A blog for the comprehensive understanding of Literature, Applied Linguistics and ELT

October 30, 2009

Quotations by Aldous Huxley

Huxley, Aldous Leonard (1894-1963), English novelist, essayist, critic, and poet.


"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted."
~Aldous Huxley

"An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex."
~Aldous Huxley

"Maybe this world is another planet's hell."
~Aldous Huxley

"At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political ideas."
~Aldous Huxley

"Experience teaches only the teachable."
~Aldous Huxley

"If you look up 'Intelligence' in the new volumes of the Encyclopeadia Britannica, you'll find it classified under the following three heads: Intelligence, Human; Intelligence, Animal; Intelligence, Military. My stepfather's a perfect specimen of Intelligence, Military."
~Aldous Huxley

"That all men are equal is a proposition which, at ordinary times, no sane individual has ever given his assent."
~Aldous Huxley

"There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self."
~Aldous Huxley

"The author of the Iliad is either Homer or, if not Homer, somebody else of the same name."
~Aldous Huxley

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."
~Aldous Huxley, "Proper Studies", 1927

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."
~Aldous Huxley, "Music at Night", 1931

"Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him."
~Aldous Huxley, "Texts and Pretexts", 1932

"Death … It’s the only thing we haven’t succeeded in completely vulgarizing."
~Aldous Huxley, Eyeless in Gaza, 1936

"Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities."
~Aldous Huxley, Vedanta for the Western World, 1945 .

"But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."
~Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, 1932 .
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Assimilation & Accommodation

Piaget (1985) suggested that learning process is iterative (repetitive), in which new information is shaped to fit with the learner's existing knowledge, and existing knowledge is itself modified to accommodate the new information. The major concepts in this cognitive process include:

Assimilation & Accommodation

Assimilation (incorporation) is the inclusion of new information into one’s existing knowledge. This is when an individual uses their existing knowledge to make sense of a new event. In other words, it is the process of applying old schemas (knowledge) to new objects and events. Let us imagine that the child has the three schemas of grasping, biting and shaking and it is confronted with a new object, for example, a teddy bear. It will try to understand this object by making use of its old schemas, which means that it will grasp, bite and shake the teddy bear.

Accommodation (modification) is the change or modification of existing knowledge to interpret a new experience or situation. That is, accommodation consists of modifying some elements of an old schema or learning a new schema which is more appropriate for a new object or event. For example, the crying schema can be modified by changing the pitch or intensity, depending on the kind of the need to be expressed.

Accommodation and assimilation are called functional invariants because they are characteristic of all biological systems. However, they are not always in balance with one another. Advances in cognitive development become greater when accommodation plays a larger role than assimilation since then the range of the child's behaviour expands because the child learns the new schemas that will be appropriate for a new situation. The more such instances, the better for the child, because then its repertoire of behaviour expands.
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October 19, 2009

Walt Whitman Quick Facts

William Wordsworth

Walt Whitman

American poet, essayist, and journalist
  • Birth: May 31, 1819
  • Death: March 26, 1892
  • Place of Birth: West Hills, New York
  • Full Name: Walter Whitman
  • Known for: His unconventional, individualistic, and dynamic poetic style, which overlooked traditional rules of metrical structure
  • Influence on Others: Influenced modern poets William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, and Allen Ginsberg
  • Allegation: Rumoured to be homosexual or bisexual
  • Opposition: Opposed slavery, but not an abolitionist
  • Advocacy: Advocate of temperance

Quote:

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

" Leaves of Grass, "Song of Myself," (1855)

Notable Works:

Leaves of Grass (1855)

Did You Know?

  • Though he received little formal education, Whitman often attended the opera and also spent time studying great works of literature in the libraries of New York City.
  • The first edition of Leaves of Grass was not well received by the public, but was praised by the American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson in a letter that Whitman published in the second edition.
  • In 1865 Whitman was fired from a government job with the Department of the Interior after he was discovered to be the author of Leaves of Grass

References

“Walt Whitman Quick Facts.” Microsoft Encarta. DVD-ROM. Redmond: Microsoft, 2005.
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October 9, 2009

Theatre of the Absurd/Absurd Drama

Albert Camus
The Theatre of the Absurd is a designation for particular plays written primarily by a number of French playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the style of theatre which has evolved from their work. These works usually employ illogical situations, unconventional dialogue, and minimal plots to express the apparent absurdity of human existence. The French thinkers such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre used the term absurd in the 1940s in recognition of their inability to find any rational explanation for human life. The term described what they understood as the fundamentally meaningless situation of humans in a confusing, hostile, and indifferent world. The salient features of Absurd Drama are as follows:

  1. In practice, absurd drama departs from realistic characters, situations and all of the associated theatrical conventions. Time, place and identity are ambiguous and fluid, and even basic causality frequently breaks down.
  2. Meaningless plots, repetitive or nonsensical dialogue and dramatic non-sequiturs are often used to create dream-like, or even nightmare-like moods.
  3. Absurd drama reveals the meaninglessness of human existence.
  4. Absurd drama produces the effect of alienation. It presents anxiety, despair, and a sense of loss.
  5. It presents a pessimistic vision of humanity struggling vainly to find a purpose and to control its fate.
  6. The absurdist think rationally and not romantically. They present life as an absurdity or farce, or comedy.
  7. Absurd drama is not purposeful and specific as it solves no problem.
The British scholar Martin Esslin first used the phrase “theatre of the absurd” in a 1961 critical study of several contemporary dramatists, including the Irish-born playwright Samuel Beckett and the French playwrights Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, and Arthur Adamov. Esslin saw the work of these playwrights as giving artistic articulation to Albert Camus' philosophy that life is inherently without meaning, as illustrated in his work The Myth of Sisyphus. The Theatre of the Absurd is thought to have its origins in Dadaism, nonsense poetry and avant-garde art of the 1910s – 1920s. Despite its critics, this genre of theatre achieved popularity when World War II  highlighted the essential precariousness of human life. Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is one of the most prominent examples of this type of drama.

References

“Theatre of the Absurd.” Wikipedia. 2006. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 28 September 2006
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre_of_the_Absurd >.
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October 8, 2009

"Joseph Andrews" as a Social Satire

Henry Fielding is widely studied today as one of the chief begetters of the modernist movement in novel and as a master who embodied in realistic prose a panoramic survey of the contemporary society. With the novelty and vitality of both their theory and structure, the writings of Henry Fielding exerted a major influence on the succeeding writers and dominated the English fiction until the end of the 19th century.

Fielding’s brilliant tour de force Joseph Andrews is an astounding encapsulation of the 18th century English social life and manners. It mirrors with rare force and realism, the blemishes of mankind in its true face. The novel, in its entirety, is an impassioned satire on the moral and social ills that beset the 18th century English society. In this novel we are confronted with a chameleonic society that frequently changes its appearance to gratify personal lusts of various kinds. The novel depicts human beings camouflaged in various shades of vanity, hypocrisy and narcissism. Here, Fielding essentially becomes a spokesman of his age and seeks to come out strongly against the affected behaviour of the so-called respectable society of the day.

Fielding's portrayal of the English social life is reinforced by the large canvas of representatives selected from every facets of society. The study of different characters enabled the writer to explore all the unpleasant aspects of life of his time.

Fielding's exploration begins with his survey on the nature and temperament of women of his time. Women of all classes were snobbish and amorous to some extent. The sensuality of women is reflected at its best through the representatives like Lady Booby, Mrs. Slipslop and Betty. Lady Booby feels greatly attracted by Joseph’s manliness and personality and seeks in vain to evoke his sexual response to gratify her sensual appetite. Mrs. Slipslop also follows her mistress’ path and tries to win Joseph as a lover. Even Betty, the sympathetic maid also falls in love with Joseph and seeks in vain to have sexual gratification from him. All these amorous intentions show a fair picture of the amoral side of the 18th century society.

The society that Fielding portrays in Joseph Andrews is extremely inhuman, callous, indifferent, uncharitable and narcissistic. The insensitive hardness of this society is clearly exposed in the stagecoach episode. The passengers, who are unwilling to allow Joseph into the coach on various excuses, show up their selfish and affected/artificial mentality. At that time Joseph was in a pitiable condition; he was badly wounded and was almost naked. So, he was badly in need of sympathy or help from others. Some passengers show some sympathy for him but decline to spare him a garment to cover his naked body. The only person who shows some genuine heartfelt sympathy is the poor coachman, who offers his own coat to the wretched fellow. Here Fielding shows the contrast between the attitude of the rich passengers and that of the poor coachman. Fielding tries to show us that there is a greater spirit of charity in the poor than in the rich. The incident gives ample scope to Fielding for satirising the pretences and affectations of an essentially inhuman society.

Fielding also provides some glimpses of the chaotic, greedy, opportunistic and insincere sides of the 18th century society. The chaotic side is exposed by the robbery incident. It is also revealed by the incident in which a villain attempts to rape Fanny. Human greed is exposed by the characters of the surgeons and the clergymen. The surgeons were extremely selfish and money minded. They refused to treat patients who were unable to pay fees. The clergymen of the time were the most selfish and materialistic. Besides them there are also opportunists who take advantages of others'’ unfavourable situations to gratify their personal desires. For example, the squire who is fond of hunting hares, tries to satisfy his lustful desire for Fanny taking advantages of her poor condition. The insincerity of the society is revealed by the depiction of the justices, who were as dishonest as the clergymen and the squires. Justice Frolick, for instance, goes out of his way to send Joseph and Fanny to prison, only to satisfy a whim of Lady Booby.

Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding

In brief, Joseph Andrews is a fine social document that represents an inclusive picture of the 18the century English society. The novel directs its satire not only against particular individuals but also against the follies and vices of the entire society.
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October 7, 2009

The English Plosive Sounds

Definition

Plosive (also known as stops, mutes, occlusives, explosives) sounds are formed by the air being completely blocked in the mouth and then suddenly released. A plosive is a consonant articulation with the following characteristics:
• One articulator is moved against another, or two articulators are moved against each other, so as to form a stricture that allows no air escape from the vocal tract. The stricture is, then, total.
• After the stricture has been formed and air has been compressed (held) behind it, it is released; that is, air is allowed to escape.
• If the air behind the stricture is still under pressure when the plosive is released, it is probable that the escape of air will produce noise loud enough to be heard. This noise is called plosion.
• There may be voicing during part or all of the plosive articulation.

Classification

We have 6 Plosive sounds in English: /p/b/t/d/k/g/. The Plosive consonant sounds are generally described on three bases:
1. Manner of articulation : The manner of articulation is concerned with airflow i.e. the paths it takes and the degree to which it is impeded by vocal tract constrictions. In other words, manner of articulation describes how the sound is produced. In the articulation of the plosive sounds, four phases can be distinguished:
(i) Closing phase: In this stage the two organs move very close to one another and create a complete closure or blockade.
(ii) Hold/occlusion/compression phase: In this stage the air is held behind the closure.
(iii) Release or burst: The two organs move away from one another (closure is opened) and the air goes out and the released airflow produces a sudden impulse causing an audible sound (hence the name plosive).
(iv) Post Release phase: The articulators are now further apart, and the air pressure at the site of the obstruction has fallen so that the speech sound is no longer a burst with energy in all frequencies, but bands of aspiration which are more narrowly concentrated and which move toward the formant values in the next phoneme.
2. Place of articulation: The place of articulation refers to where the sound is produced. The plosives have different places of articulation. For example, /p/ and /b/ are bilabial since the lips are pressed together; /t/ and /d/ are alveolar since the tongue blade is pressed against the alveolar ridge; the plosives /k/ and /g/ are velar sounds since the back of the tongue is pressed against the area where the hard palate ends and the soft palate begins (velum).
3. Voicing: Voicing refers to whether or not the vocal cords are vibrating. The plosives /p/t/k/ are always voiceless. On the other hand, /b/d/g/ are sometimes fully voiced and sometimes voiceless. On the basis of breathe force these 6 plosives can be divided into two groups:
(i) Fortis
(ii) Lenis
Some phoneticians opine that the degree of breath and muscular effort involved in the articulation between the groups voiceless and voiced are not the same. According to them voiceless (/p/t/k/) English consonants tend to be articulated with a strong degree of breath and muscular effort. They produce strong or forceful vibration in the vocal cord. For their strong nature they are called fortis. Voiced (/b/d/g/) English consonants tend to be articulated with a weak degree of breath and muscular effort. They produce less vibration in the vocal cord since they need less force. For their weak nature they are called lenis. Thus the terms fortis and lenis allow one to describe in more precise terms than 'voiced and unvoiced' the articulation of English consonants. They refer to a bundle of articulatory features which have different distributions in different languages. The most important of those is perhaps aspiration, a type of sound which could be pronounce with an extra puff of air for which we may hair a “h” like sound.

Distribution

The following discussion gives a detailed description of the distribution of the plosive sounds. All six plosives can occur initially, medially and finally.

Distribution of English Plosive Sounds

1. Initial Position: The closing phase for /p/ t/ k/ and /b/d/g/ takes place silently. During the hold phase of there is no voicing in /p/t/k/, but in /b/d/g/, on the other hand, we normally very little voicing. The release phase of /p/t/k/ is followed by an audible plosion, that is, a burst of noise. There is then, in the post-release phase, a period during which air escapes through the vocal folds, making a sound like “h”. This is called aspiration. For example: pin, tin, kin. The release of /b/d/g/, on the other hand, is followed by weak plosion.
2. Medial position: The pronunciation of /p/t/k/ and /b/d/g/ in medial position depends to some extent on whether the syllables preceding and following the plosive are stressed (both depend on the context). In general we can say that a medial plosive may have the characteristics either of final or initial plosives.
3. Final Position: The final /b/d/g/ have little voicing. /p/t/k/ are voiceless. The plosion for both is non audible. The difference is that the vowels preceding /p/t/k/ are shorter than the ones preceding /b/g/d/


References

Roach, Peter. English Phonetics and Phonology: A self-contained, comprehensive pronunciation course.
3rd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 2000.

Varshney, Dr. R.L.  An Introduction of Linguistics & Phonetics. Dhaka: BOC, n.d. 87-90.

Yule, George. The Study of Language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 1996. 40-47
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The Role of Motif in Literature

The Role of Motif in Literature

Motif (also known as Motive), an  important and sometimes recurring theme, contrast, or idea in a work of literature.  The motif is considered to be one of the principal literary devices of a narrative. Authors often use this device to develop and inform the text’s major themes.  For example, in Brave New World, Aldous Huxley repeatedly used the motif of sex to reinforce the theme of moral decline in the World State. Again, in The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne employed a number of evocative names (such as “Prynne” rhymes with “sin” ; “Dimmesdale” suggests “dimness”—weakness, indeterminacy, lack of insight, and lack of will) to establish the text's principal theme of sin and punishment.
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Dialect and Its Classification

Dialect

A dialect is a variety of a spoken language having specific linguistic features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation that distinguish it from other varieties of the same language. The word comes from the Ancient Greek dialektos “conversation, language, local speech,” which is derived from dialegesthai “to converse, talk.” The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors, such as social class. Thus, from a broader perspective, a dialect is a distinct form of a language that is characteristic of a particular region or a particular social class or profession. From this point of view dialects are generally divided into two types:

Classification of Dialects

Regional dialects

The most extensive type of dialectal differentiation is geographic or regional. Geographically, dialects are the result of settlement history. Such dialects develop primarily as a result of limited communication between different parts of a community due to various geographical barriers, such as mountain ranges and rivers. Under such circumstances, changes that take place in the language of one part of the community do not spread elsewhere. Thus, in communities between which communication is difficult, differences in dialect can develop. Such distinctive varieties are usually called regional dialects of the language.
Linguists observed that language keeps on changing places to places. And at one moment such situation occurs when people don’t find any similarity with the main language. This is called dialect continuum.

The study of linguistic geography shows that the distribution of dialects is strongly associated with the topography of the landscape. The study of regional dialect is a vast issue, as such linguists found it largely difficult to study it only within sociolinguistics. They felt that a separate field is needed. So they created a separate discipline named dialectology. They created a map to show the geographical distribution of language varieties. They tried to show the difference among dialects with a boundary. This boundary is known as isogloss.

Social dialects

Another important axis of differentiation is that of social strata. In many localities, dialectal differences are connected with social classes, educational levels, or both. More highly educated speakers and, often, those belonging to a higher social class tend to use more features belonging to the standard language, whereas the original dialect of the region is better preserved in the speech of the lower and less educated classes. In large urban centres, innovations unknown in the former dialect of the region frequently develop. Thus, in cities the social stratification of dialects is especially relevant and far-reaching, whereas in rural areas, with a conservative way of life, the traditional geographic dialectal differentiation prevails. It should be noted that social dialects are studied by the sociologists rather than the sociolinguists.



References

Comrie, Bernard. “Language.” Microsoft Encarta. DVD-ROM. Redmond: Microsoft, 2005.

“Dialect.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. CD-ROM. US: [Britannica Store], 2003.

“Dialect.” Wikipedia. 2008. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 31 May 2008
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innatism >.


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October 5, 2009

Literature FAQ

Literature FAQ

Q. Who is called the father of English poetry?

Ans. Geoffrey Chaucer.

Q. Who is called the father of English Drama?

Ans. Christopher Marlowe.

Q. Who is considered to be the father of English prose?

Ans. Sir Francis Bacon.

Q. Who is considered to be the father of modern English literature?

Ans. George Bernard Shaw.

Q. Who is supposed to be the greatest modern English dramatist?

Ans. George Bernard Shaw.

Q. Who was the greatest modern American short story writer?

Ans. O. Henry.

Q. Who is deemed to be the most famous satirist in English literature?

Ans. Jonathan Swift.

Q. Who is called the "Poet of Nature" in English literature?

Ans. William Wordsworth.

Q. Who is considered to be the rebel poet in English literature?

Ans. Lord Byron.

Q. Who is considered to be the poet of beauty in English literature?

Ans. John Keats.

Q. Which English poet was known for his revolutionary fervour?

Ans. P. B. Shelley.

Q. Virginia Woolf is known as a -

Ans. Feminist Writer.

Q. Which school of literary writing is connected with medical theory?

Ans. Comedy of Humours.

Q. Who was the chief proponent of the aesthetic movement?

Ans. Oscar Wilde (Nineteenth-century Irish-born writer).

Q. In which century was the Victorian Period?

Ans. The 19th century.

Q. Did Shakespeare write any novel(s)?

Ans. No.

Q. Who wrote the first English novel?

Ans. Jonathan Swift.

Q. What's the name of the first English novel?

Ans. Robinson Crusoe.

Q. Who composed the first English dictionary compiled?

Ans. Samuel Johnson.

Q. Who was the first English author to receive the Nobel Prize for literature?

Ans. Rudyard Kipling.

Q. Which poet was both a poet and a painter?

Ans. William Blake.

Q. Who is the modern philosopher who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature?

Ans. Bertrand Russell.

Q. Who brought blank verse in English literature for the first time?

Ans. Henry Howard, the earl of Surrey.

Q. Which English poet was addicted to opium?

Ans. S.T. Coleridge.

Q. Which English poet died of tuberculosis?

Ans. John Keats.

Q. Where did T.S. Eliot born?

Ans. USA.

Q. Where did W.H. Auden born?

Ans. York (city in Yorkshire, northern England).

Q. Where did Katherine Mansfield born?

Ans. New Zealand.

Q. Whose pseudonym was George Orwell?

Ans. Eric Arthur Blair.

Q. Whose pseudonym was Currer Bell?

Ans. Charlotte Brontë.

Q. What was Charlotte Brontë’s married name?

Ans. Mrs. Arthur Bell Nicholls.

Q. Whose pseudonym was Katherine Mansfield?

Ans. Kathleen Murry (née Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp).

Q. What is the full name of O. Henry?

Ans. William Sydney Porter.

Q. What was George Eliot’s real name?

Ans. Mary Ann or Marian Evans.

Q. What is the full name of P.B. Shelley?

Ans. Percy Bysshe (pronounced “Bish”) Shelley.

Q. What is the full name of W.B. Yeats?

Ans. William Butler Yeats.

Q. What is the full name of T.S. Eliot?

Ans. Thomas Stearns Eliot.

Q. What is the full name of  W.H. Auden?

Ans. Wystan Hugh Auden.
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October 3, 2009

Materials Adaptation

Materials adaptation means matching materials with the learner’s needs, the teacher’s demands and administration’s purpose. To adapt materials we have to consider five major factors:

(1) Addition: Addition is an adaptation procedure which involves supplementation of extra linguistic items and activities to make up  for the inadequacy/ insufficiency of materials. Addition of extra materials is necessary/applicable/appropriate when the following situations are faced:
  • Areas are not covered sufficiently.
  • Texts/pictures/tasks are not provided.
  • Texts/pictures/tasks are fewer than needed.
  • Tasks are limited in scope.
  • Tasks are of limited range.

(2) Deletion/omission: Deletion is an adaptation procedure which involves removal of some of the linguistic items and activities which are found to be extra and unnecessary. So, deletion is a process in which materials are taken out rather than added. Materials should be reduced through omission when the following situations are faced:
  • Learners are clear about a language point.
  • Learners are competent in a skill.
  • There are too many tasks on a particular area/point.
  • The item/area concerned is not a priority.
  • The item/task is not well designed.
  • The item/task is not well-suited to its aim(s).
  • The topic is not appropriate for learners.

(3) Modification/changing: Modification means changes in different aspects of materials, such as linguistic level, exercises, assessment system and so on. Modification of materials is applicable/ appropriate in the following situations:
  • Texts are of inappropriate length.
  • Materials are inappropriate to the aim.
  • Materials are inappropriate to the learners’ age/ experience.
  • Materials are unclear, confusing or misleading.
  • Tasks are badly designed.

(4) Simplification: This procedure is employed to make materials less complicated or easier to understand. If the language teaching material is found to be difficult or mechanical for the target learner, it (material) can be made suitable for the learner through the process of simplification.

(5) Rearrangement/re-ordering: Rearrangement is a procedure of materials adaptation through which different parts of a course book are arranged in a different order or sequence. Rearrangement of materials helps to make them comparatively more interesting and appropriate for the learner as well as the teacher. Learners may reorder materials by:
  • Matching their aims.
  • Using a practice task for lead-in and elicitation.
  • Revising an area earlier than the course book does.
  • Comparing and contrast areas.
  • Providing thematic unity.
  • Providing an appropriate follow-up.
Materials adaptation

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