Практикум з англійської мови


Topical words:

Text 1. What Do the Names Tell? (A)

  • How do we identify the other people? How do they call each other?
  • How can we know who were our historical heroes or outstanding people? What sets one person apart from the other one?
  • Nobody knows when the first name appeared exactly. In primitive societies people had only nicknames. They were composed of two or three words which characterised the definite person.
  • «Tall Legs» or «Sharp Eyes» were quite normal. But then a name gradually became as we have now.
  • In the English speaking world, first names come from many different sources.
  • Many first (Christian) names come from the Bible: Adam, Mary, Peter, Paul. While others are Celtic or Anglo Saxon (such as Alfred).
  • Many girls´ names come from flowers: Rose, Violet.
  • The Puritans use of abstract nouns as names (for example, Faith and Prudence).
  • In the 19th century, it was fashionable to use the names of jewels, flowers and months of spring (Pearl, Rosemary and April).
  • In the 20th century, TV and cinema have influenced the choice of first names (Cary, Marilyn, Meryl).
  • The tradition of last names started with the Romans, who used family names to create more specific identities. The practice caught on in England during the Middle Ages, when people needed to them selves apart from all the other Johns and Marys running around. People carried this further during the 16th century in England by taking middle names.
  • Now English people usually have two or three names, they have first (or Christian) and surname names: Bill Brown, Ann Smith. Bill is a first (Christian) name. Brown is a surname. Ann is a first (Christian) name. Smith is a surname.
  • Children take the surname of their father and a wife takes the surname of her husband, as a rule.
  • Some surnames are the words for colours: Black, Brown, White or Green. Some are the names of jobs: Baker or Butcher.
  • Look at these surnames: Johnson, Peterson, Richardson, Stevenson. They all end with the word «son». That is the son of John or John´s son — Johnson, the son of Peter or Peter´s son — Peterson.
  • Ukrainians use three names when being introduced. These are: the first name, the patronymic (derived from the first name of the father) and the surname.
  • As you see names can tell you a lot.


1) Read and translate the text and answer the questions:

How many names do English people usually have?

Is Christian name the first name?

Are any names the words for colours?

Are any surnames the names of jobs?

Whose surnames do children usually take?

Whose surnames do wives usually take?

Do Christian names come from the Bible?

What do you know about Ukrainian names?

How many names do Ukrainian people have?

2) Match a line A with a lane in B.

It´s interesting to know:

The prefix «Mac» or «Mc» in surnames (such as: McCall, MacCarthy, MacDonald) is always either Scottish or Irish. The prefix «O» (as O´Brien,

O´Hara) is distinctly Irish. A very large number of surnames (for example, Davis, Evans, Jones, Lloyd, Morgan, Price, Rees, Williams) suggest Welsh origin (although many of these are found throughout England).

The most common surname in both England and Scotland is actually «Smith».

First names can also be indicative. The Scottish form of «John» is «Ian» and its Irish form is «Sean» (although all the names are common throughout Britain). There are also nicknames for Scottish, Irish and Welsh men. For example, an English, Welsh or Irish person might refer to and address to a Scottish friend as «Jock», whatever his first name is. Irishmen are called «Paddy» or «Mick» and Welshmen are known as «Dai» or «Tiffy». If the person is not a friend the nickname can sound rather insulting.

Britain. The country and its people.

James O´Driscoll