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

November 19, 2013

Semantic Feature Analysis

Definition

The meaning of each word in a language is formed of a set of  abstract characteristics known as semantic features (also known as Semantic Properties, Sense Components, Semantic Markers, Semantic Components), which acts as the determinant for distinguishing one word from another.The method by which the meaning of a word is analyzed into a set of semantic features is called Semantic Feature Analysis (also called Contrast Analysis, Componential Analysis).

Theoretical Assumptions

The theoretical assumptions underlying this approach are as follows:
  • The total meaning of a word can be analyzed in terms of a number of distinct elements or semantic features.
  • One kind of word can be distinguished from another by extracting the main features.

Discussion

In Semantic Feature Analysis a word is analyzed in terms of a number of components of meaning. That is, during such analysis, the word is broken down into meaningful components which form the total sum of the meaning in a word. These components are not part of the vocabulary itself; the theoreticians postulated them in order to facilitate the description of the semantic relationship  between the words of a given language. They could be considered as semantic universals as they may possess the same characteristics in all languages.
Semantic Feature Analysis is capable of determining the presence or absence of semantic features. For example, by finding out the right semantic property of a word the learner is able to choose the appropriate noun for using it as the subject of a verb:

Semantic Features

The above sentence is syntactically sound unless we judge it in terms of meaning. From semantic point of view the sentence is quite nonsensical, because, here the noun “television” has been inappropriately used as the subject of the verb “killed”. That means the noun “television” does have the right property to enable it to kill a person. Therefore, although the sentence is structurally correct, it is odd due to its meaninglessness.

Objective/Purpose

The main objective of Semantic Feature Analysis is to guide the students to analyze the meanings of selected vocabulary items from a topic which they are familiar with. It also aims to show the learners how words are both similar and different, thereby emphasizing the uniqueness of each word in the language.

Procedure/Strategy

Semantic Feature Analysis employs a chart to identify the basic features shared by key vocabulary words in a sentence or topic of discussion. By analyzing such a chart the learner is able to detect connections, make predictions and master important concepts. He will be also able to realize things that he doesn’t know yet, so he will know what additional research he need to do. The Semantic Analysis is prepared by observing the following steps:

  1. The teacher first chooses a topic to be studied.
  2. He then draws a chart.
  3. In the left column of the chart the teacher puts some key vocabulary items related to the topic. During selection of key vocabulary words the teacher tries not to list any words which the students already might know.
  4. Then across the top row of the chart the teacher lists a set of meaningful features that some of the vocabulary items might have.
  5. After that the teacher asks the students to put a “+” (plus) sign in cells in which a given vocabulary word possesses appropriate feature, and a “-” (minus) sign where it doesn't. The following is an example of the chart for Semantic Feature Analysis:
The television killed the man
Features/Property/Components of Words ↓
Key Vocabulary ↓
animate
human
male
adult
television
-
-
-
-
man
+
+
+
+
woman
+
+
-
+
boy
+
+
+
-
girl
+
+
-
-
From the above chart we can guess that the word “television” in English involves the features (-animate, -human, -male, -adult). Therefore, it is obvious that the word “television” cannot be related with a living entity.

Advantages

  1. The Semantic Feature Analysis helps to develop the learner’s ability of comprehension and vocabulary skills.
  2. Such an analysis creates ample scope for the learners to examine the related features to distinguish one word from another.
  3. Semantic Feature Analysis helps the learner to understand the conceptual meaning (also known as denotative meaning) of words, which is the meaning given in the dictionary and forms the core of word-meaning.
  4. Semantic Feature Analysis increases the learner’s ability to choose the right word in right place.
  5. The Semantic Feature Analysis provides opportunity for the teacher to know the learners’ knowledge about the topic of discussion; therefore, it allows the teacher to mould his instruction accordingly.

Disadvantages

  1. Semantic Feature Analysis is incapable of explaining the connotative or figurative meaning of words.
  2. Although Semantic Feature Analysis is capable of describing of words that share certain fairly obvious semantic properties, it fails to analyze all vocabulary items of the language.
  3. Semantic Feature Analysis is Limited in focus and mechanical in style.


References

“Componential analysis.” Wikipedia. 2013. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 10 November 2013
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Componential_analysis>.

“Semantic Feature Analysis.” AdLit.org. 2013. WETA Washington, D.C. 10 November 2013
< http://www.adlit.org/strategies/22731/>.

“Semantic Feature Analysis.” Reading Rockets. 2013. WETA Washington, D.C.  10 November 2013
< http://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/semantic_feature_analysis/>.

“Semantic Feature Analysis.” Edweb. 2013. San Diego State University. 10 November 2013
< http://edweb.sdsu.edu/triton/guides/SFA.html>.

“The Theory of Componential Analysis in Semantics.” Neo English System. 2013.
Neo English System. 10 November 2013
< http://neoenglishsystem.blogspot.com/2010/12/theory-of-componential-analysis-in.html>.

Yule, George. The Study of Language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 1996. 115-116.

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October 2, 2013

Lateral Consonant

Definition

Lateral (also called lateral approximant), a type of consonant sound, which is produced by allowing the air to escape around the sides of the tongue rather than over the middle of the tongue. The lateral sound is frictionless. It is in many respects vowel-like and could be considered as a continuant. It is to some extent similar to /r/j/.

Classification

There is only one lateral consonant in English: /l/. Like other consonants the lateral sound is customarily described on the following three bases:

1. Manner of Articulation: The manner of articulation refers to  how the articulators approach to each other to create a closure. It also determines the type and degree of hindrance the airflow meets on its way out affected by the closure. The closure takes different manners for different sounds. For instance, during the articulation of the lateral sound the following sequence of events occurs:
  • The tip of the tongue makes a firm contact with the upper alveolar ridge to form a complete closure in the middle of the mouth.
  • The soft palate is raised to completely block the nasal passage .
  • The sides of the tongue are lowered to let the air escape along the sides of the tongue without any friction.
2. Place/Point of Articulation: The place of articulator refers to the place or point where the speech organs create a closure by either coming close or near contact. This is the place where the sound is produced. For lateral sound the place of articulation is alveolar, which means it is articulated with the tip the tongue at the alveolar ridge.

3. Voicing/Phonation: Voicing refers to whether or not the vocal folds are vibrating. If the vocal folds vibrate during the articulation then a voiced sound is produced. Contrariwise, if the vocal folds do not vibrate then a voiceless sound is produced. Some phoneticians use the terms Lenis and Fortis to describe the voiced and voiceless sounds respectively. During the production of /l/ the vocal folds vibrate. It is thus a voiced sound.

From the above discussion we can identify /l/ as a voiced alveolar lateral. However, In English the pronunciation of this sound differs from person to person. But the usage of wrong /l/ won’t necessarily change the intended word. Therefore, In English /l/ occurs in two pronunciation variations, that is, /l/ consists of two allophonic variants:

(i) Clear[ l ]: It is also known as light [ l ].

Place of Articulation: The upper alveolar ridge, the tip of the tongue, the front of the tongue, and the hard palate.

Place of Articulation: Clear l


Manner of Articulation:
  1. The tip of the tongue makes a firm contact behind the upper alveolar ridge to form a complete closure in the middle of the mouth.
  2. At the same time the front of the tongue is raised towards the hard palate.
  3. The sides of the tongue are lowered to let the air to escape along the sides of the tongue without any friction.
Voicing: During the production of [ l ] the vocal folds vibrate. It is thus a voiced  lateral variant.

Distribution: [ l ] is found before a vowel. It is distributed in all three basic positions.

Initial Medial Final
[ l ] lee clear ball

(ii) Dark [ l ]: It is also known as velararized [ l ].The IPA symbol for this lateral variant is a " l " symbol with a tilde “ ~ ” symbol superimposed onto the middle: [ ɫ ].

Place of Articulation: The upper alveolar ridge, the tip of the tongue, the back of the tongue, and the velum.

Place of Articulation: Dark l


Manner of Articulation:
  1. The tip of the tongue makes a firm contact behind the upper alveolar ridge to form a complete closure in the middle of the mouth.
  2. At the same time the back of the tongue is raised towards the velum or the soft palate.
  3. The sides of the tongue are lowered to let the air to escape along the sides of the tongue without any friction.
Voicing: During the production of [ ɫ ] the vocal folds vibrate. It is thus a voiced lateral variant.

Distribution: [ ɫ ] occurs before consonants. It is distributed in the final position only.

Initial Medial Final
[ ɫ ] - - pool


References

“Alveolar Lateral Approximant.” Wikipedia. 2013. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.28 September 2013
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alveolar_lateral_approximant>.

“Lateral Consonant.” Wikipedia. 2013. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.28 September 2013
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateral_consonant>.

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

“Tilde.” Wikipedia. 2013. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.28 September 2013
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilde>.

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

“Velarized Alveolar Lateral Approximant.” Wikipedia. 2013. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.28 September 2013
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velarized_alveolar_lateral_approximant>.

Yule, George. The Study of Language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 1996.
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September 20, 2013

The Audio-lingual Method

Definition

The Audio-lingual Method (also known as the army method, the aural-oral method, or the new key), is a method of foreign language teaching in which the students learn language by repeating/imitating the recurring patterns/dialogues of everyday situations by succession of drills. The Audio-lingual Method strongly dominated the field of education in the 1950s and 1960s.

Background

First Phase
World War II suddenly necessitated the United States to produce a band of orally proficient speakers of different foreign languages. The US government then commissioned the American universities to develop a special language course for the army officials that would focus on aural or oral skills. This project was established in 1942 and labelled as the Army Specialized Training Programme (ASTP). The method was also known as the Informant Method, since it employed a native speaker of the language, the informant, and a linguist. The informant served as a source of language for imitation, and the linguist supervised the learning experience. Due to its association with the army, the method later on came to be known as the Army Method.
Second Phase
Towards the end of the 1950s there had been an increased attention to foreign language teaching in educational institutions. Therefore, the educational planners came forward to develop a new method of language teaching. This need for change was materialized as per the classroom needs of American colleges and universities. The planners modelled their method based on the Army Specialized Training Programme (ASTP),the Structural Linguistics and the Behaviourist Theory. This combination of the trio of approaches led to the development of the Audio-lingual Method (a term coined by professor Nelson Brooks in 1964), which was widely adopted for teaching foreign languages in North American colleges and universities.

Characteristics

The basic distinctive features of the Audio-lingual Method are as follows:
Approach
The theoretical bases behind the Audio-lingual Method are as follows:

Theory of language:The theory of language underlying the Audio-lingual MethodisStructuralism. According to the structural view, language has the following characteristics:
  1. Speech is more basic to language than the written form.
  2. Language structure and form are more significant than meaning.
  3. Elements in a language are produced in a rule-governed (structural) way.
  4. Language samples could be exhaustively described at any structural level of description.
  5. Language is structural like a pyramid, that is, linguistic level is system within system.
  6. Languages are different, since every language has its own unique system.
Theory of Learning: The theory of learning underlying the Audio-lingual Method is Behaviorism, including the following principles:
  1. Human beings learn language in the same way as other habits are learned through the process of training or conditioning.
  2. As language learning is a process of habit formation, repetition leads to stronger habit formation and greater learning.
  3. The learning of a foreign language should be the same as the acquisition of the native language.
  4. The habits of the native language will interfere with target language learning.
  5. Language cannot be separated from culture as culture represents the everyday behavior of the people who use the target language.
  6. Language learning is the outcome of stimulus (what is taught) – response (learner’s reaction to what is being taught) – reinforcement (approval or disapproval of the teacher) chain.
  7. Positive reinforcement helps the students to develop correct habits.
  8. Mistakes should be avoided as they help to form bad habits.
  9. Analogy is a better foundation for language learning than analysis.
Design
The design of the Audio-lingual Method is materialised through the following considerations:

Objectives:  The objectives of the Audio-lingual Method are as follows:

  1. To enable the students to learn how to use English in everyday oral communication.
  2. To encourage the students to produce utterances with accurate pronunciation and grammar.
  3. To grow the students’ ability to respond quickly and accurately in speech situations like the native speakers.
The syllabus:  The Audio-lingual Method follows a Structural Syllabus.

Learner Roles: In the Audio-lingual method the students play a passive role as they don’t have any control over the content or the method of learning. The students are mere imitators of the teacher's model. Their sole objective is to follow the teacher’s direction and respond as precisely and as promptly as possible.

Teacher Roles: In the Audio-lingual Method the teacher has an active role as he is the sole authority to control and direct the whole learning programme. He monitors and corrects the students’ performance. He is also responsible for providing the students with a good model for imitation. The teacher endeavours to keep the students attentive by varying drills and tasks and choosing relevant situations to practice structures.

The Role of Teaching/Learning Materials: In Audio-lingual Method the materials are predominantly teacher-oriented. The instructional materials basically contains the structured sequence of lessons to be followed, the dialogues, drills, and other practice activities, which would hopefully enable the teacher to develop language mastery in the student.
Technique/Procedure
Typically, the audio-lingual method proceeds through drills or pattern practice. It gives overemphasis on pattern practice since it conditions the students to form habits of correct responses. The teacher strictly conducts, guides and controls the students’ behaviour in the target language. New vocabulary and structural patterns are presented through sentences/dialogues. The teacher presents the correct model of a sentence/dialogue and the students endeavour to repeat it again and again until they achieve the same accuracy. The students' successful responses are positively reinforced. The teacher allows a limited use of mother tongue in the classroom so that the students can learn the target language without any interference from the native language system. In this model, the natural order of skill acquisition is sequenced as listening → speaking → reading → writing. The theory basically concentrates on listening and speaking skills. But it is also true that the oral skills receive most of the attention. The learner’s reading and written work is based upon the oral work they did earlier. In the process of pattern practice, the learner first acquires the structural patterns and then the vocabulary items. The grammar rules are taught through examples and drills, but no explicit grammar rules are provided. The vocabulary is strictly limited and learned in the context. Therefore, it is clear that the lessons in the Audio-lingual Method are chiefly built on drills. Generally the drills are conducted based upon the patterns present in the dialogue:

Repetition Drill: The teacher utters a dialogue and asks the students to listen carefully. The students then try to replicate the dialogue as accurately and as quickly as possible.

Replacement Drill: The teacher utters a dialogue and the students try to repeat the dialogue by replacing a phrase or clause by one word. For instance:

Teacher: I broke the flower vase accidently.
Students: I broke it accidently.

Restatement Drill: The teacher says a dialogue and in response the students rephrase it. For example:

Teacher: Tell me to slice the bread.
Students: Slice the bread.

Expansion Drill:  The teacher says a dialogue and the students respond by adding a new word in a certain place in the sentence. For Example:

Teacher: I get up early. (always).
Students: I always get up early.

Inflection Drill: In such a drill the students repeat the teacher’s utterance by changing the form of a word. Example:

Teacher: I drafted the letter.
Student: I drafted the letters.

Chain Drill: Such a drill features conversation between the students in a circular sitting around the classroom. The teacher initiates the chain conversation by asking a particular student a question. The student responds and turns to the student next to him. In this way, the students continue the conversation by asking and answering questions to each other.

Transposition Drill: This drill enables the students to be able to change the word order in a sentence when a new word is added. For example:

Teacher: I'm not going to come with you.
Student: Neither am I.

Transformation: The teacher says a dialogue and asks the students to change the form of the sentence, such as an affirmative sentence into a negative or an active sentence into a passive. For example:

Teacher: This is my car (affirmative).
Student: This is not my car (negative).

Dialogue Completion Drill: The teacher says an incomplete dialogue by erasing some words that the students learned earlier. The students then try to complete the dialogue with the missing words. For instance:

Teacher: I ____ never seen such a ____ scenery before.
Students: I have never seen such a beautiful scenery before.

Grammar Games: The teacher sometimes creates the opportunity for the students to practice the newly learned grammatical materials through different games. The games help the students to practice grammar elements in context, although in limited scope.

Question-and-answer Drill: In this drill the teacher asks questions and the students try to answer the teacher’s question very quickly.

Contrastive Analysis: It is the comparison between the students’ native language and the target language. This drill enables the teacher to find out where the students will feel troubled by the interference from the target language.

Use of Minimal Pairs: The teacher familiarizes the students with pair of words which differ in only one sound. For example, alter/altar. The teacher asks the students to find the difference in meaning between the two words.

Integration Drill: The teacher says two separate sentences and the students then combine them into one sentence. For example:

Teacher: I fed the dog./ The dog was very hungry.
Students: I fed the dog which was very hungry.

Single-slot Substitution Drill: The teacher utters a dialogue and also says a word or phrase as a cue. The students repeat the dialogue by using the cue in appropriate place.

Multiple-slot Substitution Drill: The teacher utters a dialogue and also provides more than one cues. The students repeat the cues in suitable places in the dialogue with necessary changes.

Restoration Drill: Students create a sentence from a sequence of separate words. For example:

Teacher: ran/away/man.
Students: The man ran away.

Advantages

  1. This is the first language learning method which is grounded on a solid theory of language learning.
  2. This method emphasises everyday cultural traits of the target language.
  3. It provides the opportunity to learn correct pronunciation and structure.
  4. This method made it possible to teach large groups of learners.
  5. It puts stress on listening and speaking skills.

Disadvantages

  1. The theoretical foundation of the Audio-lingual Method suffers from inadequacy.
  2. It is a mechanical method since it demands pattern practice, drilling, memorization or over-learning.
  3. It is a teacher dominated method.
  4. Here, the learners have a passive role, since they have little control over their learning.
  5. This method does not put equal emphasis on the four basic skills, such as listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  6. It considers only language form, not meaning.
  7. This method does not pay sufficient attention to communicative competence.
  8. It prefers accuracy to fluency.

Conclusion

The acceptability of this theory mainly lies in its solid theoretical base. This is also the first language learning method to consider the learner’s communicative competence to certain extent. Despite these positive traits the theory declined in practice for its dearth of scientific credibility. However, the theory exerted a major influence on the upcoming teaching methods and still continues to be used today in language teaching methodology, although in limited scope.

The Audio-lingual Method

References

“Audio-lingual Method.” Wikipedia. 2013. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 4 September 2013
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio-lingual_method>.

“Audio Lingual Method (ALM).” novaekasari09. 2013. novaekasari09. 4 September 2013
< http://novaekasari09.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/audio-lingual-method-alm>.

Mendez, Juan Carlos , Brenda , Joaquin, and Mario David Mondragon “The Audio-lingual Method.”
SlideShare. 2013. SlideShare Inc. 4 September 2013
<http://www.slideshare.net/MarioDavidMondragon/audio-lingual-method-111>.

Barman, Binoy, Zakia Sultana, and Bijoy Lal Basu. ELT: Theory and Practice. Dhaka: FBC, 2006. 150-153.

Richards, Jack C., and Theodore S. Rodgers. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching.
2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 2001. 50-67.

 “The Audio Lingual Method.” SIL International. 1999. SIL International. 4 September 2013
< http://www-01.sil.org/lingualinks/languagelearning/waystoapproachlanguagelearning/TheAudioLingualMethod.htm>.

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September 1, 2013

The Affricates

Affricates (also known as affricated plosives, semi-plosives, affricatives), types of consonant sounds. These sounds begin as a plosive with a complete closure but ends like a fricative by releasing the air slowly through a partial closurewith an audible friction. However, during the articulation of affricates, the duration of the fricative noise is shorter than that heard in case of fricatives.

Affricates are then composite of plosives and fricatives. Such hybrid characteristics also apparent in their phonetic symbols since all affricate sounds consist of a plosive sound/phoneme followed by a fricative sound/phoneme. For example, the plosive \t\ and the fricative \ʃ\ constitutes the single sound/phoneme \tʃ\ (ch) in the word chaste.

Classification

There are only two affricate consonants in English: /tʃ/dz/. They are generally described on three bases:
(1) Manner of Articulation
The manner of articulation refers to  how the articulators approach to each other to create a closure. It also determines the type and degree of hindrance the airflow meets on its way out affected by the closure. The closure adopts different manners for different sounds. For instance, during the articulation of the affricate sounds the following sequence of events occurs:

        I.            The Closing Stage:
  • The soft palate is raised to shut off the nasal passage of air.
  • The air passage is blocked by a closure formed between the tip, blade and rims of the tongue and the upper alveolar ridge and the side teeth.
      II.            The Compression/Hold Stage:
  • At the same time the front of the tongue is raised towards the hard palate in readiness for fricative release.
    III.            The Release Stage:
  • The closure is then slowly released and the air escapes in a diffuse manner over the central surface of the tongue with some fricative noise.
 (2) Place/Point of Articulation
The place of articulator refers to the place or point where the speech organs create a closure by either coming close or near contact. This is the place where the sound is produced. There is only one type of closure producing the nasal sounds: Palato-alveolar. The said closure is made by blocking the air passage by the following articulators:
  • the tip of the tongue
  • the blade of the tongue
  • the front of the tongue
  • the rims of the tongue
  • the upper alveolar ridge
  • the side teeth, and
  • the hard palate
Place of Articulation Affricates
(3) Voicing/Phonation
Voicing refers to whether or not the vocal folds are vibrating. If the vocal folds vibrate during the articulation then a voiced sound is produced. Contrariwise, if the vocal folds do not vibrate then a voiceless sound is produced. Some phoneticians use the terms Lenis and Fortis to describe the voiced and voiceless sounds respectively. In English affricates come paired with one voiceless and one voiced sound. For example, /tʃ/ is a voiceless palato-alveolar affricate, whereas, /dz/ is a voiced affricate.

Distribution

/tʃ/ and /dz/ can occur initially, medially, and finally, for instance:

Affricates Initial Medial Final
/tʃ/ Chip butcher Catch
/dz/ jam aged luggage

Affricates at a Glance

The affricate sounds can be summarized in the following table:

Affricates
/tʃ/
/dz/
Place/Point of Articulation
Palato-alveolar
Palato-alveolar
Manner of Articulation
Affricate
Affricate
Voicing/Phonation
voiceless
(forties)
voiced
(lenis)




References


“Affricate”. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2013. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 24 August 2013 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/7768/affricateocles>.

“Affricate Consonant.” Wikipedia. 2013. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 24 August 2013
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affricate_consonant>.

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. 91.

Yule, George. The Study of Language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 1996. 46.

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August 25, 2013

The Nasal Consonants

Definition

Nasals (also called nasal stops, nasal occlusives, or nasal continuants) are types of consonant sounds. These are called nasals because during their articulation the airflow escapes through the nasal cavity as there is a complete closure in the oral cavity.

Plosives vs. Nasals

The nasal sounds are produced in exactly the same position in the mouth as the pairs of plosives /p/-/b/, / t/-/d/, and /k/-/g/, consequently some phoneticians call them nasal stops. Like plosives, nasals are produced by blocking the airstream completely in the oral cavity. The difference is that for nasals the air pressure is not allowed to build up behind the closure, rather it is allowed to escape through the nasal cavity by lowering the soft palate (velum). Therefore, with a sharp contrast to plosives, it is possible to take a breath and prolong a nasal sound.

Classification

There are only three nasal consonants in English: /m/, /n/, and /ŋ/. They are generally described on three bases:
(1) Manner of Articulation
The manner of articulation refers to  how the articulators approach to each other to create a closure. It also determines the type and degree of hindrance the airflow meets on its way out affected by the closure. The closure takes different manners for different sounds. For instance, during the articulation of the nasal sounds the following sequence of events occurs:
  • The articulators completely block the oral cavity of air; the soft palate is lowered so that the air can escape through the nasal cavity.
  • During the escape of air through the nasal cavity, the vocal folds are together and vibrate.
  • As the air pressure is released through the nose, there is usually not an audible burst when the oral closure is released.
  • When the nasal sound is finished the oral closure is released, unless this is prevented by the requirements of the next sound.
(2) Place/Point of Articulation
The place of articulator refers to the place or point where the speech organs create a closure by either coming close or near contact. This is the place where the sound is produced. There are three types of closures producing nasal sounds:
  1. Bilabial
  2. Alveolar
  3. Velar
(3) Voicing/Phonation
Voicing refers to whether or not the vocal folds are vibrating. If the vocal folds vibrate during the articulation then a voiced sound is produced. Contrariwise, if the vocal folds do not vibrate then a voiceless sound is produced. Some phoneticians use the terms Lenis and Fortis to describe the voiced and voiceless sounds respectively. In English all nasals are voiced sounds.

All three nasal sounds can be summarized in the following table:

Nasals
/m/
/n/
/
Place/Point of Articulation
bilabial
alveolar
velar
Manner of Articulation
nasal
nasal
nasal
Voicing/Phonation
voiced
(lenis)
voiced
(lenis)
Voiced
(lenis)

Detailed Description of Nasals

/m/-Bilabial Nasal
Place of Articulation: The upper and the lower lips. The position of the articulators for this sound is shown in the following illustration:

Bilabial Nasal


Manner of Articulation: During the articulation of /m/ the two lips are pressed together and a closure is made. The soft palate is lowered; consequently the air then goes up the nasal cavity and passes out through the nose.

Voicing: During the articulation of /m/ the vocal folds vibrate, hence it is a voiced bilabial nasal sound.
Distribution: /m/ can occur initially, medially, and finally, for instance:

Nasal Initial Medial Final
/m/ mat laymen gum
/n/-Alveolar Nasal
Place of Articulation: The tip of the tongue and the alveolar ridge. The position of the articulators for this sound is shown in the following illustration:

Alveolar Nasal


Manner of Articulation: During the articulation of /n/the tip of the tongue touches the alveolar ridge and creates a closure. The air is held behind the closure for a while. The soft palate is lowered; consequently the air then goes up the nasal cavity and passes out through the nose.

Voicing: During the articulation of /n/ the vocal folds vibrate, hence it is a voiced alveolar nasal sound.
Distribution: /n/ can occur initially, medially, and finally, for instance:

Nasal Initial Medial Final
/n/ naive sand gun
/ŋ/- Velar Nasal
Place of Articulation: The back of the tongue and the soft plate. The position of the articulators for this sound is shown in the following illustration:

Velar Nasal


Manner of Articulation: During the articulation the back of the tongue comes near the soft palate and creates a closure. The soft palate is lowered; consequently the air then goes up the nasal cavity and passes out through the nose.

Voicing: During the articulation of /ŋ/ the vocal folds vibrate, hence it is a voiced velar nasal sound.
Distribution: /n/ can occur medially, and finally, for instance:

Nasal Initial Medial Final
/ŋ/
-
ankle bring




References


“Consonants.” SLT Info. 2013. SLTInfo.20 August 2013
<http://www.sltinfo.com/consonants.html>.

Mannell,  Robert.“Articulation of Nasal Stops.” Macquarie University. 2009.
Macquarie University.20 August 2013
<http://clas.mq.edu.au/phonetics/phonetics/consonants/nasal_stops.html>.

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. 92-93.

Yule, George. The Study of Language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 1996. 46.


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August 19, 2013

The English Fricatives

Definition

Fricatives (also known as spirants, continuants), types of consonant sounds, which are produced by forcing the breath squeeze through a narrow gap with audible friction, hence these are termed fricatives.

Discussion: During the production of fricatives, the articulators are brought nearly close together. But as the closure is not quite complete, the oral cavity is not blocked totally, leaving sufficient opening for the airflow to continue. Due to this close approximation of the articulators, the air coming from the lungs has to pass through a narrow gap with great pace, generating audible friction, which is heard as hissing for a voiceless fricative, and buzzing for a voiced one.

Classification

We have nine fricative sounds in English. Except for /h/, all fricatives come in pairs, that is, accompanied by one voiceless and one voiced variant:

Group
Labio-dental
Dental
Alveolar
Palato-alveolar
Glottal
Fricatives
/f/v/
/θ/ð/
/s/z/
/ʃ/ʒ/
/h/




The above sounds are customarily described on the following 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.
  2. Place of Articulation: The place of articulation refers to where the sound is produced.
  3. Voicing/Phonation: Voicing refers to whether or not the vocal folds are vibrating. Some phoneticians use the terms Lenis and Fortis to describe the voiced and voiceless sounds respectively.
Discussion: The following discussion endeavours to describe the fricative consonants on the basis of the above criteria:
/f/v/ - Labio-dental Fricatives:
Place of Articulation: The upper teeth and the lower lip.

Labio-dental Fricatives

Manner of Articulation: The lower lip comes very close to the upper teeth and creates a narrow gap. The air escapes through the narrow gap with audible friction.

Voicing:

Fricatives Voicing Reason
/f/ Voiceless
(Fortis)
Vocal folds do not vibrate while producing voice
/v/ Voiced
(Lenis)
Vocal folds vibrate while producing voice

Distribution: /f/ and /v/ can occur initially, medially and finally.

Fricatives Initial Medial Final
/f/ fast confer deaf
/v/ void bevel dove

/θ/ð/ - Dental Fricatives:
Place of Articulation: The upper and the lower teeth and the tip and the blade of the tongue.

Dental Fricatives

Manner of Articulation: The tip of the tongue touches the lower teeth and the blade touches the edge of the upper teeth. The air escapes through the narrow gap between the tip and the blade of the tongue and the front upper teeth and causes audible friction. However, these sounds could be produced in other manners as well:
  • The tongue tip may come close to the back of the upper teeth.
  • The tip or blade of the tongue may approach or touch the upper teeth.
Voicing:

Fricatives Voicing Reason
/θ/ Voiceless
(Fortis)
Vocal folds do not vibrate while producing voice
/ð/ Voiced
(Lenis)
Vocal folds vibrate while producing voice

Distribution: /θ/and /ð/can occur initially, medially and finally.

Fricatives Initial Medial Final
/θ/ theme ether sheath
/ð/ thus brother breathe

/s/z/ - Alveolar Fricatives:
Place of Articulation: Tip and blade of the tongue and the alveolar ridge.

Alveolar Fricatives

Manner of Articulation: The tip and the blade of the tongue come very close to the alveolar ridge and create a narrow gap. The air passes through the narrow gap with audible friction.

Voicing:

Fricatives Voicing Reason
/s/ Voiceless
(Fortis)
Vocal folds do not vibrate while producing voice
/z/ Voiced
(Lenis)
Vocal folds vibrate while producing voice

Distribution: /s/and /z/can occur initially, medially and finally.

Fricatives Initial Medial Final
/s/ sit beside gas
/z/ zoo dazzle nose

/ʃ/ʒ/ - Palato-alveolar Fricatives:
Place of Articulation: The tip and the blade of the tongue; the alveolar ridge.

Palato-alveolar Fricatives

Manner of Articulation: The air passage is blocked by the above articulators. But in contrast with /s/ and /z/, the tongue is placed further back of the alveolar ridge. The closure is then released slowly and the air escapes with audible friction.

 Voicing:

Fricatives Voicing Reason
/ʃ/ Voiceless
(Fortis)
Vocal folds do not vibrate while producing voice
/ʒ/ Voiced
(Lenis)
Vocal folds vibrate while producing voice

Distribution: /ʃ/ can occur initially, medially and finally. Contrariwise, /ʒ/ occurs only medially.

Fricatives Initial Medial Final
/ʃ/ ship pressure wash
/ʒ/ - Pleasure -

/h/ Glottal Fricative:
Place of Articulation: The glottis.

Glottal Fricative

Manner of Articulation: This sound is produced differently than the other fricatives since it does not involve the tongue or the teeth as articulators. For /h/, the sole articulator is the glottis, which is the opening between the vocal folds. The sound is produced when the air passes through the glottis as it is narrowed. The said opening is narrow enough to create some audible friction in the airstream flowing past the vocal folds.

Voicing:

Fricatives Voicing Reason
/h/ Voiceless
(Fortis)
Vocal folds do not vibrate while producing voice

Distribution: /h/ can occur initially and medially.

Fricative Initial Medial Final
/h/ hen behave -

References

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

 “Sounds of English: Fricatives.” CALLE. 2013. CALLE. 14 August 2013
<http://calleteach.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/sounds-of-english-fricatives/>.

Varshney, Dr. R.L.  An Introduction of Linguistics & Phonetics. Dhaka: BOC, n.d. 94-98.

Yule, George. The Study of Language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 1996. 46.

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July 26, 2013

Desire Under the Elms as a Psychological Play

Preamble

Nobel Laureate Eugene O’Neill’s plays are influenced by psychoanalytical theories of the 19th century and they boldly disrobe people’s civilized appearance and probe their inner psyches. His well-admired play Desire Under the Elms (1925) alludes to the ancient Greek legends about Oedipus and Phaedra and the modern Freudian theory known as the Oedipus complex and adopts mid-nineteenth century New England farm life as the setting for a tragic tale about adultery, incest, and infanticide. The play penetrates deep inside the inner states of its dramatis personae to dissect the motives and nature of human beings.

Desire Under the Elms as a Psychological Play

From a careful reading we can comprehend that the inner workings of all the major characters such as, Cabot, Eben and Abbie reveal different sorts of human nature. A great sequence of psychological realism pervades the play through some instances like the fierce hatred of Cabot and Eben, Eben’s desire for revenge upon Cabot, Eben’s Oedipal instincts, Abbie’s motives in marrying old Cabot and having a son, etc. Let us see in detail how aptly the playwright portrays various psychological implications in this play:

Simeon’s and Peter’s Revulsion for Their Father

At the onset we can observe the distant relationship Cabot had with his two sons from his first marriage, namely Simeon and Peter. Here we can certainly trace a mental conflict between the father and his sons. Both the sons had a notion that their father lacked any filial or human emotions and thus hated them. They were so obsessed with this thought that they wished his death. Both the brothers were annoyed with their father as he constantly imposed heavy farm tasks on them. In the backdrop of this desire they had a plan to escape from the farm and go to California where they think they can get rich in a relatively short time.

Eben’s Hatred for Cabot and his Step-brothers

Eben blindly believed that Cabot gradually killed his mother by overworking her for the farm. This view made him sternly vindictive towards his father. Again, he also held his step-brothers responsible for his mother’s death as they did nothing to save her from the clutches of Cabot’s torture. Eben also believed that the farm actually belonged to his mother and Cabot dishonestly grabbed it from her. Eben maintained that in this way Cabot not only deceived his mother but also deprived him of the lawful clamant of the farm. When his father returned home with his third wife, Eben became more revengeful to his father as he thought that she might eventually make a claim to the farm.

Eben’s Mother Fixation

Eben’s excessive mother fixation is revealed in a number of times. This is, because, even after his mother’s death Eben believed that he could feel her presence beside the stove, which he told to his step-brothers. He told that she cannot rest peacefully in her grave as she feels sorry to see that her son has to perform the same hard duties which had been performed by her previously. Eben tried to reinforce the idea of his dead mother’s spirit when Abbie told him that she felt some invisible presence in the parlour. In this way Eben blindly thought that his dead mother is spurring him to accept amorous advances of Abbie to take revenge upon his father.

Eben’s Oedipal Instincts

In many ways, Eben possesses the Freudian instinct of Oedipus Complex. This is first revealed when Eben formed a sexual relationship with a prostitute named Minnie, who was once a mistress to his father. Afterwards we see that he forms an incestuous relationship with his step-mother only to have a revenge on his father.

Subconscious Yearning of Eben and Abbie

The subconscious mind of the pair of lovers - Abbie and Eben was painstakingly analyzed in Act-II, Scene-II. In this scene we see that the couple had so strong yearning for each other that they could feel that urge even though they were in separate rooms. They seem to see each other through the wall. Ultimately, Abbie gets up and listens to the wall; Eben believed that he could see every move she is making.

Abbie’s Inner Desires

Abbies desires play an important role in the development of plot construction of the play. Abbie decided to marry Cabot since she was looking for a home for herself and for security. Her motive was to secure the sole ownership of the farm. When she found Eben as a possible heir of the farm, she decided to have a son for herself. She conspired to have a child by Eben and make it look like that Cabot is the father. During materialization of her plot, she truly falls in love with Eben and abandons her plan to grab the farm. But when Eben misunderstood her motive, she decided to murder her child to prove the fact that nothing can come in between their love.

Cabot’s Inner Workings

Cabot is an essentially religious man with an unusual obsession with work. He was a hard-worker so he engaged his wives and sons in heavy farm jobs. Unfortunately, they never understood him and as such he felt lonely even when they were around him. From a sense of dissatisfaction, he longed to be a parent in his old age. Cabot used to feel that some mysterious things were happening in the corners of his house. The fear from his subconscious mind signifies that in reality something unnatural is happening in the house.

Conclusion

Desire Under the Elms is an extensive exploration of motives underlying human behaviour. Although it adopts Greek mythical background for its plot construction, the play becomes a modern piece of art for its psychological side. Here, the playwright deals with the psychological part incredibly well by analyzing each characters mind acutely.

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June 29, 2013

Sylvia Plath Quick Facts

Sylvia Plath

A 20th Century American poet, novelist and editor
Sylvia Plath

Full Name: Sylvia Plath
Pen name: Victoria Lucas
Birth: October 27, 1932
Death: February 11, 1963
Place of Birth: Boston, Massachusetts
Place of Death: London, England
Cause of death: Suicide
Buried at: St. Thomas' Churchyard, Heptonstall, West Yorkshire, England
Father: Otto Plath (1885–1940)
Mother: Aurelia Schober Plath (1906–1994)
Siblings: One younger brother: Warren Plath (1935– ?)
Marriage: June 16, 1956
Spouse: Ted Hughes (1930 –1998)
Children: One daughter: Frieda Hughes (1960–), and one son: Nicholas Hughes (1962–2009)
Education: Smith College, Cambridge University
Known for: her works which are marked for their profoundly concentrated personal imagery
Criticised for: her troubled life, reflected through her confessional style, which she implemented in her semi-autobiographical writings
Influences: William Blake (1757–1827), James Joyce (1882–1941), Virginia Woolf (1882–1941), J. D. Salinger (1919–2010), William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)
Influenced: Elizabeth Wurtzel (1967), K.J. Stevens (1973), Gary Forrester (1946), Antonella Gambotto-Burke (1965)

Quote:

“Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace."
Sylvia Plath, "The Bell Jar"

Major Themes:

  • Self-destruction
  • Death
  • Alienation
  • Motherhood
  • Love and Sex
  • Patriarchy
  • Nature
  • Victimization

Notable Works:

Poetry
The Colossus (1960)
Ariel (1965)
Crossing the Water (1971)
Winter Trees (1972)
The Collected Poems (1981)
Prose
The Bell Jar (1963)
Letters Home (1975, to and edited by her mother)
Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams (1977)
The Journals of Sylvia Plath (1982)
The Magic Mirror (1989, Plath's Smith College senior thesis)
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath (2000, edited by Karen V. Kukil)
Books for Young Readers
The Bed Book (1976)
The It-Doesn't-Matter-Suit (1996)
Collected Children's Stories (UK, 2001)
Mrs. Cherry's Kitchen (2001)

Did You Know?

Her father died as a result of complications from diabeteson November 5, 1940, a week and a half after Plath's eighth birthday

She made her first suicide attempt by taking sleeping peels when she was around 20 years old

She made her second suicide attempt at the age of 30 by gassing herself at her flat in London, which took away her life

Prior to killing herself, Plath ascertained about the safety of her children and she also left food and drinks for them

Many Plath supporters blame Hughes' adultery with Assia Wevill as the cause of Plath's pathetic demise

Like Plath, Hughes’ company in adultery Assia Wevill also eventually committed suicide by using a gas oven

The headstone of her  tomb bears the name “Sylvia Plath Hughes”

The name 'Hughes' in the headstone now appears in bronze lettering to prevent it from being removed (as many Plath supports chiselled the part several times in the past)

Her keen interest in writing led Plath to keep a journal from the age of 11 and she published her poems in regional magazines and newspapers

In 1982, Plath became the first individual to win a posthumous Pulitzer Prize

In early 1956, Plath met the English poet Ted Hughes at a party in Cambridge, UK and fell in love at first sight and got married four months later

Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes had an unstable marital life

Sylvia Plath’s first poetry collection The Colossus was published in 1960 in England

Ted Hughes edited much of Plath’s major works after her death, including the most notable Ariel (1965)

Plath’s only novel The Bell Jar (1963) was published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas

The true story of Sylvia Plath was the basis for the British biographical drama film Sylvia (2003)

Except Colossus most of her major works were published posthumously

In her poem Pursuit Plath used a panther to describe Ted Hughes

Her elegiac poem Daddy is written about her father

Her daughter Frieda Hughes is a poet and painter

Although Sylvia Plath left this world prematurely, she is still a much studied poet these days

References

 “Sylvia Plath”. Poets.org. 2013. Academy of American Poets. 25 June 2013
< http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/11>.

 “Sylvia Plath”. Biography. 2013. A+E Television Networks, LLC. 25 June 2013
< http://www.biography.com/people/sylvia-plath-9442550>.

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June 11, 2013

The Theme of Death in Dickinson's Poetry

Introduction

Emily Dickinson has been the centre of curiosity for a number of researchers due to her insuppressible obsession with death. Even though death has been the subject of scrutiny for numerous literary artists and philosophers for centuries, Dickinson audaciously secluded herself from others by conceiving it in a rather unique way. She portrayed death as a fascinating, fantastic and cryptic phenomenon rather than representing it in its traditional mundane outlook. In fact, she was attached with death too such an extent that one fourth of her poetry revolves round the theme of death.

Background

Emily Dickinson encountered many tragic deaths of friends close to her which eventually led her to live a reclusive and sorrowful life. This sense of doom significantly engendered her interest in writing poetry of death. In fact, Dickinson lived in a time when medical science was less developed so people died from simple symptoms. Therefore, she again and again confronted with the cycle of human existence, from birth to death and birth again. Dickinson endeavoured to capture this tragedy of human life through her poetry.

Types of Death

Dickinson’s attitude towards death differs from poem to poem. A careful reading of her poetry reveals that she treated death from every possible perspectives. For example, she commonly portrayed death as a welcome relief from life‘s tensions; as a force which heightens one‘s satisfaction with life; as an assassin; as a lover gently conveying one to hidden pleasures; as a physical corruptor; as a cynical caller who poses beneath a cordial exterior; as an ever free creature in nature; and lastly as a solemn guide leading one to the threshold of immortality. Thus, keeping the context of the current discussion in mind we can roughly categorize her death-specific poems in the following vein:
  1. Poems dealing with death and immortality.
  2. Poems dealing with the physical aspects of death.
  3. Poems which personify death.
  4. Poems with elegiac note.
Now let us see in detail how Dickinson treated death in different categories:
CATEGORY -1
Poems in this category primarily reflects Dickinson’s spiritual views on death. In her world she positioned death second only to god. Dickinson’s solitary life provided her much incentive to attain mystical experience. The centre of her mystical concept is deathlessness of death. She believed that all things in this world will one day perish but death alone will remain forever. Physical death is not the end rather it is the beginning of a perpetual  life.
Because I could not stop for Death (712)
Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity –
A Death blow is a Life blow to Some(816)
A Death blow is a Life blow to Some
Who till they died, did not alive become —
Who had they lived, had died but when
They died, Vitality begun.
Drowning is not so pitiful (1718)
Drowning is not so pitiful
As the attempt to rise
Three times, 'tis said, a sinking man
Comes up to face the skies,
And then declines forever
To that abhorred abode,
Where hope and he part company —
For he is grasped of God.
The Maker's cordial visage,
However good to see,
Is shunned, we must admit it,
Like an adversity.
If I should die (27)
If I should die,
And you should live,
And time should gurgle on,
And morn should beam,
And noon should burn,
As it has usual done;
If birds should build as early,
And bees as bustling go, --
One might depart at option
From enterprise below!
'T is sweet to know that stocks will stand
When we with daisies lie,
That commerce will continue,
And trades as briskly fly.
It makes the parting tranquil
And keeps the soul serene,
That gentlemen so sprightly
Conduct the pleasing scene!

CATEGORY-2
This category is concerned with the physical  aspects of death. In such poems Dickinson primarily fixed her attention on the scenes of dying, the deceased person, and the effects of death as seen in burials, funerals, and household activities. She observed such aspects of death to comprehend how death may like physically.
How many times these low feet staggered - (187)
How many times these low feet staggered —
 Only the soldered mouth can tell —
 Try — can you stir the awful rivet —
 Try — can you lift the hasps of steel!

 Stroke the cool forehead — hot so often —
 Lift — if you care — the listless hair —
 Handle the adamantine fingers
 Never a thimble — more — shall wear —

 Buzz the dull flies — on the chamber window —
 Brave — shines the sun through the freckled pane —
 Fearless — the cobweb swings from the ceiling —
 Indolent Housewife — in Daisies — lain!
The last Night that She lived (1100)
THE last night that she lived,
It was a common night,
Except the dying; this to us
Made nature different.

We noticed smallest things, —
Things overlooked before,
By this great light upon our minds
Italicized, as 't were.

That others could exist
While she must finish quite,
A jealousy for her arose
So nearly infinite.

We waited while she passed;
It was a narrow time,
Too jostled were our souls to speak,
At length the notice came.
She mentioned, and forgot;
Then lightly as a reed
Bent to the water, shivered scarce,
Consented, and was dead.

And we, we placed the hair,
And drew the head erect;
And then an awful leisure was,
Our faith to regulate.
I heard a Fly buzz - when I died - (591)
I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For the last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –

With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, (340)
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading - treading - till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through -

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum -
Kept beating - beating - till I thought
My mind was going numb -

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space - began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race,
Wrecked, solitary, here -

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down -
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing - then –

The Bustle in a House (1108)
The Bustle in a House
The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted opon Earth –

The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity –

Not any higher stands the Grave (1256)
Not any higher stands the Grave
For Heroes than for Men —
Not any nearer for the Child
Than numb Three Score and Ten —

This latest Leisure equal lulls
The Beggar and his Queen
Propitiate this Democrat
A Summer's Afternoon —

CATEGORY-3
This category consists of Dickinson’s most ingenious ideas about death, which is namely personification of death. Dickinson believed that if she visualizes death as human then she will be able to come closer to death to understand its purpose. Therefore, she opted to attribute human qualities to death. Such a technique enabled her to express the abstract concept of death in terms of the concrete.
Dust is the only Secret — (153)
Dust is the only Secret —
Death, the only One
You cannot find out all about
In his "native town."

Nobody know "his Father" —
Never was a Boy —
Hadn't any playmates,
Or "Early history" —

Industrious! Laconic!
Punctual! Sedate!
Bold as a Brigand!
Stiller than a Fleet!

Builds, like a Bird, too!
Christ robs the Nest —
Robin after Robin
Smuggled to Rest!

CATEGORY-4
This category comprise elegiac poems. These poems are generally written in somber voice and they are profoundly sentimental in tone. These are mournful laments over some real, or in many cases, imaginary individuals.
Mama never forgets her birds (164)
Mama never forgets her birds,
 Though in another tree —
 She looks down just as often
 And just as tenderly
 As when her little mortal nest
 With cunning care she wove —
 If either of her "sparrows fall,"
 She "notices," above.


The Theme of Death in Dickinson's Poetry



References

Antony, Omana and Suchi Dewan .“Emily Dickinson’s Perspectives on Death:
An Interpretation of Dickinson’s Poems on Death”. Lapis Lazuli. 2013.
Lapis Lazuli. 9 June 2013
< http://pintersociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Omana-Antony13.pdf>.

“Inside The Mind Of Death”. Free-Essays-Free-Essays.com. 2013.
Free-Essays-Free-Essays.com. 9 June 2013
< http://www.free-essays-free-essays.com/dbase/3c/enq265.shtml>.

Abeijon, Brittany. “A Close Analysis of Major Themes in Emily Dickinson's Poetry”.
Yahoo Voices. 2013. Brittany Abeijon. 9 June 2013
< http://voices.yahoo.com/a-close-analysis-major-themes-emily-dickinsons-75243.html?cat=10>.

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May 24, 2013

Romanticism

Romanticism is a major literary movement which emerged towards the end of the 18th century, the waning days of Neoclassicism. The Romantic Movement assumedly emerged in Germany, although the main source of inspiration came from the events and ideologies of the French Revolution. The Industrial Revolution, beginning in the same year, is presumed to be responsible for the growth of this movement. However, it is generally said that this epoch-making literary movement was initiated in 1798 by the publication of Lyrical Ballads, which was written by William Wordsworth in collaboration with his friend S.T. Coleridge. In essence, the romantic elements had been present in literature for centuries. The Elizabethan Age, for example, was essentially featured with romantic spirit. No matter who or which kindled Romanticism, the movement indisputably exerted a significant influence on the literature across the globe. The age is truly endowed with unique literary output. The movement ended in the 3rd decade of the 19th century when new literary movements like the Parnassians, Symbolism, Realism and Naturalism made ways.

Basic Premises


Romanticism ushered in as a reaction against Neoclassicism. Therefore, in Romanticism:

1.       imagination was praised over reason and intellect.
2.       emotions were given prominence over logic/rationality.
3.       intuition was given importance over science.
4.       rural and the natural settings found much attention than the urban life.
5.       subjective poetry was replaced by public impersonal poetry.

Major Characteristics


No romantic writer followed any specific rules or regulations and as such no precise characteristics could be proposed. However, the major characteristics of Romanticism are roughly as follows:

1. Rebellion and Revolution: The Romantic Movement was a revolt against all artificiality, it sought to alter the prevailing literary tradition to the following extant:

a) Individuality/Subjectivity: Pursuant to their philosophy the poet was seen as the creator of a piece of writing which reflected his individuality and inner mind. Such a view paved the way for subjective poems.

b) Simplicity of Expression/Spontaneity: The Romantics deviated from strict rules and regulations of the preceding era and concentrated on writing in simple language of the common people. Their theme was also relatively simple and modest.

c) Freedom of Thought and Expression: The Romantics gave special attention to emancipation of expression which helped them to unleash the creativity, imagination, feelings, emotion and passion without any obstruction.

2. Nationalism: The Romantics produced their works by inspiring from the folklore that was created by the masses or the common people. As they showed pofound interest in developing/rediscovering the folklore, culture of their own country, they developed a sense of Nationalism.

3. Idealization of Nature: Nature is a prevailing theme in Romantic literature. The Romantics were profoundly in love with the beauty of Nature. To them Nature was a impassioned and benign force which protects man. They viewed nature as the best place to take refuge from the complications of urban life. The Romantics combined it as a gateway to transcendental experience and truth.

4. Melancholy and Escapism: Generally a pessimistic tone pervades the Romantic literature as the Romantics were dissatisfied with their lives, time, and the overall condition of the humankind. The Romantics tried to escape into an imaginative world created by them to avoid the sordid realities of life.

6. Love for Medievalism/Focus on Exotic Locations: They often escaped into Strange and far-away places of the Middle Ages as they not only provided them an escape from the real world but also provided an opportunity to create a sense of remoteness or mysterious environment.

7. Love for the Supernatural or the Occult: The Romantics were greatly fascinated by the magic and mystery of the universe. They could feel the presence of concealed powers in nature. That is why in majority of Romantic literature we see the stories of ghost, magicians, goddesses, witchcraft, etc. The Romantic literature is as such mystical and foreign from everyday experiences of life.

Chief Representatives


The essence of Romanticism was first seen in France and Germany by the late 18th century. Initially the inspiration came from two great thinkers:
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
Jean Jacques Rousseau

French philosopher, social and political theorist, and musician. He was one of the most influential writers of the Age of Enlightenment. Rousseau’s concept of the individual freedom left a major influence on the development of the 19th century Romanticism.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

German poet, dramatist, novelist, and scientist. Goethe’s plays and novels reflect an insightful exploration of human individuality. His novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774; translated 1779) is deemed to be one of the great influential documents of Romanticism.

English Romanticism


From the above discussion it is clear that the English Romanticism received much of its inspiration from the writings of Rousseau andGoethe. However,it was formally launched in Britain by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834).The duos published a joint volume of poetry, Lyrical Ballads (1798), which started Romanticism. It contained the first great works of the Romantic school. Wordsworth's “Preface” to the second edition (1800) of Lyrical Ballads, became the manifesto of the English Romantic movement in poetry.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
 
William Wordsworth
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Other Followers


Lord Byron (1788 –1824)
Lord Byron

English poet, mostly known for the influence of his poetry on the Romantic Movement although his writing style was somewhat classical. In his works he disregarded rationality and emphasized the imagination and the emotions. His major works include Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812-18) and Don Juan (1819-24).
P.B. Shelley (1792–1822)
P.B. Shelley

English poet, considered by many to be among the greatest, and one of the most influential leaders of the Romantic Movement. His notable Romantic poems include To a Skylark (1820), To the West Wind (1819), and The Cloud (1820).
John Keats (1795–1821)
John Keats

Major English poet, whose use of classical legend with rich poetic imagination captured the true spirit of Romanticism. His Romantic attitude best expressed in Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode on Melancholy and To Autumn.

Early Romantics

Thomas Gray (1716-1771)
Thomas Gray

Leading English poet in the mid-18th Century. He is the precursor of the Romantic Movement. Gray is mostly remembered today for his poem An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard.
William Collins (1721-1759)
William Collins

Prominent 18th century poet, who is regarded as one of the most important pre-Romantic English lyric poets. Although he followed the Neoclassical poetic forms, his themes were very much Romantic. His major works comprise, How Sleep the Brave, Ode to Evening, Ode to Simplicity, The Passions, and Ode on the Popular Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland (1750).
William Blake (1757-1827)
William Blake

English poet, painter, and engraver, considered by many to be one of the earliest and greatest figures of Romanticism. His apex works are Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794).
Robert Burns (1759-1796)
Robert Burns

Scottish poet and writer of traditional Scottish folk songs, who is often labeled  a pre-Romantic poet for his sensitivity to nature, his high valuation of feeling and emotion, his spontaneity, his fierce stance for freedom and against authority, his individualism, and his antiquarian interest in old songs and legends.

Transcendentalism


In America a similar type of movement began to flourish under a different label. It was known as Transcendentalism, which emerged from New England by incorporating new ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy. The term was first used by the opponents of this school of thought. The movement began in the early 19th Century as a protest against the increasing dehumanization and materialism engendered by the Industrial Revolution and the spiritual inadequacy of the established religious beliefs. The movement was much stimulated by the English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Herder and Schleiermacher, and the skepticism of Hume. However, the transcendental philosophy was systematically explored in Nature (1836), a book by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Its publication marked the beginning of this period. The movement ended in the late 19th century by the advent of Anti-transcendentalism/Dark Romanticism.

Basic Premises:

1.       An individual is the spiritual centre of the universe and in an individual can be found the clue to nature, history and, ultimately, the cosmos itself. It is not a rejection of the existence of God, but a preference to explain an individual and the world in terms of an individual.
2.       The structure of the universe literally duplicates the structure of the individual self, all knowledge, therefore, begins with self-knowledge.
3.       Transcendentalists accepted the neo-Platonic conception of nature as a living mystery, full of signs - nature is symbolic.
4.       The belief that individual virtue and happiness depend upon self-realization - this depends upon the reconciliation of two universal psychological tendencies:
a)      the expansive or self-transcending tendency:  a desire to embrace the whole world, to know and become one with the world.
b)      the contracting or self-asserting tendency: the desire to withdraw, remain unique and separate, an egotistical existence.

Major Characteristics


The Transcendentalists never considered themselves belonging to a particular school of thought. Although they agreed implicitly on some principles, they prided themselves on their lack of agreement. Therefore, the following are an inventory of rough concepts shared by many of them:

1. Nature is Akin to God:The Transcendentalists believed that Nature is like a teacher, whose lessons can bring men closer to God. Therefore, pursuant to their views Nature is equal to God.

2. God is Omnipresent: The proponents of Transcendentalism believed that God/Nature/Universe/Over-soul is present in everywhere and in everything. Therefore, they argued that man does not need to observe either a specific religion or visit the churches to find God. They only supported the direct relationship with God since all the established religions are formed by opportunist individuals.

3. Man is divine: The Transcendentalists believed that Nature is divine and as Man is the creature of Nature he is also divine.
                                                                                                                                
4. Intuition: The Transcendentalists argued that as God exists in Man, he has the intuitive power to determine which is right and which is wrong. Man doesn't need any holy books to learn morality.

5. Self-Reliance: The Transcendentalists opined that as Man possesses the natural instincts to guide himself to do the right thing, he must not obey the artificial laws, customs, fashions, or values.

6. Emphasis on the Present: To the Transcendentalists the past is insignificant. They believed that knowledge comes from experience and man doesn’t necessarily acquire it from studying past or from the people who lived before him. Basically, people from the past also attained knowledge through experience, as a result people from present must also depend on experience rather than anybody or any entity from the past.

7. Idealism: Human beings are naturally good at their core. Again, it is society that corrupts them. Human beings left to their own devices are good.

8. Materialism is Evil: According to Transcendental beliefs the pursuit for material goods is worthless and harmful. Money is evil because it causes man to place artificial and false value on objects and people.

9. Optimism:The Transcendentalists emphasized on the essential goodness and purposefulness of life therefore, their outlook on life was vigorously optimistic.

Chief Representatives

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)         
Ralph Waldo Emerson

American Philosopher, Journalist, Poet, one of the central leaders of the school of transcendentalism. His Transcendental notes are apparent in Self-Reliance (1841), The American Scholar (1837), Friendship (1841) and Experience.
Henry David Thoreau (1817 –1862)  
Henry David Thoreau

American writer, philosopher, and naturalist, considered to be among the best figures of the Transcendentalist movement. He is mostly noted for Walden; or, Life in the Woods (1854) and Civil Disobedience (1849).
Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)
Walt Whitma

American poet, essayist and journalist. His best works are Franklin Evans (1842), Leaves of Grass (1855), Drum-Taps (1865), During the War, and Democratic Vistas (1871)
Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888)
Amos Bronson Alcott

American writer, philosopher, schoolteacher, the most brilliant and visionary of the Transcendentalists.
Margaret Fuller (1810-1850)
Amos Bronson Alcott

American social reformer, author, and critic. Her works include, Summer on the Lakes(1844), Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845).
Theodore Parker (1810-1860)
Theodore Parker

An American preacher, lecturer, writer, public intellectual, and religious and social reformer. His brilliant sermon A Discourse of the Transient and Permanent in Christianity (1841) is truly a Transcendentalist manifesto.

References

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<http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/cs6/rom.html>.

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