. During that time English became the language for government and education. English is also spoken in Singapore and Malaysia and countries in Africa such as South Africa. Today the number of people learning English in China is increasing rapidly. In fact, China may have the largest number of English learners. Will Chinese English develop its own identity? Only time will tell.
Journey Down the Mekong
My name is Wang Kun. Ever since middle school, my sister Wang Wei and I have dreamed about taking a great bike trip. Two years ago she bought an expensive mountain bike and then she persuaded me to buy one. Last year, she visited our cousins, Dao Wei and Yu Hang at their college if Kunming. They are Dai and grew up in western Yunnan Province near the Lancang River, the Chinese part of the river that is called the Mekong River in other countries.Wang Wei soon got time interested in cycling too. After graduating from college, we finally got the chance to take a bike trip. I asked my sister, “Where are we going?” It was my sister who first had the idea to cycle along the entire Mekong River from where it begins to where it ends. Now she is planning our schedule for the trip.
I am fond of my sister but she has one serious shortcoming. She can be really stubborn. Although she didn’t know the best way of getting to places, she insisted that she organize the trip properly. Now I know that the proper way is always her way. I kept asking her, “When are we leaving and when are we coming back?” I asked her whether she had looked at a map yet. Of course she hadn’t; my sister doesn’t care about details. So I told her that the source of the Mekong is in Qinghai Province. She gave me a determined look -- the kind that said she would not change her mind. When I told her that our journey would begin at an altitude of more than 5,000 meters, she seemed to be excited about it. When I told her the air would be hard to breathe and it would be very cold, she said it would be an interesting experience. I know my sister well. Once she has made up her mind, nothing can change it. Finally, I had to give in.
Several months before our trip, Wang Wei and I went to the library. We found a large atlas with good maps that showed details of world geography. From the atlas we could see that the Mekong River begins in a glacier to move quickly. It becomes rapids as it passes through deep valleys, traveling across western Yunnan Province. Sometimes the river becomes a water fall and enters wide valleys. We were both surprised to learn that half of the river is in China. After it leaves China and high altitude, the Mekong becomes wide, brown and warm. As it enters Southeast Asia, its pace slows. It makes wide bends or meanders through low valleys to the plains where rice grows. At last, the river delta enters the South China Sea.
A Night the Earth didn’t Sleep
Strange things were happening in the countryside of northeast Hebei. For three days the water in the village wells rose and fell, rose and fell. Farmers noticed that the well walls had deep cracks in them. A smelly gas came out of the cracks. In the farmyards, the chickens and even the pigs were too nervous to eat. Mice ran out of the fields looking for places to hide. Fish jumped out of their bowls and ponds. At about 3:00 am on July 28, 1976, some people saw bright lights in the sky. The sound of planes could be heard outside the city of Tangshan even when no planes were in the sky. In the city, the water pipes in some buildings cracked and burst. But the one million people of the city, who thought little of these events, were asleep as usual the night.
At 3:42 am everything began to shake. It seemed as if the world was at an end! Eleven kilometers directly below the city the greatest earthquake of the 20th century had begun. It was felt in Beijing, which is more than two hundred kilometers away. One-third of the nation felt it. A huge crack that was eight kilometers long and thirty meters wide cut across houses, roads and canals. Steam burst from holes in the ground. Hard hills of rock became rivers of dirt. In fifteen terrible seco