Introduction: Questions and tasks

3. The number of messages animal can send is restricted to the number of basic sounds. Human language, on the other hand, works quite differently. Each language has a store of approximately 40 sound units (Phonemes), which are in fact similar to the number of sound units an animal possesses. However, each sound unit is meaningless on its own. It becomes meaningless only when combined with other sound units. Thus human language is divided into two layers. One layer of mere sounds, and one layer of larger units. This is called duality. The most unique feature of human language is that there is no limit to how many sentences can be produced.

13. The advantages of the spoken language is that it more easily conveys feelings, or rather the speakers state of mind. For example: Irony, sarcasm, affection, interest, concern, etc. The disadvantages may be that the speaker must think of what to say to say ,more or less, on the same time as he or she utters the sentence. Whereas the written language offers a great deal of time to contemplate. Most speakers find it easier to express themselves eloquently with the written language. However its disadvantages are that it is, contrary to the spoken language, hard to convey emotions and one’s state of mind with the words on paper alone.

Because of its element of interaction I believe that the spoken language is to be preferred in most circumstances. For instance if one raises a query it is to be preferred because usually each answer raises counter question. And in virtually all circumstances one saves time by using the spoken language. However if one needs to be very formal the written alternative might be to prefer. The written word, in internet form, can also offer anonymity for the shy. But ,like before mentioned, it is sometimes difficult to express feelings and one’s state of mind (especially irony) with the written word. Therefore misunderstandings occur frequently when people communicate via computers.

22. At the beginning of the fourth century B.C., some Greek philosophers believed that words had a natural connection to reality. This standpoint was called the physis position. Supporters of the Nomos position, however, argued that virtually all words are arbitrary. Which means that the words have no connection to what they represent. It did not take many centuries before the latter position became the predominant one. The reason for this is simple. When the Greeks started collecting and analyzing language data they did it only with their own language; and every languages have some instances of onomatopoeia and sound symbolism. If you know only English, for example, you could be “tricked” to see a pattern that will support the physos position by observing the recurrence of word-initial sn in sneeze-snivel-sniff-snore. However if you also acquire French you will notice that their corresponding words lack the pattern you thought you had found.

37. * A language naturally reflects its society. For instance, the Samis rely on their raindeers and have several names for this animal. “Each language allows it speakers to easily talk about whatever is important to discuss in that society.” I would assume that the people living on the Amazon have many words and metaphorical phrases describing their way of life in the jungle; just as New Yorkers have developed a rich vocabulary and phrase-system describing the way of life in the urban jungle: “Cesspool”, “gutter”, “drain”, “sewer”. These are all actual words describing the city’s water system, but they are also words used in a metaphorical sense-describing the decay of the city. The Amazon Indians, however, would with the highest certainty not describe their areas of widespread poverty as being a “cesspool”.
A society’s language is influenced by the given time’s most predominant phenomena. During the cold war Nuclear weapons attracted a high figure of metaphors, new words and expressions, just like computers seem to boost linguistic novelty these days.
Another interesting factor is how social class and sex shapes the language used. People talk differently to those belong to different gender, age and class. The foundation of society is language and therefore inevitably society is reflected in language. And, perhaps also the other way around…
Ponder this (perhaps a poor farfetched example): All those who win a green card to USA are when arriving to America put in a language school held by inner city kids. When they have finally acquired the language they apply for jobs and search for apartments using slang terminology like: “Hey, dude, wazzup?.” They would most certainly end up where their type of language is used.

Keywords in Dubliners

Uppgift, gamla C-nivån, Engelska på universitetet

Keyword-analysis of the novel Dubliners by James Joyce.

The sisters:

“…discovering in myself a sensation of freedom as if I had been freed from something by his death.” (p 4)

The narrator feels relieved because being the father’s apprentice was a cross too heavy to bear. Months before the father’s death the narrator fumbled and crushed the Chalice; that is also a symbolism indicating that the narrator found priesthood to be something that was not meant for him.

“Persia” (p 6)
According to the notes Persia was during the 19:th century associated with mystery, which will explain why Joyce chose Persia as a symbolism: The novel is essentially about how one deals with the first encounter with death. The narrator is haunted by images of death the night he receives the news that his friend his dead. But he is to young to deal with the entire concept of death and experiences it to be a mystery; something to large, to horrifying to deal with – a mystery.


“Everything changes” (p 29)

Eveline and her brothers have left childhood and entered adolescence, their mother is dead, Tizzie Dunn is dead, and the waters had gone back to England. And now Eveline is set on leaving her home with a man. Everything changes. But fear of change and fear of what will happen if she does not keep her promise to her mother (p 33) seals her fate.

The dead:

“The Dead”

Throughout the story the characters speak about the deceased, someone´s brother, someone´s horse, a famous singer, and the most central “dead figure”: Gretta´s old love Michael. The story is ultimately about how the dead affect us even after they are gone.

“Michael” (p 223)

Michael represents the part of our loved one’s that we never or seldom get to know about. Gabriel would never have guessed that there was someone before him; someone who had a greater impact on his wife than himself. Michael is there to remind us that we never truly get to know another human being.

The Struggle for Freedom in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and The Awakening

Uppsats Engelska B, literary essay.

Seldom is the cruel struggle for freedom so clearly displayed as in The Awakening, by Kate Chopin and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, by himself. To study the struggle for freedom by reading the two novels separately is to view it with a looking glass. But by observing the same problem by comparing and contrasting them is to view it through a microscope. By observing the dilemma from two completely different angels a picture emerges. A picture of two characters fight for independence; one literary enslaved, and another who struggles with invisible chains. They reveal how some chains may seem concrete, unbreakable but may still not be as severe as the internal, abstract, inner chains who, for some, are impossible to break. After closing the slave narrative the reader experiences a sense of hope; a feeling that anything can be achieved. Whereas The Awakening leaves nothing but despondency. The message conveyed is that freedom is not for everybody, the cruelty of life will simply not allow it.

Frederick Douglass are in the most subhuman way enslaved, literary chained, degraded, withheld from any kind of human decency. Condemned to be a slave for life. Whereas Mrs. Pontellier is on the surface free as a bird. She is living the good life in the fashionable French Quarter in New Orleans, with a wealthy husband, and two healthy children. Still she feels constrained in a marriage without love; restricted by the obligations that come with children. Imprisoned in a life without passion. She too is enslaved.

It is possible to see early in the novels who would reach freedom, and who would fail only by observing the two characters different approaches to their emancipation. Douglass chooses an active approach. After having heard his master utter: ”If you teach that nigger how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave” (p 47) he is convinced that literacy is the tool of emancipation. Because Mr. Douglas understands that the struggle for freedom must begin within. And words are the tools for thought. Mrs. Pontellier too looks for a way to freedom by finding it within; in art. She begins to paint. It rejuvenated her spirits: ”She could hear again the ripple of the water, the flapping sail, she could see the glint of the moon upon the bay. A subtle current of desire passed through her body, weakening her hold upon the brushes and making her eyes burn.” (p 84). However she, chooses a more passive, introspective, perhaps more female approach.

In order to gain personal freedom Mrs. Pontellier chooses to be unruly to her husband and her role as a woman. She also neglects her role as a mother and a housewife: ”she made no ineffectual efforts to conduct her household en bonne ménagère (as a good housewife), going and coming as it suited her fancy, and, so far as she was able, lending herself to any passing caprice.” (p 82). Her husbands response is: ”It seems to me the utmost folly for a woman at the head of a household, and the mother of two children, to spend in an atelier days which would be better employed contriving for the comfort of her family.” (p 83). Her only reply to arguments like that is to ignore him or simply asking him to go away. She is courageous enough to defy the 19:th century view on how a woman should be and act.

Still, she never manages to find true freedom. Because the inner chains are too hard to break. And perhaps even more importantly because she stands alone. Not even her friends symphatizes with her problems. For example: when she reveals her plans of acquiring a house of her own as a step towards emancipation: ”I know I shall like it, like the feeling of freedom and independence” (p 113) her friend mademoiselle Reisz shakes her head and replies: ”Your reason is not clear to me” (p 113). Mrs. Pontellier stands virtually alone in her struggle for freedom. And perhaps the fact that her problems are so abstract, so invisible and incomprehensible for some in combination with the fact that she is alone becomes her downfall. In the eyes of others she has no right to feel miserable. Her demons are taboo. Mrs. Pontellier is 20 years before her time. Woman did not reach emancipation until twenty years later.

Mr. Douglass on the other hand had a clearly definable obstacle standing in his way. The cold, hard chains at his feet were tangible. He could seek comfort with his fellow slaves: ”I believe we would have died for each other” (P 89). Furthermore the abolitionist movement had for many years inspired slaves in their struggles. He did not stand alone. He knew that freedom could be achieved if he could only overcome the physical obstacles. But naturally he too had too face emotional problems. He knew that it would feel very hard to part from his friends. But the bounds to his friends could of course not be compared to that of Mrs. Pontellier and her children. He had one goal, and one goal alone. Freedom. Determination was his strongest weapon: ”I began to prepare myself for a final struggle, which should decide my fate one way or the other” (p 89). And that determination finally brought him to freedom.

Mrs. Pontellier on the other hand is not so determined. Probably, like before mentioned, because of the fact that she is alone and that her chains were not as tangible. It would, of course, be possible for her to escape to some dead-end town were nobody would ever look for her. But the demons within – the love to her children and the credo’s of society – would forever have haunted her. She is painfully aware of this. Instead like so many miserable woman (and men) before Mrs. Pontellier looks for a way out in passion. She lets herself be courted by notorious womanizer Alcée Arobin and her friend Robert Lebrun, whom she also falls in love with. But all though her love to Robert is the only thing that can set her free she knows deep inside that she can never truly escape from the love of her children: ”The children appeared before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the soul’s slavery for the rest of her days. But she knew a way to elude them.” (p 159).

”A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down to the water” (p 160) The bird with a broken wing, Mrs. Pontellier, swims out to sea; knowing that she will never be truly free, her children and social conventions will not allow her to become free. The ”seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring ocean” (p 160) is her only alternative for freedom: death. She swims until her stamina fails her and she is swallowed by the mighty ocean. Finally she is free. For a woman feeling entrapped by her role as a woman at the turn of the 19:th century suicide was the only solution.

A farewell to arms

Review and discussion of themes in A Farewell to arms, Ernest Hemingway.

In an ugly existence, shattered by war they decided to flee to Switzerland, which was a country in peace and was generally perceived to be a “paradise”. Still, the novel ends with death. Life’s bitter irony.
(However, I found the ending to be blunt and unnecessary. It feels like Hemingway is using the novel to say “Life sucks and then you die”. Maybe he should have done it with fewer words. I don’t know…maybe it’s infantile to criticize a novel because it did not have a “Hollywood”-ending. Nevertheless, it feels as if he got to the final pages, found it to be way to cozy, and decided to kill off Catherine just to spoil the mood of the reader; and ONLY because he had the power to. Sure, one could argue that life is just as arbitrary as some bitter author, but I do not know…it felt blunt, and did not add anything to the story. But the feeling I got after closing the book is probably exactly what Hemingway was aiming for.)

It’s a somewhat strange love story they have Henry and Catherine. In a way it feels phony, like they are playing some kind of game. And it’s virtually impossible to grasp the essence of Catherine’s personality.

Youth contra old age is something Henry and count Greffi discusses. The count argues that Italy will win the war because “They are a younger nation”. And on the previous page he said that it is a great fallacy that men do not grow wise, they “grow careful”. It feels as if Hemingway himself is speaking through the old man, condemning those who do not seize the moment and live life to the fullest (like he did). He is celebrating the vigor of youth. Typically then Catherine and the baby dies, and presumably right there and then Henry’s youthful vigor is snatched from him. Hemingway is saying that the only thing we know with certainty is that we are all going to die, we just do not know when – so live life like every day was the last.

In the second last scene of the book Henry finally finds himself alone with the deceased Catherine, he wants to say goodbye; but does not manage to utter as much as a single word. He explains: “It was like saying goodbye to a statue” As Henry is standing next to her corpse he realizes that a corpse is all that is left of Catherine. She is gone. There is just not much he can do about it. So he turns around and walks back to the hotel. In the rain.
Hemingway is saying that we should spend our energy on the living; and not waste it on the dead. The rain serves as a symbol for human misery. But what can we do about it? Nothing. All we can do is ignore the rain while it’s raining, and enjoy the sun as much as possible whenever it´s up.

Will nature tolerate Human Defiance?

Skrivuppgift, Engelska 1.

As we are approaching the second millennium we are becoming more and more alienated from nature. Science is, in fact, trying to defy the unbreakable laws of evolution. Which were once regarded as being untouchable.

These signs of alienation are everywhere. Let me draw up some self-explanatory examples: No one wants to grow old before they die, and plastic surgery makes sure that you do not have to. Words and body-language are being replaced by ones and zeros. And DNA-engineers are examining the possibility of”improving” mankind by altering its very core, namely, the genes.

And if their intentions are to be realized it will be the end of handicap and other deviations. It will result in the birth of a super human – free from flaws, and neither God nor nature will be credited for design. It will truly be the finest hour of science. Or will it? Could it be that science, by playing God, is putting the human race in jeopardy? To me everything seems upside down. It is matter over mind.

Furthermore, Computer engineers have created an artificial reality for us. I am of course referring to the virtual reality technology (and the Internet), that enables us to communicate, travel, do our errands and even satisfy our sexual needs through the computer. But,  have these devices been created just for decomplicating life ? Are they merely convenience-tools? Or are they, in fact, tools created as a means of escape? And if that is the case: Why would we try to invent an artificial reality?

I believe it has to do with the fact that we cannot stand ourselves. Two million years of evolution spawned (what we so eloquently refer to as the crown jewel of creation)the birth of man. But, a hundred thousand years of additional evolution has made the collective human-conscious disappointed. We still have not managed to erase the many flaws of the human nature. Various disasters caused, directly or indirectly, by humans (such as famines, wars, pollution and oppression) are still present and increasing. But instead of facing our greatest fear – ourselves – we are trying to escape the hardships of life with the help of the cutting edge technology that science provides. Science is trying to accomplish what evolution failed to. Namely, to create the flawless human being. This will undoubtedly result in further alienation from nature.

Only time can tell what awaits us in the future. Maybe all the new technologies will manage to defy nature and spawn happiness for the next generation. Maybe not. But it is, however, important that we ask ourselves if we want the human of tomorrow to be a DNA/plastic-improved being that communicates with ones and zeros. And even more importantly – will nature tolerate such a creature?

”Americans have no culture”

Uppgift Engelska 1.

The statement Americans have no culture shouldn’t be taken literally. It is of  course quite obvious that every nation or state possess some form of culture. Culture defines peoples way of life, way of thinking and how they act within a given geographical area. Culture is art, science, literature and religion. But it is also cultivation (spiritual), good manners, tact and common sense. And I think it is the latter definitions of the concept culture that has made the headline such a common phrase. Because it is ”common knowledge” in Europe in general and in ”cultural strongholds”, such as England and France, in particular that Americans are boorish, rude and that they lack all signs of common sense. They find the big country in the west to be sick. And American produced movies, TV-shows and music is considered symptoms of disease. But to me it all strikes me as pompous boloney. Because, really, who is to say what good cultural really is? To use an old cliché: isn’t up to the eyes of the beholder?

To illustrate the cultural snobbism in Europe one could use the film industry as example. In Europe American blockbusters are considered to be mental food to the slow-witted. Still, people all around the world enjoys and gets happy by these movies. They want to escape the everyday- life and experience something great – something where everything is black and white. They want escapism. And Hollywood provides it.

And let us be honest the epic saga about Luke Skywalker and his struggle against the evil space empire, in Star Wars, is nothing but a master piece of escapism film making and it could not have been done anywhere but in USA. And the reasons for that lies in the fact that USA has got the most dynamic and powerful cultural climate in the world. Simply because American movie makers are let to ignore the difference between art and entertainment. They lack the inhibitions European colleagues are forced to be stuck with as a legacy from an old history.

European culture is because of its history precocious, over-pretentious and pompous. America, however, is still in its youth and is like children in general more creative and playful – and this youthfulness has colored the cultural climate in a positive way, but (no offense) it has on the other hand made Americans somewhat shallow, egoistic and boorish – just like children in general. Therefore the above headline is such a common phrase in Europe (you almost never hear it in the new world).

So, as a conclusion, I think that the statement ” Americans have no culture” have its origin in European contempt for the American way of life and all its shallow ideals  and jealousy for its dynamics.