THE TENSE SYSTEM
A variety of accents
1 The capital city of my country was specially designed and built with wide tree-lined streets, radiating out in all directions er… from the city centre. They join concentric ring roads, and are all pretty well identical. This is in federal territory, on the border of New South Wales and Victoria. The drawback is, that it`s almost impossible to find your way around it, even after you`ve lived there for years! (Canberra)
2 Well, it`s the capital city of the country. Now it`s famous really for er… well, I think it`s famous for two things. It`s famous for the writers that have come from there. People like… George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce. And it`s also famous for… er, for a drink. A drink called Guinness. A wonderful drink. It`s known locally as Liffey water, after the river that flows through the centre of the town, the river Liffey. (Dublin)
3 This… er city is a very large city. It`s the capital city of our country, and it`s very busy with a lot of traffic. It has a big river running through it, which used to be used by quite big boats, although the docks aren`t used very much now. A very good way to see the city is… er from a bus, because buses have… two decks, and they`re bright red. (London)
4 My capital is unusual because, although it`s in a state, it`s considered a separate district, with its own laws and regulations. In the middle of it there`s a big house, where our country`s leader lives. It has a west wing and an east wing, and parts of it are open to the public. There`s also a house where senators work, and where representatives work, and there`s a five-sided building where everybody that`s in power works. (Washington)
5 I come from an ancient city, sometimes referred to as the Athens of the North. The main picturesque shopping street in the city centre is called Princes Street, and is overlooked by the castle, built on a hill of volcanic rock. (Edinburgh)
6 Well, it lies on the south coast of the country, on the banks of the River Taff. It`s the capital city of course, and about fifty years ago, it used to be a very important port indeed, really, but since the … er, you know, the traditional industries of steel and coal have been in decline, well, the old docks have gone a bit downhill as well. But … er … it`s got a lot of history, of course, it goes back to the days of Julius Caesar at least. It`s got an old castle in the middle. And it`s got a brand new concert hall, which is very appropriate for the Land of Song, I think. (Cardiff)
Esperanto, a world language
P = Presenter
N= Professor Nesbit
P Hello, and welcome to today`s Worldly Wise, the programme that examines world issues and the way they affect each and every one of us.
Today we turn our attention to languages, or more specifically, to language. What would the world be like if everyone spoke the same language? Would we understand each other better and be more sympathetic to each other`s causes? I`m not talking about everyone sharing the same first language, but sharing the same second language, and I`m not talking about English, but Esperanto.
What are the facts about this artificial language? Well, it was invented in 1887 by a Polish doctor, Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof. The vocabulary comes mainly from Western European languages, and the grammar is similar to Slavic languages. It sounds like Italian.
From the learner`s point of view, it has the advantage that there are no exceptions to rules. It is spoken all over the world by approximately eight million people, and there are many who would like Esperanto to be the official second language of the world.
I spoke to Professor Desmond Nesbit of the University of Edinburgh for more information and asked him, hasn`t the world got enough natural languages, so why make an artificial one?
N I prefer the term planned to artificial. Esperanto means `hopeful`, and it was Zamenhof`s hope that a common language would promote a friendship and an understanding amongst all people of the world. His …. inspiration is summed up by the Esperanto term interna ideo which means central idea, and it is an idea of human peace and justice.
P What are the advantages that you see of Esperanto as a world language?
N I see many. The advantages of the world being able to talk freely to each other about business, politics, culture, sport, hobbies, well � are obvious. The costs of translation at any international conference are staggering. Did you know that 55 per cent of the EEC`s budget in Strasbourg is taken up by translation costs?
P My goodness!
N The main advantage, as I see it, is that Esperanto is a neutral language. It doesn`t have the national, political, and cultural bias that all others of course have. If everybody has to learn a second language, then everybody is equal.
P But isn`t it making a difficult situation even more difficult? I mean, there are already so many people who speak English throughout the world, why should they have to learn another language? Why not English as the world language?
N I think I`ve partly answered that question already. Why should people have to learn English? For many it`s a waste of time, energy, and money. The other thing that must be said is that English is by no means an easy language to learn. There is the problem of spelling, of the large number of exceptions to any rule, it is very idiomatic and the prepositions are terrible! English is one of those languages which for many seems easy in the beginning, but then the bridge between basic knowledge and mastery takes a long time to cross, and many people give up.
P On the subject of ease of learning, how does Esperanto compare?
N Esperanto is a very easy language to learn. The tense system has none of the complications of English, and the grammar is based on just sixteen rules which have no exceptions. There are five vowel sounds, and…
P How many vowel sounds does English have?
N Twenty. The most remarkable thing is that after a very short time learners find that they can express quite sophisticated ideas, the same sort of things that they would want to say in their own language.
P That`s remarkable. But Professor, do you really see Esperanto becoming the World language? There`s quite a difference between the four hundred million speakers of English and the eight million speakers of Esperanto.
N I think it will happen, yes. I think it`s happening now. Esperanto is taught in many schools in Yugoslavia and Hungary. China is very interested. It has such internal logic that it could become the international computer language, and that would really establish it.
P Professor Nesbit, thank you very much.
N Thank you.
A number dictation
Hello, and good evening.
It is feared that 182 people may have died in a plane crash this morning. The accident happened at 20 past 7. It was Bel Air flight 409, going from Singapore to New York. The plane had covered 3/4 of the 12,000 mile trip, and had stopped to refuel. Eye witnesses said that the plane had reached its take-off speed of 150 mph when a fire broke out in the rear engine. 106 people managed to escape the blaze.
672 car workers walked out on strike today in Coventry. They had asked for a pay rise of 8.7%, but management said they could only offer 5�%. This would mean an extra �27.50 per week. A union spokesman said �It`s not enough�.
A man armed with a shotgun held up cashiers at the National Bank today and stole �5,500. Police have appealed for witnesses. The number to ring is 0106 744391.
Unemployment figures were released today. Last month there were 3,649,712 registered unemployed. That`s 14.5% of the work force. Over the past year this number has increased by over 260,000.
And that`s the end of tonight`s news. Good night.