Vocabulary: Attitudes and beliefs


Read the text that follows and note the language it offers you in the area of opinions, beliefs and attitudes. Fifties people wore pointed shoes. Sixties people wore flowers in their hair. Seventies people dyed their hair pink. So what about the Eighties? Is this a fair picture of an Eighties couple or not? If not, why not? You can also listen to the text.

A 1980s Couple

They are passionate believers in vegetarianism and regard people who eat meat as worse than criminals. (In their view, egg-eaters are really no better, as eggs are babychickens.)

I suspect, though, that part of them is sometimes dying for a nice big juicy steak. They are suspicious of all frozen food, despise any product that contains additives, wholly disapprove of white bread, and reckon that consumers of ‘poisonous’ white sugar will nearly all die young. I hope they’re wrong.

They view things like whaling and seal-hunting with disgust, and find vivisection extremely distasteful. They are fierce opponents of fox-hunting and are also opposed to women accepting presents of fur-coats.

I dread to think what their views would be on those cosmetic firms which try out their products on poor, defenceless little rabbits. For them, zoos are degrading; they refuse to accept that they serve any useful purpose whatsoever. On the other hand, they welcome the growth of wild-life parks and reserves.

I can’t make up my mind where I stand on this. They know their own minds, as usual. They feel strongly that most doctors are little better than drug-pushers, and are convinced that acupuncture is the medicine of the future. I suppose they might have a point there. They recommend natural childbirth for all mothers-to-be and reject the need for such things as induction, drips and painkillers, except in special circumstances.

I expect one or two of you mothers would disagree. They are in favour of abortion being freely available, and I guess you don’t need me to tell you their feelings on women’s equality. They are against corporal punishment of any kind – I would imagine their attitude towards capital punishment is fairly predictable – and is pro voluntary euthanasia. They take a keen interest in the fortunes of the Third World, and doubt whether any of the Western powers really care. They are supporters of conservation in its broadest sense, back all tree-planting projects, and strongly approve of recycling waste paper and other rubbish. I presume most people would share that particular viewpoint. They would like to see solar energy taken more seriously and are fiercely anti-nuclear power. My own feeling is that solar energy in Britain is rather a contradiction in terms.

They are under the impression that all politicians are either gangsters or fools. I must admit, I’m afraid I’m tempted to agree. They advocate prisons without bars and are of the opinion that 99% of serious criminals are in need of psychiatric help. To my mind, pleas of insanity have become suspiciously common.

They are prepared to accept that UFOs probably do exist, and they have no time for people who dismiss reincarnation out of hand. It all seems a bit improbable to me. They adore punk clothes, but can’t stand the people. They rate Lennon above McCartney and are great fans of Stevie Wonder.

I’ve never understood their taste in clothes or trusted their judgement when it comes to music.

As far as they are concerned, tobacco is an unspeakable evil, but they support the movement for the legalisation of soft drugs. They are also for restrictions regarding the sale of alcohol. Me? I don’t mind much about the drugs thing, but I’m quite fond of my old pipe and rather keen on my brandy after dinner.

They consider that marriage should be a loose arrangement that ensures security for children, but maintaininsist even – that one balanced parent is preferable to two who are always at each other’s throats. They’re the sort of people who believe in the freedom of all people at all times, and think anyone with a different point of view must be crazy. I wouldn’t have thought that was a very liberal approach, but never mind. If you ask me, nobody’s totally open-minded. Oh yes, and they jog. I’m convinced they like Nordic walking, too. At least, that’s the way I look at things.

OK, so you may see eye to eye with them on some of those issues, but you should try being related to one of them, that’s all!


1 What is your attitude to the issues mentioned in ‘A 1980s Couple?

2 What is your opinion on a controversial issue in the news at the moment?

3 Act or write out short arguments between the pairs of people below, who are attacking each other’s standpoints and attitudes. Start: The trouble with people like you is… .

*a vegetarian and a cattle farmer

*a doctor and a teacher

*a ‘green’ supporter and the director of a firm producing chemicals

*a fourteen-year-old and an eighteen-year-old