“C’est Angleterre over there?”

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!

Best,

Ms. Roberts

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32 thoughts on ““C’est Angleterre over there?”

  1. Is a code name okay? says:

    The elements I found in common were that he makes long lists that leaves one gasping for air, like we discussed in class. For example his never list in the extract we got in class, and in the first extract here when he is talking about London, starting with”It is far more beautiful and interesting than Paris,”. Also in the second extract about sand when he is complaining ” It blows in your face, gets in your sandwiches, […]”. His tone is humorous and casual(intimate). In my opinion his favorite figure of speech is alliteration e.g: in his extract from ‘Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe’ he used “the newspapers, the parks, the people” as well as “feathered pheasants”. In the first extract here an example is “dead cow draws a crowd”and “safer streets”, and in the second he uses “better bodied”. While choosing the figure of speech I had a bit of a conflict between alliteration and assonance as “feathered pheasants” from the class extract, and “astoundingly, mysteriously” from second extract about sand, is assonance, but I couldn’t find anymore creating a three to two situation, therefore I choose alliteration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. weareoxymorons says:

      Excellent! Your observation about the alliteration is great! What do you think it contributes to the general rhythm of the writing? Do you think it somehow affects the tone? Makes it lively perhaps?

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  2. Leah says:

    All three of his works are written in the first person and all three are written with a humorous or jocular tone at some point. He uses a lot of hyperboles to make his writing more light hearted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. weareoxymorons says:

      Great, Leah! I particularly enjoy your observation about the first-person, because I feel that’s a very good springboard into discussions about both the genre and the tone. It lends a distinctly “human” quality to the writing, doesn’t it? Would you say this makes it funnier? Makes it more entertaining as travel-writing, since the information is quite markedly a person’s observations of a real place?

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  3. Anonymous_Girl says:

    All three have a jocular tone. There are a couple of hyperboles that have been used to express his feelings about how he thinks things are. He gives a lot of detail about the surroundings, such as in the last passage “It blows in your face, gets in your sandwiches, swallow vital objects like car keys and coins.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ashleigh_hugo_22 says:

    the writer uses a jacular tone in his writing and uses a fair amount of hyperbolies. The writer writes in the first person not the second or third and in the 3rd paragraph it is as if the writer is speaking directly to the audience when complaining/describing the sand, the writer also uses a very humerous or light hearted tone for this paragrph.

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    1. weareoxymorons says:

      Good Ashleigh!
      I particularly like your observation about the writer speaking directly to the reader! Do you think this might be a very good tactic to help the writer achieve his purpose? Do you think it’s appropriate for travel writing?

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  5. Mandz_2.0 says:

    I love how he uses exclamation points to emphasise (ooh! ah!). When he says a “dead cow draws a crowd” i feel like he was bringing up how clean and immaculate the place was and how it was out of the ordinary to spot any wierd things. The genre of both passages is of both humour and mystery as the reader has to wait till the end to find out what the writer is actually talking about.

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    1. weareoxymorons says:

      Lovely, Mandisa! I also enjoy the extra bit of emphasis the use of the exclamation marks give to the onomatopoeia of “Ooh! Ah!” 🙂
      Do you think that the dead cow being the only weird thing makes it seem even more of a contrast with the dazzling description of London?

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  6. Carolyne says:

    Throughout his writing the writer has a light tone where he manages to entertain, humour and inform his readers. He achieves this by using literary devices such as exaggeration and personification. Euphemism is used when he says “dead cow draws a crowd” which implicitly suggests that the place he is referring to is dull and boring. Another is “better bodies” which is more effective than saying the fitter people, as it includes a wider range of people into the story due to the fact that it leaves the reader to imagine for themselves, people with “better bodies”. “Thousands”, “fireman’s hose” and “dead horse” are exaggerations in the passages. “Thousands” make the fact of discovery of the usefulness of sand really important and significant as it is singled out of a myriad of things. Also the lists are a common aspect in all three passages. They give thee writer the impression that is a lot to see such as in the first passage on the Luxembourgers and London. They both leave you breathless implying that it might be tiring to go through all those sites. His favorite figure of speech would have to be exaggeration as it is used at the beginning of two of his passages to attain the attention of his readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. weareoxymorons says:

      Excellent, Carolyne! Your observations are well-noted and very well-expressed!I particularly enjoy how you articulate your observation about the euphemism! I would also agree as to his penchant for exaggeration, and it almost always seems to be for humorous effect! The breathless quality of these lists, themselves a little hyperbolic, does contribute a certain quality, but I would disagree as to the overall effect. Wouldn’t you say, rather than making these places seem tedious, it creates a sense of breathless excitement?

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  7. Ruva C says:

    Jocular and casual tones are used, and a sense of adventure outside of London are given. Alliteration and hyporbolyes are some figures of speech that I spotted.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dadie says:

    Through out , I noticed that the writer used a light tone were it is entertaining and humerus. The writer was also exaggerating as well as using personification. I noticed the writer used Euphemism when he said “dead cow draws a crowd”. I enjoyed the part where he emphasized on the word “Oh Ah!”, I found it very funny. Hyperbolic contributes to some extracts of his writing. This was very entertaining.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Daphine says:

    In all three extracts of the authors writing l feel his tone is light hearted, jocular and contains some elements of persuasion here and there. In the first extract i feel that the general tone of his writing is persuasive and relatively light hearted. The reason why I consider it persuasive is because of the writer’s descriptions about London and the way he compares it to other countries making it seem like the ideal place to visit if ever one considered traveling. By mentioning Samuel Johnson,the writer is in a way giving reference to another person who also considers London the most ideal place to visit. In my opinion this supports the writer’s point of view and makes the reader start thinking that London is the best! As such the writer has achieved his purpose to persuade the reader to accept his opinion and view things his way. I also noted that the writer loves using exaggeration. For example, he says “a dead cow draws a crowd”, this tells the reader that the country is a dull and boring place where the most pettiest of details and events is of entertainment. This phrase is one of the many things in the writer’s piece of writing which evokes a sense of humour and adds a jocular tone to the text. I feel that phrase again is euphemism because it is a kinder way of saying that the country side is boring. When the writer says that “it is far more beautiful than Paris i feel that in a way he is challenging his reader to question what would possibly be the reason why. This is because Paris is one of the most visited attractive sites and as such one would consider it to be more attractive than London. Lastly the writer varies their sentence structures from long lists and detailed descriptions to short effective sentences where he makes sure to use strong vocabulary in order to achieve his purpose. The second extract has a similar tone although thus time the genre seems to be mysterious. This is because in the beginning he expresses how sand fascinates him and how he seems to admire the person who thought of making glass from it. This makes the reader think that that is what the passage will be about but then he shifts sides and starts expressing how much he dislikes sand.Again he uses exaggeration when he says “stand me on a bench until the end of time and never would it occur to me to make windows”, The writer uses other figures of speech such as onomatopeia when he says “Ooh!Ah!”. The phrase “Dogs use it as a lavatory” is incredibly funny and is one of the elements that add humour to the text.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. weareoxymorons says:

      Absolutely excellent, Daphine! Your observations are both well-expressed and well-noted. You’re using the text with exceptional efficiency! I particularly enjoy your comments on the sentence length and how effectively it’s used. Well done!

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  10. Courtney Ward says:

    The author eases the reader into the paragraph by starting it with a jocular first sentence. His tone is very light and humorous throughout the two extracts especially when describing the pain of sand and exaggerates how hard it is to get off and how messy and seemingly endless it is. Thoughout the first extract you can see just how much the author loves his country by the words and tone he uses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. weareoxymorons says:

      Good, Courtney! I enjoy your observation about how the writer “eases” his reader into the language? This is an interesting contrast with the lengthy, breathy lists that are about to ensue! And does it change your opinion to know that Bill Bryson is, in fact, not British? 😉

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  11. Brittney says:

    the writer makes all three extracts quite humorous and he does this by using a jocular tone in all three. the use of excelmation marks helps to empahsise on certain things for example hes say “Ooh! Ahh!”.
    i also picked up that he talks alot in the first person. the writer also used some alliteration and hyperboles in his writing.

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    1. weareoxymorons says:

      Good observation about the exclamation marks, Brittney! Can you comment on the effect of the other features you’ve pointed out? For instance, why does the first person narrative suit the genre?

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  12. CreslinKaltan says:

    In all of his extracts we have seen of Bill Bryson, his tone is light, almost as if he finds everything amusing. He does however convey a sence of wonder, which involves the reader in his adventure.
    He uses lists to help convey a sence of breathlessness as they speed up the pace at wich we read at. The figures of speach he uses most to me are Hyperbole and alliteration. he uses the to great effect which helps inform and yet at the same time humor the reader. “Dead horse” is an example of the hyperbole, where he is exaggerating the size of his “yellow pack”. “Thousands” helps us realise that there are so many things we do not comprehend and this small thing that alludes us is small almost insignificant compared to the “thousands” we do not understand yet.
    The point of his writing is to inform the readers in a way that compels them to read more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. weareoxymorons says:

      Good Michaela! All of your observations are very well noted! I particularly enjoy how you’ve expressed your opinion of his light tone. Your treatment of his hyperboles is also very astute! Well done.

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  13. Alisha says:

    I find all three of the of the extracts are written in the first person, and can be quite humorous, suppose you could say his tone was funny or jocular. He also uses exlamation marks to emphasise some text (“ooh!”) Giving the reader the effect of a Person shouting or talking loudly.

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  14. Samu says:

    When he states why he feels London is the most wonderful city, he uses alliteration which greatly emphasizes his reasons so.The tone of his writing is full of humour as he often uses hyperbole in all three extracts especially in his dislike for sand, making it seem like the sand had an evil notion towards human kind. Also with sand, he gives it certain characteristics such as it having the ability to stay with you much longer than a disease or stubbornly stick onto your skin, I would think of it as using personification.

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