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A close textual analysis of Chapter Eighteen of 'Notes From a Small Island' by Bill Bryson.

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Introduction

Lauren Wood 12CAO 26-01-03 A close textual analysis of Chapter Eighteen of 'Notes From a Small Island' by Bill Bryson Bryson immediately establishes an informal and comic register: he does this through his use of colloquial speech, noun phrases and condensed writing style. He creates comedy by drawing on British people's general and cultural assumptions. An example of this is Bryson's stereotyping of American and Chinese races. Colloquial phrases are interwoven throughout the text, such as: 'well into' and 'getting on for'. These are also dialectical features of many regions in Britain. Early on in the text, Bryson states that he 'emerged from Piccadilly Station'. This suggests that he has been drowned by the scenery that he previously described, which carries the connotation of emerging from water. When describing his corporal journey through Manchester, Bryson uses rather negative noun-phrases such as 'boundless sprawl'. ...read more.

Middle

Clich�s are also a tool that Bill Bryson uses to enable his audience to relate to what he is saying. Comparatives such as 'bigger' and 'better-looking' are examples of how he enables the readers to relate. The presence of the non-finite verb within this compound adjective highlights the fact that the restaurant is superior when it works together with the comparative. Non-finite verbs influence Bryson's work greatly: '...issued throngs of families, everyone looking happy and good natured.'. The finite verb in this extract suggests that the 'throngs of families' may still be happy now, as it does not provide us with a tense: it is an unfinished action in the past. On the other hand, it suggests that the families may look happy, however essentially they may not be. The use of the noun 'throngs', however, suggests that they are happy, as this is the connotation that the word brings with it. ...read more.

Conclusion

When the Cantonese waitress speaks, it is notably evident that she missed out vital articles and a preposition. These are typical features of English spoken by those who are not fluent: Bryson has not failed to highlight these in a derogatory manner. Although Bryson, at times, may speak slightly archaically the elision that frequently occurs counteracts his antiquated style. Examples of this are present throughout the narrative, such as: 'can't' and 'what's'. Another feature that counteracts his style is his rather colloquial way of choosing words with the derivational morpheme '-ness' on the end, particularly adjectives: '25 acres of deadness'. This is a complete contrast to other descriptions he uses, such as 'curiously indistinguishable'. His style is hindered through the presence of such features, which are further underlined with 'Eventually I ended up' starting two paragraphs in quick succession. ...read more.

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