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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Music in memory of singer and songwriter June Carter Cash / A question about differences between British an...

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(THEME)

HOST:

Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA's radio magazine in Special English.

(THEME)

This is Doug Johnson. On our program today:

We answer a question from three listeners about the English language ...

Play music in memory of June Carter Cash ...

And report about a historic discovery in the state of Virginia.

Indian Village Site

HOST:

This summer, professors and students from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, will take part in five weeks of field study on a farm in the state of Virginia. They will be looking for evidence of a people ruled by a great American Indian chief. Shep O'Neal explains.

ANNCR:

Lynn and Bob Ripley bought a house and some farmland in Gloucester County, Virginia, in nineteen-ninety-six. They soon began to find pieces of glass and arrowheads on the surface of their fields and other areas of the farm. Lynn Ripley kept the items she found, only because they were part of the farm's history. She collected thousands of pieces.

The Ripleys later told their story to two local researchers they met. These archeologists asked to see the things Lynn had been keeping. They were surprised to find that the objects were more than three-hundred years old. Some came from Indians who had lived in the area in the seventeenth century. Others were similar to objects used by English settlers in the area.

After further study, researchers told the Ripleys they could be living on land that was part a seventeenth century Indian village called Werowocomoco. The village was the center of life for about fifteen-thousand Native Americans who lived in the area. It was ruled by Chief Powhatan, father of the famous Indian woman known as Pocahontas.

Pocahontas
Pocahontas

Old stories from American history say that Pocahontas became friends with English settlers who arrived in sixteen-oh-seven. The stories say that she saved the life of one of them, Captain John Smith. History experts say that all this probably did not happen. But it is true that Pocahontas and her father, Chief Powhatan, did live near the English settlement of Jamestown at that time. Pocahontas may not have saved Captain Smith's life, but she did marry an Englishman, John Rolfe. She also visited England with him before she died.

The professors from William and Mary are working with Native Americans in Virginia and the state government to study the Ripleys' land. This summer, they will search for signs of Indian houses and areas of village activity. The researchers hope the work will increase their understanding of the importance of the village as the center of Native American life in early Virginia.

British and American English

HOST:

Our VOA listener question this week comes from three listeners in China, Vietnam and India. They all want to know about differences between American and British English.

Language experts say that spoken English was almost the same in the American colonies and Britain two-hundred years ago. Americans began to change the sound of their speech after the Revolutionary War in seventeen-seventy-six. They wanted to make it different to separate themselves from the British in language, in the same way they separated themselves from the British government.

Some American leaders proposed major changes in the language. Benjamin Franklin wanted a whole new system of spelling. His reforms were not accepted. But his ideas did influence others. One was Noah Webster.

Webster wrote language books for schools. He believed the United States should have a system of its own language as well as government. Webster published a dictionary of the American language in eighteen-twenty-eight. It established rules for speaking and spelling the words used in American English.

Webster wrote that all words should be said in the order of the letters that spell them. This is why Americans use the letters "e-r" to end many words instead of the British "r-e." He spelled the word "center," for example, "c-e-n-t-e-r," instead of the British "c-e-n-t-r-e."

Noah Webster said every part of a word should be spoken. That is why Americans say "sec-re-ta-ry" instead of "sec-re'try," as the British do. Webster's rule for saying every part of a word made American English easier for foreign settlers to learn. They learned to say "waist-coat," for example, the way it is spelled instead of the British "wes-kit."

The different languages of many people who came to the United States also helped make American and British English different. Many of their foreign words and expressions became part of English as Americans speak it.

Sometimes Americans and British people do not understand each other because of different word meanings. For example, the word "jumper" in Britain means a sweater. In the United States, it is a dress. The British word "brolly" is an "umbrella" in America. And the British call potato chips "crisps." All of these differences led British writer George Bernard Shaw to joke that Britain and America are two countries separated by the same language!

June Carter Cash

HOST:

Singer and songwriter June Carter Cash died last month in Nashville, Tennessee, following a heart operation. She was seventy-three years old. She was well known as the wife of country star Johnny Cash. But she was also a member of one of the most important families in country music. Steve Ember has more.

ANNCR:

June Carter was part of what became known as the First Family of Country Music. In nineteen-twenty-seven, two years before she was born, the Carter family made some of the first recordings in country music.

June Carter performed with her family on the radio, then later with her mother and sisters at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. She sang, played the autoharp and told funny stories.

June Carter studied acting in New York and appeared on television and in the movies. But she is perhaps best known for her abilities as a songwriter. One of her most famous songs -- co-written with Merle Kilgore -- is about falling in love with her husband, Johnny Cash. Here he sings what became one of his most successful songs, "Ring of Fire."

(MUSIC)

June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash recorded many songs together. They won two Grammy awards. Here they sing one of their Grammy winning songs, "Jackson":

(MUSIC)

June Carter Cash also won a Grammy for her record album "Press On" in nineteen-ninety-nine. We leave you now with a song from that album, "Will The Circle Be Unbroken."

Graphic Image
Graphic Image

(MUSIC)

This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. Write us with your questions about American life. We will try to answer them on future programs. Listeners whose questions are chosen will receive a gift.

Write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C. two-zero-two-three-seven, USA. Or send e-mail to mosaic@voanews.com. Please include your name and mailing address.

Our program was written by Nancy Steinbach. Our studio engineer was Rick Barnes. And our producer was Caty Weaver.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA's radio magazine in Special English.

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