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To be read after Lesson 2
The Trees Fell — So Did the People
Early civilisations may have killed themselves off by plundering (хищнически уничтожать) local plants and animals. New archeo-logical findings suggest that far from living in perfect harmony with nature, prehistoric civilisation dealt major and sometimes fatal blow to natural surroundings. Many investigators now question the idea that environmental problems began only with the industrial revolution in the 19th century.
Long before the appearance of industrial civilization prehistoric societies were destroying (уничтожать) forests, plants, animals and farmland. Such destruction sometimes destroyed them in turn.
The mysterious disappearance of Anasasi Indians may be a dramatic example of this. In territories that are now New Mexico and Arizona the Indians built a complex of roads, irrigation systems and giant «houses» with 800 rooms and more. All were abruptly left by them around A.D. 1200. Until now, the majority of archeologists have believed that the reason was a prolonged drought (засуха), but by using an electron microscope to analyze the tree rings American scientists found that over two centuries or so the Indians were systematically deforesting the canyon where they lived until the forests' ability to replenish itself was destroyed.
Some Words About Words
With about 200,000 words in current usage English is generally regarded as the richest of the world's languages. Few other languages can match this word power. Chinese comes close. German has a vocabulary of only 184,000 words, and French has fewer than 100,000 words.
English owes its exceptionally large vocabulary to its ability to borrow and absorb words from outside. Atomic, jeans, khaki, sput-
nik, perestroika, glasnost are just a few of the many words that have come into use during this century. They have been taken or adopted from Italian, Hindi, Creek and Russian. The process of borrowing words from other languages has been going on for more than 1,000 years. When the Normans crossed over from France to conquer England in 1066, most of the English spoke old English or Anglo-Saxon — a language of about 30,000 words. The Normans spoke a language which was a mixture of Latin and French. It took about three centuries for the language to become one that is the ancestor of the English they speak today. The Normans gave us words such as «city», and «palace». The Anglo-Saxon gave us «ring and town».
Latin and Greek have been a fruitful source of vocabulary since the 16th century. The Latin word «mini», its opposite «maxi» and the Greek word «micro» have become popular adjectives to describe everything from bikes to fashion.
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