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Happy Labor Day!

Agosto 2014
Il primo lunedì di settembre gli americani festeggiano il Labor Day, la festa dei lavoratori! Una data diversa dalla tradizione mondiale del 1° maggio per una ragione precisa: era una festa che non doveva essere associata al comunismo. Oggi è un giorno sentito perché segna la fine delle vacanze e ci sono importanti eventi sportivi. E i lavoratori lavorano, più del solito...

di Talitha Linehan

File audio:

“Lunch atop a Skyscraper,” a famous photograph taken in 1932.
“Lunch atop a Skyscraper,” a famous photograph taken in 1932.

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

You probably celebrated Labor Day in May. But if you go to the United States in September, you can celebrate it again!

CHICAGO

In many countries Labor Day is a public holiday on May 1st. It commemorates the Haymarket affair, or massacre, which took place in Chicago on May 4th, 1886. There was a big strike all over the United States. Workers demanded an eight-hour day but a bomb exploded in Chicago and many people died. Labor Day is also called International Workers’ Day, or May Day, in some places.

HOW DO YOU SPELL THAT?

In the United States Labor Day is spelled differently: it’s L-A-B-O-R in American English but L-A-B-O-U-R in British English. Not only that, it also happens on a different day! In the 1890s President Cleveland chose September as the date because he didn’t like May 1st’s associations with the Communist, trade union and anarchist movements. He didn’t want people to commemorate the Haymarket affair.

THE END OF THE SUMMER

In the United States Labor Day also marks the last day of the summer holidays: Memorial Day (the last Monday of May) marks the beginning. Parades and speeches were a big part of America’s first Labor Day celebrations. Some Americans are keeping these traditions alive. However, most families just like to enjoy the summer weather together. They have barbecues in their gardens, eat picnics at the park or go to the beach one last time.

THE FOOTBALL SEASON

While many Americans like to spend Labor Day outdoors, others like to spend it indoors, watching sports on TV. Around Labor Day weekend, the baseball season ends and the football season begins. That’s what the rest of the world calls “American football”: Americans call the other type of football “soccer.” One of the world’s biggest drag racing events, the US Nationals, has its final on Labor Day. And the US Open Tennis Championships also take place at this time.

IRONICALLY...

Labor Day was once a real holiday, when most businesses closed and workers didn’t work. Now most businesses are open. This is partly because Labor Day is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Many stores stay open longer, so that people can shop from morning to night. So people who work in stores have to work longer hours than usual. About a quarter of American workers work in shops, and, ironically,  most of them are not in a labor union.
People have forgotten the reason for Labor Day. President Cleveland would be happy!


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Explains

Labour, Labor. Ci sono tante differenze di spelling (e di pronuncia) tra l’inglese britannico e quello americano. Per quanto riguarda lo spelling, c’è una spiegazione storica. Come molte persone, il lessicografo americano Noah Webster (1758-1843) considerava lo spelling inglese troppo complicato e ha cercato di renderlo più semplice e più simile all’effettiva pronuncia. Ha anche trasformato colour (UK) in color (US) e centre (UK) in center (US).  

President Cleveland would be happy! Il Presidente Cleveland sarebbe contento! Questo è un esempio del condizionale, che è molto semplice in inglese: basta aggiungere il verbo ausiliare would all’infinito del verbo che si vuole usare. E, a differenza del condizionale italiano, rimane uguale per tutte le persone: ad esesmpio I would say (direi), you would say (diresti), he would say (direbbe), we would say (diremmo) ecc.; I would go (andrei), you would go (andresti), he would go (andrebbe) ecc.