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  • Hi! Neil from BBC Learning

  • English here.

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  • of 6 Minute English exclusively

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  • See you there!

  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English

  • from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Sam.

  • In recent years, many people have

  • wanted to find out more about where

  • they come from. Millions have tried

  • to trace their family history and

  • discover how their ancestors

  • lived hundreds of years ago.

  • The internet has made it much

  • easier to find historical

  • documents and records about

  • your family history - and one

  • of the most useful documents

  • for doing this is the census.

  • A census is an official count of

  • all the people living in a country.

  • It collects information about a

  • country's population and is usually

  • carried out by the government.

  • In Britain, a census has been

  • carried out every ten years since 1801.

  • In 2002, when census records from a

  • hundred years before became available

  • online, so many people rushed to

  • their computers to access them

  • that the website crashed!

  • But before we find out more about

  • the census and its related vocabulary

  • it's time for a quiz question, Sam.

  • Someone who knows a lot about his

  • family history is British actor,

  • Danny Dyer. When BBC television

  • programme Who Do You Think You Are?

  • researched his family history they

  • discovered that the actor was

  • related to someone very

  • famousbut who was it?

  • A) King Edward III,

  • B) William Shakespeare, or

  • C) Winston Churchill

  • Well, I know Danny Dyer usually

  • plays tough-guy characters so

  • maybe it's C), war hero

  • Winston Churchill.

  • OK, Sam, we'll find out later

  • if that's correct. Now, although

  • the first British census took

  • place in 1801, other censuses

  • have a much longer history. In fact,

  • the bible story of Mary and Joseph

  • travelling to Bethlehem is

  • linked to a Roman census.

  • So, what was the original reason

  • for counting people and what did

  • governments hope to achieve by

  • doing so? Here's Dr Kathrin Levitan,

  • author of a book on the cultural

  • history of the census, speaking to

  • BBC World Service programme,

  • The Forum:

  • I think there were probably two

  • most common reasons. One was in order

  • to figure out who could fight in wars,

  • so basically military conscription

  • and in order to find out who could

  • fight in wars ancient governments like

  • the Roman Empire had to find out

  • how many men of a certain age

  • there were. And I would say that

  • the other thing that censuses were

  • most commonly used for was

  • for purposes of taxation.

  • According to Kathrin Levitan,

  • ancient censuses were used to

  • figure outor understand, how

  • many men were available

  • to fight wars.

  • The Roman Empire needed a

  • strong army, and this depended

  • on conscriptionforcing

  • people to become soldiers

  • and join the army.

  • The other main reason for

  • taking a census was taxation

  • the system of taxing people a

  • certain amount of money to be

  • paid to the government

  • for public services.

  • Ancient and early modern

  • censuses were large and

  • difficult-to-organise projects.

  • They often involved government

  • officials going from house

  • to house, asking questions

  • about the people who lived there.

  • But over time governments' desire

  • to know about, and control, its

  • citizens gave rise to new

  • technologies for counting people.

  • Here's statistician and economist

  • Andrew Whitby explaining how this

  • happened in the US to BBC World

  • Service programme, The Forum:

  • The 1890 census of the United States

  • was the first in which some kind of

  • electro-mechanical process was used

  • to count peopleso instead of just

  • armies of clerks reading off

  • census schedules and tabulating

  • these things by hand, for the first

  • time an individual census record

  • would be punched onto a cardso

  • that there were holes in this card

  • representing different

  • characteristics of the person and

  • then those cards could

  • be fed through a machine.

  • Old-fashioned censuses were

  • managed by clerksoffice workers

  • whose job involved keeping records.

  • Thousands of clerks would record

  • the information gathered in the

  • census and tabulate it, in other

  • words, show the information in

  • the form of a table with

  • rows and columns.

  • The US census of 1890 was the

  • first to use machines, and many

  • censuses today are electronically

  • updated to record new trends

  • and shifts in populations

  • as they happen.

  • In fact, so much personal

  • information is now freely

  • available through social media

  • and the internet that some

  • people have questioned the

  • need for having a

  • census at all.

  • Yes, it isn't hard to find out

  • about someone famous,

  • like a TV star.

  • Someone like Danny Dyer, you mean?

  • Right. In my quiz question I

  • asked Sam which historical

  • figure TV actor, Danny Dyer,

  • was related to.

  • And I said it was C) Winston

  • Churchill. Was I right?

  • It was a good guess, Sam, but

  • the actual answer was A) King

  • Edward III. And no-one was

  • more surprised that he was

  • related to royalty than the

  • EastEnders actor himself!

  • OK, Neil, let's recap the

  • vocabulary from this programme

  • about the census - the official

  • counting of a nation's population.

  • To figure something out

  • means to understand it.

  • The Romans used conscription

  • to force men to join

  • the army by law.

  • Taxation is the government's

  • system of taxing people to

  • pay for public services.

  • A clerk is an office worker

  • whose job involves keeping records.

  • And tabulate means show information

  • in the form of a table

  • with rows and columns.

  • That's all for our six-minute

  • look at the census, but if we've

  • whetted your appetite for more

  • why not check out the whole

  • episodeit's available now on

  • the website of BBC World

  • Service programme, The Forum.

  • Bye for now!

  • Bye bye.

Hi! Neil from BBC Learning

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B1 census dyer programme family history danny churchill

Making sense of the census - 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/08/26
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