Welcome Class to our class blog for AS English Language!
I’m hoping that we can use this space to practice our critical commentary skills as well as develop our appreciation for a wide range of written texts. I hope that this will be a constructive forum for your ideas and for your own written work. Please check the blog regularly for any notices or updates on assignments. You can even comment or email our blog email address if you need any clarification on a topic.Remember, EVERYONE will participate in this blog through writing and commenting.
In class we can discuss further how we will use the blog to contribute to our study of English language texts. For now, however, I thought I’d provide you with some written examples of some of the ideas we talk about in class.
By now you should have finished the Common Exercise on Bill Bryson. I thought that I would give you some further examples from his oeuvre (fancy French word for “Body of Work”) of travel writing. Since we are beginning our journey into English Language studies, it seemed appropriate to begin with travel writing about the small country from whence cometh this language. These two extracts are taken from Bill Bryon’s travel book about Britain Notes from a Small Island (1995):
“I do find London exciting. Much as I hate to agree with that tedious old git Samuel Johnson, and despite the pompous imbecility of his famous remark about when a man is tired of London he is tired of life…I can’t dispute it […] After seven years of living in the country in the sort of place where a dead cow draws a crowd, London can seem a bit dazzling.
I can never understand why Londoners fail to see that they live in the most wonderful city in the world. It is far more beautiful and interesting than Paris, if you ask me, and more lively than anywhere but New York – and even New York can’t touch it in lots of important ways. It has more history, finer parks, a livelier and more varied press, better theatres, more numerous orchestras and museums, leafier squares, safer streets, and more courteous inhabitants than any other large city in the world” (Bryson 46).
Here is another:
“Among the many thousands of things that I have never been able to understand, one in particular stands out. That is the question of who was the first person who stood by a pile of sand and said, “You know, I bet if we took some of this and mixed it with a little potash and heated it, we could make a material that would be solid and yet transparent. We could call it glass.” Call me obtuse, but you could stand me on a beach until the end of time and never would it occur to me to try to make it into windows.
“Much as I admire sand’s miraculous ability to be transformed into useful objects like glass and concrete, I am not a great fan of it in its natural state. To me, it is primarily a hostile barrier that stands between a car park and water. It blows in your face, gets in your sandwiches, swallows vital objects like car keys and coins. In hot countries, it burns your feet and makes you go “Ooh! Ah!” and hop to the water in a fashion that people with better bodies find amusing. When you are wet, it adheres to you like stucco, and cannot be shifted with a fireman’s hose. But– and here’s the strange thing –the moment you step on a beach towel, climb into a car or walk across a recently vacuumed carpet it all falls off. For days afterwards, you tip astoundingly, mysteriously undiminishing piles of it onto the floor every time you take off your shoes, and spray the vicinity with quantities more when you peel off your socks. Sand stays with you longer than many contagious diseases. And dogs use it as a lavatory. No, you may keep sand as far as I am concerned” (Bryson 111-112).
So now you have three examples of written language from the same author. Can you start to see different elements that are common to all three passages? What can you say of his tone? If you had to venture an opinion on Bill Bryson’s favourite figure of speech, what would you say?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts!