Social Life (Unit 3)

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Unit 3 Love Engaged. Wedding.


Text I


In Britain the custom of becoming engaged is still generally retained, though many young people dispense with it, and the number of such couples is increasing. As a rule, an engagement is announced as soon as a girl has accepted a proposal of marriage, but in some cases it is none a good time afterwards. Rules of etiquette dictate that the girl's parents should be the first to hear the news; in practice, however, it is often the couple's friends who are taken into confidence before either of the parents. If a man has not yet met his future in-laws he does so at the first opportunity, whereas his parents usually write them a friendly letter. It is then up to the girl's mother to invite her daughter's future in-laws to a meal or drinks. Quite often, of course, the man has been a frequent visitor at the girl's house long before the engagement, and their families are already well acquainted.

When a girl accepts a proposal, the man generally gives her a ring in token of the betrothal. It is worn on the third finger of the left hand before marriage and together with the wedding ring after it. Engagement rings range iron; expensive diamond rings to rings with Victorian semi-precious stones costing only a few pounds.

In most cases the engagement itself amounts only to announcement being made to the parents on both sides and to friends and relations, but some people arrange an engagement party, and among the better-off people it is customary to put an announcement in the newspaper.

In the book Etiquette the author writes that "as soon as congratulations and the first gaieties of announcement are over, a man should have a talk with the girl's father about the date of their wedding, where they will live, how well off he is and his future plans and prospects." Nowadays this is often not done, one of the reasons being that today the young people enjoy a greater degree of financial independence that they used to, to be able to decide these matters for themselves. However, in working class families, where the family ties are still strong and each member of the family is more economically dependent upon the rest, things are rather different. Quite often, particularly in the larger towns, the couple will have no option but to live after marriage with either the girl's or the man's people. Housing shortage in Britain is still acute, and the rents are very high. It is extremely difficult to get unfurnished accommodation, whereas a furnished room, which is easier to get, costs a great deal for rent. In any case, the young couple may prefer to live with the parents in order to have a chance to save up for things for their future home.

But if the young people, particularly those of the higher-paid section of the population, often make their own decisions concerning the wedding and their future, the parents, particularly the girl's, still play an important part in the ensuing activities, as we shall see later.

The period of engagement is usually short, three or four months, but this is entirely a matter of choice and circumstances.


Vocabulary Practice


1. Read and translate the text.


2. Find in the text the English equivalents to following:

обычай, пара, молодые люди, обручение, объ€вл€ть, правила этикета, будущие родственники, приглашать, принимать предложение, дарить кольцо, обручальное кольцо, обходитьс€ без.


3. Supply the missing words or word combinations according to the text:

a)      As a rule, an engagement is announced as soon as a girlЕ

b)      It is often the coupleТs friends whoЕ

c)      ItТs up to the daughterТs mother to inviteЕ

d)      The ring is worn on the third fingerЕ

e)      In any case, the young couple may prefer to live with the parents in order toЕ

f)        The period of engagement is usually short,Е


4. Study the following words and word combinations and use them in your questions to the text:

to engage, to dispense with, as a rule, to accept, a proposal, to dictate, in practice, the first opportunity, to be up to somebody, to be well acquainted, housing shortage, extremely difficult, to save up for, to make oneТs own decision.


Speech Exercises


1. Look through the Marriage Contract (excerpts) and make up a dialogue


Security and trust

1. __________ (husband) will secure the house so that it is safe from outside forced entry. Prior to retiring at night and leaving in the morning __________ (husband) will secure all doors, windows, and openings.

2. __________ (wife) and __________ (husband) will avoid dangerous situations and places.

3. __________ (wife) and __________ (husband) will physically protect one another.

4. __________ (wife) and __________ (husband) will inform one another of their whereabouts and plans within reasonable estimates (1 hour) of time, i.e., "I'm going shopping and will be back at about 5:00." Return at 6:00 is OK. "I'll meet you at the restaurant at 12:00 for lunch." One hour late is too late.

Financial trust

1. __________ (husband) and/or __________ (wife) will provide the financial support for the family. __________

(husband) does not/does expect that __________ (wife) will work outside the home.

2. Additional comments regarding financial support.

3. __________ (husband) will contribute # __________ percent and __________ (wife) will contribute # __________ percent of the monthly household budget which is $ __________.


2. It is interesting to know:

a. Who Was the First Bride to Be Given a Diamond Engagement Ring?

It was Mary of Burgundy. When the Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to her, he was told that he had to give her a diamond ring. So he did, and from that time on it was the fifteenth century - diamonds have been associated with engagement rings. Х

It is still the custom in Britain and US for a man and woman who are going to marry to get engaged -to tell their parents, other relatives and friends, sometimes have a party and perhaps put a notice in the newspaper. The man usually gives the woman an engagement ring.

A wedding ring is traditionally a plain ring of yellow or white gold or platinum. In Britain and USA the wedding ring is worn on the third finger of the left hand and at the wedding ceremony is placed on the finger before the engagement ring. Only the wedding ring, not the engagement ring is engraved with the couple's initials and the date of the wedding.


b. What Is the English for "теща" and "свекровь"?

The two Russian words have one English equivalent "mother-in-law". English terms for relatives through marriage are much easier and more logical than the Russian counterparts. Nowadays few Russian native speakers know for sure who is "деверь" or "кум" and what is the difference between "невестка" and "золовка". Generally speaking, the English system of family terms is easier and more logical than the Russian one. The wife's or husband's mother will be "mother-in-law", father - "father-in-law", sister - "sister-in-law", etc.


c. Why Is the Second Wedding Anniversary Called "Cotton"?

There is a long-standing tradition associated with giving wedding anniversary presents, especially on major anniversaries. In old times it was probably considered that the young family will need linen in their third married year, especially if they have started a family (have a baby). Here is a list of wedding anniversaries. Guess what kinds of presents were given for these and try to explain the logic of it.


First Ц Paper

Second Ц Cotton

Third Ц Leather

Fourth - Fruit & Flowers

Fifth Ц Wooden

Sixth - Sugar & candy

Seventh Ц Woollen

Eighth Ц Salt

Ninth Ц Copper

Tenth Ц Tin

Eleventh Ц Steel

Twelfth - Silk & linen

Thirteenth Ц Lace

Fourteenth Ц Ivory

Fifteenth Ц Crystal

Twentieth Ц China

Twenty-fifth Ц Silver

Thirtieth Ц Pearl

Thirty-fifth Ц Coral

Fortieth Ц Ruby

Forty-fifth Ц Sapphire

Fiftieth Ц Golden

Fifty-fifth Ц Emerald

Sixtieth Ц Diamond


3. Read and learn the dialogue by heart.

A Lovely Bride

Jan and Andrew who are roommates are sitting in a church. They are waiting for their friend Margo to be married.

J: The musicТs starting to play!

A: Oh, the weddingТs about to begin. ItТs hard to believe that MargoТs getting married.

(a few minutes later)

J: DoesnТt Margo look beautiful?

A: Yes, she is a lovely bride.

J: Have you met the guy sheТs marrying?

A: No, I donТt know the groom. But he looks like a nice person.

J: Well, we get a chance to meet him in an hour or so.

A: You must be kidding. We wonТt have a chance to get acquainted with him at the reception. HeТll be too busy cutting the wedding cake and having his picture taken with Margo.

J: Yes, youТre right about that.

A: I know what we could do, though. Why donТt we take them out for dinner next week when they get back from their honeymoon?


4. Answer the questions:

a)      Who is getting married?

b)      Do Jan and Andrew know the guy sheТs marrying?

c)      Will they have a chance to have acquainted with him at the wedding receptions?

d)      What are they going to do to have acquainted with him?


5. Roleplay the conversation УA Lovely BrideФ


6. Tell other students about the last wedding you went to.




Text II


The Forms of Marriage

In England and Wales there are four forms of marriage: by banns, by ordinary licence, by special licence and by a registrar.

Marriage by Banns is the form most usually adopted Banns must be called for three consecutive Sundays in the parish churches of both the future bride and the groom unless they both live in the same parish. They must have been resident for at least fifteen days previous to the first publication of the banns. There is a small fee for the certificate of banns.

The clergyman at the church where the marriage is to take place must be notified by letter of the couple's intention to marry, of their names and addresses and how long they have resided in their parishes.

If one of the parties is a minor, a letter of consent must be obtained from both parents, and attached. (The form can be obtained from the Superintendent Registrar of the district.) If the marriage is to take place in the bride's church, a certificate of calling of the banns must be obtained from the bridegroom's parish clergyman. The marriage must then take place within three months of the banns being published.

Marriage by Ordinary Licence is a convenient alternative to the publications of banns. In London, application must be made by one party to the Faculty Office, where he will swear that he does not know of any impediment to the marriage such as being legally married to another or consanguineous relationship, and that one of the parties has lived for at least fifteen days in the parish of the church where the marriage is to take place.

A licence is valid in England and Wales for three months after the date of issue. Outside London, it can be obtained from any Bishop's Registry Office in a cathedral town or from a Superintendent Registrar in the district of residence. The. licence is granted without previous notice and is available as soon as it is issued, but the marriage must take place in a church named on the licence.

Marriage by Special Licence costs £25 and can be obtained only for special reasons such as suddenly being sent abroad. It is never granted lightly. Application must be made in person by one of the parties at the Faculty Office. The marriage can then take place at any time and in any place, celebrated by the rites of the church, and residence qualifications are unnecessary.

Marriage by a Registrar can be celebrated, without any religious ceremony, at a registry office. Notice must be given by one of the parties of the intended marriage, if both have resided in the district for seven days immediately preceding the notice. If one has lived in another district, notice must be given to his or her local registrar. The certificate is issued twenty-one days after the notice has been given.

Times of Weddings

Marriages can take place in a registered building in the presence of an authorized person between 8 a. m. and 6 p. m.


1. Read the text and give a summary of it in comparison with Russian ceremony.


2. Put the comprehension questions to the text.


3. Discuss the text with your partner.


4. Points to ponder:

a) Imagine your parents are arranging a marriage for you. What questions would you like them to ask about your future husband/wife?

b) What is your opinion of arranged marriages?

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