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Analysis of the Language used in 3 extracts about Education

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Introduction

´╗┐Texts A, B and C all focus around the theme of education. However, in terms of context the texts are fundamentally different. While text A transcribes spontaneous speech between a teacher and her students in the classroom studying a play, texts B and C are in the written mode, with text B being an excerpt from Bill Bryson?s autobiography ?The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid? and text C being an extract from Charles Dickens? novel ?Hard Times?. While the purpose of the conversation in text A is pedagogical, Bryson?s intention in text B is to give a humorous account of his experiences with teachers from his point of view, whereas the purpose of text C is to establish the characters of Mr Gradgrind as the fiercely aggressive schoolmaster, as opposed to schoolgirl Sissy Jupe who comes off as timid in comparison. Text A is a moving text as both parties produce and receive text; in contrast to this, texts B and C are static as readers receive it in its final form, which cannot be altered. In text A, the role of the teacher as a figure of authority in the classroom is immediately established. This is seen as the teacher is the most dominant speaker, using the informal discourse markers of ?right? and ?ok? to assert herself in the conversation while directing the flow of the conversation through the use of imperatives (?pick out any word or phrase that you discussed?) ...read more.

Middle

Bryson?s indignation at his teachers can also be seen in ?Nothing about my character or deportment, my sure touch with phonics, my wining smile or can-do attitude?, thereby highlighting his negative view of his teachers. Bryson also has a secondary purpose to entertain his audience, and he does so through the use of humour as he pokes fun at his teachers (??a curiosity that didn?t strike me as entirely healthy?, ??curious punishment?to be put into a place where you were alone with all your classmates? snack foods??). His description of the other teachers as ?all women, all spinsters?, with the repetition of the adverb ?all? carries the humourous implication that the women?s attitudes are connected to their ?spinsterhood?, and this humour can also be seen in his use of colloquialisms (?toity?, ?BM?, ?Number 1?) as he recounts his teachers apparent obsession with his toilet habits. Such light-heartedness is compounded by the conversational tone Bryson adopts (??believe me it didn?t work?, ?So I hadn?t the faintest idea??), which contributes to the informal atmosphere. Although both texts are about education, B differs from A as its focus is on Bryson?s experiences with his teachers, as opposed to the play being discussed in the pedagogical conversation transcribed in A. B is also fundamentally different as it makes use of a first-person narrative voice, which is conspicuously absent from A as transcribed speech. In terms of syntax, Text B as a crafted text is more organised than A, which has looser syntax. ...read more.

Conclusion

On the other hand, Sissy?s timid character and her fear for Gradgrind can be seen in the dynamic verbs of ?blushing? and ?curtseying?, as well as the verbal phrase of ?thrown in the greatest alarm?. However, she is also presented as radiant, as shown in the use of laudatory adjectives such as ?lustrous? as opposed to the unsavoury adjectival phrase of ?unwholesomely deficient? used to describe Bitzer. In terms of syntax, text C, like B, is a crafted text, and when compared to text A, is more organised. This can be seen in the similar use of multi-clausal complex sentences (??the girl was?seemed to receive?the boy was?seemed to draw?he possessed?, ?The square finger, moving?lightedly?chanced to sit?darting?irradiated?), which Dickens uses to make a comparison of Sissy and Bitzer as well as to establish a sense of continuity in the narrative. Dickens successfully mimics speech in C through the use of direct (?Then he has no business to do it,? said Mr Gradgrind?) and indirect (?Oh yes, sir.?) speech. More importantly, however, is the way in which the characters are developed through the way they speak. In particular, the use of ellipsis in Gradgrind?s speech (?Girl number twenty unable to define a horse!?, ?Girl number twenty possessed of no facts?) emphasises his brisk attitude, whereas the disjuncture in Bitzer?s utterance (?Quadruped. Graminivorous?.?) perhaps implies that he is speaking quickly and is nervous. Sissy?s submissive attitude is also seen in her repeated use of ?if you please?. Although texts B and C use a similar speech representation, texts A and C are similar in that speech reveals the teachers? roles and attitudes, whereas Bryson uses speech representation in B to create a humorous effect. ...read more.

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