Listen&Learn: The Town That Banned Death

Jaksyn Peacock Posted by: Jaksyn Peacock
Learn about the town where dying is not allowed.

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • archipelago: a group of small islands that are close to each other
  • mainland: the main part of a country’s land; not an outside island
  • outlaw: to make something illegal
  • cremation: a process of burning a dead body to ashes
  • permit: a document that allows someone to do something
  • decompose: to break down over time
  • outbreak: the spread of a disease in a certain area

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

The town of Longyearbyen is located on the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. It is known for its local policy that prevents people from . Residents of Longyearbyen who are very sick or injured are sent to on the mainland. The town has also outlawed burying bodies in the ground, and even cremation requires a permit. While this law sounds unusual, it exists for a good . In the 1950s, residents learned that bodies buried on the archipelago don’t decompose. This is because the is so cold that the ground is always frozen. The problem with this is that the cold ground also preserves viruses that the bodies are infected with. In order to prevent an outbreak, Longyearbyen stopped using the town cemetery.

Comprehension questions

1. The town of Longyearbyen made it illegal to

Correct! Wrong!

The town of Longyearbyen made it illegal to bury a body.

2. In the 1950s, residents learned that

Correct! Wrong!

In the 1950s, residents learned that bodies buried on the archipelago don't decompose.

3. The town stopped using the cemetery in order to

Correct! Wrong!

The town stopped using the cemetery in order to prevent an outbreak.

Discussion/essay questions

  1. Many places around the world have some strange laws. For example, it is illegal to enter the British Parliament building while wearing a suit of armour. Are there any unusual laws where you live?

Transcript

The town of Longyearbyen is located on the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. It is known for its strange local policy that prevents people from dying. Residents of Longyearbyen who are very sick or injured are sent to hospitals on the mainland. The town has also outlawed burying bodies in the ground, and even cremation requires a permit. While this law sounds unusual, it exists for a good reason. In the 1950s, residents learned that bodies buried on the archipelago don’t decompose. This is because the climate is so cold that the ground is always frozen. The problem with this is that the cold ground also preserves viruses that the bodies are infected with. In order to prevent an outbreak, Longyearbyen stopped using the town cemetery.

Written and recorded by Jaksyn Peacock for EnglishClub
© EnglishClub.com

Search for more Listen&Learn stories:

Subscribe to EnglishClub Podcasts RSS Feed

11 comments

Leave a comment