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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Ernest Hemingway Quick Facts

Ernest Hemingway is a Nobel Prize winning 20th century American novelist and notable journalist.

Ernest Hemingway

  • Name: Ernest Hemingway
  • Birth Name: Ernest Miller Hemingway
  • AKA: Ernest M. Hemingway
  • Nickname: Papa, Ernestoic, Tatie, Tiny, Ernie, Hem, Wemedge, Hemmy
  • Date of Birth: July 21, 1899
  • Place of Birth: Cicero (now in Oak Park), Illinois
  • Zodiac Sign: Cancer
  • Death: July 2, 1961
  • Place of Death: Ketchum, Idaho
  • Cause of Death: Suicide by gunshot
  • Place of Burial: Ketchum Cemetery in Ketchum, Idaho.
  • Height: 6 ft
  • Father: Clarence Hemingway (1871-1928)
  • Mother: Grace Hall Hemingway (1872-1951)
  • Siblings: 5
    • Sister: Marcelline Hemingway (1898-1963)
    • Sister: Ursula Hemingway (1902-1966)
    • Sister: Carol Hemingway (1911-2002)
    • Sister: Madelaine Hemingway (1904-1995)
    • Brother: Leicester Hemingway (1915-1982)
  • Spouse: 4; Offspring: 3
    • Wife 1: Elizabeth Hadley Richardson (1891-1979), married 1921, divorced 1927
    • Son: John Hadley Nicanor "Jack" Hemingway (1923-2000)
    • Wife 2: Pauline Marie Pfeiffer (1895-1951), married 1927, divorced 1940
    • Son: Patrick Hemingway (b. 1928)
    • Son: Gregory Hancock Hemingway (1931 –2001)
    • Wife 3: Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998), married 1940, divorced 1945
    • Wife 4: Mary Welsh (1908-1986) married 1946, till his death
  • Education: Oak Park and River Forest High School
  • Known for: his body of works reflecting his experiences with war, death, and particularly his dissatisfaction with the modern culture
  • Criticised for: being sexist and homophobic
  • Influences: Theodore Roosevelt, Paul Cézanne, Anton Chekhov, Robert Louis Stevenson, Gertrude Stein
  • Influenced: Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac, J. D. Salinger, Charles Bukowski, John Updike


The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry. — Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Major Themes

  • Love
  • War
  • Wilderness
  • Loss

Major Works

  • The Torrents of Spring (1925)
  • The Sun Also Rises (1926)
  • A Farewell to Arms (1929)
  • To Have and Have Not(1937)
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)
  • Across the River and Into the Trees (1950)
  • The Old Man and the Sea (1952)
  • Adventures of a Young Man (1962)
  • Islands in the Stream (1970)
  • The Garden of Eden (1986)
  • Death in the Afternoon (1932)
  • Green Hills of Africa (1935)
Short Story Collections
  • Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923)
  • In Our Time (1925)
  • Men Without Women (1927)
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1932)
  • Winner Take Nothing (1933)
  • The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (1938)
  • The Essential Hemingway (1947)
  • The Hemingway Reader (1953)
  • The Nick Adams Stories (1972)

Did you know?

  • In 1953 Hemingway received the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea.
  • Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for his novel The Old Man and the Sea in 1954.
  • The Old Man and the Sea was made into a film in 1958.
  • He was married four times, and dedicated a book for each wife at the time of marriage.
  • Hemingway served in World War I as an ambulance driver in the Italian Army.
  • Hemingway was awarded the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery for his exemplary service in the Italian Army.
  • Within a year of his service as an ambulance driver, Hemingway was severely wounded and this event provided him the materials for his prominent work A farewell to Arms.
  • Hemingway used to drink in Paris with the Irish novelist James Joyce.
  • Grace Hemingway had a strong obsession for a pair of twin girls, so she used to dress young Hemingway and his older sister in matching pink dresses and called him Ernestine.
  • His father was a country physician and his mother was a religiously puritanical woman.
  • Hemingway was the second of six children to his parents.
  • Hemingway was born into the hands of his physician father.
  • Hemingway’s father increased his interest in history and literature as well as hunting and fishing.
  • Hemingway’s mother used to abuse his father.
  • In 1923 Hemingway published his first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems.
  • In 1928 Clarence Hemingway committed suicide by using his father's Civil War pistol.
  • After his father’s suicide Hemingway began to have premonitions that he would end his life by his own hand.
  • In July 2, 1961 Hemingway committed suicide with a shotgun at his home in Ketchum, Idaho out of depression, alcoholism, and numerous physical ailments.
  • His son, Gregory Hemingway underwent sex reassignment surgery in the mid 1990s and from then on he was known as Gloria Hemingway.
  • Many of his works were published posthumously such as, Islands in the Stream (1970), The Garden of Eden (1986), True at First Light (1999).
  • His posthumous publications were edited by his fourth wife, Mary Welsh and by his son Patrick Hemingway.

Photo Gallery

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway with a rifle at the Club de Cazadores del Cerro in Rancho Boyeros

Eernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn

Hemingway and Pauline Pfeiffer

Hemingway and Pauline Pfeiffer

Hemingway and Pauline Pfeiffe

Hemingway and Pauline Pfeiffe

Hemingway with Elizabeth Hadley Richardson

Hemingway with Mary Welsh

Hemingway with Mary Welsh

Hemingway with Mary Welsh

Hemingway with his Son John Hadley Nicanor "Jack" Hemingway


“Biography of Ernest Hemingway.” GradeSaver. 2015. GradeSaver LLC. 20 May 2015

“Ernest Hemingway.”Wikipedia. 2015. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 20 May 2015

“Ernest Hemingway.”Bio. 2015. A&E Television Networks. 20 May 2015
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“Ernest Hemingway Facts.” Shmoop. 2015. Shmoop University. 20 May 2015

“Ernest Miller Hemingway.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. 20 May 2015 <>.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Grammar Translation Method


The Grammar Translation Method (also known as the classical method, the traditional method, the prussian method), is a method of foreign language teaching in which the primary focus is on the study of the target language grammar, vocabulary and ultimately the translation of native language texts or sentences into the target language.

Main Principles

The underlying assumptions of the Grammar Translation Method are as follows:
  • Translation interprets the words and phrases of the foreign languages in the best possible manner.
  • The phraseology and the idiom of the target language can best be assimilated in the process of interpretation.
  • The structures of the foreign languages are best learned when compared and contrasted with those of mother tongue.


The Grammar Translation Method (GTM) is reportedly the oldest and the most traditional method of foreign language teaching. Although the history of the Grammar Translation Method is not well-documented, it is generally assumed that the method stemmed from the teaching methods of Latin and to a lesser extent from Greek (Howatt, 1984). In the early 15th century Latin was the major foreign language due to its extensive usage in the government, academic, and business sectors. However, in the 16th century due to political upheavals the importance of Latin gradually declined and some other languages such as French, Italian, and English gained prominence. In the 18th century these languages were included in the curriculum of educational institutions of Europe. The first country to adapt Grammar Translation Method was Germany, especially by Prussia, for which this method is also referred to as the Prussian Method. This teaching method was modelled after the same principles followed in the teaching of Latin; hence formerly it was also called the Classical Method. The method saw its heyday in the 19th century and came to be known as the Grammar Translation Method. However, its practice gradually ceased after the emergence of the Direct Method.

Major Characteristics

The major characteristics of the Grammar Translation Method as per Prator and Celce-Murcia (1979, p3) are as follows:
  1. Classes are taught in the mother tongue, with little active use of the target language.
  2. Much vocabulary is taught in the form of list of isolated words.
  3. Long elaborate explanation is taught in the form of lists of isolated words.
  4. Grammar provides the rules for putting words together, and instruction often focuses on the form and inflection of words.
  5. Reading of classical texts is begun early.
  6. Little attention is paid to the content of texts, which are treated as exercises in grammatical analysis.
  7. Often the only drills are drills in translating disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue.
  8. Little or no attention is given to pronunciation.
Although Richard and Rogers (1986, p5) claimed that the Grammar Translation Method has no theoretical basis, it is possible to describe the method in terms of customary levels of Approach, Design, and Procedure:
Theory of Language:
The theory of language underlying the Grammar Translation Method is Traditional approach to linguistics. The proponents of Traditional Linguistics mainly stressed on the written form of language. Their attitude towards rules was prescriptive as they gave priority to the usage to the use. They held that only the languages used by the great writers are the correct forms and any deviant variety was impure. They also maintained that the Latin models could be used to describe any languages of the world.

Theory of Learning:
The theory of learning underlying the Grammar Translation Method is Faculty Psychology, which claims that the human mind has separate faculties to perform various tasks. Each faculty could be individually trained to attain proficiency. Under the assumptions of Faculty Psychology, understanding and memorization of complicated grammatical rules of languages were considered to be an important prerequisite for development of the human mind.
The principal objectives of the Grammar Translation Method are as follows:
  • To enable the students to read, write, interpret, and translate the target language literature.
  • To make the students aware of their native language structure and vocabulary.
  • To improve the students’ reading, writing and translation skills through rote learning of vocabulary lists and grammar rules of the target language.
  • To develop the students’ general mental discipline.
The Syllabus:
The Grammar Translation Method follows a Structural Syllabus since the primary focus is to master the grammar rules and vocabulary of the target language.

Teacher Roles:
In the Grammar Translation Method the teacher is the sole authority in the classroom as he controls and determines everything such as the content, tasks, etc. Furthermore, the teacher also provides the students with correct answers/feedbacks when they make errors.

Learner Roles:
The students are passive receiver of knowledge as they blindly follow whatever the teacher instructs them to do. The students are rarely allowed to start any interaction with the teacher. Whatever interaction occurs it is generally initiated by the teacher.

The Role of Teaching/Learning Materials:
The role of teaching/learning/instructional materials according to this method is to provide literary texts and encourage students to practice translation exercises. The texts also incorporate vocabulary lists and grammar rules for the students to memorize necessary for developing reading, writing and translation skills rather than listening and speaking.
In the Grammar Translation Method the classroom procedure include: a presentation of a grammatical rule, followed by a list of vocabulary and, finally, translation exercises from selected texts (Stern 1983, p453). Other activities and procedures can be the following:
  • reading comprehension questions about the text;
  • identifying  antonyms and synonyms from words in the text;
  • memorising vocabulary selected from the reading texts;
  • forming sentences with the new words;
  • recognising and memorising cognates and false cognates;
  • practicing fill-in-the-blank exercises;
  • writing compositions from a given topic.


Although the Grammar Translation Method has been violently criticized under multiple grounds, yet it is not devoid of positive traits. The advantages of the Grammar Translation Method are as follows:
  1. As the classes are carried out in the mother tongue, teaching takes less effort and time, while the students can also learn much comfortably. Moreover, the teacher can assess whether the students grasped the lessons or not.
  2. The translation exercises help the students to compare the native language with the target language, which in turn enhance their ability to understand meaning of words and complicated sentences. In this way they can learn the target language grammar in a relatively easy way.
  3. The focus on understanding of the target language literary texts increases the students’ reading and writing skills.
  4. The Grammar Translation Method also enables the students to understand how the mother tongue functions, in order to give them the capacity to communicate its thought.
  5. The memorization of grammar rules and vocabulary of the target language provides the students with good mental exercise which helps to develop their mind.
  6. As this method chiefly stresses on developing reading and writing skills, the teacher does not necessarily need to be fluent in the target language.
  7. The study of target language literature helps the students to learn the best forms of language.
  8. The emphasis on accuracy enables the students to learn the correct grammar of the target language.


Despite its wide acceptance, the Grammar Translation Method has been criticized for a number of shortcomings:
  1. The overemphasis on accuracy leads to repeated corrections of errors which hinders the consistency of learning.
  2. This method overemphasizes accuracy to fluency.
  3. It is a teacher-centered method since the role of student is passive.
  4. It ignores communicative competence as the goal of learning.
  5. Little or no emphasis is given on listening and writing skills.
  6. The students often fail to speak in real life situations since they are familiarized with the target language culture through reading passages rather than by direct interaction with the target language elements.
  7. Learning often gets dull and tiresome since the students need to memorize lots of vocabulary items and grammar rules.


Although the Grammar Translation Method is greatly devoid of any reference to the present day language usage, still today it is used in foreign language teaching, especially in the third world countries. Much of its popularity stems from its relatively simple teaching requirements. Anyone with good reading and writing skills can teach language as per the Grammar Translation Method, no fluency in the target language is required. Therefore, it is apparent that this method will always occupy its place in the field of foreign language teaching to some extent and its use will not cease that abruptly either.






Barman, Dr. Binoy, Zakia Sultana, and Bijoy Lal Basu. ELT: Theory and Practice.
Dhaka: FBC, 2006.

“Faculty Psychology.” Wikipedia. 2015. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 6 January 2015

“Grammar-translation method.” Wikipedia. 2015. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 6 January 2015

“Grammar Translation Method.” English is not difficult, Guys. 2015.
Fhary Ar Rachman. 6 January 2015
“Grammar Translation Method.” Grishamareetu. 2015. Grishamareetu. 6 January 2015

“Grammar Translation Method.” Methodology (ELT). 2015. 6 January 2015

 “History of English Language Teaching.” EnglishClub. 2015. EnglishClub. 6 January 2015


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

John Donne Quick Facts

John Donne
John Donne, a 17th century English poet, prose writer, and clergyman, considered the greatest of the metaphysical poets and one of the greatest writers of love poetry.
  • Full Name: John Donne
  • Born: c. 1572
  • Place of Birth: Bread Street, London, England
  • Death: March 31, 1631
  • Place of Death: London, England
  • Cause of Death: Stomach Cancer?
  • Buried at: St Paul's Cathedral, St Paul's Churchyard, City of London, Greater London, England
  • Epitaphs: “He lies here in the dust but beholds Him, whose name is Rising”
  • Father: John Donne
  • Mother: Elizabeth Heywood
  • Siblings: 5
    • Brother: Henry Donne (d. 1593)
    • Sister: Mary Donne (d. 1581)
    • Sister: Katherine Donne (d. 1581)
  • Marriage: 1601
  • Spouse: Anne More (d. 1617)
  • Number of Children: 12
    • Daughter: Constance Donne (b. 1603)
    • Son:  John Donne III (b. 1604, d. 1662)
    • Son: George Donne (b. 1605)
    • Son: Francis Donne (b. 1607 d. 1614)
    • Daughter: Lucy Donne (b. 1608)
    • Daughter: Bridget Donne (b.1609)
    • Daughter: Mary Donne (b. 1611, d. 1614)
    • Stillborn: 1612
    • Son: Nicholas Donne (b. 1613, d. 1614)
    • Daughter: Margaret Donne (b. 1615)
    • Daughter: Elizabeth Donne (b. 1616)
    • Stillborn: 1617
  • Education: University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Lincoln’s Inn
  • Known for: for both his sensitive and realistic portrayals of romantic love and his remarkable expressions of religious devotion
  • Criticised for: NA
  • Influences: NA
  • Influenced: Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Merton


''But I do nothing upon myself, and yet am mine own executioner.''  John Donne

Major Themes:

  • Love
  • Women
  • Sexuality
  • Religion
  • Death

Notable Works:

  • The Anniversaries (1611-12)
  • Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624)
  • Songs and Sonnets (1633)

Did you know?

  • Donne’s father, a prosperous London merchant was also named John.
  • Donne was the third of six children of his parents.
  • His father deceased when Donne was only four years old.
  • During marriage his wife Anne More was only 16 years old.
  • After his father’s demise Donne’s mother married a prominent physician.
  • Donne’s wife Anne spent most of her married life either pregnant or nursing.
  • Anne bore 12 offspring, including two stillbirths.
  • Donne’s wife died after giving birth of the 12th child.
  • In 1593, John Donne’s brother, Henry, was convicted of Catholic sympathies and died of a fever in prison.
  • Critics place Donne, along with the English poets George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, and Richard Crashaw, in the metaphysical school of poets.
  • Donne’s greatness as a poet was not acclaimed until the 20th century.
  • T.S. Eliot and William Butler Yeats did much to establish him as a great metaphysical poet.
  • After his wife’s death Donne quit writing love poems and concentrated more on religious subjects.
  • Donne was educated at home by Roman Catholic tutors until he was twelve years old.
  • In 1615 Donne was ordained a priest.
  • Although it is much debated how Donne died, many believed that he suffered from stomach cancer.


“John Donne.” Bio. 2015. A&E Television Networks. 6 April 2015

“John Donne.” 2015. HighBeam™ Research, Inc. 6 April 2015

 “John Donne Biography.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2015. Advameg, Inc. 6 April 2015

 “John Donne Facts.” YourDictionary. 2015. LoveToKnow, Corp. 6 April 2015


Monday, March 9, 2015

John Osborne Quick Facts

John Osborne, a leading 20th century English playwright and Oscar-winning screenwriter.
  • Full Name: John Osborne
    John Osborne
  • Birth Name: John James Osborne
  • Birth: December 12, 1929
  • Place of Birth:London, England, United Kingdom
  • Death: December 24, 1994
  • Place of Death: Clun, Shropshire, England, United Kingdom
  • Cause of Death: Complications of Diabetes
  • Buried: St. George Churchyard in Clun, Shropshire, England
  • Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius
  • Nationality: English
  • Height: 6 ft
  • Father: Thomas Godfrey Osborne
  • Mother: Nellie Beatrice Grove Osborne
  • Siblings: NA
  • Spouse:
-Pamela Lane (1951–1957)
-Mary Ure (1957–1963)
-Penelope Gilliatt (1963–1968)
-Jill Bennett (1968–1977)
-Helen Dawson (1978–till Osborne’s demise)
  • Number of Children: 1 daughter: Nolan Osborne
  • Education: Bellmont College
  • Known for: initiating the “Angry Young  Man” movement in British drama
  • Criticised for: the ornate violence of his language against his family members
  • Influences: Bertolt Brecht, Max Miller, Kingsley Amis
  • Influenced: Joe Orton, Edward Albee, Mike Leigh


“I want people to see life through my mirror, to feel my image. If it gets as far as that, if they feel, then I've made my contribution. What they do with those feelings afterwards is somebody else's business. Politicians.Journalists.Those sort of people.”John Osborne

Major Works:

Title Type Year
The Devil Inside Him Theatre 1950
The Great Bear Theatre 1951
Personal Enemy Theatre 1955
Look Back in Anger Theatre 1956
The Entertainer Theatre 1957
Epitaph for George Dillon Theatre 1958
The World Of Paul Slickey Theatre 1959
A Subject of Scandal and Concern TV 1960
Luther Theatre 1961
Plays for England Theatre 1962
The Blood of the Bambergs Theatre 1962
Under Plain Cover Theatre 1962
Tom Jones Screenplay 1963
Inadmissible Evidence Theatre 1964
A Patriot for Me Theatre 1965
A Bond Honoured Theatre 1966
The Hotel In Amsterdam Theatre 1968
Time Present Theatre 1968
The Charge of the Light Brigade Screenplay 1968
The Parachute TV 1968
The Right Prospectus TV 1970
West of Suez Theatre 1971
A Sense Of Detachment Theatre 1972
The Gift Of Friendship TV 1972
Hedda Gabler Theatre 1972
A Place Calling Itself Rome Theatre 1973
Ms, Or Jill And Jack TV 1974
The End Of Me Old Cigar Theatre 1975
The Picture Of Dorian Gray Theatre 1975
Almost A Vision TV 1976
Watch It Come Down Theatre 1976
Try A Little Tenderness Theatre 1978
Very Like A Whale TV 1980
You're Not Watching Me, Mummy TV 1980
A Better Class of Person Book 1981
A Better Class of Person TV 1985
God Rot Tunbridge Wells TV 1985
The Father Theatre 1989
Almost a Gentleman Book 1991
Déjàvu Theatre 1992

Media Gallery:

John Osborne

John Osborne

John Osborne

John Osborne

John Osborne

John Osborne and Jill Bennett in 1969

Jill Bennett at their wedding in 1968

Osborne and Mary Ure in August 1957

Osborne, Mary Ure, Vivien Leigh and Olivier


Did you know?

  • John Osborne’s father was a copywriter, and his mother was a Cockney barmaid.
  • Osborne’s father died in 1941 when he was only 11 years old.
  • Osborne's first important work, The Devil inside Him was performed in 1950.
  • With his Look Back in Anger (1956), John Osborne changed the face of the British Theatre.
  • Look Back in Anger established Osborne as a leading writer for the British Theatre.
  • Look Back in Anger was the first well-known example of "Kitchen Sink Drama".
  • In 1963, Osborne secured an Academy Award for his screenplay for Tom Jones (1963).
  • Osborne had countless affairs over the course of his life.
  • He was married five times.
  • Osborne frequently mistreated his wives and lovers.
  • Nolan was Osborne’s only offspring by his third wife Penelope Gilliatt.
  • Osborne had an abusive relationship with his daughter: he cast her out of his house when she was seventeen; they never spoke again.
  • Osborne remained angry until the end of his life.
  • It is said that many women fell in love with Osborne being attracted to his anger!
  • The suicide of his fourth wife, Jill Bennett is generally believed to have been a result of Osborne's rejection of her.
  • Despite the great success of his early plays, Osborne was in debt at the time of his death.


“John Osborne Biography.” 2015. Television Networks, LLC. 5 March 2015

“John Osborne Facts.”Your Dictionary. 2015. LoveToKnow. 5 March 2015

“John Osborne.”New World Encyclopedia. 2015. New World Encyclopedia. 5 March 2015

“John Osborne.”Wikipedia. 2015. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 5 March 2015


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Herman Melville Quick Facts

Herman Melville, a 19th century American novelist, poet and writer of short story, who is remembered mostly for his novel Moby Dick.
  • Full Name: Herman Melville
    Herman Melville
  • Pseudonyms: L.A.V.; Salvator R. Tarnmoor
  • Birth: August 01,1819
  • Place of Birth: New York City, USA
  • Zodiac Sign: Leo
  • Nationality: American
  • Death: September 28, 1891
  • Cause of Death: Unknown
  • Buried at: He is buried beside his wife in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx
  • Father: Allan Melvill (1782–1832)
  • Mother: Maria Gansevoort Melvill (1791–1872)
  • Siblings:
    • Brother: Gansevoort Melville (1815-1846)
    • Sister: Helen Maria Melville Griggs (1817-1888)
    • Sister: Augusta Melville (1821-1876)
    • Brother: Allan Melville (1823-1872)
    • Sister: Catherine Gansevoort Melville Hoadley (1825-1905)
    • Sister: Frances Priscilla Melville (1827-1885)
    • Brother: Thomas Melville (1830-1884)
  • Spouse: Elizabeth Knapp Shaw (1822–1906)
  • Children:
    •  Son: Malcolm Melville (1849-1867)
    •  Son: Stanwix Melville (1851-1886)
    •  Daughter: Elizabeth Melville (1853-1908)
    •  Daughter: Frances Melville (1855-1938)
  • Known for: his ability to probe deep into the human psyche
  • Allegation: NA
  • Influenced: William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, Jorge Luis Borges, D. H. Lawrence, Cornel West
  • Influences: William Shakespeare, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Thomas Carlyle, Luís de Camões


"With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me." Herman Melville, “Moby Dick”

Major Works:

Title of Novel Published
Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life 1846
Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas 1847
Mardi: And a Voyage Thither 1849
Redburn: His First Voyage 1849
White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War 1850
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale 1851
Pierre: or, The Ambiguities 1852
Isle of the Cross 1853(?)
Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile 1855
The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade 1857
Billy Budd, Sailor (An Inside Narrative) 1924

Short Story

Title of Short Story Published
"Bartleby, the Scrivener" 1853
"Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!" 1853
"The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles" 1854
"Poor Man's Pudding and Rich Man's Crumbs" 1854
"The Happy Failure" 1854
"The Lightning-Rod Man" 1854
"The Fiddler" 1854
"The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids" 1855
"The Bell-Tower" 1855
"Benito Cereno" 1855
"Jimmy Rose" 1855
"The 'Gees" 1856
"I and My Chimney" 1856
"The Apple-Tree Table" 1856
"The Piazza" 1856
"The Two Temples" 1924
"Daniel Orme" 1924

Did You Know?

  • Melville was the third of eight children.
  • Melville Married Elizabeth Shaw in 1847.
  • His masterpiece Moby Dick (1851) was a commercial failure but it became a masterpiece posthumously.
  • After his father’s death, Melville’s mother supplemented the “e” at the end of the family name.
  • Melville's writing was greatly influenced from his travels at sea.
  • His father was a successful importer of dry goods.
  • When Melville was 12, his father entered into bankruptcy and died suddenly.
  • After his father’s death Melville worked in his uncle’s farm, clerked in a local bank, and taught at local schools to support his family.
  • Melville was not financially successful as a writer, having earned just over $10,000 for his writing during his lifetime.
  • When Melville deceased, his death was noted in only one local newspaper.
  • Melville was aligned with the greatest American writers after his demise (not until 20th century).


 “Herman Melville.” Wikipedia. 2015. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 4 March 2015

 “Herman Melville.” Shmoop. 2015. Shmoop University. 4 March 2015

“Herman Melville.” 2015. Bio and the Bio. 4 March 2015


Friday, January 2, 2015

The Maturation Theory

The Chomskyan innateness proposal opened a strong ground for explaining language acquisition in terms of genetics. But it was not until the publication of Lenneberg’s Biological Foundations of Language in 1967, that Chomsy’s proposal gained due acceptance.  In this book Lenneberg endeavoured to discuss language acquisition in the context of growth and maturation. Hence the theory is known as Maturation Theory (also known as Biological Theory). Now-a-days it is deemed to be an important evidence in support of Chomsky’s Innate Theory.

Theoretical Assumptions
Lenneberg based his theory on the under-mentioned hypotheses:
  • Language development is akin to other biological developments in human growth and maturation.
  • Like many inborn mechanisms, language development is also confined to a specific time or critical period.
  • After critical period the brain loses plasticity due to lateralization, thereby making language acquisition incredibly difficult.
  • The process of brain lateralization starts at about 2 years of age and is completed by puberty.
Historical Background
The notion of a critical period for language learning was first proposed by Wilder Penfield and Lamar Roberts in Speech and Brain Mechanisms (1959). Their book contained a chapter entitled “The Learning of Languages”, wherein they hypothesized about the existence of a biological clock within the brain, which sets an age limit for second language learning. Their research concluded that Children were more capable of becoming proficient in a second language than adults. Later on, Lenneberg (1967) supported their hypothesis and further studied it to observe the possible age limit for first language acquisition.

Lenneberg's research identified a link between language and the brain. He assumed that there are two hemispheres to the brain, namely the right and the left hemispheres. He also hypothesized that each domain or subject of learning is stored in separate hemispheres of the brain. Although the hemispheres are not structurally identical at birth, they are functionally identical. In this contention, initially each hemisphere is equally capable of supporting language development. For instance, if an injury occurs in the left hemisphere then it is possible for the right hemisphere to become specialized for language function. However, the right hemisphere’s capability to control language remains intact till a certain stage or a critical period, which ends after lateralization of the brain functions. Lenneberg assumed that as the brain matures, (that is, around the 2 years) the hemispheres began to become functionally specialized and each controls different areas of human activity. This process of lateralization is completed by puberty. After lateralization, a hemispheric dominance ensues: in normal persons the left hemisphere begins to control the functions of language and the right hemisphere ceases its involvement in language. Therefore, in post-critical period language acquisition becomes difficult, ultimately less successful, or even impossible.

Critical Period Graph
The above graph suggests that an individual is only capable of learning a language during his/her early life and this ability comes to a standstill after maturity.

Evidence in Support of CPH
Lenneberg’s idea of Critical Period Hypothesis looks for evidence in the studies of different neurological studies such as the following:
1. Childhood Aphasia
The first evidence in support of critical period was discovered by the researches on patients with speech disorder or aphasia. Generally, damages to portions of the brain which account language cause aphasia. For majority of people these are parts of the left side of the brain. Lenneberg’s researches proved that brain damage to the left hemispheres in adults led to aphasia in 70 percent of cases, while brain damage to children had the same effect on their language, whether the damage was to the right or left hemisphere. However, children's brains were able to recover from this much faster than an adult with the same injuries. Unlike adults, in some cases, children were even able to make a full recovery of language. Even total removal of the left hemisphere did not stop children's reacquisition of language. This difference of chances for recovery of lost language functions between the children and the adults proves the existence of a critical period.
2. Down Syndrome Cases
Another evidence for CPH is the study of children with Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder, which is essentially associated with mental retardation. Children with Down Syndrome show much delays in language acquisition. According to cph their ability to learn ceases at puberty. The most notable study on Down Syndrome was conducted by Lenneberg, Nichols, and Rosenberg (1964), who in a three-year observational study of 54 individuals with Down Syndrome were able to record progress in language development only in children younger than 14 years.
3. Second Language Acquisition
The researches of Penfield and Roberts (1959) on the existence of a critical period for second language learning also provided a strong evidence for Lenneberg’s theory. They held that older learners of a second language rarely achieve the native-like fluency that younger learners display. Since children can learn a second language faster, this must be because they are still in their critical period. Consisted with this statement it is argued that second language acquisition will be relatively fast and successful like first language only if it occurs before the age of puberty.
4. Cases of Childhood Extreme Deprivation
The critical Period Hypothesis borrows a large portion of evidence from the studies conducted upon the feral children (also known as wild children, wolf children), who were raised in social isolation with little or no human contact. Since they missed the critical period to develop language, they were unable to learn and utilize language in a fully functional manner. The under mentioned cases are the most famous ones:
Case -1
This case is from the 1930s. A girl named Isabelle was found living in a darkened room with her deaf mother.  When the authorities found her she was six and a half years old. Since her mother was deaf, Isabelle had no sense of language. But Isabelle was able learn language after receiving systematic training. Therefore, it is argued that she was able to learn language as she started learning before puberty, that is, within the critical period.
Case -2
The second case is from the 1970s, which is by far the strongest evidence in support of CPH. It was the case of a physically and psychologically abused girl named Genie, who was rescued from Los Angles, California on November 4, 1970 by social workers.  Between the ages of 20 months and about 14 years her father locked her in a dark room and deprived her of human contact or language input (Curtiss, Fromkin, Krashen, Rigler, and Rigler 1974). When Genie was found she could not walk properly, eat properly, or speak in any language. Genie could not acquire normal language even under an intensive language and psychotherapy. Initial tests suggested that Genie was not mentally ill and that her inability to learn language resulted from the abusive background. However, a subsequent testing revealed that the left side of her brain was not working. These results suggest that as the left hemisphere had never been used during the critical period, it lost its ability to learn language.

5. Deaf Children with Hearing Parents
This refers to a group of children living in normal social conditions with regular linguistic deprivation. More than 90 percent deaf children are born to hearing parents. These children are deprived of sign language since infancy and thus have great difficulty learning spoken language since they receive limited or no language input from their parents. Typically, these children do not learn sign language until they are enrolled in residential school for the deaf. Researches on deaf children proved that  the older a child is when he starts learning a sign language, the harder of a time he has acquiring it. The proponents of CPH thus believe that the older children face such problem as they missed their critical period for learning language.
Case -1
An interesting case in this regard was Chelsea, a deaf child in remote California town. She was mistakenly diagnosed by doctors as retarded. Her deafness was discovered when she was 31 years old. Hearing aids gave her near-normal hearing and she started to learn language. Although she managed to learn large vocabulary, her grammar was poor like Genie. It happened because she started to learn language way beyond the critical period.
Another study of linguistic deprivation is the case of E.M., a 19 years old deaf boy from Mexico. He was raised in a rural area, where he received little formal education before the age of 12 and he was also isolated from the deaf community. At the age of 15 he was fitted with hearing aids, which enabled him to hear speech spoken at a conversational level. E.M. started learning Spanish, but he failed to achieve complete mastery of any single tense.

Genie and E.M. were exposed to different languages in different contexts, but still they suffer from similar linguistic impairments. Like Genie he experienced an extended period of linguistic isolation and started learning in adolescent. But unlike Genie E.M. did not suffer from any physical and psychological abuse. E.M.’s case, therefore, suggests that Genie’s abusive background is not likely to be the only cause of her language impairments and provides converging evidence for the existence of a critical period for first language acquisition.

Counterarguments against CPH
Lenneberg's critical period hypothesis is not devoid of shortcomings. A number of researchers have tried to highlight its weak points. Up till now the following observations have been made against CPH:
  1. There is no conclusive evidence that lateralization necessarily starts from roughly 2 years of age and ends at puberty (about 14 years of age), as claimed by Lenneberg. In this regard the researchers have forwarded divided opinions. For Krashen (1973) it may be completed by the age of 5, whereas for   Kinsbourne (1975) lateralization is completed by birth. Flynn and Manuel (1991), on the other hand, stated that it occurs long before the onset of puberty, perhaps during the first year of life.  Due to dearth of proper evidence, nowadays most researchers step down from setting any starting age for critical period of language learning. Resultantly, few researchers proposed a revised version of CPH, which they termed as sensitive period hypothesis. The proponents of this hypothesis hold that there are optimal times in an individual's life when the brain is maximally sensitive to learn a language. Language can still be learnt after this period but the learning process is less efficient as the brain is less sensitive to language learning. The difference between these hypotheses is very subtle:
Critical Period Hypothesis Sensitive Period Hypothesis
The ability to acquire a language begins and ends abruptly. The ability to learn a language begins and ends gradually.
Language acquisition is possible only within the specific span of age, after this time language acquisition becomes difficult or even impossible. Language learning is easier within the specific span of age; it could still be learnt at maturity but less efficiently.
  1. The case studies of linguistically deprived children also criticized for various inconsistencies. The opponents of CPH argued that the feral children could have failed to acquire language for the fact that they were retarded from infancy or that their brain was damaged due to some reason. For example, in Genie’s case it is reported that her left hemisphere was atrophied due to brain damage. Some others, however, held that the feral children’s lack of language acquisition in the later life may be due to abusive environment rather than lack of exposure to language.
  2. It is not true that children can master a second language better than adults. Birdsong’s (1992) experiments proved that adults too can attain native like competence in grammatical tasks and speaker performance.  
  3. Critical period hypothesis does not clarify exactly which areas of language should be affected after critical period. Majority of researches agree that CP is most likely to affect the pronunciation and grammar.
  4. Another shortcoming of cp is that it does not take into account the rate of language learning in different stages of learning; rather it is primarily interested in the final state of second language acquisition. But researches proved that adult learners proceed faster than the children at the initial stages of learning.
  5. The cases of Down Syndrome also criticised for inconsistency. It has been observed that children with Down Syndrome learns so slowly that they passes the critical period.
  6. Unlike Lenneberg’s claim, children are not always capable of recovering from aphasia. It has been observed that children are more capable of recovering from traumatic aphasia than adults. But children rarely show sign of recovery for aphasia resulted from vascular disorders (Guttman 1942; Van Dongen & Loonen 1976). Again, aphasia related to convulsive disorder often fails to recover as well (Gascon, Victor, Lambroso, & Goodglass 1973; Van Dongen & Loonen 1976; Worster-Drought 1971).





“A concept of 'critical period' for language acquisition: Its implication for adult language learning.” Kagawa University. 1997. Katsumi NAGAI. 28 October 2014

“Critical Period.” Wikipedia. 2014. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 28 October 2014

 “Critical Period Hypothesis.” Wikipedia. 2014. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 28 October 2014

“Critical Period Hypothesis.” Wikipedia. 2014. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 28 October 2014

“Critical Period Hypothesis.” Critical Period Hypothesis. 2014. Erika Nolin. 28 October 2014

“Critical period hypothesis (2).” Slideshare. 2014. LinkedIn Corporation. 28 October 2014

“The Critical Period Hypothesis in Second Language Acquisition:
A Statistical Critique and a Reanalysis.” PLOS ONE. 2014. PLOS ONE.28 October 2014


Monday, November 3, 2014

Chaucer as a Social Chronicler of His Age


Chaucer has been lavishly eulogized to be the greatest social chronicler of the 14th century England. His acknowledged magnum opus The Canterbury Tales mirrored an all-embracing portrait of the social, economic, cultural, and religious milieu of his age. In many respects, Chaucer’s representation of his age was more faithful and realistic than any other contemporaries. He primarily achieved this goal through portrayal of a wide variety of characters chosen carefully from every facets of society with their real follies and virtues. By portraying each character realistically, he in turn satirized the manners and affectations of the whole medieval society as well. The following discussion revolves round the various social issues captured in the writing of Chaucer:

Socio-political Condition

Initially, the medieval English society was divided into three groups, namely the church, the nobility, and the peasantry. The Church was a visibly potent force throughout England. The chief business of this sector was to pray. They did not need to work as they were supported by the nobles and the peasants. The nobility was represented by the Knight, whose job was to fight. The other characters in this group are the Yeoman, the Franklin, the Miller, and the Reeve. The peasantry consisted of the working class, represented by the Plowman.

So far, the lifestyle in the medieval society was free from the complexities of modern life. But by the late 14th century the English society encountered a huge shift and changes. During this phase the established social structure began to disintegrate due to the devastation of the grievous plague or the Black Death, which was subsequently much deteriorated by the peasant revolts such as Jack Straw rebellion of 1381. The shock of the Black Death loosened peoples’ trust on the authority of the Church, whereas the turbulence of the Jack Straw rebellion eventually paved the way for the emergence of a new middle class. This new middle class mostly consisted of the educated workers such as the merchants, the lawyers, and the clerks. Gradually, this new class gained more power and attention than ever before. And Chaucer, being a member of this new middle class endeavoured to depict and satirise the conventions of these turbulent times. In Chaucer’s description this group was represented by the Pilgrims, the Doctor, the Lawyer, the Maniciple, the Merchant, and the Wife of Bath. The Haberdasher, the Carpenter, the Weaver, and the Dyer collectively presented as the members of one of the great parish guilds and the new urban artisans achieved the power through these guild associations.

The Corruption of the Church

Geoffrey Chaucer was brave enough to unveil the decadence of the medieval Catholic Church. Chaucer’s description confirms about the moral and spiritual bankruptcy within some of its officials. Since the Church officials were not allowed to work for a living, they disregarded the vocational rules or values and resorted to various unfair means for personal gain. For example, the Monk prefers hunting and horse riding than worshiping at his monastery. Although he is aware that the monastery rules discourages monks from hunting, the Monk deliberately breaches them by stating them outmoded:
“But this same text he held not worth an oyster;
And I said his opinion was good.”
But Chaucer satirically remarked that the Monk ignores the rules lest he should give up hunting, owing possessions, and eating fine foods. The handsome and well-dressed Monk resembles more like a wealthy lord than a religious figure.

The Friars were also corrupt and hypocritical. They lived entirely by begging. They used to hear confessions and assigned relatively easy penance to those who donated money. They held that donating the friars is a good sign of true repentance.  Although they vowed to eradicate poverty, they paid no attention to the poor and used the donations to live a lavish life. Chaucer ridicules the Friars as under:
“He was the finest beggar of his house;”
In addition, the Friars also maintained a good relationship with the innkeepers and the barmaids, who can provide them food and drink.

The Summoner and the Pardoner belongs to the most corrupt Church officials. Both the characters turn to dishonesty for personal gain. The Summoner is a lecher and a drunk, always looking for a bribe. The Pardoner has a mesmeric voice to convince his audience to purchase indulges to get forgiveness for their sins.

The superficiality within the religious figures is portrayed with the character of the Prioress. Even though she is not a member of the court she is striving too hard to be courtly. In the words of Chaucer:
“She was at pains to counterfeit the look
Of courtliness, and stately manners took,
And would be held worthy of reverence.”
The Prioress is not corrupt like the other characters but Chaucer satirizes her for her affectations, the habits which do not necessarily suit a religious figure. She is so obsessed with courtly mannerism that she always dresses elegantly, speaks incorrect French and eats so carefully that she never spills a drop. Like courtly damsels she weeps when she sees a trapped mouse. But ironically, she feels no discomfort while feeding her hounds flesh, which is suggestive of her feigned courtliness. Even her devotion to the Christ is also showy since instead of carrying a rosary beads with a crucifix she wears a pendant which seems much more like a shiny piece of jewelry than a sacred religious object. More importantly, the pendant has an inscription that reads "Amor Vincit Omnia," or "Love Conquers All." Although most appropriately it could refer to God’s love but in her case more probably refers to the courtly love between a damsel and hero in one of the romances that were popular reading material for women of this time:
“Of coral small about her arm she'd bear
A string of beads and gauded all with green;
And there from hung a brooch of golden sheen
Whereon there was first written a crowned "A,"
And under, Amor vincit omnia.”
The Parson is the only honest man amongst all religious figures. He is temperate, learned, virtuous and deeply respectful towards the teachings of Christ. The Parson is dedicated to his parish and does not seek a better appointment. He visits all his parishioners of no matter how far away. He is also compassionate to the sinners and instead of rebuking he tries to teach them to lead an honest life.

Vanishing Chivalric Spirit

Chaucer’s Prologue to The Canterbury Tales remarks on the diminishment of the true chivalric spirit in medieval England. Through the character of the Knight Chaucer visualized the true spirit of chivalry. The aged Knight was a brave warrior and fought fourteen mortal battles for the sake of preserving religion. In the contrary, the young Squire, his son represents the rising conception of chivalry. Unlike his father he fights for pleasure and to receive attention from the ladies. The Squire lacks the intelligence and seriousness of his father and is much interested to lead a carefree life:
“Well could be sit on horse, and fairly ride.
He could make songs and words thereto indite,
Joust, and dance too, as well as sketch and write.
So hot he loved that, while night told her tale,
He slept no more than does a nightingale.
Courteous he, and humble, willing and able,
And carved before his father at the table.”

Courtly Love

In The Knight's Tale Chaucer gives us a description of courtly love, a recurring subject in the Middle Ages. Such a relationship is usually constituted between knights, squires and women from noble background. The knights exhibit great courage to earn their ladies’ respect, while the ladies exhibit grace, modesty, and loyalty for the knights.  Although the lover and the beloved are not married to each other, they fall deeply in love but strictly avoid immorality. Courtly love was deemed to be the true form of love and was valued over the marital relationship. Marriage was treated as social formality and a wife was treated as another property owned by the husband. More obviously, marriage was nothing but an arrangement for procreation and to avoid fornication with the partner of courtly relationship.


A great deal has been written about the position of women in the middle ages. Chaucer’s description confirms that some part of the womankind sought to liberate themselves from the clutches of the patriarchal society. The Wife of Bath, for example is an epitome of the emancipated women since she reacted against the accepted norms of sex and marriage. She wanted to release women from the male-domination by stressing on women’s freedom in marriage. With reference to the Bible she argues that there is nothing wrong to marry several times. The wife has extensive knowledge about love and sex as she was married for five times. Multiple marriages helped her to understand the ruse to gain independence in an essentially male-dominated society. She did that by depriving her husbands from using her body until they agreed to meet certain demands:
“The remedies of love she knew, perchance,
For of that art she'd learned the old, old dance.”


Chaucer’s poetry came under fierce attack for his apathy towards social reformation. He opted to depict life as he saw it and humbly refrained from suggesting any moral improvement over the blemishes of humankind. Moreover, his poetry encompasses a partial picture of the then society and is devoid of many other significant issues of the day. His description chiefly hinges round the tumultuous moments in England during the second half of the 14th century.


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 “The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story.” Shmoop University. 2014. Shmoop University.
14 September 2014 <>.

“The Canterbury Tales : Prologue.” Fordham University. 1996. Paul Halsall. 14 September 2014

 “The Canterbury Tales.” LitCharts. 2014. LitCharts. 14 September 2014

“The Canterbury Tales.” SparkNotes. 2014. SparkNotes. 14 September 2014

“TheBestNotes on The Canterbury Tales.” 2014.
14 September 2014 <>.



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