1. the history of the language a cultural subjet.
In these days when the cultivated man or woman is conscious of deficiencies in his education without some knowledge of economics, medieval history, recent advances in the basic natural sciences, so also he may discover a desire to know something of the nature and development of his mother tongue.
The purpose of the present book, then, is to the history of the English languge not only as being of interest to the special student but as a cultural subjet within the view of all educated people, while including enough references to technical matters to make clear the scientific principles involved in linguistic evolucion.
2. influences at work on language.
The Christianizing of Britain in 597 brought England into contact with latin civilization and made significant additions to our vocavulary.The Scandinavian invasions resulted in a considerable mixture of the two peoples and their languages.The Norman Conquest made English for two centuries the language mainly of the lower classes while the nobles and those associated with them used French on almost all occasions.And when English once more regained supremacy as the language of all elements of the population, it was an English gratly changed in both form and vocabulary from what it had been in
1066. In a similar way the Hundred Years’ War, the Renaissance, the expancion of the British Empire.
3. growth and decay.
Moreover, English, like all other languages, is subjet to that constant growth and decay which characterizes all forms of life.It is a convenient figure of languages as living and as dead.
When a language ceases to change, we call it a dead language.
The change that is constantly going on in a living language can be most easily seen in the vocabulary. Old words die out, new words die out, new words are added, and existing words change their meaning. Much of the vocabulary of Old English has been lost.
Changes likewise occur in the grammatical forms of a language. These may be the result of gradual phonetic modification, or they may result from the desire for uniformity commonly felt where similarity of function or use is involved.
The operation of analogy, and affect the sound and meaning as well as the form of words.Thus it will be part of our task to trace the influences that are constantly at work tending to alter a lenguage from age to age as spoken and written.
4. the importance of a language.
A language lives only so long as there are people who speak it and use it as their native tonge, and its greatness is only that given to it by these people. A language is important because the people who speak it are imporant. For this reason they are widely studied outside the country of their use. But Romanian and Serbian and Malay are seldom learned by an ethnic group or nation has at some former time been so great that their language remains important among cultivated people long after it has ceased to political, commercial, or other greatness.
5. the importance of english.
The importance of the English language is naturally very great. Spoken by more then 340 million peolpes as a first language in the
United Kingdom, the United States, and the former British Empire, it is the largest of the occidental languages. English, however, is not the largest language in the world.
Chinese is spoken by more then 880 million peolpe in
Spanish is spoken by about 210 million people, Russian by 200 million, Portuguese by 115 million, German by 105 million, French by 80 million native speakers, Italian by 62 million. But the importance of a language is inevitably associated in the mind of the world with the political role played by the nations using it and with their influence in international affairs.
With their contribution to the material and spiritual progress of the world .English is the mother tongue of nations whose combined political influence, economic soundness, comercial activity, social well-being, and scintific and cultural contributions to civilization give impressive support to its numerical precedence.
Finally there is the practical fact that a language may be important as a lingua franca in a country or region whose diverse populations would otherwise be unable to communicate.
6. the future of the english language.
The exent and importance of the Englis language today make it reasonable to ask whether we cannot speculate as to the probable postion it will occupy in the future.
Since growth in a language is primarily a matter of population, the most important question to ask is which population of the world will increase most rapidly. Growth of population is determined mainly by the difference between the birth rate and the death rate. Although international migration has been an important factor in the past, demographic projections based on trends of recent years indicate that migration will make only a minor differene in the distribution of population during the next century. The single most important fact about current trends is that the less-developed countries of the world have experienced a precipitous drop in mortaly during the twentieth century without a corresponding drop in the birth rate. As a result, the population of the developed countries in Europe and
If the future of a language were merely a matter of the number who use it as first language, English would appear to be entering a period of decline after four centuries of unprecedent expansion.
The complex interaction of these forces defies general statements of the present situation or specific projections into the distant future. Among European language it seems likely that English, Spanish, and Russian will benefit from various developments.
English will become increasingly widespread in those areas where English is not a first language.
7. will english become a world language?
The probable extension of English in the future leads many people to wonder English will some day become the language of all the world.
How gratly would the problem of the scientist and scholar is simplified if there were one universal language of learning. And how many of the misunderstandings and prejudices that divide nations would be avoided.
That the world is fully alive to the need for an international language is evident from the number of attempts that have been made to supply that need artificially.
Even if an artificial language were shown to be adequate for art and learning, the history of language policy in the twentieth century makes it unlikely that any government will turn its resouces to an international linguistic solution which benefits the particular country only indirectly. Without the support of governments and the educational institutions which they control, the establishment of an artifcial language for the world wil be impossible. Recent history has shown language policy to be a highly emotional issue, the language of a country often symbolizing its independence and nationalism.
The emotions wich militate against the establishment of an artificial language work even more strongly against the establishment of a single foreign language for intrnational communication. The official languages of the United Nations are English, French, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic.
The revolution in communications during this century has contributed to the spread of several European languages, but especially of English because of major broadcasting and motion picture industries in the
United States and . Great Britain
Since World War II, English as an official laguage has claimed progressively less territory among the former colonies of the
British Empire while its actual importance and number of speakers have increased rapidly.
The exent of its use varies with regional history and current government policy, although stated policy often masks the actual complexities.
The question simply concerns the use of English, or some other widely know idiom, for international communication.
8. assets and liabilities.
Since English seems likely to occupy an increasingly prominent place in international communication, it is worth pausing to inquire into its qualifications for so importan a mission. We may assume without argument that it shares with the other highly developed languages of Europe the ability to express the multiplicity of ideas and the refinements of thought that demand expression in our modern civiliation.
9. cosmopolitan vocabulary.
English also shares a great number of words with those languages of
Europe which are derived from Latin, notably French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. All of this means that English presents a somewhat familiar appearance to anyone who speaks either a Germanic or a Romance language. There are parts of the language which he feels he does not have to learn, or learns with little effort.
Instead of making new words chiefly by the combination of existing elements, as German does, Enlish has shown a marked tendency to go outside her own linguistic resources and borrow from other languages.
In the course of centuries of this practice English has built up an unusual capacity for assimilating outside elements. And so with many other words in daily use.
So cosmopolitan a vocabulary is an undoubted asset to any language that seeks to attain international use.
10. inflectional simplicity.
A second asset which English possesses to a preeminent degree is infectional simplicity. The evolution of language, at least within the historical period, is a story of progrssive simplification. The farther back we go in the study oflanguages to which English is most closely allied, the more complex we find them.
In this process has gone further than any other language in
Europe. Inflections in the noun as spoken have been reduced to a sign of the plural and a form for the possessive case. The elaborate Germanic inflection of the adjetive has been completely eliminated except for the simple indication of the comparative and the superlative degrees.
The complicated agreements that make German difficult for the foreigner are absent from English. However compensated for, such a reduction of inflections can hardly be considered anything but an advantage.
11. natural gender.
English enjoys an excepcional advantage over all other major European languajes in having adopted natural in place of grammatical gender. In studying other European languages the student labors under the heavy burden of memorizing, along with the meaning of every noun, its gender.
But even this aid is lacking in the Germanic languages, where the distribution of the three genders appears to the English student to be quite arbitrary.
The distinction must be constantly kept in mind, since it not only affects the reference of pronouns but determines the form of inflection and the agreement of adjetives.
Gender in English is determined by meaning.
All nouns naming living creatures are masculine or femenine according to the sex of the individual, and all other nouns are neuter.
The three features just described are undoubtedly of great advantage in facilitating the acquisition of English by foreigners. On the other hand, it is equally important to recognie the difficulties which the foreign student encounters in learning our language. One of these difficulties is the result of that very simplification of inflections which we have considered among the assets of English.
A more serious criticismof English by those attempting to the master it is the chaotic character of our spelling and the frequent lack of correlation betwen spelling and pronunciation. And theoretically the most adequate system of spelling is that which best combines simplicity with consistency.
We shall consider in another place the causes that have brought about this diversity.
The English-speaking child undoubtedly wastes much valuable time during the carly years of his education in learning to spell his own languages, and to the foreigner our spelling is appallingly difficult. To be sure, it is not without its defenders. There are those who lay stress on the useful way in which the spelling of an English word often indicates etymology, again distinguished French.
It has been further suggested that the very looseness of our orthography makes less noticcable in the written language the dialectal differences that would be revealed if the various parts of the English-speaking world attemped a more phonetic notation on the basis of their local pronunciation.
In the early part of the presesnt century a movement was launched, later supported by Theodore Roosevelt and other influential men, but though logically sound, these spellings seemed strange to the eye, and the advantage to be gained from the proposed simlifications was not sufficient to overcome human conservatism or indifference or force of habit. It remains to be seen whether the extension of English in the future will some day compel us to consider the reform of our spelling from an impesononal and, indeed, international point of view.
LITERATURE AND EXPERIENCE
Our reading of literary texts is enhanced and enriched if it can be related to our own experience of the world.
The less the literature is direstly relevant to the students, the more the teacher has to find ways of linking the two, taht is, of building bridges between the experinces of the students and the experiences described in the work of literature.
However, the existence of real-life events or characters does not guarantee a true-to-life literary representation. The author to create contexts with which readers can identify. If readers can identify with events or characters and project themselves into them imaginatively then a certain truth to experience can have been created.it is the imaginative, truthful re-creation of experience which is often taken to be a distinguishing characteristic of established literary texts.
A direct reflection of the wrld or of experiences of the world does not automatically guarantee that the work has a literary character.
The work can contain information which cannot be true.
Critics use the term fiction to describe literary texts such as novels. Buts if the fictional world has its own internal coherence then it can achieve a unique truth of its own.
Experience which is fictionalised is not necessarily experience which is untrue or unrecognisable. Readers need to be able to identify it as true and to recognise it as belonging, even if indirectly, to a recognisable world.
When we read sitting down. We are usually inactive and the surroundings in wich we read are quiet. Yet reading is probably not the passive process we take it to be.
Sharing in the world the writer has created.
Relating the experience of the text to experiences we ourselves have undergone or can imagine ourselves undergoing.
Interpreting what the texts might mean.
Students need to see a point to reading.
Reading literary texts requieres concentration over a period of time, it requires hard work from the reader (often the text will need to be read more than once), and it requires considerable patience.
One important principle is that students will be motivated to read it the process of reading is related to them as individuals. A good starting point; therefore, be to elicit from students as many of their own ideas, feelings and Attitudes as possible before they begin reading, it is called vote a quote.
The aim here is to show students that literature is something we can relate to individuals. It represents our experience and can, effectively and economical put into words what we feel about things.
Another pre-reading activity which can be more specifically targeted towards a particular text is called pyramid discussion. In this activity students are invited to select from a list of statements on a particular theme those with which they most agree. Neighbourliness which is the topics of the poems we discuss at 2.4.1 and 2.4.2.work in pairs and agree on two for each topic. Work in groups of five or six and agree one quotation for each topic which they would accept as a member of the whole group. The whole class might then vote on one statement for each topic. The whole class discussion of pros and cons and will draw on ideas which will have been exchanged in pairs and in groups.
2.4 preparing the student
The poem which follows is by the contemporary British poet. Kit Wright entitled neighbours and explores inderectly of the attitudes we have towards our neighbours. This can ensure that they approach the poem with the irghtme set.
Sensitising students to problems that can occur with neighbours and to prompt them to thonk about their experiences and to project themselves imaginatively int o situations we might occur and which would involve them with the issueof neighbours.
2.5 pre-reading activities
Pre-reading activities should be coherent as activities and consistent with one another. Not designed to be self-contained.
Not all pre-reading activities need to be related to theme. They can reinforce perceptions of langugae and style, the particular point of view from which a text is written or the cultural factors embedded in the text. In the case of cultural factors there may be particular difficulties wich pre-reading activities can ease.
More basically, pre-reading activities for “Futility” could be oriented to the winter setting of the poem, the weakness of the sun at that time of the year as well as the appropiate symblic connotations of winter with death, or of sleep with death, which may not be shared intercultural associations.
Some literary texts deal with abstract and philosophical issues which it diffucult to experience.
Students need to be prepared for reading a literary text. The initial preparation should be as concete and specific as possible. Teacher should try, where possible, to help students to use their own actual experiences.
2.6 teachaer-cenred literature classes
In may parts of the world the teaching of literature has traditionally been a teacher-centred process. The classroom time is taken up by the teachaer talking to the learners. Stimulated pupils to go and read more widely, and subsequently develop their own judgements and opinions from the initial stimulus of the wise and learned techaer.
2.7. techaer-centred literature classes imply. Al least, that learners are allowed too little oppotunity to formulate their owm feelings about a litarary text and that too much of the formulation comes directly from the teacher, who also does most of the talkiing.
A student-centred literature class is one which allowa more exploration of the literary text by the learners and invies learners to develop their own responses and sensitivities.
2.7.2 finding your way into poetry
the teacher is by no means supereeded. She or he will have set up the process ans possibly indicate features to look for or to note and teaching will continue to be necessary to develop procedures for exploring texts more thoroughly.
2.7.3 the role of the teacher
This suggests some possible first principles for the student-centred literature class.
Unstructured or the limitation.
The learning is entrused largely to the learners themselves. The teacher has to decide on the process which is most appropiate to making the more accesible.
2.7.4 the teacher, the students and the text: some preliminary conclusions.
The short term needs of passing examinations which may require knowledge about literature in the form of facts, dates, or an ability to name literary tropes, may have to conflic with alonger-term pay-off for students the form of personal engagement with literature and a lasting enjoyment reading and interpreting for oneself.
We need to stress the following:
- Not necessarily incompatible.
- Should be conbined
- Student-centred approaches.
- Ability to convey this enthusiasm to the students and to help them respond with the same enjoyment and pleasure.
- Teacher-centredness should not be confused with occasional teacher intervention.
2.8. priencing language elementary phylistics.
We have suggested that students should, where feasible and appropriate, be prepared for reading literary texts by questions or activities which put them in the right frame of mind for exploring the text.
The principle of pre-reading cannot be confined to the reading of literary texts. The principle can be applied to reading all texts, though we feel it is especially important in the case of literature.
On of the differences between literary and non-literary material lies in the way in which material is represented in literary texts. This involves the writer deploying form and language in such a way that the reader is able to establish an organic relation between what is said and how or is said.
This approach does exclude taking canonical from English literature and discussing how they create particular metaphoric or musical effects.
The discussion here is of what we might term elementary stylistics.
Advertisements, jokes and puns are a rye source for analysis of properties of language use which are literary in characters.
Readers might like now to re-read the poem and select two lines which might be used to develop linguistic sensitivity prior to or during a classroom exploration of the poem.
The formal and linguistic organisation of literary texts is regularly polysemic rather then monosemic. It generates more then one meaning; part of the pleasure a reader derives from reading a literary text lies in activating these multiple meaning.
A focus of language should be integrated with a focus on the student’s experience and that the various pre-and post-reading activities. Need to be integrated with a student-centred development of response to a text.