PROSE uses language not organized into a metrical pattern as in poetry. It is the usual medium of fiction.

FICTION is a narrative in prose. It relies more on imagination and creativity. It is invented and is not an account of events that have actually happened. It is sometimes used as a synonym for the novel. Fiction in prose includes short stories, fables, novellas, novels etc.

SHORT STORY is a brief work of prose fiction, which can be read at one sitting from half an hour to two hours. It is microcosmic – showcases the world in a small canvas.

FABLE is one of the earliest and simplest forms of fiction. Fable conveys a moral lesson. Aesop, a Greek slave, was the earliest person who practised this form. He introduced the ‘beast fable’ – animals are the major characters. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a satiric fable. It makes use of the beast fable to satirize the totalitarian state.

NOVELLA is a literary genre of fiction shorter than a full length novel but longer than a short story.

NOVEL is a long narrative which describes fictional characters and events usually in the form of a sequential story.

ROMANCE is an umbrella term that includes the medieval romances, Gothic novels and novels that focus on romantic relationships between people. The adjective ‘romance’ refers to languages like French, Italian and Spanish which were derived from Latin. Later it became associated with narratives of ideal love and chivalric adventures. The features of Medieval Romance are: (1) idealizes chivalry (2) idealizes the hero-knight’s love for his lady (3) women idealized and held in high regard (4) courtly manners and unrelenting pursuit of a lady’s love (5)  abounds in questing knights, damsels in distress, wizards, magic spells and tournaments. The main themes were matter of France (stories of Charlemagne) & matter of Britain (King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table); example – Philip Sidney’s Arcadia. Romance is now considered to be a kind of novel dealing with adventures in exotic places or eulogizing pastoral life.

PICARESQUE NOVEL The term picaresque is derived from the Spanish term ‘picaro’ meaning ‘rogue’ / ‘a scoundrel of low birth, at war with society’; its English translation is ‘picaroon’. Picaresque is an episodic narrative, popular in 16th century Spain, which satirises the individual and the society it depicts. It is the voice of the beggars and vagabonds who abounded 16th century Spain and gave an outsider’s perspective on society.  Fielding’s Tom Jones is an English picaresque novel. Later the picaro became the first person narrator as in Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders; it also had an abrupt ending — the picaro going either to the galleys or to America to start a new life. The picaroons were usually the servants of tyrannical masters. The picaroons are rich in experience through their adventures. Their irrepressible independence is juxtaposed with society’s hostility towards them. Examples of modern picaresque novels are Joyce Cary’s The Horse’s Mouth and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL is a form of fiction using auto-fiction techniques / the merging of autobiographical and fictive elements. Names and locations are often changed and events re-created for artistic purposes. But the story resembles that of the author’s life. The protagonist is modelled after the author and the plot mirrors events in his life and depicts intense, private experiences like war, family conflict etc. Example: Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Autobiographical writing includes memoirs, letters, and diaries. From Dr.Johnson in the 18th century till the end of the 20th century fiction showed a growing intimacy between experience and invention. For African and Afro-American writers like Achebe, Soyinka and Baldwin this genre was a means of asserting their identity. The late 20th century saw the increasing presence of elements of life-writing in both fiction and non- fiction.

EPISTOLARY NOVELS were popular in the 17th &18th centuries. This narrative is conveyed entirely through the medium of letters / journal entries of one /more of the characters. Samuel Richardson was the master of epistolary novel. His Pamela is the earliest form of this novel. Epistolary novel presents an intimate view of the character’s thoughts and feelings. The presentation of events from several points of view lends the story its verisimilitude. Example of an epistolary novel is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The epistolary novel is the forerunner of the modern psychological novel.

HISTORICAL NOVEL is a form of fictional narrative which reconstructs history and recreates it imaginatively. It depicts a specific historical period and the manners and beliefs
specific to that period. It is characterized by the presence of historical characters, protagonists or minor characters. Public and private events are also taken as subject matter. Sir Walter Scott (Waverley novels), Victor Hugo (Notre Dame de Paris), Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities), Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind) are some of the greatest novels of this genre.

GOTHIC NOVEL gets its title from the term ‘Goths’, a warring European tribe. The term is also used to refer to a ‘monstrous, barbaric disorderly style’ in art. Later the term came to be used to describe fiction having a prevailing atmosphere of terror and associated with mystery and intrigue surrounding the supernatural and the unknown. The vogue was initiated in England by Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto. Its heyday was the period from 1760 to 1830. Dilapidated medieval castle or monastery with subterranean passages, hidden panels, trap doors, bleeding statues, haunted castles / homes, family curses, madness, death and decay, ghosts and vampires comprise the setting of a gothic novel. These novels which are set in grotesque, claustrophobic terrains not necessarily medieval are also termed gothic. Example: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. The genre continues to be popular.

BILDUNGSROMAN/ NOVEL OF FORMATION/ ‘COMING-OF-AGE’ NOVEL focuses on the psychological and moral growth of its protagonist from youth to adulthood. It originated in Germany in the 18th century and is now one of the major narrative genres in European and Anglo-American literature. These novels start with a loss/tragedy that disturbs the protagonist emotionally. He sets off on a journey to fill that vacuum, and gains maturity gradually and with difficulty. The protagonist’s conflict with the values of society is the common plot of such novels. Finally he accepts those values and is accepted by society. Example: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird.

DETECTIVE FICTION is a sub-genre of crime fiction and mystery fiction. It presents a mysterious event/crime, often murder, the solution is concealed from the reader until a detective’s successful investigation reveals it. Edgar Allan Poe gave the start to this form in the 19th century. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason are the immortal detectives. CRIME NOVEL focusing on the criminal and the psychological working of the protagonist and the POLICE NOVEL focusing on the police detective are the later varieties of detective fiction.

UTOPIAN NOVEL: The term ‘Utopian’ implying  ‘no place’ / ‘nowhere’ is derived from the Greek ‘ou’ which means ‘not’ and ‘topos’ meaning ‘place’.  Utopian fiction critiques existing society by presenting an ideal society. Example:  Sir Thomas More’s work Utopia. It depicts an ideal place / state with no war, poverty and inequality. It portrays a safe environment, which ensures health care and access to education.

DYSTOPIA NOVEL – the term dystopian is from ‘dys’= bad, difficult > a world where nothing is perfect. Dystopian fiction depicts a state controlled by an oppressive government, where free thinking is banned, and propaganda controls people’s minds. It also portrays a nightmarish/unpleasant vision of the future.

SCIENCE FICTION/ SF/ SCI-FI: is a genre dealing with the impact of actual/imagined science upon society/individuals and imaginative concepts like space travel, time travel, extra-terrestrial life, futuristic themes related to science and technology. It includes space travel, time travel, alien beings, unknown inventions that could become reality. The plot creates situations different from those of both the present day and the known past. It has a human element too. It explains the effect new scientific developments and new discoveries will have on us in the future. Examples: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World; Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy.

SATIRE exposes, ridicules & criticizes the folly, vice and corruption of an individual / institution / society. It is entertaining and censorious at the same time; it can also be harsh or genial. It uses fictional characters, which stand for real people, to expose & condemn their corruption and intends to improve humanity by criticizing its follies and foibles.  Eg: George Orwell’s Animal Farm

REALISTIC FICTION attempts to portray the world as it is. It contains no fantasy, no supernatural elements.  It usually depicts the everyday life of ordinary people with its joys, sorrows, successes and failures. The plots highlight social or personal events or issues such as falling in love, marriage, finding a job, divorce, alcoholism, etc. Characters seem like real people with real issues solved in a realistic way. Their language and actions are appropriate for the setting.  Eg: a story about a gang in a city (urban setting) should use appropriate slang, and colloquial forms of the language that reflect the characters’ social class, culture and setting.  Realistic fiction does not dictate specific moral and ethical beliefs. It has a beginning, & a middle event leading to a definite ending.  Eg: R.K.Narayan’s Malgudi Days.

DIARY is a form of autobiographical writing, a regularly kept record of the diarist’s daily activities and reflections. A diary is a safe space to discuss how they feel, without worrying about other people’s opinions. It is written primarily for the writer’s use alone; so the diary has a frankness that is unlike writing done for publication. Diary writing can be therapeutic and it is a great way to relieve stress. If something worries us , getting it down on paper is a wonderful way to get it off our chest and off our mind.

TRAVEL WRITING is a form of creative nonfiction in which the narrator’s encounters with foreign places serve as the dominant subject. It is writing about places, persons, and things in other places–also writing about how to travel, when to travel, and advice on traveling–all with the reader in mind. It’s about relaying your travel experiences to others so that they may emulate them or at the very least not make the same mistakes you did. It is also called travel literature. Essentially, it aims to give a vicarious experience to the reader, both to enable understanding of other places and cultures and also to encourage the reader to follow the author’s footsteps.

Five main elements go into the making of fiction. They are:

Plot – it is the sequential order of incidents in a story. It comprises five parts. First and foremost is the Exposition which reveals the setting, introduces the main characters, and presents the conflict. There are different types of conflict – (a) person vs self; (b) person vs person; (c) person vs society; (d) person vs Nature; (e) person vs machine/technology. This is followed by the Rising Action / Complications. The action progresses sequentially, step by step, and the characters attempt to resolve conflicts/problems. The Climax is the turning point of the narrative; it reveals the process for solving the conflicts; decisions are made now. The Falling Action shows the action that works out the decision arrived at. The End / Conclusion does not introduce new characters / incidents; it resolves the conflicts, ties up loose ends, and brings the story to a close.

Character – the term character is the name of a literary genre inaugurated by the Greek author, Theophrastus; it presents a short, witty sketch of a distinctive type of person – the ‘stock characters’ like the wicked stepmother, the jealous husband and the old miser.
Characters are the persons represented in a narrative / dramatic work. Their dialogue and action reveal their moral, intellectual and emotional qualities. The Protagonist / hero/ heroine is the central character whose actions form the basis of the plot. The Antagonist is the character  who opposes the protagonist and creates obstacles for him / her. E. M. Forster distinguishes between two kinds of characters :– (a) Flat characters – built around a single quality, simple and unchanging and are also minor figures; (b) Round characters – complex, dynamic (subject to development), undergo rapid changes throughout the story. Traditional fiction gives physical description of characters whereas Modern / Postmodern fiction focuses on the state of mind of the characters.

Theme is the significant / salient idea that emerges from a literary work / a topic recurring in a no of literary works. The subject of a work is described concretely in terms of its action (the adventures of a newcomer in a big city); its theme / themes will be described in more abstract terms (eg: love, betrayal, revenge). The theme of a work may be directly stated like in a fable; or it emerges indirectly through the recurrence of symbols and images (eg :the line ‘Big Brother’ is watching you’ in Orwell’s 1984).

POINT OF VIEW – the position from which the story is presented.

First-person narrative/point of view or the ‘I /we’ perspective narrator. It recollects his/her own part in the events related either as a witness of the action/ as an important participant in it. It is restricted to his / her partial knowledge and experience on access to other characters’ thoughts;

Second-person narrative/ point of view addressed to someone; referred to as ‘you’; very rare.

Third-person / omniscient narrator/ an all-knowing narrator/he, she it; has no bias or preferences. It has full knowledge of all the characters and situations and shows an unrestricted knowledge of the story’s events from outside. So it is the most objective and trustworthy viewpoint.

Setting / Milieu is the space in which a story takes place. It can be : (a) physical, that is, the geographical location where the story happens; eg: the real places like the city of London in Dickens’ novels or imaginary locales like R.K. Narayan’s ‘Malgudi.’(b) temporal, that is, chronological or historical period; time of day, year; weather conditions, rainy, sunny, stormy. (c) social which evokes a particular atmosphere and has a distinct language eg: a novel set among miners. Social phenomena – war, revolution – also form the backdrop of the story. Setting enhances the emotional appeal of the story eg: the eerie atmosphere in Gothic fiction.

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS is a phrase used by William James to describe the unbroken flow of perceptions, thoughts and feelings in the waking mind. Later the term was
applied to the literary technique of representing the continuous flow of a character’s mental process – sense perceptions, conscious and half-conscious thoughts, memories, expectations and feelings – often by using continuous unpunctuated sentences. The term is often used as a synonym for the term interior monologue. It is an important device of modernist fiction especially psychological novel. Dorothy Richardson pioneered the technique which was later developed by James Joyce (Ulysses) and Virginia Woolf (Mrs Dalloway).

META FICTION /SELF-CONSCIOUS NOVEL is fiction about fiction, openly comments on its own fictional status. Attention is directed to the process of fictive composition. It is a novel about a novelist writing a novel; the protagonist shares the name of the creator and each book has the same title. Example: Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook & John Fowles’s  The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

Essay 1: Francis Bacon’s “Of Studies”

Francis Bacon transplanted the essay into England and gave the genre an impersonal turn. He entertains readers with ‘counsels, civil and moral.’ These counsels are conveyed in short, crisp sentences that read like aphorisms. “Of Studies” is one of Bacon’s most popular essays. In it he gives sound ideas about the uses and limitations of studies, the proper ways of studying and utilizing the knowledge gained from books and the remedies that studies can provide for mental defects.

Study of books is useful in three aspects. It gives pleasure, it has an ornamental value and it increases a person’s practical ability. Books delight a man in his hours of leisure when he has no company and is on his own. The illustrations, quotations and anecdotes he gets from books add a sparkle and charm to his conversation. He also develops the ability to make accurate judgements in his day-to-day affairs and manages them well. Experienced men are able to deal with particular matters as they come along. But the planning of an overall strategy can be done only by a person who has gained knowledge from extensive reading. All the same, the pursuit of book-learning must be in moderation. Spending too much time in reading makes a person lazy. The excessive use of learning to garnish his conversation will make a person a pedant. A person who decides everything on the basis of the knowledge gained from books shows the eccentricity of a scholar.

Studies and practical experience go hand in hand. Study of books makes good the natural deficiencies of a person. Bacon compares natural abilities with a natural plant; just as a plant left to nature needs to be trimmed, a man’s natural abilities are to be shaped by the study of books. The knowledge obtained from books will be useful only with the help of the insight gained from practical experience.

It is essential to have the right attitude to reading. We should not read only to contradict others; nor should we believe in everything we read. Instead we should critically consider the significance of what we have read. All books need not be read with the same thoroughness. Some books can be read quickly while only parts of some books are worth reading. But the really valuable books should be read carefully and with full attention. We may read only the summary of those books that deal with unimportant topics.

Bacon quotes the Roman poet Ovid’s statement that studies pass into character to foreground the fact that reading enriches a person’s mind. Reading fills a person’s mind with new thoughts and ideas and develops his personality. Discussions make him alert and quick- witted and he is never at a loss for words. The habit of taking down notes makes a person systematic and precise in his thought and expression.

Different disciplines influence a person in different ways. For example, history makes a person wise; poetry makes him imaginative, philosophy makes him profound and logic and rhetoric make him able to contend. The discipline we choose for study will subtly influence our character. Just as deficiencies of the body can be cured by physical exercise, mental faculties can be improved by studies. For example, mathematics strengthens the powers of concentration. Medieval philosophy sharpens a person’s discrimination. Legal knowledge enables a man to examine a case carefully and find suitable prior examples. Thus there is a solution to every defect of man.

In his characteristic aphoristic style, Bacon has expressed his ideas drawing comparisons the everyday and familiar experiences of life making his essay the storehouse of infinite riches in a little room.

Essay 2: Joseph Addison’s “Sir Roger at the Assizes”

Addison published the periodical The Spectator in collaboration with his friend Richard Steele. In The Spectator Addison adopted the persona of the fictional Mr. Spectator, to givehis observations on the members of the Spectator Club. The best known of them is Sir Roger de Coverley who is loved and respected by everyone. In his essays Addison has presented Sir Roger in different contexts in order to bring out the traits in his character that endear him to everyone. The essay “Sir Roger at the Assizes” emphasizes the fact that a man enjoys peace of mind when his conscience is clear and when his community appreciates his conduct by giving an account of Sir Roger at a country sessions court. The portrait of Sir Roger is completed with the episode at the inn which exposes a slightly ridiculous aspect of Sir Roger’s character.

The narrator states that Sir Roger’s kindness and pleasing behaviour endeared him to his neighbours. He is not only at peace within himself but is also loved and respected by the world at large. Sir Roger has the distinction of being a man whose conscience is clear and who has won the good-will and affection of the public. The narrator then describes the occasion when Sir Roger took him and Will Wimble to attend the country assizes. As they rode they came across two gentlemen. Sir Roger gave the narrator a vivid account of them when Will Wimble and the two men rode a little ahead.

One of them was an honest yeoman (a land-owning farmer) with an annual income of a hundred pounds which brought him within the Game Act and entitled him to hunt hares, partridges and pheasants. He was a good shot and could shoot flying birds. Being a sensible man he would have been a good neighbour but for the fact that he shot down too many partridges for food.

The other man, Tom Touchy, was notorious for his habit of taking legal action against everybody. He even went to the extent of filing a suit against the widow whom Sir Roger had wooed in vain for more than thirty years. He prosecuted two honest men for trespassing and destroying one of his hedges. In the end he had to sell the land the hedge enclosed in order to meet the cost of the lengthy prosecution. His numerous litigations reduced his annual income from eight hundred pounds to thirty pounds; but that did not deter him from further litigation.

Will Wimble and Tom Touchy requested Sir Roger to settle their dispute regarding Wimble’s fishing in the river. Sir Roger assumed a solemn air and told them that ‘much might be said on both sides.’ This verdict which did not pronounce either person guilty, satisfied both of them. By the time Sir Roger and his companions reached the court its proceedings had already begun. Towards the close of the session, Sir Roger made a short and insignificant speech intended merely to impress the narrator and the gathering and not to convey any information.

On their way back they stopped and refreshed themselves at an inn, run by a former servant of Sir Roger. As a mark of respect to his master the innkeeper had painted Sir Roger’s head on the inn’s signpost without Sir Roger’s knowledge. When he came to know of it Sir Roger arranged a painter to alter the features and make the painting resemble a frowning Saracen. The altered painting was shown to them; despite the alterations it still resembled Sir Roger. When Sir Roger asked the narrator to tell him whether or not the monstrous painting looked like him, the narrator, adopting Sir Roger’s diplomacy, replied: ‘much might be said on both sides.’

Addison deserves credit for creating Sir Roger de Coverley, the epitome of a simple, whimsical, compassionate and charitable gentleman whose popularity has stood the test of time.

Essay 3: John Ruskin’s “On Books and Reading”

John Ruskin was a leading art critic of the Victorian era. He wrote on a wide range of subjects — architecture, geology, botany, ornithology, education, political economy and literature. He strongly criticized the evils of capitalism. It is well known that Mahatma Gandhi formulated his principle of ‘sarvodaya’ under the inspiration of Ruskin’s work, Unto this Last. Ruskin’s social thought foresaw modern environmental concerns and popular non- governmental administrative structures. He is credited with the coining of the term ‘pathetic fallacy.’

The essay “On Books and Reading” is a condensed version of his lecture, ‘Of King’s Treasuries’ published in his book, Sesame and Lilies. In his essay Ruskin has focused on cultural values, literature, public education and the practice of reading. He makes a distinction between valuable and useless books and stresses the importance of reading in the shaping of a person’s personality.

At the outset Ruskin states that since our life is short and time so precious we cannot waste time reading useless books. We should read only the best books which he insists should be clearly printed on the best paper, strongly bound and should be at an affordable price. He urges all young men to build a library in their homes and to replenish it with a steadily increasing stock of books and also to inculcate the habit of reading in their children.

Ruskin’s connection with schools for different classes of youth brought him into contact with parents who wanted him to suggest the kind of education that would enable their children to  advance in life. He believes that they should realize that getting a genuine education itself is a sign of success and that it can be achieved by reading good books.

In Ruskin’s view, a book is essentially a written thing; it is a permanent record of a writer’s insight from his experience in life — his most valuable thoughts. He feels that we should learn from the writer and not waste our time finding echoes of our thoughts in the writer’s work. A writer’s most profound thoughts are not expressed simply and directly but indirectly in parables. We have to go deep into it to get at its meaning. His wisdom is like precious gold that Nature hides in fissures under the earth. People have to dif deep in order to extract gold from the mines. Likewise, if the reader wants to understand the meaning hidden in a good book he will have to probe into it using his intellect and imagination.

Ruskin holds the view that a thorough reading involves paying attention to every letter in the text; he remarks that that is why a scholar is called a ‘man of letters.’ Reading just ten pages of a book thoroughly makes a person ‘literate’ and it is more useful than reading many books superficially which makes the reader an ‘illiterate’ or uneducated person. A well educated person may not know many languages and may have read only very few books. But he knows precisely the correct pronunciation of every word in the in the language he knows. A person might know several languages; but a single spoken sentence will reveal the level of his education. Ruskin stresses the fact that it is worthwhile to read a few books thoroughly rather than skimming through a large number of books. He believes that a good reader should devote time to find out the origin, history and value of every word he uses; he should also learn other languages, use dictionaries and read the works of noted scholars like Max Muller. It is undoubtedly hard work; but the person who undertakes it reaps rich benefits.

Good reading enables us to enter not only into the thoughts of great authors, but also into their hearts. Despite the outcries against passion, the truth is that men are distinguished from beasts by their ability to feel and imagine, and by their sensibilities. Ruskin looks upon insensitivity as the essence of vulgarity. A ‘vulgar’ person is incapable of sympathy; he lacks finesse and the god given passion of humanity. He is capable of every sort of bestial crime without horror and without pity.

So we read great authors to discover the truth and to refine ourselves. Just as we discipline and test our knowledge, we have to learn to control our passions. We have to realize that the feelings of wonder and curiosity are base or noble according to the meanness or grandeur of their objects. Unfortunately people seem more interested in cheap sensation today.

Ruskin’s insightful views on reading provide readers with ample food for thought; they also foreground the ennobling influence of books on us.

Essay 4: Charles Lamb’s “Dream Children”

Charles Lamb continued the tradition of the familiar essay, set by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, and characterized by the informal tone of narration and the expression of the writer’s personality. He dealt with everyday topics with a reassuring tone of intimacy. Many of his essays are autobiographical pieces which provide a substantial account of a large part of his life. Dream Children is one of the most autobiographical of his essays in which he invokes actual facts about his boyhood, his brother John Lamb and also about his grandmother, Mrs. Field.

In the essay, Lamb narrates a daydream in which he amuses his imaginary children, John and Alice with stories about their great-grandmother, Mrs. Field. She was the caretaker of the mansion of a rich nobleman in Norfolk. This mansion was believed to be the location of the cruel murder of the children narrated in the ballad of the Children of the Wood. The story of the murder was carved out in wood on the chimney-piece which hung in the great hall. But later, it was pulled down by a foolish person and replaced by a marble piece without the rich history of the earlier one. When the narrator’s daughter Alice heard this she made an expression of annoyance which resembled that of her mother. Mrs. Field was a very pious and god-fearing lady who was loved and respected by everybody. When she died both the poor and the rich neighbours attended her funeral. In her youth she was a tall, upright, graceful person and also the best dancer in the county. Alice was impressed to hear this and unconsciously moved her right foot. Unfortunately, she was afflicted with cancer which put an end to her dancing. It bowed her down with pain but her good spirits did not flag. Mrs. Field used to sleep alone in the big mansion without any fear, though she believed that the children in the ballad haunted it and could be seen climbing up and down the staircase at midnight.

Lamb told the children that as a boy he used to visit the mansion during his holidays. He used to gaze at the statues of the twelve Caesars that adorned the room or watched the fish in the pond. At times he would stroll among the fruit trees in the garden but would never pluck a fruit because it was forbidden. At this John quietly replaced the grapes he had taken from the plate in front.

Mrs. Field was fond of all her grandchildren but she had a special love for their uncle John because he was handsome, smart and brave. He was a good rider and hunter. John was very kind to Lamb and once, when Lamb had hurt his foot, John used to carry him on his shoulders. In later life John also became lame-footed; but Lamb remembered with regret that he did not show any sympathy or consideration when John was impatient and in pain. Lamb also recalled how he missed his brother’s kindness, even his crossness when he died and realized how much he had loved John. Alice and John became very upset when they heard about John’s death and began crying. They asked their father to tell them about their mother.

Lamb then told them how he had courted Alice W—- for seven long years, sometimes hoping, at other times, despairing. He told them how she had denied his love in her maidenly coyness and as he looked at his daughter he realized, with a start, that Alice was the reincarnation of her mother.

As he stood gazing, the children faded away, receding further and further making all that had happened before nothing but a pleasant reverie and revealing to him the harsh reality. From a great distance, they seemed to tell him that they were not his children but mere apparitions, a dream of what could have been and that the children of Alice called Bartrum father. Lamb woke up and realized that he had fallen asleep in his bachelor arm-chair, with his faithful sister, Bridget nearby.

The essay revives Lamb’s memories of childhood with a tinge of pathos. It also brings out the underlying sadness of his life which could not find fulfillment in love and parenthood.

Essay 5: William Hazlitt’s “On Familiar Style”

William Hazlitt was the foremost literary critic of the early 19th century and has authored many humanistic essays. Hazlitt’s essays deal with a wide variety of subjects in a vigorous and clear style and are both personal and analytical.

Hazlitt explains that a familiar style is plain but not vulgar. It requires precision and purity of expression. It avoids pompous words and irrelevant allusions. It uses the best words in common use and is the language of a person speaks with ease, force and clarity and does not parade his knowledge. The person who uses the plain style steers a middle course between the solemnity of a preacher and the level of the uneducated and vulgar man.

He feels that it is easy to use difficult words and to affect a pompous style but it is difficult to choose the right word to fit the context. He objects to Dr. Samuel Johnson’s style because he uses ‘tall, opaque words,’ and polysyllabic and Latinized words. A truly familiar style uses plain words and popular mods of construction and has universal appeal and has universal appeal. It is not the result of disagreeable associations and so is never vulgar.  Hazlitt also censures words used by small groups of people amongst themselves or those used for private use. The merit of a word lies not in itself but in its appropriate usage. Through the use of correct words the expression must be suitably adapted to the idea so that the writer’s meaning becomes clear. The strength of a book’s binding depends not on the glossiness of the materials but on their fitting in place correctly. Likewise, good style depends not on the length and showiness of the words used, but on their being appropriate to the writer’s intentions.

Hazlitt disapproves of the use of too many obsolete or old-fashioned words but allows for the occasional use of archaisms. He cites Charles Lamb as the single exception. He says that Lamb has so deeply identified himself with earlier writers that even his awkward and old-fashioned style appears natural and spontaneous. He looks upon Lamb’s essays as models of pure idiomatic English. Hazlitt observes that Lamb’s ideas are so radical that they would appear out of place if they were expressed in the prevailing style. He believes that the use of an archaic style neutralizes their impact. He observes that they have the same charm as the work of the renowned Renaissance scholar, Erasmus.

The florid or gaudy style where words are employed to conceal the absence of substance is the antithesis of the familiar style. The gaudy style is characterized by the use of pompous and pedantic expressions and it does not appeal to the heart of the reader.

Essay 6: Robert Lynd’s “Indifference”

Robert Lynd is an accomplished Irish literary and political essayist. He is best known as a literary essayist and Irish nationalist. His essays are distinct in their easy, conversational style. He could write on any topic and find something worthwhile even in apparently trivial subjects. He is the representative of the English familiar essay in the 20th century.

The essay “Indifference” focuses on the universal phenomenon of indifference or lack of interest. It is innate in us and there is no escape from it.

At a casual gathering of Cambridge scholars Lynd asked a brilliant novelist whether he would go to watch the Rugby match between Oxford and Cambridge that was to be held the following week. The novelist was totally unaware of the match and passed on the question to the host. The host, too, was in the dark about the match. Another scholar had heard about some important match that was going to be played somewhere; but he was ignorant of the teams or the game or its venue. Lynd found it odd that these learned scholars who were well- versed in the age old bloody battles in the Greek city states of Athens and Sparta or between Rome and Carthage were indifferent to and unconcerned with the exciting and harmless Rugby match in their neighbourhood. Lynd could pardon a stockbroker’s indifference to a football match but not that of a university scholar who was trained in the humanities.

On later reflection Lynd came to the conclusion that everyone is indifferent to something or the other. Each of us is destined to concentrate on certain things; we can concentrate on them only if we are indifferent to other things. For example, a missionary’s vocation is to convert unbelievers. He cannot afford to be preoccupied with money and so he is indifferent to stock market shares. He has also to be indifferent to worldly pleasures and to cookery books if he is to do justice to his missionary work. Similarly a philosopher, too, is compelled to avoid pleasures which other people value.

Our indifference is a factor that shapes our personality. It is humanly impossible to be interested in everything under the sun. Well-known men like Savonarola (religious reformer), Garibaldi (Italian military leader), Diogenes (Greek philosopher) and Bernard Shaw (Irish dramatist) became what they were by ignoring many things that others prized.

Lynd asserts that we cannot escape from indifference. Nature implanted our indifference in us before we were born. It is an incredible fact that indifference to music is a
fairly common characteristic of the great and the good. Great men like Dr. Johnson, William Morris and Lord Tennyson were insensitive to the charm of music. William Butler Yeats, too, had no ear for music for he was unable to distinguish the national anthem of Great Britain from that of the Irish Free State. Indifference to poetry is another conspicuous characteristic of the human race, even though the genre of poetry is universally acclaimed as the greatest achievement of the human mind.

In his boyhood, Lynd despised anyone who was indifferent to the things he was interested in be it a writer or seaside resort or politics. All the same, he outgrew his dislike for other people’s indifference. The truth is that all of us want other people to share our tastes. Lynd has observed that the gourmet strongly dislikes those who are indifferent to food. Among his friends there are many who are indifferent to birds, others who are indifferent to the sea or to cats or even to their native land. Eventually he has come to the realization that there is not enough room in the human spirit to like everything. It is only natural that if we like something we are bound to dislike certain other things.

Thus in his inimitable style Lynd justifies indifference and comes to terms with this characteristic trait of the human race.

Essay Question: Consider Animal Farm as a political satire.

Satire is a literary form that ridicules the follies of man, his political behaviour and institutions in order to provoke readers into changing their opinion of it. In their attack on human folly, satirists usually imply their own opinions on how the thing being attacked can be remedied. Animal Farm is about a crucial political phenomenon of our time: the rise of the totalitarian state. Orwell was appalled by the evils of autocratic rule in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and Spain (which he experienced first-hand), and strongly wanted to protest against it. Animal Farm is his protest against autocracy, despotism, and totalitarianism.

Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, has not been a very responsible farmer. Since he drinks heavily and neglects his farming chores the animals of Manor Farm have always been miserable. They accept their difficult lives as part of the natural order of things. His careless attitude makes Old Major, the prize-winning Berkshire boar, share his dream with the other animals; he incites them to rise up against Jones. Old Major calls for a meeting of the farm animals in the barn and tells them that the cause of all their suffering is man. With man gone, the animals would enjoy the abundance the land provides and build a new society based on equality. He says that Jones has no concern for the animals—that he uses them until they are no longer productive. He butchers the pigs and drowns the dogs when they get old. Old Major encourages the animals to work for this revolution. He warns them never to become like man and to always treat each other as equals. He also inspires the animals with his song ‘Beasts of England.’ Three nights later, Old Major dies and the pigs undertake the task of preparing the animals for the revolution.

Three young pigs — the intellectual Snowball, the domineering Napoleon and the eloquent Squealer — organize Old Major’s dream of the future into a political philosophy called Animalism. When the drunken Mr Jones fails to feed the animals one night, the animals drive him and his men off the farm. They change the name to “Animal Farm,” and the pigs, who seem to have assumed leadership, write the principles of Animalism, reduced to Seven Commandments, on the barn wall. These are to be the unalterable rules by which the animals will live ever after:

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  • Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  • No animal shall wear clothes.
  • No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  • No animal shall drink alcohol.
  • No animal shall kill any other animal.
  • All animals are equal.

At first the revolution seems to be a success. Directed and supervised by the pigs, all the animals work hard to bring in the harvest. But the pigs treat themselves specially; they remain the supervisors, doing no physical labour, and they take extra food for themselves instead of sharing with the others. They change the commandments to suit their own desires. Napoleon and Snowball vie with each other for leadership. Meanwhile Jones, with the aid of his neighbours, tries to retake the farm. They are driven off at the “Battle of the Cowshed” by the military tactics of Snowball and the strength of Boxer. Both are decorated as heroes for their roles in the victory.

After the battle, the rivalry between Napoleon and Snowball comes out in the open. Snowball’s plan of building the windmill is declared as ‘nonsense’ by Napoleon. He also chases Snowball out of the farm with the help of his fire dogs. He then puts forth the windmill project as his own and gives orders to the animals to begin the work on the windmill. When a storm blows the windmill down, Napoleon blames the exiled Snowball and condemns him as an enemy. Napoleon exploits the animals’ fear that Jones will return and their fear of his fierce dogs to consolidate his power. He uses his henchman Squealer to lie to the animals and convince them that the rules must be changed to prevent Jones from returning to control the farm. As work on the second windmill begins, Napoleon and the pigs become more and more corrupt. They change the commandments, move into Jones’s house, and drink whisky. Napoleon even kills other animals who dare to stand up to his authority. The second windmill is blown up in an attack by Frederick, a neighbouring farmer, called the Battle of the Windmill against the animals. But Napoleon pronounces this defeat to be a great victory, and work begins on a third attempt to build a windmill. None of the promises of leisure time and comfort come true.  In fact, life grows harder for all of the animals, except the pigs, and food is scarcer. When Boxer, the hardest worker on the farm, is hurt, Napoleon sells him to the horse slaughterer. Squealer convinces the others that Boxer died in the hospital after getting the best treatment.

Reconstruction of the windmill brings about prosperity, but not for all the animals; the pigs are the only beneficiaries. Ironically, the pigs now resemble the humans that they hated. They carry whips and walk upright on their hind legs. They violate and change each of the Seven Commandments. Ultimately, these commandments are erased and replaced with the only rule, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” The novel ends with Napoleon entertaining his human neighbours, Frederick and Pilkington; it is impossible to distinguish the pigs from the men. The name is changed back to “Manor Farm,” and a new level of understanding is reached between pig and man.

One of Orwell’s goals in writing Animal Farm was to portray the Russian (or Bolshevik) Revolution of 1917 as one that resulted in a totalitarian govt. Many of the characters and events parallel those of the Russian Revolution. Manor Farm is a model of Russia, and old Major, Snowball, and Napoleon represent the dominant figures of the Russian Revolution. Mr. Jones is modelled on Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918), the last Russian  emperor. During his reign, the Russian people experienced terrible poverty and upheaval. Inthe Bolshevik Revolution that followed, Nicholas, like Jones, was removed from his place of rule and then died shortly thereafter.

Old Major is the animal version of V. I. Lenin (1870-1924), the leader of the Bolshevik Party that seized control in the 1917 Revolution.  Old Major outlines the principles of Animalism, a theory holding that all animals are equal and must revolt against their oppressors; whereas Lenin was inspired by Karl Marx’s theory of Communism, which urges the “workers of the world” to unite against their economic oppressors. Lenin was responsible for changing Russia into the U.S.S.R., as old Major is responsible for transforming Manor Farm into Animal Farm. One of Lenin’s allies was Leon Trotsky (1879-1940), another Marxist thinker. His counterpart in Animal Farm is Snowball; Snowball’s plans for the windmill reflect Trotsky’s intellectual character and ideas about the best ways to transform Marx’s theories into practice. Eventually, Trotsky was exiled from the U.S.S.R. and killed by the agents of Joseph Stalin (1979-1953), as Snowball is chased off of the farm by Napoleon, Orwell’s stand-in for Stalin. Like Napoleon, Stalin did not care for debates and ideas. Instead, he valued power for its own sake and by 1927 had assumed complete control of the Communist Party through acts of terror and brutality. Squealer, Napoleon’s henchman, represents the Communist propaganda machinery, especially the servile Soviet Press.

Animal Farm also satirizes politicians, specifically their ability to manipulate others, and their insatiable lust for power. Napoleon is the epitome of a power-hungry individual who masks all his actions with the excuse that they are done for the improvement of the farm. Animal Farm, known at the beginning and the end of the novel as the Manor Farm, symbolizes Russia and the Soviet Union under Communist Party rule. But more generally, Animal Farm stands for any human society whether it is capitalist, socialist, fascist, or communist.

Animal Farm successfully combines the characteristics of three literary forms- the fable, the satire, and the allegory to satirize the process by which a revolution is effected and by which it is afterwards betrayed. As Christopher Hollis has rightly observed: “The lesson of Animal Farm is clearly not merely the corrupting effect of power when exercised by Communists, but the corrupting effect of power when exercised by anybody.”

MAJOR: Old Major is a twelve-year old wise and persuasive Berkshire Boar. He is an idealist and visionary; he shows the animals how their lives are miserable and unhappy under the cruelty of Farmer Jones and inspires them to revolt against him. It is he who provides the political philosophy on which Animal Farm is founded. His philosophy of Animalism is a mixture of Marx and Lenin. Out of his philosophy come the original animal rebellion and Seven Commandments. His dream to establish a utopian society on the farm, a heaven on earth, where the animals live happily in equality, freedom, and plenty does not come true. The flaw in old Major’s thinking is that he places total blame on man for all the animals’ ills. According to him, once they “remove Man from the scene,” then “the root cause of hunger and overwork” will be abolished for ever. Old Major believes that man is capable only of doing harm and that animals are capable only of doing good. He forgets the fact that the desire for power is inherent in all living things. Ironically old Major warns the animals: “Remember also that in fighting against Man, we must not come to resemble him.” Napoleon and the other pigs ignore this warning; by the end of the novel, they completely resemble their human masters. Old Major dies at the end of the first chapter and is buried on the farm. After the animal rebellion, the animals dig up his skull and pay weekly tributes by for a period of time.

SNOWBALL: Snowball is one of the pre-eminent pigs who is a contender for leadership of Animal Farm. He is ‘’a more vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive.’’ He is a genuine revolutionary who is concerned about the general welfare of all the animals. He makes the animals literate so that they can better grasp the principles of Animalism by reading the Seven Commandments he paints on the barn wall. He also reduces the Commandments to a single precept (“Four legs good, two legs bad”) so that even the least intelligent animals can understand the farm’s new philosophy. Snowball proves that he is a good thinker, an efficient military strategist, effective organizer and planner. He shows a great understanding of strategy during the Battle of the Cowshed, when his scheme of operations defeated the attempt made by Jones and his men to recapture the farm. He corrects Mollie’s mistaken ideas during the discussion on Animalism and devises the flag which symbolizes the animals’ hopes. He also organizes various committees and classes, and physically changes the name of Manor Farm to Animal Farm. He dreams of a world of practicality and machines, symbolized by the windmill, which he believes will make life easier for all the animals. But the windmill becomes the bone of contention between him and Napoleon. In the end, Snowball is defeated by Napoleon and sent into exile. Once off the farm, Napoleon makes the exiled pig his scapegoat, blaming him for all the ills on the farm. Snowball is modelled on Trotsky, who was the planner and spokesman of the Russian Revolution.

NAPOLEON: Orwell presents Napoleon as a “fierce-looking” boar “with a reputation for getting his own way.” Throughout the novel, Napoleon’s method of getting his own way involves a combination of propaganda and terror that none of the animals can resist. He is not interested in creating a utopian society for the animals; his only interest is in seizing power for himself. As soon as the revolution is won, Napoleon’s true nature is seen when he seizes the cows’ milk and apples for the pigs. He proves himself to be a schemer when he hides nine puppies and trains them as his band of killer guard dogs. He forces confessions from innocent animals and then has them killed before all the animals’ eyes.

Napoleon is obviously a plotter who knows that he must rid the farm of Snowball, his contender. He outwits Snowball through a power play and quickly sets himself up as the dictatorial ruler of Animal Farm. Then he begins to shower himself with special privileges. He gives himself more food than the other animals, changes the Seven Commandments to meet his own wants and needs, makes all pigs into a special, ruling class, presents himself with titles and medals, and seizes the farmhouse for his own quarters. Napoleon knows that he must divert attention away from what he is doing and uses several different tactics. He forces the animals to work harder than ever. In addition to their normal six-day work week, he insists that they do “voluntary” work on Sunday afternoons. He sets Snowball up as his scapegoat and blames any ill fortune on the farm on him. He holds constant ceremonies and parades in which he is presented as the benevolent ruler. He uses Squealer to constantly spread propaganda that Napoleon is working for the good of all the animals.

Napoleon’s greatest crime, however, is his complete transformation into Jones. By the end of the novel, Napoleon is sleeping in Jones’ bed, eating from Jones’ plate, drinking alcohol, wearing a derby hat, walking on two legs, trading with humans, and sharing a toast with Mr. Pilkington. His final act of propaganda—changing the Seventh Commandment to “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL / BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS”— reflects his unchallenged belief that he belongs in complete control of the farm. His restoration of the name Manor Farm shows just how much Napoleon has wholly disregarded the words of old Major.

Orwell intended Napoleon to be a reflection of Stalin. Orwell has portrayed in Napoleon a classic example of the modern dictator, corrupted by the absolute power he wields, who is prepared to stoop to the lowest depths of physical cruelty, hypocrisy and deception to gain his political and personal ends.

SQUEALER: Squealer is a small, fat pig with bright eyes and a happy spirit. He is an exceptional speaker and is the pig chosen by Napoleon to be his henchman. Throughout the novel, he serves as Napoleon’s propaganda spokesman.  Squealer has the ability of turning black into white; every time an act of Napoleon’s is questioned by the other animals he is able to convince the animals that Napoleon is only acting in their best interests. For example, after Squealer is questioned about Napoleon’s stealing the milk and apples, he explains that Napoleon and his fellow pigs must take the milk and apples because they “contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig.” He further explains that many pigs “actually dislike milk and apples” and tells the questioning animals, “It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.” He faithfully executes the commands of his leader. He changes the Commandments to suit the needs of Napoleon, revises the history of Animal Farm to reflect what his leader chooses, constantly warns the common animals that Jones is an ever present threat, and generally keeps the masses under control. He excuses Napoleon’s tyranny and sullies Snowball’s reputation, just as Napoleon desires; he paints an affecting picture of Boxer’s death and convinces the animals that Boxer was taken to a veterinary hospital instead of the knacker’s. He misses no opportunity to inflate ‘’the Leader’s’’ (Napoleon’s) father-image in the eyes of the simple animals. He is an expert in the technique of lying with statistics. At the same time Squealer develops many of his master’s less pleasing character traits: he drinks himself into a stupor, shows complete cowardice during the Battle of the Windmill and becomes fat with over-eating. Squealer is the typical propagandist and sycophant who is always attached to a dictator.

BOXER: Horses are universally prized for their strength, and Boxer is no exception. The six- feet tall Boxer is a devoted citizen of the farm whose incredible strength is a great asset to the rebellion and the farm.  At the Battle of the Cowshed, Boxer proves to be a valuable soldier, knocking a stable-boy unconscious with his mighty hoof.  Nevertheless, he is not bloodthirsty and feels great remorse when he thinks he has killed the boy. He wakes up early in the morning to work on the farm and his personal maxim— “I will work harder”—reveals his devotion to the animals’ cause. He also proves himself to be the most valuable member of the windmill-building team.  Even when he collapses while rebuilding the windmill, his first thoughts are not of himself but of the work. He is not an intelligent animal; he is not able to learn any of the alphabet beyond the letter D. Therefore, he can only think in simple slogans, the second of which (“Napoleon is always right”) reveals his childlike dependence on an all- knowing leader. Though heroic and very faithful to Napoleon all his life, Napoleon has no intention of providing for an old, infirm horse. Even when he is being led to his death at the knacker’s, Boxer needs to be told of his terrible fate by Benjamin and Clover. He becomes wise to Napoleon’s ways too late, and his death is another example of Napoleon’s tyranny. Boxer’s fate symbolizes the position of the ordinary, decent-minded but simple worker under an oppressive totalitarian regime.

BENJAMIN: Benjamin, the donkey, is the oldest animal on the farm. He is bad-tempered, stubborn and cynical. He stubbornly refuses to become enthusiastic about the rebellion; he goes about his work in the same slow way and passes cryptic, cynical remarks like “Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey.”  Benjamin can read as well as any of the pigs but he refuses to do so; he does his duty in the Battle of the Cowshed but refuses to side with either faction over the windmill since, windmill or no windmill, according to him, ‘’ life would go on as it had always gone on — that is, badly’’. But Benjamin is finally moved to action over the treatment meted out to Boxer. Though he does not openly admit it, he is devoted to Boxer; he warns Boxer to take care of his failing health and keeps the flies off him when he is taken ill. He bursts out in a great cry of indignation when Boxer is driven out in the knacker’s van and becomes more morose after Boxer’s death. Benjamin is the only animal on the farm which is not carried away by the fervour of the Rebellion and is not duped by the hypocrisy of the new regime. He symbolizes the more intelligent middle class society.

MR JONES: Mr Jones is the original owner of Manor Farm. He is an alcoholic who had once been a capable farmer but had lost money in a lawsuit and has ‘’taken to drinking more than was good for him’’. He neglects the farm, ill-treats the animals and fails to feed them properly. The animals expel Jones from the farm with his wife and servants. For a while he is content to sit in the Red Lion inn and complain to everyone about the ‘’monstrous injustice’’ he has suffered by being turned out of his own farm by a pack of animals. Eventually, with the support of his neighbours Frederick and Pilkington, Jones makes an attempt to recover the farm; but he is outwitted by Snowball and Boxer. He moves to another part of the country where he dies in an inebriates’ home. Between his final defeat in the Battle of the Cowshed and his death, Jones plays no active part in the story. But his memory is kept alive by the pigs, who hold the return of Jones as a constant threat over the animals’ heads to secure their docile acceptance of even the most vigorous hardships. As the years pass, Jones and all he stood for fade from the animals’ memories, so that they no longer have any basis of comparison between their present condition and what things had been like previously. Jones represents the pleasure-loving, indolent aristocracy of Tsarist Russia.

THE WINDMILL: The windmill represents the massive infrastructure constructions projects and modernization initiatives that Soviet leaders instituted immediately after the Russian Revolution. In Animal Farm, the windmill also symbolizes the pigs’ totalitarian triumph. It gives the pigs, especially Napoleon and Squealer, a way to distract the animals with hopes of a better future that was never meant to be.The windmill also symbolizes the pigs’ manipulation of the other animals for their own gain. The pigs exploit Boxer and the other common animals by making them undertake backbreaking labour to build the windmill, which will ultimately earn the pigs more money and thus increase their power. The pigs’ declare that Snowball is responsible for the windmill’s first collapse. It indicates psychological manipulation, as it prevents the common animals from doubting the pigs’ abilities and unites them against a supposed enemy. The ultimate conversion of the windmill to commercial use is one more sign of the pigs’ betrayal of their fellow animals. From an allegorical point of view, the windmill represents the enormous modernization projects undertaken in Soviet Russia after the Russian Revolution.

THE BARN: The barn symbolically represents the collective consciousness of the working-class animals and their original vision of an egalitarian society. The barn is where old Major gives his passionate speech and establishes the principles of Animalism. The barn is also where Snowball teaches the animals the tenets of Animalism and is also used as a meeting place. In addition to holding Sunday meetings in the barn, the Seven Commandments are written on the wall.

Question 1: Give an account of the Holocaust

The Holocaust is the diabolical & systematic state-sponsored extermination of six million Jews and millions of other religious and ethnic groups in Europe by Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler, during World War II. The word ‘holocaust’ is of Greek origin and means complete burning. The Nazis found it the Final Solution to the Jewish problem. They blamed the Jews for all the ills the Germans suffered. Prominent Jews like Albert Einstein and Bertolt Brecht fled Germany and sought refuge in other countries. All opposition parties were ruthlessly suppressed by the Nazis. The Jews were forcibly deported to concentration and labour camps; they died of hunger, illness and exhaustion. Many were sent to gas chambers into which hydrogen cyanide was released, killing them within minutes.

Question 2: What prompted Anne to keep a diary?

There were about thirty people whom thirteen-year-old Anne could call friends. But she did not have a friend of her own. She had a good home comprising affectionate parents, a sixteen-year-old sister and loving aunts. She also had many admirers who couldn’t keep their adoring eyes off her. When she was with her friends she merely talked of ordinary everyday things. She was not able to get close enough to confide in any one of them. So she started the diary which she looked upon as her bosom friend and called her Kitty.    

Question 3: Give a brief sketch of her life.

Anne’s parents got married when her father, Otto Frank was thirty-six and her mother, Edith Hollander Frank was twenty-five. Anne looked upon her father as the most adorable father she had ever seen. The sisters, Margot and Anne were born in Germany in 1926 and 1929 respectively. In 1933 Otto became the Managing Director of the Dutch Opekta Company, which manufactured products used in making jam. But their Jewish lineage compelled them to immigrate to Holland in that year.  Her parents went to Holland in September leaving the children at Aachen with their grandmother. Margot went to Holland in December and Anne followed her in February. Anne started schooling straightway at the Montessori nursery school. She stayed there until the age of six when she started first grade. In sixth grade the principal, Mrs Kuperus was Anne’s teacher. At the end of that year both of them bid a tearful farewell because Anne got admission to the Jewish Lyceum, where Margot was studying. Meanwhile, their relatives in Germany were suffering under Hitler’s anti-Jewish laws. After the pogroms (organized      mass killings) in 1938, her two uncles (her mother’s brothers) escaped from Germany and sought refuge in North America. Her seventy-three old grandmother went to live with Anne and her parents. In the summer of 1941 Anne’s grandmother fell ill and had to have an operation; so Anne’s birthday was not celebrated. Her grandmother passed away in 1942. She loved her grandmother and missed her a lot. Her birthday in 1942 was celebrated to make up for her birthdays in 1940 & 1941.

Question 4: The plight of the Jews in Holland after the capitulation.

After May 1940 the war broke out and Holland surrendered to Germany. The arrival of the Germans spelt misery for the Jews. A series of anti-Jewish decrees were issued which severely restricted their freedom. The Jews were compelled to wear a yellow star in order to segregate them. They were forbidden to use street-cars; they were not allowed to ride in cars, even their own; they also had to turn in their bicycles. They were permitted to do their shopping only between 3 & 5pm. The streets were out of bounds for them between 8 pm & 6 am. They were forbidden to attend theatres, movies or any form of entertainment; they had to keep away from the swimming pools, tennis courts, hockey fields and such other athletic fields; they were not allowed to participate in any athletic activity in public.  They were also not permitted to sit either in their gardens or those of their friends after 8 pm; nor could they visit Christians in their homes. They could go only to barber shops and beauty parlours owned by Jews and their children had to attend Jewish schools. Poor helpless people were dragged out of their homes at any time, day or night; they were allowed to take only a knapsack and a little money with them and on the way they would be robbed. Families were torn apart; often when the children returned from    school they would discover that their parents had disappeared.  Women would return from shopping only to find their houses sealed and their families gone. Many of her family’s Jewish friends were arrested by the Gestapo  (the Nazi secret police) and deported to concentration camps in Drenthe. At these camps the Jews were inhumanely treated. They  were hardly given any food and drink. Water was available for only one hour a day and thousands of them had to manage with a single toilet and sink. Men and women had to share the same room; women and children had their heads shaved; because of their shorn heads escape was out of question for them. Thus by denying the Jews their freedom of movement and expression, by making their lives insecure and dangerous and also by ill-treating them at the concentration camps the Nazis made life a veritable Hell for the Jews.


Poetry & Drama

WHAT IS POETRY? Poetry is one of the oldest forms of artistic expression. It originated in the human impulse to express emotions/ideas/tell a story. It has a specific form – lines and stanzas in rhythmic language. It uses imagery and figurative language.

FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE – every day words put together in new ways to create vivid word pictures.

IMAGE – refers to a vivid visual description. It appeals to the reader’s emotions and imagination.

IMAGERY – refers to images (mental pictures) taken collectively. It Is used to signify all the objects and qualities of sense perception referred to in a poem. The different types of imagery are – visual (sight), auditory (hearing), tactile ( touch), olfactory ( smell), gustatory ( taste), kinaesthetic (sensations of movement) & thermal ( heat and cold).

SYMBOL is derived from Greek ‘symbolon’ meaning ‘mark’ or ‘sign.’ It is an object, animate/inanimate, which represents something else – scales > justice; dove > peace;

Actions are also symbolic– arms raised > surrender. Literary symbols are of two kinds – public/conventional – journey > life and personal/private – red rose > love.

FIGURES OF SPEECH – specific ways of putting words together. The popular figures of speech are:

Simile is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two distinctly different things /actions / feelings using words such as ‘like’, ‘as’, ‘than’, ‘resembles’.

Example: “I wandered lonely as a cloud” & “My love is like a red, red rose’’.

Epic Simile is a lengthy and more elaborate simile used as a digression in a narrative work; Example: the similes in John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Metaphor is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things / actions / ideas without asserting the comparison with the words ‘as’ and ‘like’ but by suggesting that

they are identical.

Example:  “All the world is a stage” & “My love is a red, red rose”.

Personification is a figure of speech that gives human characteristics to an inanimate object / an abstract concept.

Example: “… and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe” & “Hope was but a timid friend”.

Oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines two contradictory terms.

Example: “bitter sweet memories” & “darkness visible”.

Hyperbole/Trope is an exaggeration/overstatement for the sake of emphasis in a figure of speech.

Example: “I’ve been waiting for ages” & “She is thirsty enough to drink a river dry”.


Alliteration is the repetition of similar sounds in a sequence of words. The term is usually applied only to the repetition of consonant sounds in the beginning of words or stressed syllables within words. Example: “She sells sea shells on the sea shore” & “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought”.

Assonance is the repetition of similar vowels in the stressed syllable of two nearby words

It is the vowel equivalent of alliteration. Example: “As I strolled alone years ago” & “The engineer held the steering to steer the vehicle”.

Rhythm is the Greek word for ‘flowing’ meaning regular pattern of sound. The movement / sense of movement is communicated by the arrangement of stressed and unstressed syllables.

Meter: Traditionally, poetry is distinguished from prose by its form. One main ingredient of its form is metre. Metre can be defined as the pattern or arrangement of strong and weak syllables. It gives poetry its regular rhythm. Weak and strong syllables can be arranged in several ways to give different kinds of metre. There are four most common meters in English:

Iambic = unstressed + stressed

Trochee = stressed + unstressed

Anapaest = 2 unstressed + 1 stressed

Dactyl = 1 stressed + 2 unstressed

Iambic pentameter: The commonest metre in English is iambic pentameter – each line has five feet or ten syllables following the weak-strong pattern. Gray’s Elegy,  Shakespeare’s sonnets, and many other poems in English are written in iambic pentameter.

Foot is a fixed combination of syllables forming a metrical unit. It is a unit of rhythm. The common metrical feet in English are:

Monometer – one foot per line

Dimeter – two feet

Trimeter – three feet

Tetrameter – four feet

Pentameter – five feet

Hexameter – six feet

Heptameter – seven feet

Octameter – eight feet

Rhyme is the repetition in the rhyming words of the last stressed vowel and of all the speech sounds following the vowel. E.g.: late – fate, follow – hollow. There are different kinds of rhyme:

End rhyme which occurs at the end of a verse is the most frequent type.

Masculine rhyme refers to a single stressed syllable, e.g.: hill – will.

Feminine rhyme consists of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable, e.g.: ending – bending   

BLANK VERSE is lines of iambic pentameter without rhyme. So, “blank” means “without rhyme”. Each line has ten syllables or five feet alternating weak and strong syllables but the lines do not rhyme. It bears a close resemblance to the natural rhythm of ordinary speech giving poetry a natural feel. It was introduced into English by Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey. This is a favourite form with many great English poets like Shakespeare and Milton. Milton’s epic, Paradise Lost is written entirely in blank verse i.e. unrhymed iambic pentameter.

FREE VERSE or VERS LIBRE refers to a form of poetry that does not follow any metrical pattern. Often there is no rhyme or stanza but there are free verse poems that are rhythmic. Free verse came into vogue in the beginning of the twentieth century and was popularised by T.S.Eliot, Ezra Pound et al. Many modern poets feel that traditional metre restricts the free flow of poetry. They avoid traditional metre and write in free verse. Leaves of Grass by the American poet, Walt Whitman is one of the earliest works in free verse. Free verse is the most common form in modern English poetry.

STANZA is the Italian word for ‘stopping place’; it is a grouping of the verse lines in a poem, often set off by a space in the printed text. Usually the stanzas are marked by a recurrent pattern of rhyme. Stanzas are also uniform in the number and length of the component lines. There is great diversity of English stanza forms.


Couplet is a pair of rhymed lines of equal length.

Heroic Couplet refers to lines of iambic pentameter which rhyme in pairs: aa, bb, cc. It was introduced into English poetry by Chaucer. The term ‘heroic’ was applied in the 17th century because of the frequent use of such couplets in heroic (epic) poems and in heroic drama.

Tercet / Triplet is a stanza of three lines with a single rhyme. The lines are of the same length or varying length in iambic tetrameter.

Terza rima is composed of interlinked tercets with the rhyme aba, bcb. Sir Thomas Wyatt introduced it into English poetry in the 16th century. It is not a common meter in English. It occurs in Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind and in the poetry of John Milton, Robert Browning and T.S. Eliot.

Quatrain is a four-line stanza. It is the most common form in English poetry. It has various meters and rhyme schemes. The ballad stanza rhyming abcb, is one common quatrain.

Heroic quatrain refers to lines in iambic pentameter rhyming abab. Gray’s Elegy is written in heroic quatrain.

Rime royal was introduced by Chaucer.  Its later use by King James I of Scotland gave it its name. It is a seven-line iambic pentameter stanza rhyming ab ab bc c.

Ottava rima has 8 lines rhyming ab ab ab cc. Sir Thomas Wyatt brought it from Italy in the16th century.Spenserian stanza is a still longer form devised by Edmund Spenser for The Faerie Queene. It consists of nine lines; the first 8 lines are iambic pentameter and the last line iambic hexameter (an Alexandrine) rhyming ab ab bc bc c.


The Ode – is of Greek origin. It is a serious and dignified composition almost always in rhyme, and longer than the lyric proper. It is often in the form of an address and is sometimes used to commemorate an important public occasion. It is exalted in subject matter and elevated in tone and style. Neither the theme nor its treatment can be trivial or undignified.

There are two types of ode (a) the Dorian or Pindaric ode. It is choric and sung to the accompaniment of a dance. It consists of three parts: the Strophe, during the recitation of which the dancers made a turn from the right to the left; the Anti-strophe during the recitation of which the dancers made a counter-turn from the left to the right; the Epode during the recitation of which the dancers stood still. Thomas Gray’s The Bard is one of the most successful imitations of this form in English. The Dorian ode is also known as the Pindaric ode from its brilliant use by the Greek poet, Pindar. (b) the Lesbian/the Horatian ode, named after the island of Lesbos where it originally flourished. It is simpler in form than the Pindaric ode and has therefore proved easier to imitate. It consists of a no of short stanzas similar in length and arrangement. It was popularized by two great Roman writers, Horace and Catallus. The works of Horace served as a model to English imitators of them form; so English odes of this type are commonly known as Horatian odes. The English odes are not strictly bound by classical traditions. They are either Regular, consisting of a series of exactly similar stanzas,

like Shelley’s odes or Irregular, when each stanza follows a different arrangement as in Wordsworth’s Immortality Ode.

The Epic — is a form of objective poetry in which the writer’s personality remains in the background. The characters in the epic are given superhuman dimensions. Their actions are often subject to the personal intervention of the gods, who preside over their destinies. The language is noble and exalted, as befits the words and deeds of gods and heroes. There are several epic conventions : (a) the theme is stated in the first few lines, accompanied by a prayer to the Muse; (b) the use of certain conventional poetic devices such as the Homeric epithet and the Homeric simile; (c) the action of the epic is often controlled by supernatural agents; (d) the epic contains a no of thrilling ‘episodes’ such as battles and duels; (e) the epic is divided into books usually twelve eg: Milton’s Paradise Lost comprises twelve books.

Epics are of two types : (1)Epic of Growth – is the result of natural growth in popular song and story. It is also called the Folk Epic or the Authentic Epic. It is not the work of one man; before being formulated into an artistic whole, it existed in fragments for ages. These fragments were later collected together by some poet and given shape. (2) Epic of Art – is the result of conscious literary effort on the part of the artist. It is also known as Literary Epic.

Mock Epic — is a parody of the epic form. It originated in Italy and France and later found imitators in England. In a mock epic a theme, obviously unworthy of the serious epic, is set forth in the traditional and solemn dignity of the epic form.

The Ballad — arose out of folk literature. It is one of the oldest forms in English and is one of the few that are of native growth. Originally it was sung from village to village by a strolling singer or bands of singers to the accompaniment of a harp or fiddle. In its earliest stages the song must have been accompanied by a crude tribal dance for the word ballad means ‘a dancing-song.’ In the days before printing was invented it was handed down by oral tradition; each successive generation or locality made its own alteration to suit local or contemporary conditions. Since the ballad developed at an early stage in man’s cultural evolution, its subjects are deeds — a memorable feud, a thrilling adventure, a family disaster etc. The ballad has certain distinct features: (1) the tale opens abruptly without a systematic introduction (2) it is impersonal with nothing to show the writer’s identity. (3) the same lines are often repeated from stanza to stanza as a refrain and stock phrases are freely used eg: bonny bride, gentle knight. (4) no details of time and place. Ballads are of two kinds : (a) the Ballad of Growth of unknown authorship which has been in existence for ages. It is also known as the Authentic Ballad. (b) the Ballad of Art / Literary Ballad. It is a literary development of the traditional form.

The Dramatic Monologue — is a type of lyric, which was perfected by Robert Browning. It has the following features — (a) a single person, who is not the poet, utters the speech that makes up the whole of the poem, in a specific situation at a critical moment. (b) this person addresses and interacts with one or more people; but we know of the listener’s presence and what he/she says and does only from clues in the discourse of the single speaker. (c) the main aim of the speaker is to reveal to the reader his temperament and character Eg: Browning’s My Last Duchess.

Haikku — is a Japanese poetic form that represents in 17 syllables, ordered into three lines of 5,7 and 5 syllables, the poet’s emotional or spiritual response to a natural object, scene or season. The strict form of the Japanese Haikku — the short, uniform and unstressed syllabic structure — is very difficult in English. The Haikku influenced Ezra Pound and other Imagists.

The Sonnet — The word sonnet is derived from the Italian ‘sonetto’ meaning ‘a little sound.’ It is a poetic form which originated in Italy. By the 13th century the term came to be associated with a poem of 14 lines that followed a strict rhyme scheme and specific structure and which expressed a single thought or feeling. The Italian sonnet is known as the Petrarchan sonnet from its brilliant use by the Italian poet, Petrarch. The Petrarchan sonnet consists of two parts: the octave, a stanza of eight lines (two quatrains, that is, 2 four line stanzas) and the sestet, a stanza of six lines (two tercets, that is, 2 three line stanzas). The octave proposes the problem and the sestet proposes a solution. The Petrarchan sonnet followed the rhyme scheme — abba, abba, cde, cde. Milton’s sonnets illustrate the characteristics of the Petrarchan sonnet. The sonnet form was introduced into England by Wyatt and Surrey in the 16th century. Later this poetic form was extensively used by Edmund Spenser and Philip Sidney. The English sonnet comprises three quatrains in alternate rhyme and a concluding couplet – abab, cdcd, efef, gg. There is no set range of subjects for sonnets. Shakespeare limited his theme to love. His sonnets celebrate either his attachment to a young friend, the unidentified Mr W.H. or his love for a mysterious ‘Dark Lady.’ In course of time the sonnet came to include almost everything in the range of human feeling and experience.

The Elegy — The elegy is a brief lyric of mourning. It is usually a lamentation for the dead; but it can also have sombre themes such as unrequited love, the fall of a famous city etc. It is a tribute to something loved and lost. The elegy usually aims at an effect of dignity and solemnity without a sense of artificiality eg: Gray’s Elegy. Grief is the dominant emotion in the early part of the Elegy; but the note changes to one of resignation towards the close of the poem when the poet reconciles himself to the inevitable.

Pastoral Elegy — was introduced into English during the Renaissance. It is a form of elegy in which the poet represents himself as a shepherd bewailing the loss of a companion, in an idealized pastoral background. The pastoral elegy follows a formal pattern. It usually begins with an expression of grief and an invocation to the Muse to help the poet in expressing his grief. It contains a funeral procession, a description of nature’s sympathetic mourning and musings on the unkindness of death. It ends with an acceptance of nature’s laws. Milton’s Lycidas is a pastoral elegy.


Gray’s Elegy is among the greatest and the most popular poems in the English language. Its deep human interest, its noble sentiment, the universal appeal of its theme and its perfect style and diction are the factors that have made the Elegy widely read and popular.

The dominant theme of the poem is death. It deals with the death of the rude forefathers of the village; it also stresses the fact that death is a common occurrence in the world and also describes the anticipated death of the poet. The transience of human glory and joy is another theme dealt with in the poem. Gray has brought out the contrast between the lives of the privileged and the unprivileged and has shown how the poor are not in a position to enjoy the luxuries of life in this world. Their poverty is an obstacle in the path of their progress. But this poverty is a blessing in disguise; for it restrains them from doing evil by limiting their power to do so. The poem also deals with the desire for fame and the desire to be remembered after death. The poem also presents a nostalgic longing for life. It shows how no man dies without casting a long lingering look behind.

The poem begins with a beautiful picture of an evening in a village. The day is over and the cattle are moving slowly to the fold. The ploughmen, tired after the day’s toil, are returning home. Alone in the engulfing darkness and the stillness which is disturbed only by the droning beetles and the moping owl, the poet muses on the rude forefathers of the village who lie buried under the yew tree. They are enjoying eternal sleep and cannot be roused by the morning breeze or the swallow’s twitter or the cock’s shrill call. They cannot perform the normal activities of day-to-day life and enjoy the joys of domestic life that they had enjoyed while they were alive.  

The sight of their graves reminds Gray of the vanity of riches and of the inevitability of death which comes to all be they rich or poor. The dead villagers had the potential for development. If they had been given a chance they might have become well known statesmen, great poets and worthy patriots like Hampden, Milton and Cromwell. But their merits remained unrecognized and their talents unutilized. They were unknown like gems that lie hidden in the ocean or like a flower wasting its fragrance in the desert. At the same time their capacity for harming others was also limited by their inability to do much in life.

The sight of the tombs decorated with ‘uncouth rhymes’ makes the poet reflect on man’s desire to perpetuate his memory. These memorials are inscribed with the details of the dead and the text of the Bible. Nobody leaves this world without yearning to be remembered after death and without casting one longing lingering look behind.

After brooding over the villagers Gray describes his own fate. He hoped that just as he honoured the obscure villagers he too would be honoured by some living poet/wayfarer to whom some peasant might describe his life: the peasant had seen the poet at dawn rushing towards the uplands where he would lie in the shade of the beech tree. But one day he did not find the poet at his favourite spot; he was not there the next day too. On the third day his body was carried to the churchyard where he was buried. The peasant would ask the living poet / wayfarer to go the poet’s tomb and read the epitaph engraved on it.

The epitaph presents the poet as an obscure young man of humble birth and melancholic nature. He was unknown to fortune and fame but he had acquired knowledge. He was very sincere and generous. His life was full of misery and sorrow but God rewarded him in the form of a friend. The epitaph concludes with an advice to the reader not to disclose or discuss his merits and weaknesses.

Gray’s short and simple annals of the poor have a universal appeal because they express the sentiment which ‘oft was thought but never so well expressed.’


W.B. Yeats is the greatest English poet of the present century. His poetry is characterized by its intense lyricism, its symbolism, its sensuous beauty, precision and realism. The poem The Circus Animals’ Desertion was written between November 1937 and September 1938, during the last stage of his life and appeared in his collection Last Poems.

The poem looks back over Yeats’s rich and productive poetic career and contrasts it with the apparently creative barrenness of the present. As a victim of writer’s block Yeats makes an objective analysis of his earlier poems and plays and the motives that worked behind his choice of subject- matter and selection of style. The poem is a mosaic of personal memories, imagined stories, Irish myths and introspective comments.

Yeats, the elderly speaker, is a broken man, who is not able to write a poem on account of old age and the weakening of his imagination and mental powers. During his youth and middle age, he was never short of poetic inspiration. But now he can only recount the ideas and themes which inspired his earlier poems. Like a circus show-man, he reviews his animals – poems, situations and characters – which performed for him in his youth. The poems of those days depicted boastful young lovers and heroic adventurous men.

His first great poem is The Wanderings of Oisin about the adventures of Oisin who was led by his sweetheart, Niamh to three beautiful legendary islands – the Country of the Young, the Country of the Living and the Country of Forgetfulness. Oisin’s joys and struggles echoed Yeats’s love for his beloved, Maud Gonne.

After this phase of myth and legend he turned to the theatre; he got completely engaged with the Abbey Theatre and lost interest in everything else. His play The Countess Cathleen is his second great composition. It centres on the countess who sold her soul to the Devil to save the Irish from starvation; but she was saved by Heaven. In this play too Yeats refers to Maud Gonne who forsook him in order to take part in political activity.

The poet’s third great achievement is the work On Baile’s Strand, in which he gives an account of the tragic tale of the protagonist, Cuchualain, who unwittingly kills his son while safeguarding the Irish kingdom.  When the Fool, a minor character, informs him of this, Cuchualain becomes mad with grief; he rushes to the sea to fight the waves but gets drowned. When the people of the land assemble at the seashore to witness his struggle against the waves, a Blind Man, plans to steal food from the empty houses.  In this play Yeats expresses his bitter disappointment when he came to know of Maud Gonne’s engagement with Major MacBride. 

These imaginary characters and situations completely captured his mind and overwhelmed the confused mass of observations and impressions of reality. He recognizes that rich inspiration and easy creativity formed the staple of his youth. As a result commonplace objects and sights like a broken can, old iron, old bones and the crazy girl who looks after the cash gave birth to his poems. But in his old age, he is deprived of both gifts and so he has to settle for a life of lesser expectations; and content himself with the raw material of poetic composition – the foul rag-and-bone shop of his heart.   


A Consumer’s Report is an extended metaphor which compares life to products that are consumed. It is a satire criticizing capitalist society — life is a commodity which can be bought, sold and returned if necessary. It is also a critical assessment of the many contradictory aspects of life. Religion makes man believe that life is God’s gift to him and that he must be thankful to God for the benefits he enjoys on earth. But experience of life shows him that life is not always joyful and a smooth sail but is fraught with many difficulties. Then he realizes that he does not enjoy unlimited freedom; to make matters worse, he has to restrain his conscience. Even when he is savouring moments of calm and serenity he is not able to get clear answers to the question about the purpose and importance of existence.

The product that the consumer narrator tests, is life. He has completed the form given to him and was told that his response would be kept confidential.  While using it, that is while going through life he did not look upon it as a gift from God; he found life rather dull, unexciting and uneventful. God lured man with the gift of life but did not warn him about the lurking dangers (the qualms of conscience when a person has had fun). God has played a trick on man like the advertisements and brochures of a product that promote it as consumer friendly and focus only on its positive features while shrewdly not mentioning its adverse side effects.  Life’s challenges and difficulties make man use up more emotions and physical energy than he had ever expected. Though it has many attractive features, the product called life entails recurring expenditure and causes strain to the consumer. It is difficult to predict how long a person will live or what life has in store for him. He can only guess that he has covered half of the journey of life and hope to complete the journey without too many hurdles. This product is not child-friendly. Children are not aware of the fact that they would not get a second chance to live. So they get addicted to drugs, lead a loose life and hasten their end. If God created man for His own amusement it does not necessarily bring joy to him. Most often he has to pay a heavy price – his life will be ruined by his regrets over the mistakes he makes in life.

The pace of life is mind-boggling and man does not get time to experience life at a leisurely pace. The narrator wonders whether there is the need for man’s hectic life when the earth had gone about its unhurried ways for a thousand million years without man and his frenzied life. There are different races of human beings marked by varied sizes and colours. Human skin is water proof, it does not absorb water but it is not heat-resistant, the body will get burnt or destroyed by fire. Moreover the body does not remain unspoilt. Time will take its toll on man; he becomes old and ugly and eventually dies.

The narrator draws attention to the producers who use cheap material in order to reduce prices and attract more consumers. Likewise, life becomes cheap when the producers (the husband and wife) do not have mutual love, trust and respect. This will naturally deprive the child of an emotionally secure environment and he will become a problem to his parents and to society at large. Artists the world over have always praised the manifold virtues of life. People too support the cause of life and never advocate suicide or euthanasia; even religions forbid a person to take his own life. But the narrator feels that a person has the right to possess and utilize or misuse life.

The poet makes a dig at the usual tag – it is the best that money can buy – on every consumer article. The consumer can find out the true value of the product only after he gets another one and compares the two. In the same manner, the value of life can be judged only at the time of death. He realizes the advantages and disadvantages of life only after the experience of death.  

Peter Porter has successfully dealt with a theme that is always the centre of religious and philosophical debates in his characteristic light tone and making use of simple diction.


The foremost name among Malayali poets in English, Kamala Das is also known as Madhavikutty and Kamala Suraiya. She was an accomplished poet and short story writer. She is a confessional poet who writes of her personal, intimate feelings and experiences with remarkable frankness and psychological insight.  She writes about aspects of women’s experience that no Indian writer had dared to write about.  She expresses the pain and despair that the male-dominated world gifted her. Kamala Das is rightly regarded as the poet of the feminine sensibility.

An Introduction, her most famous poem, is in the confessional mode. It is a candid self-portrait. Here, traditionally private experiences are made public .The poem lays bare the neglect and injustice experienced by Indian women and women’s feelings of longing and loss.

Kamala Das narrates and examines her experience of growing up. She recounts landmarks in her life- adolescence, love for English, revolt against conventional feminine roles and the assertion of her individuality. She begins by confessing that she is not interested in politics, but claims to know the names of all in power beginning from Nehru. Then she comes down to her roots. She declares that she is a brown-skinned Indian from Malabar. She speaks three languages and defends her choice to write in English though several people advised her to write in her mother tongue. But she affirms that the language she uses though a distorted Indian version of English is her own. It comes to her as naturally as cawing to crows and roaring to lions. It is the genuine voice of her joys, sorrows and hopes, it is the speech of her mind. So she has every right to express herself in English. Here the poem becomes a championing of Indian writing in English.

Kamala Das goes on to describe the pain of growing up She frankly describes  the bodily changes of adolescence .She was married at an early age and encountered only sexual exploitation and humiliation and not the love she longed for. The bitter sexual experience of marriage made her hate her womanliness. She cut her hair and started wearing men’s clothing. She was severely criticized by relatives and friends for her schizophrenic and nymphomaniac “poses” They told her to behave like a woman and to play the conventional roles – embroiderer, cook and so on. But she found these roles restrictive and lacking fulfilment. So she rejected the advice of the categorizers, refused to “belong” and chose to live as she pleased.

The poet revolted against the male-dominated conventional world. Her hunger for love led her into an affair with a man .She states that he can be regarded as every man who wanted a woman just as she was every woman who wanted love.  The poet thus universalizes her experience. She calls man’s love a swift river and woman’s love an ocean. These apt metaphors bring out the urgent passion of men as compared to the more moderate longing of women. The supreme male ego, expressed by the pronoun “I”, is compared to a sword tightly packed in its sheath. Her encounter with the male ego makes her search for her own feminine identity. At the end of the poem she describes herself as both sinner and saint like all other human beings. Similarly, she has her share of joys and sorrows; she is sometimes loved, sometimes jilted. Kamala Das thus asserts her individuality and feminine sensibility.

The poem is simultaneously a deeply confessional statement, a defence of Indian writing in English, a protest against the restrictive lives of women in a male-centric society and an assertion of the feminine sensibility.


Louis McNeice is one of the Poets of the Thirties who were socially committed with leftist leanings. Prayer before Birth is a fine example of MacNeice’s poetic work. It is a dramatic monologue that combines his favourite themes of man in society, of hatred of tyranny, regimentation and brutality. Written during g the Second World War, the poem through the persona of an unborn child   voices the poet’s fear   at what the world’s tyranny can do to the innocence and individuality of a child.

The poem is cast in the form of a prayer or plea by a child in its mother’s womb. The child expresses its fear at being born into a terrible world. It wants protection and help to live a good life but knows that it will be made to commit evil deeds. So it also asks for forgiveness in advance for all the sins it will soon be guilty of.

The first stanza is a request by the unborn speaker to free him from all physical and mental adversities of the world. These adversities are symbolically presented as carnivorous animals and ghosts that represent evil. Concentration camps and mass killings are introduced early in the poem reminding us that it was written at the height of Hitler’s atrocities.

Next he pleads for a life close to nature in a world filled with greenery and running water. This can be read as a plea for environmental conservation. He also prays for a guiding white light which can be interpreted as a clear conscience or the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.

In the fourth stanza the unborn child asks forgiveness for all the crimes or sins the world will force on him. Here the poet brings in the World War; young people were forced to join the army, to fight and kill in the name of peace. This was an agonizing experience of the time.

Life is next presented as a stage where each one is an actor playing several parts. The speaker seeks help in playing each part. He wants guidance or cues in painful or difficult situations. The situations listed are the dangerous lecturing  of old men, the bullying by those in authority, the mockery of false lovers, misguided invitations to fight or conquer, humiliation and filial ingratitude.

The poem concludes with the child’s deep desire to be far from two kinds of people – those who are beasts in human shape and those who think they are God. This is clearly a reference to Hitler’s megalomania. The child pleads to be protected from mental subordination, loss of free will humanity and individuality. He does not want to become a cog in a wheel, a killing machine or a stone. His final request is chilling. He requests to be killed if his prayer cannot be answered. It is better to be killed than to live in a world that is hell.

The poem which is in free verse is dramatic and forceful. The poet’s use of repetition, alliteration and assonance adds to the force of the prayer. MacNeice paints a picture of a world devoid of compassion, love and remorse through the haunting appeal of the unborn infant. The poem is the poet’s comment on contemporary life. It is filled with apprehension, dejection and hopelessness. The poem is as relevant today as it was in 1944.


Porphyria’s Lover was first published, along with another poem, under the title Madhouse Cells. It suggests that the conditions of the new “modern” world served to blur the line between “ordinary life”—for example, the domestic setting of this poem—and insanity—illustrated here by the speaker’s action.

Porphyria’s Lover is a dramatic monologue by Browning where he speaks of the hypocrisy of the society and religion through the relationship of two lovers. The decay of morality and the ebb of man’s interest in religion along with the inflexibility of set social norms that destroys human relationships is brought to the front.

A storm rages outside the lover’s cottage as he waits for his mistress. It is the lover waiting for the lady to come to him and not the lady waiting in her home. This indicates the foundation of the relationship where the lady has more social status than the man and may be the richer of the two. Presently Porphyria arrives and sails into the cottage. She does not pause or seem nervous which indicates that she is used to such meetings. They might have been lovers for some time. Porphyria is a sort of comfort blanket that shuts out the cold. All the same, there is a storm being waged within her breast even as she makes the cottage more cheerful and warm by lighting a fire in the neglected grate.

Thus, the societal image of a woman as nurturing, warm, comforting and home making is juxtaposed with the image of a mistress, the illicit and sinful woman that society condemns. Porphyria now undresses and takes off her wet garments, shedding with them, parts of the ‘mask’ that society dictates. She lets her golden hair down symbolically letting down her guard and comes to her lover. She is Victorian society’s perfect model for female beauty with blue eyes, rosy lips and yellow hair. But there is a certain sense of foreboding; there is something wrong with Porphyria’s lover for he seems to be disturbed in his mind. Porphyria bares her shoulder to rest her lover’s head and she murmurs how she loves him. Porphyria is weak in her lover’s eyes because she can’t give up her social status for him. He wants her to come to him without pride even though the truth is that by confessing her love and coming to him she has swallowed her pride.  

The lover’s self -worth is inflated by the love he sees in her eyes. He is proud because he can excite an emotion of love in her; but there is some latent inferiority complex hidden there. “She worships him” just as a woman must worship the ground her husband trods on. And he is surprised she does so but though this discovery excites him, he is more concerned about what he should do. It is not enough that she loves him; a man must do something, he must either create or destroy while woman may be content with love; possession and that too sole possession, belongs to the male.  Time is of consequence here. Now she is his but he wants her to be his eternally. She should be a part of ‘him’. She can have no self of her own. And so, he hits on the perfect solution which explains why the world has been thrown asunder by countless wars. The Rapunzel fairy tale is shattered. He strangles his mistress by winding her hair around her throat. Porphyria felt no pain and died a happy death in the eyes of her man. She could not feel pain because ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ decided she would not. She got what she wanted, her prayers of being with him forever were answered in the way ‘he’ thought was right.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge is one of the most gifted figures in English literature. His friendship with Wordsworth ushered in the Romantic Revival in English poetry. Great imaginative power, symbolism and the supernatural are the hallmarks of his poetic work. Kubla Khan the most   magical of his poems was composed in a dream. The poet had taken opium and was reading a travelogue by Purchas titled Pilgrimage.  He fell asleep and had a dream in which he composed about nearly 400 lines about the palace and surroundings of the Mongol emperor Kubla Khan that he had been reading about. When he woke up, he wrote down 54 lines .but was interrupted. This is the poem as we have it now.

The poem has an abrupt opening. It tells us how the great Emperor ordered the building of a magnificent pleasure palace in Xanadu. The landscape around the palace is described in detail. The sacred river Alph flowed through deep caves to a sunless sea. Here, ten miles of fertile ground encircled by walls and towers were filled with bright gardens, ancient forests and sunny spots of greenery.

The next stanza describes the source of the river Alph. The river arose from a deep chasm that slanted across a cedar forest on a hill. A suggestion of the supernatural enters the poem when Coleridge compares this terrifying chasm to a place where a desolate woman might wail for her demon lover. A turbulent fountain gushed at intervals from the chasm flinging boulders into the air. From this source, the Alph flowed through dark measureless caverns and then fell into the mysterious sea.  In the tumult of the river falling into the sea, Kubla Khan heard the voices of his ancestors prophesying war.

The next short stanza describes the pleasure palace. It was a miracle of architecture as it was a sunny dome with caves of ice. The palace was so tall that its shadow fell midway on the Alph.

Finally, Coleridge introduces a different vision, another dream he had once. It was a dream of an Abyssinian maid singing and playing on a dulcimer. The poet wishes that he could recreate within him her symphony and song. This memory would fill him with such joy that he would be able to write marvellous poetry – build a dome in air. Seeing him in the throes of poetic creation, onlookers would be filled with awe. They would draw charmed circles around him and close their eyes in holy fear. They would regard him as no ordinary human but as one who has tasted the food and drink of Paradise. The poet suggests that true poetry is divinely inspired.  The poem is highly symbolic. It can be viewed as a poem about the poetic process. The pleasure dome then becomes the symbol of a poem or of poetic creativity. The maiden with the dulcimer is yet another symbol of poetic creation.

Kubla Khan is Coleridge’s great triumph in the sphere of Romantic poetry, suffused with imagination, emotion, the supernatural and the personal element.

Images / similes / comparisons in the poem: Kubla Khan is noteworthy for its suggestive and apt images which are directed at all the senses. In addition to visual, auditory and kinetic images the poem has olfactory images – “incense bearing tree” and gustatory images – “honey-dew’, “milk of paradise”. There are three striking similes in the poem. The first occurs in the description of the deep chasm where the Alph originates. This terrifying chasm is compared to a magical, mysterious place where a desolate woman might wail for her demon lover who has made love to her and then deserted her. This fitting simile evokes supernatural dread.  The next two similes are related to the source of the sacred river which is a turbulent fountain that gushes at intervals flinging boulders into the air. This activity is first compared to hailstones that hit the ground and rebound with force. Next it is compared to grain that rises and is scattered from the thresher’s flail. In these two visual and kinetic images, Coleridge uses familiar sights to help the reader grasp the awe-inspiring, strange place. The imagery in the poem shows the power of the Romantic imagination.

The symbolic meaning of the poem /Kubla Khan as a poem about the poetic process / The ending of the poem: Kubla Khan is a highly symbolic poem. It can be viewed as a poem about the poetic process. This is clear from the last stanza of the poem.  Here he describes a vision he had of an Abyssinian maid singing and playing on a dulcimer. The poet feels that if he could revive her wonderful music it would give him great joy. From this great joy would arise the inspiration to give a wonderful description of the pleasure dome of Kubla Khan. This description would be so powerful that it would recreate the magical dome for his listeners.  They would view the poet with wonder and fear, feeling he had attained supernatural powers. Coleridge gives a vivid description of a poet in the process of creation as a person with flashing eyes and floating hair who has fed on honey dew and the milk of paradise. What is meant is that the poetic process is divinely-inspired and magical. The pleasure dome and the maiden thus become symbols of poetic activity or of poetry itself.


Thomas Stearns Eliot is without doubt the greatest literary figure of the twentieth century. He was poet, critic and dramatist. Eliot pioneered the Modernist Movement in English poetry. Some of his famous poems are The Waste Land, Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and The Journey of the Magi. Eliot won the Nobel Prize in 1948.

 Eliot was a cat lover. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats is a collection of light poems dealing with different kinds of cats. Macavity: The Mystery Cat is the most popular of these humorous poems. Here Eliot describes a mysterious cat of extremely villainous nature. This cat is known by the name ‘Hidden Paw’ as he is the criminal mastermind who disregards law. He is an enigmatic figure to even the specialized detective agencies of England like Scotland Yard and the Flying Squad. These agencies had accepted their defeat by this clever cat and therefore he is considered as the ‘bafflement’ of the Scotland Yard.

  Macavity is too clever to be caught and he is nowhere near the spot of a crime. We may search for him in the basement or we may look up in the air but Macavity is not there. The poet says that Macavity disobeys all human laws and also the law of gravity. His levitation is so powerful that it causes a fakir to stare bewildered. Fakirs are ascetics who possess supernatural powers and perform miracles and levitation. Eliot says that Macavity also possesses such powers which are greater than those of a fakir. The way he rises up in the air and escapes is beyond a fakir’s imagination.

 T.S Eliot describes Macavity as a ginger cat who is both tall and thin. He can be recognized from his eyes which are deeply sunken in. This cat has lines on his forehead; he has a head that is highly domed.His coat is dusty and his whiskers uncombed. This is because he is more interested in plotting daring crimes than in grooming himself. Macavity moves his head like a snake. Whenever he seems to be asleep, he is wide awake. The poet says there is no one like Macavity. He is a devil in the disguise of a cat; he is a monster of wickedness. One may meet him in a by-street or in the square but when the crime is discovered, Macavity is not there. He is truly an enigma.

             So, Macavity’s footprints are never to be found in any file of the Scotland Yard’s though the fingerprints of all notorious criminals are filed there. Here, the poet mentions some of his crimes. He says that Macavity is the one behind looting the larder, or the jewel-case. He is also behind the breaking of the greenhouse glass and the trellis. Also when the milk goes missing or a small dog like a Peke has been smothered; it is Macavity who is behind this. The most amazing thing about all these crimes is that when the crime is discovered, “Macavity is not there!”.  When the Foreign Office’s Treaty is not found or the Admiralty loses some plans and drawings, it is useless to investigate as they all know that the mastermind behind this act is undoubtedly Macavity. But Macavity is a mile away from the scene of crime; he is either relaxing or licking his thumb or has occupied himself in solving complicated long division sums.

The final stanza of the poem states that there has never been a cat of such deceitfulness and cunning. Macavity is always ready with an alibi or two. The poet names other wicked cats like Mungojerrie and Griddlebone who are just agents of Macavity.   Macavity is justly called the Emperor of Crime, “The Napoleon of Crime.”  Eliot has written that his presentation of Macavity was inspired by the evil character, Professor Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes stories. The poem shows Eliot’s sense of humour, keen observation of cats and his imaginative power.

MYSTERY AND MIRACLE PLAYS: Drama in England began as the handmaid of religion.  Like in Greek and other cultures English drama too was a distinct creation of the Church.  In the Middle Ages most of the congregation did not understand the church services which were conducted in Latin. So the clergy often tried acting episodes from the Bible on occasions like Christmas and Easter. The actors were all priests or monks and these plays were usually enacted inside the church. The Latin dialogue was gradually replaced by English. The genre of mystery and miracle plays thus sprang from the dramatic representations of Biblical stories in order to make them accessible to a larger audience. The mystery plays dealt with themes taken from the Bible while the lives of saints were the themes of miracle plays. Starting from a brief four line play-let the performances included the entire story of the Bible in dramatic form. A Corpus Christi festival was held every year for the staging of these plays. Very soon the performances became more elaborate as more characters were introduced; and gradually these performances moved out of the church into the churchyard and also into the streets. In course of time they adopted secular themes and lay actors replaced priests. Sometimes the trade guilds, under the supervision of the church, produced a connected series or Cycle of plays dealing with Scriptural events from the creation of man to the Resurrection of Christ. Each guild had a mobile wagon and it would move to different parts and give performances. This enabled the audience to watch a whole cycle of mystery plays. There were four Cycles of miracle plays, York (48 plays), Chester (25 plays), Wakefield (32 plays) and Coventry (42 plays).

THE MORALITY PLAY: The morality play, which substituted moral teaching for purely religious instruction, was another kind of religious drama that became popular in England, France and Europe in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. The Bible was not the focal point of this type of play; instead it was an allegorical representation of human life. The characters too were no longer Biblical figures; they were personified human traits and virtues and vices, with a stock figure, known as the Vice, who replaced Satan. These characters, who struggle for the soul of the protagonist, are universal in nature. Morality plays are not parts of larger cycles; they are separate entities. The Castle of Perseverance is the earliest complete morality play in which life is depicted as a struggle between virtue and vice. Everyman, a late fifteenth century work of unknown authorship, is the best- known  morality play; the protagonist is Everyman whose journey of life is accompanied by characters who are personifications of abstract concepts like Fellowship, Good Deeds etc.

THE INTERLUDE: From the close of the 15th century the Interlude came into vogue. It was a short, humorous play performed by small companies of professional actors in the intervals of banquets and other entertainments in the households of noblemen and at court, especially during holidays. The Interlude dealt with the same moral problems in the same allegorical manner; but it was more realistic and dealt with current topics or topics of general interest. Occasionally it was used as a comic diversion between the more serious parts of a sacred play; it was also employed, during the period of religious strife, as a means of propaganda. It was essentially witty and full of action. The most famous of all the writers of the Interlude is John Heywood (1497-1580) under whose hand the form became satirical and entertaining.

Drama has been broadly divided into two kinds, Tragedy and Comedy. TRAGEDY is a serious play representing the disastrous downfall of the protagonist (central character). Tragedy deals with the dark side of life and aims at inspiring us with pity and awe. Moreover, the characters are involved in circumstances that impel them towards an unhappy fate. Tragedy, in Greek drama, dealt with the fate of characters of high birth and station, kings, princes and their households.  In ancient Greece the tragic actor wore a thick-soled and high-heeled boot, called the buskin, to make him appear tall and majestic. From the works of the Greek tragedians, Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles, the philosopher Aristotle formulated the most influential definition of tragedy: the imitation of an action that is serious and complete, achieving a catharsis (purification) through incidents arousing pity and terror. Nevertheless in English literature tragedy and comedy are frequently intermingled. There are comic interludes in many of the tragedies (e.g. the Porter scene in Macbeth) which heighten the tragic effect. Until the beginning of the 18th century tragedies were written in verse and they usually dealt with the fortunes of royal families or other political leaders. The 18th century saw the rise of a new type of tragedy called the DOMESTIC TRAGEDY, which attempted to use the characters and incidents of ordinary life as the subject of serious drama. Modern tragic drama combines the socially inferior protagonist of domestic tragedy with the use of prose as in the plays of Henrik Ibsen. Tragedy can be classified into Classical and Romantic with reference to its form or structure and with reference to its matter or theme. Classical Tragedy is characterized by its observance of the Three Unities of Time, Action and Place and also the employment of the device of the Chorus. Romantic Tragedy does not follow the Three Unities and except for an occasional introductory passage, it does not employ the Chorus. It is written in whatever form the writer finds best suited to his dramatic purpose. 

COMEDY is a fictional work that interests and amuses us. The term ‘comedy’ is usually applied only to plays that deal with the light side of life and its chief aim is to amuse the audience. Fortune is unkind to the characters for a while but everything comes right in the end. In Greek drama, Comedy dealt with people of much less importance than kings and princes. The comic actor wore a light shoe, called the sock, to show his lower status. The atmosphere of Comedy is joyous and light; it explores the common human failings and moves us to laughter. For the Greeks the purpose of Comedy was to correct the social failings of the audience and thereby to refine conduct. The classical plays of Greece and Rome were either pure tragedies or pure comedies; there was no mingling of the one with the other. But in many English comedies there is a background of tragic possibilities that heightens the comic effect. Like Tragedy, Comedy is either Classical or Romantic depending on whether it observes or ignores the Classical rules. On the basis of themes Comedy can be classified into types such as Comedy of Humours, Comedy of Manners and Sentimental Comedy.

TRAGI-COMEDY is a type of Elizabethan drama that intermingled both the standard characters and subject matter and the standard plot-forms of tragedy and comedy. Tragi-comedy represented a serious action which threatened a tragic disaster to the protagonist; yet, by a sudden change of circumstance, turned out happily.  The comic relief in a tragedy intensifies the tragic effect by contrast and does not materially affect the tone of the play. For example characters like the Fool in King Lear do nor evoke laughter but intensify the tragic theme. Similarly a tragic background makes a comedy more effective. Tragicomedy is a complete tragedy up to a certain point and a complete comedy after that. The Rising Action (or growth of the plot) is tragedy and the Falling Action (the downward course of the plot) is comedy; the Climax separates the two. Tragicomedy was unknown to the Greeks; it is the dramatic counterpart of the prose romance that was popular in England and other European countries at the time. Beaumont and Fletcher’s A King and No King established tragi-comedy on the English stage. Later Shakespeare and other dramatists created some of the greatest tragi-comedies of English literature.

MELODRAMA is a popular form of sensational drama that flourished in the nineteenth century theatre. In its early stages song had a prominent place in it for the term means ‘song-drama’ in Greek; but now the term is confined to a crudely sensational play which relied on physical action, purely theatrical language and behaviour, and naive sentiment for its effect. The characters are mere puppets in an extravagant story of crime, revenge, the evils of gambling, or missing heirs in which villainy is foiled and virtue triumphant (e.g. Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy). Melodrama came into prominence in the eighteenth century and was amazingly popular. These plays were notable for their wonderful scenic devices. They are rarely attempted in the theatre now that the cinema can show them much more convincingly.  

MASQUE is a spectacular kind of dramatic entertainment that was a melody of music, elaborate scenic effects, and dancing, woven around a fairy tale, myth or allegory. It originated in Italy and was introduced into England in the sixteenth century. Vizars or masks, elaborate costumes and dancing were the features of the early masque.  Later the Masque developed into something like a modern ballet characterized by the following traits: (a) the characters are deities of classical mythology and personified like Love, Delight etc.; (b) only six characters; (c) the scenes are laid in ideal regions such as Arcadia; (d) various dances are introduced at appropriate places; (e) elaborate scenery and costumes. Attention was paid to elaborate dresses and scenic effects and not to the literary qualities of the text. So the Masque had only a short period of glory; it is now only a historical curiosity. Shakespeare included a short masque scene in The Tempest (1611), and Milton’s play Comus (1634) is loosely related to the masque.

EPIC DRAMA / THEATRE is a revolutionary form of drama developed by the German playwright Bertolt Brecht from the late 1920’s. It rejected the Aristotelian models of dramatic unity and favoured a detached narrative (hence ‘epic’) presentation in a succession of loosely related episodes interspersed with songs and commentary by a chorus or narrator. He turned against the bourgeois tradition of theatre and aimed at an alienation effect by setting his plays in remote times and places and by preventing any sympathetic identification with the protagonists in order to encourage them to think critically about the meaning of the play. The

 best examples of this drama are Brecht’s plays The Threepenny Opera (1928), Mother Courage (1941), and The Good Woman of Setzuan (1943).

ABSURDIST DRAMA is rooted in the existential philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. They viewed a human being as isolated in an alien universe that is devoid of inherent truth or meaning. In such a hostile universe that is suddenly divested of illusion and lights, man feels himself a stranger. This divide between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is the feeling of Absurdity. Samuel Beckett is the most significant dramatist of Absurdism. Absurdist drama is distinguished by an almost lack of exposition. The plot is not continuous; there is no closure either. Absurdist drama emphasizes the weakness of language as a means of communication and thus reflects the cultural-crisis of the post-modern era. The classic work of absurdist theatre is Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1952).

KITCHEN-SINK/ WORKING CLASS DRAMA was the post-war revolt against pre-war modes of the fifties. It was anti-intellectual and provided new content to drama; it depicted with energy and vitality the life and style of the new generation. John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger is the best example of this type of drama. It is about Jimmy Porter, the typical ‘angry young man’, a university graduate who runs a sweet shop and vents his frustration on himself, his wife and the system. The label ‘working class drama’ is applied to the plays that appeared between 1958 and 1961 because they focused on the aimless drifting of the young, the poor and the unemployed.

THE ONE-ACT PLAY is not a full-length play in miniature. It is a form by itself with laws of its own. The one-act play is brief and compact and imposes severe restrictions on the playwright. He has to present his characters and situations with a few strokes; each sentence of the dialogue must contribute something. Brevity — in plot, in characterisation and in dialogue — is the essence of the one-act play. It has a single main episode and is either pure comedy or pure tragedy and is confined to a single place. Hence it resembles classical drama.

DRAMATIC IRONY is a form of contrast. It happens when what is being said or done on the stage has one meaning for the characters and another for the spectators who know something that the characters do not know. If the irony arises out of what is said, it is Verbal Irony; if it is out of what is done, it is Irony of Situation.

SOLILOQUY is an actor’s secret thoughts uttered loud on stage to acquaint the audience with what is passing in his mind. It is not supposed to be heard by anyone and is spoken when no other actor is present. Soliloquy is not meant to be treated as speech. It is only a conventional way of conveying to an audience something that it could not get in any other way.

ASIDE is a passing thought uttered aloud by an actor in front other actors on the stage, who are not supposed to hear it. It is the shortest form of the Soliloquy and serves a similar purpose.

 CHORUS is a group of singers distinct from the main actors in a dramatic or musical performance. In classical Greek tragedy a chorus of twelve or fifteen masked performers would sing, with dancing movements, commenting on the action of the play and interpreting its events from the standpoint of traditional wisdom. This practice was derived from the choral lyrics of religious festivals.


Saki was the pen name of H.H. Munro, a prolific British writer of short stories and plays. His work is characterized by wit, word-play and surprise endings. The Death Trap is one of his popular one-act plays. It captures the last minutes in the life of a courageous and clever young prince, Dimitri.

Dimitri, a young prince of seventeen, is the ruler of Kedaria. However, there is a faction that supports a rival, Prince Karl. When the curtain rises, three officers of the Kranitzki regiment are plotting the assassination of Prince Dimitri. The Kranitzki regiment is loyal to Prince Karl. They have found the perfect time to murder the prince – in the very brief interval between the marching out of the loyal Andrieff regiment and the arrival of the equally loyal Lonyadi regiment. Vontieff, unlike the other two cold-blooded officers, has feelings of guilt about the imminent murder and sympathy for the young prince. He wishes that “the finger of Heaven” would remove Dimitri.

Dimitri enters and the three officers leave. Dimitri is aware of the deadly plot as all his weapons have been taken from him on some pretext or the other. Stronetz, the loyal doctor comes to meet the prince. Dimitri tells the doctor that he knows he has very little time left. Stronetz is shocked to hear about the deadly plot and wonders how the prince can talk about his own death as if it were a game of chess. Dimitri’s self-control breaks and he speaks passionately about his desire to live and enjoy life. Stronetz offers to give him a quick-acting drug that will enable him to kill himself before the assassins reach him. Dimitri refuses the offer because he has never seen anyone being killed and this is his last chance! At this point they hear the Andrieff regiment marching out and know that there is very little time left.

Suddenly, Dr Stronetz has a brainwave. He rushes towards the prince and examines his heart. The three villains enter. The doctor tells them that his examination has resulted in a terrible diagnosis. The prince is fatally ill- he will live only for six more days. The officers are taken aback. They leave the room to discuss this new turn of events.  The jubilant prince thanks the doctor for his trick. But he is aghast to hear from the doctor that the diagnosis was real- that he has only six days of life left. Being a true prince, Dimitri quickly  accepts this cruel blow of fate  with courage and says “Death has come for me twice in one evening…he must be in earnest” He asks for the bottle of poison to kill himself ; being a monarch he does not want to be kept waiting by death. Stronetz leaves, controlling his great sorrow.

 The Prince gets a brilliant idea as he is about to add poison to the wine he plans to drink. He empties the poison into the bottle of wine instead and pours the poisoned wine into four goblets. The three officers enter; they have dropped their plan to murder the prince as “the finger of Heaven” will soon kill him. Dimitri offers them the wine; they drink without any suspicion. As they collapse, Dimitri tells them that they are about to die and that he will march into the next world at the head of his ‘loyal’ guards!  Before he dies, he is able to ensure the death of the three wicked men. Thus Dimitri acts with courage and quick-wittedness and turns the tables on his disloyal guards.

Though the three officers had set a death trap for Dimitri, at the end of the play, they are caught in the death trap created by Dimitri. The title is therefore doubly significant.


 Serafin and Joaquin Quintero are two brothers who have carved a place for themselves in Spanish drama. These two dramatists are masters of light plays that capture the spirit of Spanish life.  A Sunny Morning is a very entertaining comedy that depicts an old romance in a humorous and totally unsentimental light.

The setting is a park in Madrid, the era is a by-gone age. The two main characters are Don Gonzalo and Dona Laura, a gentleman and a lady who are both over seventy years old. They meet by chance in the park. They are rude to each other at the beginning. They exchange nasty remarks about each other’s age, eyesight, hunting and so on. But Don Gonzalo is forced to share the lady’s bench as no other bench is vacant. They slowly give up their animosity. The ill-natured prelude gives way to friendly talk. As their conversation progresses they recognize each other. However, both refuse to reveal their identities. This is because of the sad change that time has caused in their appearance and vitality. We learn that these two had, decades ago, been madly in love with each other. They discuss their love story pretending that it was the story of Don Gonzalo’s cousin and Dona Laura’s friend.

The old romance unfolds as a beautiful story through their dialogue. Years and years ago, in a villa by the sea, there lived a beautiful woman. Her name was Laura Llorente. She had jet black hair, black eyes fair skin, an uncommonly sweet expression and a perfect figure. She was called “The Silver Maiden”. She was in love with a gallant young man called Gonzalo. He would pass by her house every morning on horseback; throw a bouquet of flowers onto her balcony. In the afternoon, he would return and she would throw him a bouquet.  Sadly this romance was cut short. Laura’s parents wanted her to marry a merchant. One night when the lover was waiting under her balcony the merchant came there and insulted him. There was a quarrel followed by a duel on the beach. The merchant was seriously wounded and the lover had to flee. He wrote many letters to Laura but they were intercepted by her parents. Thus their love-affair ended. 

 At this point in the play, the two old people start fabricating noble and tragic ends for themselves Gonzalo says that his “cousin’ in despair joined the army, went to Africa and met his death with Laura’s name on his lips. Dona Laura who knows this is an atrocious lie promptly creates a suitably tragic end for her “friend’. According to her, Laura waited a year but there was no letter from her lover. So, one day she went to the beach wrote Gonzalo’s name on a rock and was washed away by the high tide.  Gonzalo knows of course that this is an atrocious lie. The reality, told to us in asides, is that two months after the duel, Gonzalo ran off to Paris with a ballet dancer and two years after the event Laura married someone else.

 As the play ends, the two are happy they have met again but still reluctant to confess their true identities. They would rather remember each other as the black-eyed beauty and the gallant horseman. But they promise to meet the next day and to sit on the same bench. The play ends on this sunny and hopeful note.


 V G is a dramatist known for his plays centred on women. FNOF is one such play about three women, Joan Conway, Matilda Walters and Nora Blake. The three were schoolmates at St. Margaret’s School and their friendship continued through youth to maturity. Now, Joan is an M.P., and Matilda is the Headmistress –elect of their former school. Nora who never had any ambition has just drifted along. All three are unmarried. The play delineates a very unusual situation at one of their annual reunions.

The title is a phrase taken from Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth’. The speaker is Macbeth himself. He invites his friend Banquo to a feast and tells him to be sure to attend. However, he has arranged for the assassination of Banquo on the way to the feast.  Banquo is killed but his ghost attends the feast. The situation has several parallels in the play. Here too there is a party, the annual reunion of the three friends. There is a false friend, Matilda   and Nora as a ghost attends the party.

  When the curtain rises, Joan and her maid , Mason, are seen. This year, the annual reunion of the three friends is at Joan’s house. Joan is very upset because Nora is in prison for stealing furs. She is also angry with her friend because Nora stole for gain and not out of need. From the dialogue, we learn that Mason is an exceptional maid. She is well-educated, she can quote from Shakespeare. She anticipates every need of her mistress. As the play progresses, we learn that she is also incredibly brave and cool-headed.

 Soon Matilda enters. She has not heard about Nora’s plight. Matilda is full of pride and joy that she is going to be the Headmistress of St Margaret’s school. When Joan tells her about Nora, Matilda is full of sympathy. She rebukes Joan for being unsympathetic. She declares that when Nora comes out of jail, she will do all she can to help her. Unexpectedly, Mason announces the arrival of Nora. The two women are amazed. Nora tells them that she had to come as the three had never missed a reunion so far. They assume she has somehow escaped from her cell. Gradually, the real nature of Matilda surfaces. She is afraid that if Nora, an escaped prisoner, is seen in her company, it might affect her imminent appointment. All her sympathy and love turn out to be masks. Matilda goes to the extent of saying that Nora broke out of jail just to cause trouble for her two friends.

Joan now reveals herself as a true friend. She protects Nora and treats her normally. She is angry with Matilda for her ignoble behaviour. Matilda phones and informs the police that Nora, the escaped prisoner is at the M.P., Joan Conway’s house. Nora leaves at this point after thanking Joan. She says she has learnt one or two things about her friends. What she implies is that she has been able to distinguish between true and false friends.  Joan is tough but sincere; Matilda is a selfish hypocrite without an ounce of decency in her.

Joan now turns her anger on Matilda and tells her to leave. This is the end of their friendship.   Joan gets a call from the police station. She is stunned to learn that Nora is dead. She had hanged herself in the cell.  Mason tells her that the news is in the evening paper and that she had known all along that it was the ghost of Nora that had visited them. Joan is close to collapse. She gets another call; this time it is Nora. She thanks Joan for everything. Joan realizes that Nora had proved that her love was stronger than prison locks. She killed herself  in order to attend the reunion; it was the only way she could do so. The play is thus a study in friendship. It is a drawing back of illusion and a revealing of reality.

Study of Language: Module 4


Language is a human-specific faculty and language acquisition is a universal process. First language is the mother tongue or the language a child learns first. First language / L 1 acquisition takes place at a remarkable speed. By the time a child enters elementary school, he/she is an extremely sophisticated language-user, operating a communicative system which, not even the computer, can compete with. The speed of acquisition and the fact that all children acquire language without overt instruction, have led to the belief that there is an innate language-faculty in the human infant to acquire language. All normal children, of all cultures, develop language at approximately the same time and more or less along the same schedule. There are several stages in the acquisition process: — (a) the pre-language stage. The period from about three months to ten months is characterized by pre-linguistic sounds called ‘cooing’ and ‘babbling.’ The first recognizable sounds are described as cooing with /k/, /g/, / ɪ / and / ʊ/. By six months the child produces a no of different vowels and consonants and this stage is described as babbling; example ‘ma.’ Around ten months intonation patterns can be recognized. (b) one-word / holophrastic stage. Between twelve and eighteen months children begin to produce a variety of recognizable single unit utterances; example ‘milk’. (c) two-word stage. It begins around eighteen to twenty months. By the time the child is two years old, combinations like ‘baby chair’ will appear; at this stage the child will have a vocabulary of more than fifty words. (d) telegraphic speech. This stage is characterized by phrases like ‘cat drink milk’. (e) multiple-word utterances. When the child is three years old, its vocabulary grows to hundreds of words and pronunciation gets closer to that of adult language. No one gives the child any instruction on how to speak the language. From what is said to them, children actively construct possible ways of using the language.


        L 2/ Second language is the language children learn as an additional language after they have acquired their mother tongue. In L 2 acquisition the problems experienced are related to the fact that they are exposed to a second language during their teenage years or adult years, in a few hours each week at school (unlike the constant interaction experienced by a child when acquiring the mother tongue) and with an already known language available for most of their daily communicative requirements. So most of them cannot achieve native-like proficiency in using a second language. The learner factors in second language acquisition are the learner’s image and behaviour in a group, his/her age, attitude to the teacher, aptitude and motivation. There are a number of educational approaches that foster L2 acquisition.

(a) Grammar-translation method

      It is the most traditional approach which emphasizes the written language rather the spoken language. Long lists of words and a set of grammatical rules have to be memorized and the learner is ignorant of how the language is used.

(b) Direct method

       It recreates the exposure which young children have in language acquisition. Emphasis is on the spoken language; everything said in the classroom has to be expressed in L2.   

(c) Audio lingual method – drilling language patterns.

(d)  Communicative approach

       This approach is based on the functions of language rather than the forms of the language. It is characterized by lessons organized around concepts such as ‘asking for things’ in different social contexts rather than the forms of the past tense’.


      The Cybernetic Revolution has created implements which are extensions of the human mind. Computational linguistics is a discipline between linguistics and computer science. It is concerned with the computational aspects of the human language faculty. Computational linguistics is the scientific and engineering discipline concerned with understanding written and spoken language from a computational perspective. It belongs to the cognitive (connected with the mental processes of understanding) sciences and overlaps with the field of artificial intelligence (AL – the science of making machines do things that requires intelligence if done by men), a branch of computer science aimed at computational models of human cognition. To the extent that language is a mirror of the mind, a computational understanding of language also provides insight into thinking and intelligence. Since language is our most natural and most versatile means of communication, linguistically competent computers would greatly facilitate our interaction with machines and software of all sorts and put at our fingertips, in ways that truly meet our needs, the vast textual and other resources of the internet. Computational linguistics is the study of computer processing, comprehending and generating human languages. It is often regarded as a sub field of artificial intelligence. Techniques from computational linguistics are used in applications such as machine translation, speech recognition, information retrieval, intelligent web searching and intelligent spelling checking.


      Todorov, the French structuralist, coined the term ‘narratology’ to refer to the study of narrative. It is the study of the forms, structures, media, function and evolution of narratives with special emphasis on story. Narratology seeks to discover:– (a) the basic components (forms) of stories; (b) the arrangement of these basic components that is the structure; (c) the various media used to create and deliver stories; (d) the function of stories; (e) the history and evolution of stories that ,is the way the stories and the meanings that stories express change over time and from place to place. In order to effectively analyse a narrative, a narratologist must have knowledge of linguistics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history and the various media used to create stories. Story telling is an important factor that distinguishes us from other animals. It helps us to make sense of our lives and to make our lives more meaningful, than just a simple sequence of events. Narratology is thus the science that seeks greater clarity and deeper understanding of meanings as expressed in stories.


    Language is culture-preserving as well as culture-transmitting. Though there are other forms like music and painting that preserve culture, language is the most common and dynamic form in which culture is preserved and transmitted. Culture is the sum total of transmitted behaviour patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions and all other products of human work and thought characteristic of a community or population. These characteristics are transmitted by language. Culture and language are so tightly related that neither of them can exist without the other. Cultural changes occur along with changes in language.  

Cultural Diffusion – refers to the spread of culture and the factors that account for it such as migration, communication, trade and commerce. Immigrants take their cultural baggage with them when they move to a new country. They tend to retain their old customs and to speak their first language amid fellow immigrants even if all of them are comfortable in their new language. This is because the immigrants are eager to preserve their own heritage which includes language too besides customs and traditions. This results in the appearance of cultural traits or entire cultural communities in areas where they were not previously present. For example, New York is generally an English-speaking region. Nevertheless, there are significant cultural communities within New York in which Spanish, Japanese and Hindi are dominant. Each has come to characterize segments of New York as a result of cultural diffusion. Through communication elements of culture A enter culture B and become part of culture B thus creating cultural diffusion. Through cultural diffusion many languages, especially English, have borrowed words from other languages; but they maintain their identity by preserving their own grammatical structures. 

Discourse analysis – discourse is the use of language in speech and writing in order to produce meaning. The study of what the language-user intended to mean/convey is discourse analysis. The key element in the study of discourse is the effort to interpret and to know how it is accomplished. Certain factors are essential for this – (a) cohesion – the ties and connections that exist in texts; (b) coherence – the ability of people to make sense of what they read and hear; (c) speech events – debates, interviews, discussions etc.

Conversation – can be described as an activity where, for the most part, two or more people take turns at speaking. Generally participants wait until one speaker indicates that he/she has finished by signalling a completion point – asking a question or pausing. One of the most noticeable features is that conversational discourse is generally very co-operative. In most conversational exchanges the participants co-operate with each other. Background knowledge must be shared by the participants to interpret the conversational discourse. For example the conversation between Carol and Laura: Carol : Are you coming to the party tonight ? Laura: I’ve got an exam tomorrow. Laura’s statement is not an answer to Carol’s question. Yet with a background knowledge of exams, studying, parties Carol can work out that ‘exam tomorrow’ involves ‘study tonight’ and ‘study tonight’ precludes (prevents making something not possible ) ‘party tonight’ and infer that Laura’s answer is not simply a statement of tomorrow’s activities but that it contains an additional meaning.

Study of Language: Module 3


Saussure introduced the synchronic and diachronic approaches to the study of language. He used the terms to distinguish between the description of the stage of a language at a given point of time and the description of changes that take place in language during the passage of time. Synchronic study of language refers to the investigation of that language as it exists at a particular point of time. For example, a study of the English of Shakespeare’s time or of the present day is synchronic. The synchronic approach looks at a language as we find it at a given period in time, regardless of its past history or future blueprint. So it is called descriptive linguistics. Diachronic study of a language is concerned with the historical development or evolution of that language over a period of time. For example, a study of the history of the English language is diachronic. The diachronic approach looks at a language over a period of time along with the changes that occurred in it. So it is called historical linguistics.


Language is a socio-cultural-geographical phenomenon. It is basic to social interactions, affecting them and being affected by them. It is in society that man acquires and uses language and so there is a deep relationship between language and society. Sociolinguistics is the study of the relation between language and society and of the way people with different social identities speak and how their speech changes in different social situations. Sociolinguistics is based on the fact that language is not a single homogeneous entity, but has different forms in different situations. The changes in language occur because of changes in social conditions — social class, gender, regional and cultural groups. For example, English is not a single language but has several varieties. One variety of English is RP (Received Pronunciation) which is particularly associated with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the BBC. It is used by educated people and is universally accepted as the standard form of English. But there are other varieties of English such as the English spoken in Scotland (Scottish English), Wales (Welsh English), Yorkshire (Yorkshire English) etc. There is also Cockney English which is spoken by the working class in London. Moreover, there are the varieties of English spoken by people of different countries – American English, Indian English and Australian English.

Sociolinguistics examines the characteristics of the varieties of language which are labelled as accent, dialect, register and slang. Accent is a distinct way of pronouncing a language. It can identify the locality in which its speakers live (regional accent); it can also indicate the socio-economic status of its speakers and their social class. Accents differ in the quality of voice, pronunciation of vowels and consonants, stress and pitch. Varieties of a language that are formed in different geographical regions are characterized by a change in the pronunciation as well as in the vocabulary and grammar. These changes bring about a distinctly different variety of the language known as dialect. All languages consist of dialects and everyone speaks at least one dialect. Dialect differences are usually minor and dialects of a language are usually mutually intelligible. There are two kinds of dialect – regional dialect and social dialect. The dialect spoken in a particular geographical area is called a regional dialect. For example in the case of Malayalam we have Trivandrum dialect, Kottayam dialect, Thrissur dialect, Kannur dialect etc. Social dialects / sociolects are the variations within a regional dialect based on factors such as education, occupation, socio-economic status, income and cultural background.

Varieties in language are also due to the specific area of human activity in which language is used. The variety of language characterized by its use in different fields like law, medicine, science etc is known as register. Thus we have legal register (‘I am much obliged, if your lordship pleases.’), medical register (Zanoxyn is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and so on. Jargon is one of the defining features of a register. It is special technical vocabulary associated with a specific area of work or interest. Thus we have medical jargon (BP= blood pressure, FX= bone fracture), business jargon (‘chief cook and bottle-washer’ = a person who holds many responsibilities, ‘bang for the buck’ = to get the most for your money), military jargon (AWOL = absent without leave, PCS = permanent change of station), political jargon (‘getting a soapbox’ = making a speech in public, ‘left-wing’ = progressive viewpoint) and Internet jargon (CYA – see you around, BFF= best friends forever). 

There are ‘levels of formality’ in the language of individuals. On some occasions people talk formally and technically and on other occasions they talk formally but non- technically. Sometimes they become informal but technical or informal and non-technical :– formal technical – ‘We obtained some sodium chloride’ ; formal non-technical – ‘we obtained some salt’; informal technical – ‘we got some sodium chloride’; informal non-technical == ‘we got some salt.’ Slang is informal, non-standard language. It is the creation of people who disregard conventions and hanker after novelties of expression. For example, ‘barmy’ meaning crazy, ‘knackered’ meaning extremely tired and ‘to kick the bucket’ meaning to die. Many respectable words in modern English originated as slang – chap, coax, kidnap, pluck, pinch etc.


The English language crossed the Atlantic from England along with the Pilgrim Fathers in 1623 and developed in America as American English. British English and American English have diverged since the first settlements and there are marked differences between the two. Since these two are the foremost varieties of English, a study of American English entails a comparative study of British English and American English.

     The difference between British English and American English is felt mainly in four areas: (a) vocabulary; (b) spelling; (c) pronunciation and (d) grammar.


      The greatest difference between American and the British English is in their vocabulary. Expanding across a new continent with new flora and fauna and different natural features and faced with the needs of building a new society, the Americans were forced to adopt old words or coin new ones to meet their many needs.  A large part of the specifically American vocabulary was borrowed from other languages especially the language of the American Indians. The words borrowed from American Indians include moose, raccoon, skunk, sweet potato, wigwam and totem. Names of places and rivers were also adopted from the American Indians e.g. Mississippi which means ‘big river’ and Chicago which means a place of ‘wild onions’.


notice board                                   bulletin board

time table                                       schedule

railway station                               railway depot

car                                                  automobile

petrol                                              gas         

boot of a  car                                  trunk of a car

flat                                                  apartment

biscuit                                             cookie

dustbin                                            trash can

autumn                                            fall

lorry                                                truck

underground train                           subway     

letterbox                                          mailbox              

rubber                                              eraser      

ground floor                                    first floor   

punctured                                       flat

petrol station                                filling station  

native town                                  hometown

lawyer                                          attorney

postmortem                                  autopsy

ring up                                         call

coffee room                                 coffee shop      

season ticket                                commutation ticket                 

maize                                           corn

entrance fee                                 initiation fee

interval                                        intermission                 

no                                                nope             

     Certain slang expressions with ‘banana’ in them are peculiar to American;‘banana –head’ refer  to ‘ a stupid person’ ; ‘banana a oil’ means ‘nonsense’; ‘go bananas’ means ‘crazy’ or ‘enthusiastic.’


     There are two types of spelling differences between British English and American English .If the difference is systematic it affects a large number of words and in the case of a  non- systematic change only one word or a small group of words are affected.

The change of ‘our’ into ‘or’ is an important feature


colour                                          color

labour                                          labor

humour                                        humor

favour                                          favor

neighbour                                    neighbor

vigour                                         vigor

The change of the consonant ‘c’ to‘s’ is another feature

 Defence                          defense

So also the change of‘re’ to ‘er’

centre                             center

theatre                            theater

In the place of the double consonant in British English, American English has only one consonant.

traveller                            traveler

programme                      program

waggon                           wagon


     In pronunciation there are marked differences between Received Pronunciation and American English.

(a) instead of /a:/ in words like fast, bath, half, castle e.t.c in Received Pronunciation, American English has / æ / sound. So /f ɑ: st/, /b  ɑ: θ / /h ɑ: f/  and /k ɑ: s l / in Received Pronunciation but /f æ st/,/b æθ /, /h æ f/ and/k æ s l / in American English.

(b) / i:/ instead of / aɪ / in ‘neither’ and either

 Received Pronunciation / n aɪ  ð  ə  /               

American English        /n i:  ð ə /                          

(c) the use of the ‘r’ sound when it is followed by a consonant. In Received Pronunciation the ‘r’ is silent.

E.g. The car has arrived.

R.P                 / ð ə   k a:  h ə s  ə r aɪ v d /                          

Am Eng        / ð ə   k a: r  h ə s  ə r aɪ v d /  

There are differences in stress and intonation too. In general, the English use more violent stress contrast and a wider range of pitch than the Americans. There is a nasal twang and a drawl in American English which is not heard in R.P.


     In grammar and syntax, the difference between British and American usage is not very great. An American can say, ‘’do you have the time?’’ while an Englishman says, ‘’ have you got the time?’’ No Englishman will say, ‘’I have gotten.’’ Americans use an impersonal ‘one’ and continue with ‘he’ and ‘his’ as in : ‘’if one loses his temper, he should apologize’’ ; while Englishmen replace ‘his’ and ‘he’ by ‘one’s’ and ‘one.’ ‘’Meeting with a person’’ already known and ‘’meeting a person’’ for the first time are American distinctions. Prepositions too are sometimes different. An Englishman lives in Oxford Street, an American lives on Oxford Street. The Englishman caters for someone, an American caters to someone.

     G.B. Shaw has rightly observed that Great Britain and the United States of America are ‘’two countries separated by the same language.’’                        

General Indian English (GIE)

English is the associate official language of India and is one of the languages of the ‘three language formula’ proposed in the 1960s for educational purposes — state language, Hindi and English. It is used in the legal system, pan-Indian and regional administration, the armed forces, national business and the media. English and Hindi are the link languages in the complex, multilingual Indian society in which English is both a literary language and a library language. GIE is distinct in its phonology, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.

RP has two back vowels /ɒ/ and /ɔ:/ ; GIE has only one — /ɒ/. In GIE there is no distinction between ‘cot’ and ‘caught’. RP has eight diphthongs while GIE has only six; RP /eɪ/ is replaced by /e :/and /əu/ by  /o:/. In GIE voiceless plosives are un aspirated in all positions but in RP they are aspirated in initial positions. Most Indians tend to prolong the consonant in words with medial double consonant letters as in pepper, summer. GIE is rhotic,  / r / is pronounced in all positions.There is no distinction between / v/ and /w/. Gujaratis use /  ʤ / for /   z /:– zero / z ɪə rəu /  >   / ʤ ɪə rəu /. Malayalis use voiced plosives after nasals :– /tembl/ for temple. In GIE stative verbs are given progressive forms – ‘she is having two books’; ‘you must be knowing my cousin, Ram’. Reduplication gives added emphasis as in ‘I bought some small small things’; and ‘Yes No’ questions are used as question tags – ‘he is coming, yes ? GIE makes use of hybrid usages like ‘brahminhood’ in which one component is from English and one from a local language. GIE also uses more or less archaic words in British English – dicky for the boot of a car.  

Australian English (AusE)

After the circumnavigation of Australia by James Cook in 1770, Britain established its first penal colony in Sydney in order to relieve the pressure on the overcrowded prisons in England. At the same time ‘free’ settlers also began to enter the country and as years went by their number grew. The fact that the British Isles provided the main source of settlers justifies the main influence on the language. Many of the convicts came from London and Ireland and features of the Cockney dialect of London and the brogue accent of Irish English can be traced in the speech patterns heard in Australia today. It also features many expressions from Aboriginal languages, and in recent years the influence of American English and of a growing number of immigrant groups has given the country a mixed linguistic character.

AusE pronunciation

The most noticeable aspect of AusE is its pronunciation. The Australian accent is different from that of Britain and America in that it is homogenous. Regional differences in accent are almost absent but there are significant social differences. Thus AusE pronunciation is classified into three: Cultivated Australian (closest to RP, spoken by the least number of people), General Australian (typical Australian accent, spoken by the majority) and Broad Australian (exhibits extreme regional features).


Like BrE, but unlike AmE, AusE is non-rhotic (excludes /r/ sound before a consonant). Carpet is articulated as /kɑ:pɪt/ in BrE and AusE while it is pronounced /kɑ:rpɪt/ in AmE. Like AmE, AusE too has the tendency to flap and voice intervocalic /t/ (between two vowel sounds). Thus butter (/bʌtə/) and metal (/metl/) are pronounced /bʌdə/ and /medl/.


Vowels are in general closer and more frontal than in BrE. The pure vowels /i:/ and /u:/ are diphthongised to /əɪ/ and /əu/ respectively. /ə/ frequently replaces /ɪ/ in unstressed positions nullifying the difference between words like boxes and boxers. Some diphthongs shift, RP /eɪ/ towards /ʌɪ/, as in Australia, mate, etc. and /ɑɪ/ towards /ɒɪ/, as in wide, I’ll etc.

                                      BrE (RP)                    AusE

Tea                                  /ti:/                             /təɪ/

Who                                /hu:/                           /həu/

Market                            /mɑ:kɪt/                      /mɑ:kət/

Day                                 /deɪ/                            /dʌɪ/

High                                /hɑɪ/                            /hɒɪ/

Goat                                /gəut/                          /gʌut/

AusE Intonation

AusE speech pattern, especially among young people, is characterised by what is known as Australian Question Intonation (AQI). It is peculiar in that even declarative sentences are uttered with a rising intonation. It is part of the turn-taking mechanism where the speaker seeks verification of comprehension. It helps in keeping the users attentive and also evokes responses.

AusE Vocabulary

AusE has quite a large number of distinct words and phrases in their vocabulary but only a few are internationally accepted. AusE vocabulary has borrowed words extensively from aboriginal languages primarily to describe the flora and fauna which are unique to the continent. Words like Kangaroo, Koala (a bear), Kookaburra (a Kingfisher bird), boomerang, wallaby (small kangaroo) etc. are Australian in origin but accepted throughout the English speaking world. AusE has borrowed words from both BrE and AmE as well. Given below are examples of borrowing as well as that of typical AusE words.

BrE                                      AmE                                   AusE

Railway                                Railroad                             Railway

Goods train                          Freight train                       Goods train

Lorry                                    Truck                                 Truck

Pavement                              Sidewalk                           Footpath

Petrol station                        Gas station                        Service station (servo)

Pickup                                   Pickup truck                     Ute (from ‘utility’)

AusE is more liberal than BrE when it comes to admitting colloquial constructions. The line between formal and informal usage is less rigidly drawn in Australia than elsewhere. Thus the suffixes (endings) –ie, -y and -o are freely added to words mostly to reduce their length.

Australian         Aussie   /ɒzi:/

Mosquito          Mozzie

Afternoon         Arvo      /ɑ:vʌu/

Breakfast         Brekky

The convict legacy of Australia influenced the extensive use of certain law-and-order words, but applied, mostly, in a sense different to that of BrE. A mob (flock) of sheep is mustered (rounded up) by a jackaroo (a trainee) and is led along the paddocks (fields) towards the station (farm). 

Australians are known for their notorious use of slang words and phrases. Thus a bludger (a lazy person) will be stoked (really happy) if he is gifted an esky (portable freezer) since he need not walk, every now and then, to the refrigerator to get the drinks he purchased from the bottle-o (liquor shop).

AusE Grammar and Spelling

In terms of grammar and spelling there is not much difference between standard AusE and BrE although in certain cases AmE spellings are preferred. While BrE spellings are used for words like analyse, anaesthetic, install, colour etc., AmE spelling is followed for words like enroll, program, encyclopedia etc.

Users of the Broad Australian dialect tend to use me and my interchangeably as in the sentences – They arrested me boy and He was angry at my scoring a goal. Other differences include usage of double negative – I never said nothing to them cops – omission of the auxiliary ‘have’ – I got to go – using ‘don’t’ in place of ‘doesn’t’ – He don’t visit us these days – ending sentences with ‘but’ – Yes, know her. Her I’m not going to invite but – using ‘–ing’ as a progressive indicator of something – I am enjoying my yoga classes, etc.

Study of Language: Module 2

NEUROLINGUISTICS : Neurolinguistics is the study of the relationship between language and the brain. It is a specialized area within psycholinguistics that studies the neural (nerve) mechanisms in the human brain that control the comprehension, production and acquisition of language. The brain has two basic parts – the left hemisphere / Broca’s area which deals with producing speech and the right hemisphere / Wernicke’s Area which deals with comprehension. Neurolinguistics examines the physiological basis of language and language disorders such as aphasia (loss of the ability to understand or produce speech due to brain damage), loss of memory etc.

ORGANS OF SPEECH :  The organs involved in modifying the air stream expelled from the lungs are called the ‘organs of speech.’ The lungs, the muscles of the chest, the windpipe (trachea), the larynx, the vocal cords/folds, the pharynx, the mouth and the nose are the organs of speech. These organs have originally developed to enable other human activities like breathing and eating; later they were adapted to the production of speech. The lungs serve as the basic source of air. The walls of the lungs contract by the action of the chest muscles and air from the lungs is pushed out. This air passes out through the windpipe and the larynx. The larynx is at the top of the windpipe and is commonly called ‘Adam’s apple.’ The lip-like structures in the larynx are called the vocal cords/folds. They are placed horizontally from front to back. They are attached in front and can be separated at the back. The vocal cords can be held close together or be wide apart. The space between the vocal cords is called the glottis.

Voiceless / breathed sounds

In the articulation of certain speech sounds the vocal cords are wide apart and the glottis is open. Then the air passes out through it freely without any friction producing the sound called ‘breath.’ The speech sounds produced in this manner are called voiceless / breathed sounds; example — / p /, / t /, / k /, / ʧ /, / θ /,/ f /, / s /,  / ʃ / and / h /.

Voiced sounds

During the production of certain sounds the vocal cords are loosely held together; as the air from the lungs is pushed out, they vibrate producing the sound called voice. The sounds thus produced with the vibration of the vocal cords are called voiced sounds. The vowels and diphthongs and the consonants  / b /, / d /, / g /,  / ʤ /,  / ð /,  / v /,  / z /, / ʒ /, / m /, / n /,  / ŋ /, / l /,  / r /,  / w / and  / j /  are voiced sounds.

Pharynx —  is a cavity between the larynx and the mouth; it is one of the resonance cavities. The air from the lungs passes through the larynx into the pharynx and then out, through the oral or the nasal passage.

The oral cavity / mouth

The roof of the mouth comprises the teeth-ridge, the hard palate, the soft palate and the uvula. The hard convex part immediately behind the upper front teeth is called the teeth-ridge / the alveolar ridge / the alveolus. The hard concave area behind the teeth-ridge is called the hard palate. The roof of the mouth then becomes soft and fleshy; this soft portion is called the soft palate / the velum. It separates the oral and nasal cavity. At the extreme end of the soft palate is the fleshy finger-like structure called the uvula. When it is lowered, the nasal sounds are produced. When it is raised, the air passes out through the oral cavity and the oral sounds are produced.

The tongue

The tongue is an important speech organ. It does not have any physical divisions like the roof of the mouth. Nevertheless, it can be divided into three main parts corresponding to the divisions of the roof of the mouth. The part of the tongue that lies opposite the teeth-ridge when the tongue is in a position of rest, is called the blade of the tongue. The extreme tip of the blade is called the tip of the tongue. The part of the tongue which lies opposite the hard palate is called the front of the tongue. The part of the tongue which lies opposite the soft palate is the back of the tongue.

The lips – the position of the lips affects the quality of vowels.


The production of speech sounds is a three-step process.

Articulatory phonetics – is the study of the production of speech sounds by the organs of speech.

Acoustic phonetics – is the study of the physical properties of the sounds produced in speech.

Auditory phonetics – is the study of the perception of speech sounds.

SPEECH  MECHANISM : The energy required for the production of speech sounds is provided by an air-stream mechanism. The air-stream expelled from the lungs (ie the air we breathe out) is modified to form speech sounds. This air-stream which involves lung-air is called pulmonic air-stream. The air stream that is pushed out is called egressive and that which is drawn in is called ingressive. A pulmonic egressive air-stream mechanism is used for the production of speech sounds of most languages in the world. All the sounds of English and of most Indian languages are produced with a pulmonic egressive air-stream mechanism. The air expelled from the lungs undergoes modification. Various organs in our body are involved in modifying it into speech sounds and they are called the organs of speech. Velaric and glottalic are two other sir-stream mechanisms. In the velaric air-stream mechanism the velum (the back of the tongue) sets in motion the air in the mouth. In the case of the glottalic air-stream mechanism the closed glottis acts as the initiator of the air in the pharynx. 

PSYCHOLINGUISTICS :              Psycholinguistics is a branch of study which combines the disciplines of psychology and linguistics. Language is a mental phenomenon; it is mental processes that are articulated in language behaviour. Psycholinguistics studies these mental processes – processes of thought and concept formation and their articulation in language. Cognitive psychology explores how meanings are understood by the human brain, how syntax and memory are linked, how messages are ‘decoded’ and stored. Psycholinguistics also studies the influence of psychological factors such as intelligence, motivation and anxiety on the kind of language that is understood and produced. So psycholinguistics can offer insights and corrective measures for mental disabilities like dyslexia (mistaking one letter for another). Psycholinguistics is concerned with the learning of language at various stages : — the early acquisition of a first language by children and later stages in acquisition of first and other languages. Three primary processes are investigated in psycholinguistics – language comprehension, language production and language acquisition. Language comprehension means understanding what people say and write. Language comprehension is a complex process that occurs easily and effortlessly in human beings. Language production is the production of spoken/written language. Language acquisition is the process by which human beings acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language as well as to produce and use words and sentences to communicate. Psycholinguistics as a separate branch of study emerged in the late 1950s and 1960s as a result of the ideas presented by Noam Chomsky.

Study of Language: Module 1


It is language that distinguishes man from the rest of the animal world. It is the most remarkable tool that man has invented and  is the one that makes all the others and culture too possible. Language may be broadly described as a means of expressing human thought. It is difficult to say when exactly language arose; but its origin can be traced to the days when people began a settled life of mutual co-operation. Language can flourish only in communities; it belongs to a group of people rather than to an individual. Language is thus a signalling system which operates with symbolic vocal sounds and which is used by groups of people for the purposes of communication and social co-operation.

The question of the origin of language remains a speculation for there is no physical evidence to show how language originated. All the same, philologists have put forward several theories about the origin of language, though none of them is satisfactory. These theories are based on indirect evidence such as the language of children, the behaviour of higher animals like apes and the behaviour of people with speech defects. These theories can be grouped under two heads:

(a) the natural sounds source and (b) the oral-gesture source.

a. THE NATURAL SOUNDS SOURCE: The theories in this group base the beginnings of speech on the concept of ‘natural sounds.’

a.1. The Bow-Wow theory

            According to this theory the earliest language could have been imitations of the natural sounds which early men and women heard around them. They used the imitated sound to refer to the object associated with the sound. Words like cuckoo, splash, buzz, hiss which ‘echo’ natural sounds (onomatopoeic words) support this theory. Supporters of this theory point to the example of a child who refers to an animal by imitating its characteristic cry. Thus a child refers to a dog as ‘bow-wow’ or to the cat as ‘miaw-miaw.’ Words like grumble, splash, bang, show this sound symbolism. It is only because of the constant association between the words and the things they denote that we notice this symbolism. There are a large no of words that are soundless and do not have the onomatopoeic element. For example in English words with initial ‘fl’ are connected with fire and light (flame, flare, flash) and also with flying or movement (fly, flick, flee). But the words flannel, flat, flesh and flask have nothing to do with fire or quick movement. Hence the onomatopoeic element cannot explain the origin of all the words in the    language even though a number of words are onomatopoeic.

a.2. The Pooh-Pooh theory

According to this theory all forms of speech utterances go back to instinctive cries of emotion such as pain, anger, joy, sorrow, fear, surprise etc. Our rational speech is looked upon as a refinement of such exclamations. The expression ‘to pooh-pooh’ which means that somebody’s ideas, or suggestions are not very good is the best illustration of this principle. At first ‘pooh’ must have been a cry of contempt but later it acquired the status of a word.

a.3. The Yo-He-Ho theory

This theory envisages language as arising from the sounds made by a group of people engaged in joint labour. Involuntary noises are made when people move a tree trunk or lift a rock. Vocal noises of this kind might have later developed into words. This theory is significant as it sees the origin of language in a situation involving human co-operation with adequate motives.

a.4. The Gesture theory

This theory takes the view that gesture language preceded speech. It suggests that physical gesture, involving the whole body, could have been a means of indicating emotions and intentions. According to this theory primitive man used a set of physical gestures to communicate with his fellow men. As his intelligence developed he needed more exact gestures but found that his eyes and hands were occupied by his arts and crafts. So the gestures of the hand were unconsciously copied by movements of the tongue, lips and mouth. Thus man passed from sign language to spoken language. Words like ‘I,’ ‘here,’ ‘come’ are said to show the movement towards the speaker; whereas in ‘you,’ ‘there,’ ‘go’ the movement is away from the speaker.

We have thus a no of theories regarding the origin of spoken language. Each has its own claims and virtues; but none by itself can claim to be perfect. Hence we cannot but admit that in dealing with the origin of language we remain in a realm of speculation.


Language is an indispensable part of human life and is as familiar to us as our daily breath. It is language that differentiates man from animals and makes human culture possible. Language may be broadly described as a means of expressing human thought. C. L. Barber defines language as “a signalling system which operates with symbolic vocal sounds, and which is used by some group of people for the purposes of communication and social co-operation.” Philologists and academicians from different disciplines have made several attempts to define language as is illustrated by the following definitions:-

  • Language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of a system of voluntary produced symbols.  (Edward Sapir)
  • A language is a system of conventional signals used for communication by a whole community.  (A. C. Gimson)
  • A language is a set (finite or infinite) of sentences, each finite in length and constructed out of a finite set of elements. (Noam Chomsky)
  • A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates. (Bloch and Trager)

These definitions affirm the fact that the term language is beyond the scope of standard definition; there is no single definition to explain the term language. Nevertheless language can be better understood in terms of its properties or characteristics. Human language has six distinct features and they are not likely to be seen in the communication systems of animals.

  1. Displacement – is the property of human language that allows the users of language to talk about things and events not present in the immediate environment. Human language can refer to the past, present and future eg – last night, now, next week. It enables us to talk about things and places whose existence we are not sure of eg – fairies, angels, heaven, hell, superman etc. The property of displacement allows the humans, unlike any other creature, to create fiction. On the other hand, animal communication is designed for the immediate place and time. It lacks the property of displacement. Animal communication is a response to stimulus in the immediate environment like food or danger.
  2. Arbitrariness – There is no ‘natural’ or direct connection between a linguistic form (word) and the object it represents (meaning). For example the English word ‘tree’ corresponds with ‘vriksha’ of Sanskrit or ‘maram’ of Malayalam. There is apparently no natural relationship between the various sounds that are used by these languages to these sequences and the meaning denoted by them ie the relationship between sounds and meaning is arbitrary (not based on reason). In animal communication there is a clear connection between the conveyed message and the signal used to convey it. It consists of a fixed and limited set of forms (vocal or gestural); many of these forms are used only in specific situations eg—establishing territory or at particular times like the mating season.
  3. Duality / Double articulation —   Human language is organized at two levels or layers simultaneously. This property of language is called ‘duality.’ We have the physical level at which we can produce individual sounds (phonemes) e.g.—p, a, t. We also have the semantic level when we combine these sounds in different ways and produce different levels of meaning eg—pat, tap have different meanings. With a limited set of distinct sounds we are capable of producing a very large no of sound combinations (words) with distinct meanings. The communicative signals of animals are fixed and cannot be split up e.g.—in ‘woof’ w,oo and f cannot be separated out as a distinct level of production.
  4. Productivity / Creativity / ‘Open-endedness.’ – Human language is open-ended, extendable and modifiable. It has the capability to continually create new expressions and utterances to describe new objects and situations. Human communication makes infinite use of finite means. Animal communication is a closed system; it has a limited set of signals and cannot produce any new signals to describe novel experiences.
  5. Cultural Transmission – Human beings inherit physical features from their parents but not language. We acquire a language in a culture with other speakers and not from parental genes. Cultural transmission is thus the process by which a language is passed on from one generation to the next. For example an infant, born to Malayali parents who live in Kerala and speak Malayalam, who is brought up from birth by English speakers in U.K, will have the physical characteristics inherited from its natural parents, but it will inevitably speak English. On the other hand, in animal communication only a set of specific signals are used and they are produced instinctively and not learned.
  6. Discreteness – The sounds used in language are meaningfully distinct; this leads to a distinction in meaning. This property of language is known as discreteness. For example / b / and   / p / are different; when these sounds are used, they are used in such a way that the occurrence of one sound rather than the other is meaningful and causes a difference in meaning: — pat, bat.

Human language is a symbolic system. It is not only spoken but also written. It has alphabets which help us to preserve our ideas.


Animals have communication systems and each animal communicates in its own way different from that of other animals. Animal communication is context bound. Animals can communicate only with reference to certain concrete things of immediate relevance to their needs and which are present in their surroundings. They cannot give expression to their past experiences. They have only a very limited range of signals with which to communicate and produce only a limited number of messages. Animals cannot produce new combinations of sounds as human beings do. Animal systems are genetically transmitted whereas human languages are culture bound and are culturally transmitted.


Sounds are broadly classified into vowels and consonants.


Vowels are voiced sounds in the articulation of which the air escapes through the mouth freely and continuously without any audible frictional noise. All other articulated sounds are consonants. Vowels are articulated with a stricture of open approximation i.e. the active articulator, the tongue, is raised towards the passive articulator, the roof of the mouth, in such a way as to leave sufficient space between them for the air to escape freely and continuously.

Vowel Limit is the highest level to which the tongue can be raised and a sound produced without any frictional noise.

Vowels can be classified on the basis of:

  • the part of the tongue that is raised

Based on the part of the tongue that is raised, vowels are divided into front vowels, back vowels and central vowels. Front vowels are those vowels in the articulation of which the front of the tongue is raised towards the hard palate. E.g.:   / i: / / ɪ / / e / & / æ /.  Back vowels are those vowels in the articulation of which the back of the tongue is raised towards the soft palate. E.g.: / ɒ / / ɔ: / / ʊ / & / ɑ: /.  Central vowels are those vowels in the articulation of which the centre of the tongue (i.e. the part where the front and the back of the tongue meet) is raised towards that part of the roof of the mouth where the hard palate and the soft palate meet. E.g. /ʌ / / ə / / ɜ: /.

  • the height to which the tongue is raised

On the basis of the height of the tongue, vowels are classified into high / close, low /open, half-high / half-close and half-low / half-open vowels. High or close vowels are those vowels in the articulation of which the tongue is raised close to the roof of the mouth. E.g.: / i: / / u: /.  Low or open vowels are those vowels in the articulation of which the tongue is kept low i.e. it is far away from the roof of the mouth. E.g.: / æ / / ɒ / / ɑ: /. Half-high / half-close vowels are those vowels in the articulation of which the tongue occupies a position one- third of the distance from ‘close’ to ‘open’. E.g.: / ɪ / / e / / ʊ /.  Half-low / half-open vowels are those vowels in the articulation of which the tongue occupies a position two-thirds of the distance from ‘close’ to ‘open’. E.g.: / ʌ / / ɔ: /.                                        

The vowels / ə / / ɜ: / are articulated with the tongue position between half- close and half-open. 

  • the position of the lips

According to the position of the lips, vowels are divided into two categories, rounded and unrounded. Rounded vowels are those vowels in the articulation of which the lips are rounded (i.e. drawn together so that the opening between them is more or less round). E.g.: / ɒ / / ɔ: / / ʊ / / u: /. Unrounded vowels are those in the articulation of which the lips are spread or neutral. If the spreading of the lips is very marked, the vowels are called spreads and if not so marked, are called neutral. E.g.: / ɪ /  / e /  / æ /  /  ʌ /  / ə /  / ɜ: /  / i: /  &   /  ɑ: /        


Diphthongs are vowel glides in the articulation of which the tongue starts in the position of a particular vowel and moves in the direction of the position of another vowel, within a single syllable. Diphthongs are represented by the sequence of two symbols, the first indicating the starting point and the second the direction of movement. They are referred to as the first element and the second element respectively. Vowels which remain constant and do not glide are called pure vowels or monophthongs.

Diphthongs of R.P. are classified into closing diphthongs and centring diphthongs.  

  • Closing Diphthongs

Closing diphthongs are diphthongs in which the glide is from one vowel position to that of a close vowel.  The closing diphthongs are: / aɪ / / eɪ / / ɔɪ / / əʊ / & / aʊ/.

  • Centring Diphthongs

Centring diphthongs are diphthongs which glide in the direction of the central vowel / ə /.  There are three centring diphthongs: / ɪə / / eə / & / ʊə /.

They can be further sub-divided into two groups: falling and rising diphthongs. Falling diphthongs are diphthongs in which the first element has greater ‘prominence’ than the second element. All the closing diphthongs and the centring diphthong / eə / are falling diphthongs. Diphthongs with a stronger second element are rising diphthongs. Triphthong: is a glide from one vowel to another and then to a third, all produced rapidly and without interruption. E.g.: / eɪ ə /  / eɪ + ə /  (layer),  / aɪ  ə /   /  aɪ + ə /  ( liar)  / ɔɪ ə /  /ɔɪ+ ə /  (loyal),  / əʊ ə /  /  əʊ+  ə /  (lower).


Consonants include all breathed (voiceless) sounds and those voiced sounds produced by means of an obstruction in the mouth or by a narrowing of the air passage, giving rise to a frictional noise. Consonants can be classified in two ways:

(a) according to the articulating organs / points / places of articulation.

(i) Bilabials – these are sounds formed using both lips – e.g.: /p/ /b/ /w/ and /m/.

(ii) Labio- dentals – are sounds formed with the upper teeth against the lower lip – e.g.: /f/ and /v/

(iii) Dentals – are sounds formed with the tip of the tongue against the upper teeth – e.g.:  / θ / / ð /.

(iv) Alveolars – are sounds produced with the tip or blade of the tongue against the teeth ridge – e.g.: /t/ /d/ /n/ /l/ /s/ and / z /

 (v) Palato – alveolars – are sounds articulated by the tip or blade of the tongue along with the raising of the tongue towards the hard palate – e.g.: / ʧ / / ʤ / / ʃ / / ʒ /.

 (vi) Post – alveolar – articulated by the tip of the tongue against the back part of the teeth ridge – e.g.: /r/

 (vii) Palatal – articulated by raising the front of the tongue towards the hard palate – e.g.: /j/

 (viii)  Velars – are sounds produced with the back of the tongue against the velum or soft palate – e.g.: /k/ /g/ and /ŋ /

 (ix) Glottal – sound produced in the glottis without the active use of the tongue and other parts of the mouth. The vocal cords are the articulators – e.g.: /h/

(b) according to the manner in which they are articulated.

 (i) Plosives – a plosive or a stop is a consonant in the articulation of which there is a complete closure or stopping of the air stream at some point. The articulators come into firm contact with each other, thus blocking the air stream and causing the air pressure to increase. Simultaneously there is a velic closure blocking the nasal passage of air. The articulators are suddenly separated and the oral closure is released; the air then escapes with a small explosive noise. Sounds thus produced with a stricture of complete closure and sudden release are calld plosives. There are six plosives in R.P.: / p / / b / / t / / d / / k / / g /

 (ii) Affricates – in the articulation of affricates also, there is complete closure, the oral and nasal passage of air being completely blocked. But the oral closure is removed slowly; so instead of an explosive sound an audible friction is heard.  / ʧ / and / ʤ / are the two affricates in R.P.

(iii) Fricatives – in the articulation of fricatives, the articulators are brought so close together that the air escapes through the narrow space between them with a hissing sound. /f / /v/ / h / /s / / z / / ʒ / / ʃ / / θ / / ð /. They are also known as sibilants.

 (iv) Lateral – is produced with the oral passage blocked at the centre but open at the sides.  / l /  is the only lateral sound in R.P. In the articulation of / l /, the tip of the tongue is raised towards the teeth ridge, blocking the air passage at the centre. The sides of the tongue are lowered allowing the air to escape freely through the sides.

 (v)  Nasals – in the articulation of nasal sounds, the soft palate is lowered so that that nasal passage is open. The oral passage is completely blocked at some point. As a result, the air escapes through the nose. English has three nasal sounds.  / m / / n / / ŋ / .

 (vi) – Frictionless Continuants – are consonants which can be prolonged for a long time without any audible friction. The soft palate is raised, closing the nasal passage. The articulators are brought near each other but not close enough to produce friction.  E.g.:  / r / /

(vii) Semi-Vowels / Glides – are gliding sounds in which the speech organs glide from one vowel position to another. There are only two semi-vowels in R.P.: / w / / j /. In the articulation of  / w /  the glide is from the tongue position of approximately  / u : /  to / ə / and for  / j /  from the position of  / i: /  to  /  ə / . They function like consonants in the structure of a syllable.

PHONOLOGY—is the description of the system of the distinctive sounds and their specific patterning in a language. It includes their syllabic structure, stress, pitch and intonation.


A phoneme is the smallest distinctive unit of sound in the sound system of a language. The phonemes of a language are distinctive / contrastive ie they stand in contrast with one other in the phonological system of that language. When one phoneme is substituted by another it produces a change of meaning. For example, when  / p /  is replaced by  / t /  in the word, ‘pin,’  / p ɪ  n /   it becomes ‘tin’ / t  ɪ  n / , a different word with a different meaning. So / p / and / t / are contrastive in English and hence they are two different phonemes in English. Each language has its own phonological system with differences from the phonological systems of other languages. English R.P. has a system of forty four distinctive sounds or phonemes.

MINIMAL PAIRS are pairs of words which are identical in form except for a contrast in one phoneme occurring in the same position. For example bat / b æ t / and fat / f æ t / constitute a minimal pair differing from each other in the initial consonant alone; bet / bet / and bat / bæt / in the medial consonant and tile / taɪl / and tide / taɪd / in the final consonant.

ALLOPHONES are the different, concrete, phonetic realizations of the same phoneme according to the phonetic environment (i.e. the variant forms of a phoneme). They are in non-contrastive distribution while phonemes are in contrastive distribution. The substitution of one phoneme for another will bring about a change of meaning; but the substitution of one allophone for another of the same phoneme will not. For example, English voiceless plosives / p / / t / / k / have both aspirated (articulated with a strong puff of breath after the release of the plosive) and un aspirated varieties. They are aspirated when they occur initially in a stressed syllable; they are un aspirated when they occur immediately after / s / and in un stressed syllables: pin /p ɪ n/, spin /spɪn /. These two varieties – /p / and/ p /– are allophones of the / p / phoneme. Allophones are phonemically the same but phonetically different.

SYLLABLE is a unit of pronunciation which is uttered in one chest pulse. When we speak, the air from the lungs does not come out in a continuous stream. The muscles of the chest push the air out in small puffs at the rate of approximately five times a second; each puff of air produces a syllable. Each movement of the muscles of the chest is called chest pulse. Occasionally, chest pulse is produced by greater muscular effort. This is called reinforced chest pulse and it produces a stressed syllable. A syllable is made up of one or more phonemes. If a syllable consists of just one sound it will be a vowel e.g.: ‘I,’  ‘eye.’ If a syllable has more than one speech sound one of them will be a vowel and the rest consonants e.g. – ‘any’ has two syllables: / e – n ɪ /. The basic elements of the syllable are the onset (one or more consonants preceding the vowel sound) and a coda (the following consonants). The vowel in a syllable is its central element and is called the nucleus. Consonants are marginal elements. The nucleus (vowel) is represented as V and the marginal element as C. For example the syllabic structure of ‘pin,’ is CVC; ‘eye’ has only V whereas order / e – n ɪ / has VCV. A syllable that ends in a consonant is called a closed syllable e.g. – ‘got’; while a syllable that ends in a vowel is an open syllable e.g. – ‘go’.

Consonant Cluster – Both onset and coda can consist of more than one consonant and it is known as consonant cluster. For example skin, craft.

Assimilation – when two phonemes occur in a sequence and some aspect of one phoneme is taken or copied by the other phoneme the process is known as assimilation. This process is occasioned by ease of articulation in every day talk. For example ‘horse’ /h ɔ:  s /; ‘shoe’ /ʃ u: / ‘horseshoe’ / h ɔ: ʃ ʃ u: /

Elision is the omission of a sound segment which would be present in the deliberate pronunciation of a word in isolation; e.g.: /d/ in ‘friendship’ / f r e n ʃ ɪ p /

Etymology – The Greek word ‘etymology’ refers to the study of the origin and history of words and their meanings.


The English language has a very rich and extensive vocabulary. This is partly due to the historical factors, partly due to ‘the genius of the language’ to make new words where existing terms are inadequate and also because of its readiness to absorb words from foreign tongues. Human beings may run short of the basic essentials of life, but never short of words.  New ideas, new fashions, new inventions and discoveries and even new societal issues and crimes demand fresh expressions. Surprisingly they are always in the coffer as a result of a growth from within. This growth has taken place in a number of ways.

Imitation or Onomatopoeia– This is one of the basic and oldest methods of word-making. It is considered to be one of the most important sources of words in all languages. Each possible sound made by man himself or by animals, insects, birds or even lifeless objects has a word to denote it. A number of words are thus echoic or imitative in character, the sound echoing the sense. eg.: buzz, click, crash, giggle, hiss, rumble, screech, splash etc. The word ‘cuckoo’ is a verbal attempt to represent its distinctive call. There are many terms in daily use that reflect the onomatopoeic principle. For eg. the word ‘slither’ has a slippery suggestion about it. The word ‘awe’ reminds us of the exclamation ‘oh!’, denoting surprise wonder. Words with the initial ‘sn’ are often associated with the nose. eg snarl, sneer, sneeze, sniff, snore, snort etc. The combination ‘bl’ suggests blow, blast, blister, bladder, etc. A large number of words suggesting stability or lack of movement are found to begin with the combination ‘st’ eg: statue, stop, stay, station, stand, still, stable etc. The combination ‘fl’ implies hurry as in fly, flee, fling, flash etc. But this process cannot be pursued too far; for all words beginning with ‘be’ do not suggest inflation eg: blue, black and the ‘st’ combination does not stand for stability in many words eg: star, stale etc. So also ‘fl’ which does not signify any movement in flask, flannel, flat etc. Nevertheless, the fact that onomatopoeia can be detected in a number of words shows that in the past it has been one of the chief methods of word-making.

Borrowing – is one of the most common sources of new words in English. Throughout its history English has adopted a large number of words from other languages; example : alcohol (Arabic), boss (Dutch), piano (Italian), robot (Czech), verandah (India).

Conversion– This is the transfer of a word from one grammatical category to another i.e. from noun to verb, adjective to noun and so on. The most frequent change is between noun and verb. For eg: we can ‘paper’ a room, ‘stone’ a prophet, ‘floor’ an adversary, ‘sack’ an employee, ‘pocket’ an insult etc. The nouns signifying the parts of the body can nearly all be used as verbs. We can ‘elbow’ our way through a crowd, ‘eye’ a person with suspicion; we can ‘nose’ around, ‘thumb’ a book, ‘face’ a danger, ‘toe’ the line. We can also ‘foot’ a stocking or ‘foot’ it along a dusty road or ‘foot’ a bill. In modern times many new verbs are formed from nouns eg: ‘to feature’, ‘to pin-point’, ‘to highlight’ etc. In recent years certain compound nouns have been formed from corresponding verbs eg: ‘walk-out’, ‘’know-how’, ‘black-out’ etc.

Abbreviation /Shortening /Clipped forms– Shortening of words by the omission of sounds from the beginning, the middle or the end is one of the most general forms of change giving rise to new words. When shortening takes place as a result of a gradual or unintentional loss of an unaccented vowel at the beginning of a word it is called APHESIS. eg: ‘cute > acute; venture > adventure etc. The shortening that takes place as a result of the omission of the final syllable is called APOCOPE. eg: cab > cabriolet; taxi > taximeter cabriolet; photo > photograph; mob > mobile vulgus. We have also such shortenings as:-

flu        >          influenza

fridge  >          refrigerator

bike     >          bicycle

bus       >          omnibus

lab       >          laboratory

plane    >          aeroplane

phone  >          telephone

pram    >          perambulator

pants    >          pantaloons

auto     >          automobile

zoo      >          zoological gardens

maths   >          mathematics

exam    >          examination

ad        >          advertisement

mike    >          microphone

pub      >          public house

para     >          paragraph

Some shortened forms have become so popular that the full words have been forgotten eg: wig (periwig); goodbye (God be with you).

Syncopation– is a process by which a word is shortened by the omission of a vowel or a consonant on either side running together.

eg: hence <  henes

      else    <  elles

Portmanteau words or Blends- Sometimes a new word is formed by combining part of one word with part of another. The new word carries with it the idea behind both the original terms.. There are a number of words which originated in this way and which are now part of normal English vocabulary. For eg:

tragic-comedy >         tragedy and comedy

brunch   >        breakfast and lunch

melodrama      >          melody and drama

travelogue       >          travel and monologue

radiogram        >          radio set and gramophone

motel   >          motorist and hotel

electrocute       >          electric and execute

smog    >          smoke and fog

flurry   >          fly and hurry

comsat >          communication and satellite

commintern     >          communist and international

glocal   >          global and local

skyjack            >          sky and hijack

edutainment    >          education and entertainment

stagflation       >          stagnation and inflation

three-peat        >          three and repeat (winning a competition 3 times)

infotainment    >          Information and entertainment

edusat  >          education and satellite

netizen > internet and citizen

blog > web and log

Telescoping- This is a process by which two words are combined into one, often with the elision of a vowel. The verbs ‘to don’ and ‘to doff’ are the result of the telescoping of ‘to do on’ and ‘to do off’. The expression ‘to dout a fire is a telescoped form of ‘to do out’. The earliest eg of telescoping is the word ‘atone’. It was formerly two words ‘at one’ and was used adverbially around 1300. By 1557, telescoping had taken place and the single word ‘atone’ resulted. The verbal use of the word first appeared in Shakespeare’s Richard II- “since we cannot atone you, we shall see Justine design the Victor’s chivalry”. More recent egs of telescoping are ‘pinafore’ and ‘overall’.

Compounding or Composition– One method of word formation that has been very prolific is compounding. Two or more words are put together to make a new word. The commonest type is noun and noun eg: classroom, ice-cream, rainbow, bookcase, railway, teacup, houseboat, etc. But there are also other compounds like:-

•           Adjective + Noun       eg: hot-bed, blackboard, greenhouse

•           Adverb + Noun           eg: downfall, afterthought, outpost

•           Noun + Adjective       eg: seasick, snow white, knee-deep

•           Adjective/ Adverb + Adjective          eg: dark blue, ever green, fully grown

•           Noun/ Adjective + Verb         eg: white wash, wire draw

•           Adverb + Verb            eg: overtake, overcome

•           Noun/ Adjective + Participle  eg: machine made, heart-breaking, bedridden, easy-


•           Verb + Adverb            eg: set back, break down

•           Adverb/ Adjective + Participle  eg: well known, oncoming, incoming

•           Verb + Noun   eg: breakneck, dare devil, know how

Often the two elements are hyphenated. There are also a number of phrases which have been wielded into compounds. eg: happy-go-lucky; mother-in-law; hand-to-mouth etc.

Acronyms or Words from initials– At times initials are used more commonly than the actual names for which they stand. Such initials can almost be regarded as words themselves. Thus we usually speak of an ‘M.A’ or a ‘B.A’ rather than ‘Master of Arts’ or ‘Bachelor of Arts’. Usually it is either brevity, or the desire for catchy expressions that is the motive for forming acronyms.  Acronyms like BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), CID (Central Investigation Department) and RAM (random access memory) are so well known that no one can think of using the words for which they stand. In some cases they have actually been combined to form UNESCO, UNICEF, CARE, RADAR etc. ‘Gestapo’, the name given to the secret police in Nazi Germany was made by combining the beginnings of three words which formed their official designation – ‘Geheime Staats Polizei’.

Affixation- Another common device of forming new words is by adding prefixes (initial affixation) and suffixes (terminal affixation) to existing words. This tendency dates back to the O.E period.


be        belittle, beset

for       forlorn, forbear

mis       mislead, misbehave

un        uncouth, unlucky

ante     anteroom, antedate

counter    counteract, counterpoint

de        decode, dehumanize

ex        ex p.m, ex official

in         inability, injustice

post     post war, post graduate

pre       prefix, predegree

re         rebirth, rebuild

super    supermarket, supernatural

ultra     ultramodern, ultraviolet

non      non- stop, non- existent

anti      anti-national, antihero

arch     archbishop, archenemy

auto     autobiography, autosuggestion

hyper   hypertension, hypersensitive

pseudo   pseudo classical

dis       disagree, disobedient

micro   microchip, microwave

bio       biochemistry, biodegradable


-en       strengthen, lengthen

-dom    kingdom, dukedom

-ful      beautiful, cheerful

-hood   childhood, boyhood

-ish      childish, boyish

-less     childless, helpless

-let       outlet, booklet

-ly        kingly, manly

-ness    kindness, bitterness

-ship    friendship, kingship

-y         hungry, noisy

-ation   starvation, operation

-ative   talkative

-ic        energetic, comic

Words from Proper Nouns– Many new words have come from proper nouns. For eg: ‘sandwich’ from the Earl of Sandwich who first introduced sandwiches as a convenient form of refreshment for his card parties; ‘spoonerism’ from Dr Spooner who confused words by wrongly placing initial words; ‘boycott’ from Charles Boycott, a land agent who was ostracized by the Irish land league agitators; ‘teddy bear’ from Theodore Roosevelt, cardigan from the 7th century Earl of Cardigan who led the charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War wearing extra woollen garments to withstand the biting cold. A number of scientific terms are coined from the names of the scientists:

ampere < the French scientist Ampera

pasteurize < Louis Pasteur

Watts < James Watt

Ohm < the German scientist Ohm

Sometimes the names of flowers are from the names of those people who first cultivated dahlia is from the name of the Swedish botanist, Dahl.

A number of words are derived from place

Calico < Calicut

Muslim < Mosul

Laconic < Laconia in Greece

Champagne < champagne in France

Back-Formation- is the coinage of a word from an existing word which is mistakenly assumed to be its derivative. Eg: ‘grovelling’ was an adverb which meant ‘on the ground in an abject manner’. It was wrongly understood to be a present participle and a new word ‘to grovel’ was formed from it. In the same way, the nouns beggar, hawker, editor, burglar, pedlar, have given us the verbs ‘to beg’, ‘to hawk’, ‘to edit’, ‘to burgle’, ‘to peddle’ respectively. Other egs are:

Televise < television

Audit < auditor

Gloom < gloomy

Donate < donation

Swindle < swindler

More recently we have ‘to housekeep’ from housekeeper, ‘to visit’ from visitor, ‘to babysit’ from babysitter. G.K.  Chesterton has humorously made use of this device in this expression ‘the wicked grocer groces’.

Freak Formation– Words have strayed into the language through very strange or unexpected circumstances. Such words are called ‘freaks’ and the process ‘freak formation’. For eg: the word ‘teetotaler’ has originated from ‘t-total’ by stammering the ‘t’ of ‘total’ in the expression ‘total abstainer.

Coinage / the invention of totally new terms – is one of the least common processes of word formation in English. Words like aspirin, nylon, Xerox which began as invented trade names have now become everyday words in English.


     A morpheme is a minimal unit of meaning or grammatical function in the grammatical system of a language. For example, the word ‘reopened’ consists of three morphemes ; — open, re (meaning ‘again’) and ‘—ed’ (indicating past tense) . ‘Open’ and ‘re’ are minimal pairs of meaning while ‘—ed’ is a minimal unit of grammatical function. There are two types of morphemes :–  (a)  Free morphemes – are morphemes which can stand on their own as independent words eg—open, happy. They fall into two categories –(1)  lexical morphemes —  nouns, adjectives and verbs (2) functional morphemes – conjunctions, articles, prepositions and pronouns.  Bound morphemes – are morphemes which cannot normally stand alone as single words. They are always attached to a free morpheme eg – re, un, –ed, –ness.   They can be divided into two types—(1) derivational morphemes that are used to make new words – ‘un’– unhappy; ‘ish’ — childish (2) inflectional morphemes that indicate aspects of the grammatical function of a word – ‘-ed’ – jumped; ‘-est’ – smallest.   

  Morphology – is a systematic study of all the basic ‘elements’/ morphemes which are used in a language and how morphemes join to form words.


    It is very difficult to define grammar. Everybody intuitively knows what grammar is. When we distinguish between a well-formed sentence, ‘children love sweets’ and a not at all well-formed sentence ‘sweets love children’ we display our knowledge of grammar. Grammar is an attempt to discover patterns in language structure, to classify words and sentences and then to deduce certain rules. Grammar studies the way in which words join to form meaningful sentences. The five fundamental units of grammatical structure are – morpheme, word, phrase, clause and sentence.  There are main types of grammar.

Traditional / Prescriptive Grammar

    The traditional approach to grammar is prescriptive. Traditional grammarians were preoccupied with the prescription of rules and norms of usage; they neglected the actual usage. They formulated rules based on Latin grammar. Traditional grammar gave importance to meaning in defining word classes / parts of speech. For example a noun is defined as the name of a person, place or thing. This definition cannot account for nouns like destruction, equality. The traditionalists gave too much importance to the written form of the language and formed grammar based on the written form. They considered it as the ‘correct’ language and the spoken form only as a corrupt representation of it. They ignored linguistic changes and held the language of past masters as a model for present day English.

Structural / Descriptive Grammar

    The early 20th century saw rapid advances in the scientific discipline of linguistics which radically changed the traditional approach to the study of grammar. The new scientific approach was descriptive or structural and was an improvement upon the traditional approach. It was later modified into Phrase Structure Grammar (PS Grammar) and still further modified into Transformational Generative Grammar (TG Grammar). Descriptive grammar was popularised by Leonard Bloomfield and his followers. They held the view that language has a structure composed of phonemes, morphemes etc in sequence at different levels; it is the inter-relationship between these units that determine the structure of a language. Meaning is ignored and form is given too much importance. Speech is given prime importance. All language varieties are studied and described objectively. Linguistic changes are taken as natural linguistic phenomena and standards of usage are based on contemporary criteria.

PHRASE STRUCTURE / PS GRAMMAR       Phrase Structure Grammar is a method of structural description set forth by Noam Chomsky. PS Grammar contains a set of rules called Phrase Structure / PS / Re-write Rules. PS rules are capable of generating strings of linguistic elements and also of providing a constituent analysis of that string. Re-write rules provide a set of directions which, if followed mechanically, will generate the abstract frame work of basic English sentences. A re-write rule is a replacement rule in which the symbol to the left of the arrow is replaced by the expanded form written to the right of the arrow. For example: — S > NP + VP means that ‘S’is to be rewritten as an NP + VP; ie a sentence consists of a noun phrase and a verb phrase; NP > Art (Adj) N – the book or the green book. An article (the) and a noun (book) are needed for a noun phrase to occur in English but the inclusion of the adjective (green) is optional; NP > {Art N, pronoun, proper noun}indicating that only one of the elements enclosed within the brackets must be selected. The NP can contain (a) determiners – articles, demonstrative pronouns, possessives and wh-words when they precede nouns ; eg : the book, that book, her book, whose book.(b) ordinals – first, second which denote the order of items in a series. (c) quantifiers – specific quantity or number – several pens, two girls. (d) adjective phrase — a phrase that functions as an adjective – a very nice lady. (e) classifiers – a noun that functions as a noun – Women’s College. The rewrite rules represent how morphemes are organized into words, words into phrases and phrases into sentences. The representation of the structure of a sentence is called its Phrase Marker / PS Marker.



   T G grammar was introduced by Noam Chomsky and is one of the most influential of modern linguistic theories. T G grammar is both transformational and generative. It not only analyses the sentences, divides them into parts and shows the functions of various parts but also completely rearranges them and shows the inter-relationship between sentences (such as active-passive, affirmative-negative, etc.). It shows how different types of sentences are derived from basic types of simple sentences through the application of Transformational rules ( T rules). The basic types of sentences are called kernel sentences; they are simple, affirmative, active and declarative sentences. From these kernel sentences other types of sentences are derived by applying T rules. There are seven types of kernel sentences:

     1     SV                               Raju  laughed 

     2   SVO                              Raju threw the ball.

     3   SVC                              Raju  is clever.

    4   SVOC                            Raju  proved her wrong.

    5   SVOO                            Raju  teaches them English.

    6    SVA                              Raju  is in the hall. 

    7   SVOA                            Raju kept the ball on the table.

So sentences are structured strings of words comprising the constituents SVOCA.  A sentence can be broadly classified into NP (Noun Phrase) and VP (Verb Phrase).


T  rule shifts ‘past’ to the right of the verb and the string becomes

Raju + past + laugh         Raju + laugh + past


The  T rule / Affix Switch rule

Affix + V          V + Affix

Affix          tense,  –ing,  –en

1  Tense + V        V + Tense 

 2  –ing + V        V  +  –ing 

 3  –en + V         V + –en

Kernel Sentence                                          Affix

She  saw Raju                                                Did

She  + past + see + Raju                                Do + past + she + see + Raju

She  saw Raju                                                      Did she see Raju ?           

He is sleeping (kernel sentence)

He +present + be + ing + sleep

Is he sleeping? ( Interrogative)  

 Be + present + he + sleep + ing  

 Meera has seen the Taj    

Meera + present + have + en + see + the Taj

 Has Mera seen the Taj?   

 Have + present + Meera + see + en + the Taj     

Syntax – is the study of the relationship between linguistic forms, how they are arranged in sequences and which sequences are well formed. It is the arrangement of words into phrases and sentences.

Inflection – refers to a change in the form of a word (typically the ending) to express a grammatical function or alteration such as tense, mood, person; eg : eat, eats. In moern grammar it is called morphology.

Parts of Speech – English grammar has traditionally described words in terms of parts of speech – nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections.

Word Classes – In modern grammar words are classified into two categories on the basis of their form and function : — (a) Form class – form class words have a reasonably clear lexical meaning and are semantically significant; eg – book, play, clever, quickly. They are also known as full / content / lexical words. (b) Function class – function class words do not have any definable lexical meaning but grammatically they are significant. They are important I their function to form structural frames and they are also helpful in identifying form class words; eg – to, out, and, but. They are also known as empty/ structure words.

Grammatical Categories – In traditional grammar there are seven grammatical categories – (1) Gender – masculine, feminine and neuter.

(2) Number – singular, plural.

(3) Person – a classification of the pronouns and a feature of verbs – first person (I, we, me, our), second person (you), third person (he, she, it, they).

(4) – a feature of verbs associated with time  — present, past, future.

(5) Mood – a feature of the verb associated with statement of facts, possibility etc – imperative, indicative.

(6) Voice – a feature of the verb largely associated with whether the subject is active or at the receiving end (passive).

(7) Case – nominative, denoting the subject and direct object, the vocative which is the form of address (oh! boy), the dative or the indirect object and the genitive indicating possession (the boy’s).   

Lexical Meaning – or word meaning is the meaning of individual lexical items. These are of two types: — (1) the open class lexical items such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs; (2) the close class items like prepositions, conjunctions and determiners. The open class items have independent meanings which are defined in the dictionary. The closed class items have meaning only in relation to other words in a sentence; this is called grammatical meaning. For example the sentence, ‘the tiger killed the elephant,’ contains three open class items – tiger, killed, elephant, two of which are nouns and one is a verb. There is only one closed class item, ‘the’ which occurs before each noun. It has no independent reference of its own and has meaning only when placed before the nouns.


   Semantics is the study of the relationships between linguistic forms and entities in the world; how words literally connect to words. It is the study of meanings of words, phrases and sentences. Words are not limited to one single meaning. Most words have several meanings which are categorized as either denotative or connotative. Denotative meaning is the literal meaning of a word as defined by its context. Connotation is the suggestion or implication represented by a word which alludes to its social context. For example: red rose > red = the denotation of a colour; rose = denotation of a flower; together they present a description of a flower of a particular colour. Connotation of red rose = a symbol of love. In semantic analysis there is always an attempt to focus on what the words conventionally mean, rather than on what a speaker might want the words on a particular occasion. When linguists investigate the meaning of words in a language they are normally interested in characterizing the conceptual meaning and less concerned with the associative meaning of words. Nevertheless, poets and advertisers are very interested in using terms in such a way that their associative meanings are evoked. For example Burns’ comparison of love to a red rose or the advertisement for Thumbs Up, ‘taste the thunder.’    Conceptual meaning covers those basic essential components of meaning which are conveyed by the literal use of a word. For example some of the basic components of the word ‘needle’ might include ‘thin, sharp, steel instrument.’ Associative meaning is the association which that specific word brings to us; it is the connotation attached to a word. For example the word ‘needle’ which makes us think of it as something ‘painful’ whenever we come across the word needle. This association of pain to needle is not treated as a conceptual meaning of needle. 

   Semantic approach is helpful as a means of accounting for the ‘oddness’ which we experience when we read English sentences such as : — (1) The sandwich ate the man; (2) My cat studied phonetics; (3) A chair was listening to music. These sentences are syntactically perfect but semantically odd. According to the basic syntactic rule for forming English sentences ( S > NP +VP) these are well structured sentences – the sandwich (NP) ate the man (VP). The kinds of nouns which can be subjects of the verb ‘ate’ must denote entities which are capable of ‘eating.’ The noun ‘sandwich’ does not have this property but man has; that is the reason for the oddness of the first sentence. The crucial component of meaning which a noun must have in order to be used as the subject of the verb, ‘ate’ can be determined by analysing it in terms of semantic features such as ‘+animate’ ( denotes an animate being) or ‘– animate’ (denotes an inanimate thing), ‘+human,’ ‘– human’, ‘+male,’ ‘—male’. They can be treated as the basic features that help us to differentiate the meaning of each word in the language from every other word. For example the crucial distinguishing features of the meanings of the set of English words (table, cow, girl, woman, boy, man) can be represented in this manner:–  table       cow      girl      woman      boy      man

animate                                     —              +         +            +             +           +                   

human                                       —              —         +           +             +           +

male                                         —             —         —             —              +          +

adult                                         —             +          —             +              —          +

At the same time it is not easy to come up with such neat components to distinguish nouns like ‘advice,’ ‘threat’ and ‘warning.’ This is because this approach looks upon words as mere ‘containers’ carrying meaning-components. The meaning of a word can be characterised in terms of lexical relations or its relationship to other words. For example if we are asked the meaning of the word ‘conceal’ we might reply that it is the same as ‘hide.’ The meaning of shallow can be given as the opposite of ‘deep.’ and the meaning of daffodil as ‘s kind of flower.’ There are different types of lexical relations: — (1) Synonymy – synonyms are two or more forms with very closely related meanings which are often intersubstitutable in sentences. Examples are ‘broad – wide’; ‘cab – taxi’; ‘liberty – freedom.’ (2) Antonymy – antonyms are two forms with opposite meanings. Examples are ‘old – young’; ‘long – short’; alive – dead.’ Antonyms are of two types :– Gradable antonyms such as ‘big – small’, which can be used in comparative constructions ‘bigger than – smaller than’ and non-gradable antonyms / complementary pairs which cannot be used as comparative constructions (eg ‘deader’) and the negative of one member implies the other (that person is not dead implies that person is alive). (3) Homophony – homophones are two or more forms which have the same pronunciation but different meanings. Examples – ‘bare – bear’; ‘meet – meat’; ‘sea – see.’ (4) Homonymy – homonyms are words which have quite separate meanings, but two or more unrelated meanings. Examples are ‘bank’ ( the side of a river and also a financial institution), ‘pupil’ (at school and in the eye), ‘mole’ (a small animal and also a mark on the skin). (4) Polysemy – is the co-existence of multiple meanings, which are all related by extension, in one word. For example the word ‘head’ refers to the top part of our body, the top of a glass of beer, top of a company or department or ‘foot’ of person, of bed, of mountain. (5) Hyponymy – refers to the inclusion of the meaning of one form in the meaning of another. For example the word daffodil is a hyponym of flower; the meaning of ‘flower’ is ‘included’ in the meaning of daffodil. 


Pragmatics is the only study which allows human beings to investigate and analyse people’s intended meanings, their assumptions, their purposes or goals and the language functions and the intended actions that they are performing when they speak. Pragmatics is the study of contextual meaning communicated by a speaker or writer and interpreted by a listener or reader. It is about what people mean by their utterances rather than what the words or phrases might mean by themselves. It necessarily involves the interpretation of what people mean in a particular context and how the context influences what is said. Pragmatics is the study of how more gets communicated by what the speaker implies to say than by what is actually said that is it is the investigation of ‘invisible meaning. There are different kinds of context. The first one is linguistic context or co-text. The c0-text of a word is the set of other words used in the same phrase or sentence and it has a strong effect on what we think the word means. For example we can know in what sense the word ‘bank’ is used from the context. If it is used in a sentence together with words like ‘steep’ or ‘overgrown’ it refers to a river bank; whereas in the statement ‘I must get to the bank to cash a cheque’ it is clear which type of  bank the speaker intended. Physical context is another type of context. Our understanding of what we read and hear is tied to the physical context, particularly the time and place.’ For example the statement ‘I am tired’ has different meanings in different situations : — (a) if someone utters it late at night it may have an invisible meaning that he/she wants to go to bed; (b) if someone utters it when the alarm rings at 6-30 am it may imply that he/she doesn’t want to get out of bed; (c) if someone utters it when it is time for him/her to go to class it may count as a way of excusing himself/herself from attending the class. So also the word ‘awesome’ has two different meanings when a boy tells a girl ‘you are awesome,’ and when someone refers to the weather as awesome. There are some words in the language called deictic expressions which cannot be interpreted at all unless the physical context, especially that of the speaker, is known ; eg : here, there, this, that, now, then yesterday, I, you, him, her, them. It is not possible to understand the sentence ‘’they’ll have to do that tomorrow because they aren’t here now’ unless we know who is speaking, about whom, where and when. Pragmatics is the study of the expression of relative distance. The notion of distance determines the choice between the said and the unsaid. On the basis of how close or distant the listener is, speakers decide how much needs to be said.   Pragmatics studies the factors that govern our choice of language in social interaction and the effects of our choice on others. Pragmatics involves three major communication skills :– (a) using language for different purposes – greeting (hello, goodbye ); information (I’m going to get an ice cream ); demanding (give me an ice cream ); promising (I’m going to get you an ice cream ); requesting ( I would like an ice cream, please); (b) changing a language according to the needs of the listener or situation – talking differently to a baby than to an adult, giving background information to an unfamiliar listener, speaking differently in a classroom and a playground; (c) following rules for conversation and story- telling – taking turns in conversation, introducing the topic of conversation, staying on the topic, rephrasing when misunderstood, how to use verbal and non-verbal signals, how close to stand to someone when speaking and how to use facial expressions and eye contact.

Ambiguity – the term refers to the presence of two or more possible meanings in a single sentence or passage. There are three kin ds of ambiguity :– (1) lexical ambiguity – occurs when two or more of the meanings of a word are applicable in a single sentence or passage. For example the word ‘want’ in the sentence ‘Iraqi heads want arms’ can be taken to mean either ‘wish’ or ‘lack.’ (2) structural ambiguity – comes from some aspect of grammar, often from the arrangement of words or from the classification of words. Examples :– (a)  Flying planes can be dangerous – flying planes / can be dangerous (planes that fly), flying / planes can be dangerous ( to fly planes). (b) Visiting aunts can be boring – visiting aunts / can be dangerous ( aunts who visit), visiting / aunts can be boring  (to visit aunts). (3) punctual ambiguity – a woman without her man, is savage; a woman, without her, man is savage.


  • A presentation = a talk giving info about a subject/product/an idea
  • Is an important form of oral communication
  • Stage fright/fear of making presentation is widespread
  • Combating stage fright
  • Recognize your nervousness/accept the fact that you are nervous
  • Understand what happens to you physically when you feel nervous
  • Regard your nervousness positively as a form of energy which you can turn to your advantage
  • Regard nervousness as a healthy sign, which can actually improve your performance
  • Visualize yourself giving a good & strong presentation; positive imagination infuses freshness & confidence
  • Work hard on your content; if you are well prepared, you’ll feel excited about sharing it
  • Work hard on the opening lines & the rest of the introduction; once the opening sentences are in the right place you’ll immediately feel better
  • Focus on what you have to say to your listeners rather than bothering about your nervousness
  • Once you start telling the audience what you know your nervousness will leave you
  • Rehearsal & practice will polish your performance & also make you feel more self – assured & confident
  • Rehearse your presentation in front of your friends/parents/siblings
  • Maintain eye contact with your audience
  • Start your presentation with a smile
  • Preparing Power Point Slides for Presentations
  • Reach the presentation area much before the audience & adjust material on the laptop/pen drive before you speak
  • Time your slides, ensure when to show a slide
  • Keep the lens of the LCD covered so that the audience does not have to look at a blank screen before you show them your first slide
  • While displaying a slide, avoid standing/walking in front of the LCD lens
  • Avoid cluttered slides > writing long paragraphs or lengthy sentences
  • Give the ideas/info in bullet form, not more than eight to ten points in a single slide
  • Avoid reading the slides by looking at them; it reveals lack of preparation
  • Keep your slides to the minimum number
  • Make your slides as captivating & innovative as possible


  • Quick and Easy: the basic features are easy to master and can help you to organize the material
  • Simple bullet points: it can reduce complicated messages to simple bullet points that are easy to comprehend
  • Easy to modify: when compared to other visual aids such as charts, posters, or objects
  • Easily re-order presentation: with a simple drag and drop or using key strokes, you can move slides to re-order the presentation.



  • Two types
  • Verbal > the use of language to communicationunicate
  • E.g.: intra personal & inter personal communicationunication
  • Non-verbal > communicationunication without words
  • Daily communicationunication > 35%verbal; 65% non- verbal

“The most important thing in communicationunication is to hear what isn’t being said” – Peter


  • Body Language – all the expressions that we share by means of our body movements
  • Kinesics /kɪnɪsɪks/=the study of body language                                                  


  1. Personal Appearance
  2. A person’s personal appearance is important
  3. Wear a dress neatly washed & ironed

Posture = the way we sit, stand & carry ourselves

  • Eg: sitting on the edge of the chair in an interview = tension
  • Drooping shoulders = depression
  • Raised chin & stiff shoulders = defiance

Gestures = the physical movement of arms, legs, hands torso & head

  • Gesturing – a natural part of speech & thinking & is culture-specific
  • Offloads some of the mental effort of VC
  • Communicationon gestures & their meaning
  • Waving hands = saying hello/goodbye
  • Thumbs up = appreciation/agreement
  • Crossed arms = defence, negativity
  • Rubbing palms = nervousness

Facial expressions

  • The face is the index of the mind
  • e.g.: frown = disapproval
  • Clenched teeth = suppression of anger
  • Raised eyebrows = surprise/sarcasm
  • Narrowing one’s eyebrows = lack of trust in others

Eye contact

  • Eyes = the windows to the soul
  • Truthfully convey the emotions & feelings
  • Looking into a person’s eyes is the best way to understand his/her attitude or reaction
  • Eyes play a significant role in human communicationunication
  • Avoiding eye contact=evasion, fear, doubt

Proxemics / Space Distance

  • Space matters a lot to us
  • We are reluctant to board a crowded train/bus
  • All of us want our own territory & space to feel relaxed & enjoy a comfort that is lost if we are surrounded by people/things
  • While communicationunicating we must respect the territories of others
  • All of us have a psychologically defined territory
  • Not many are welcomed beyond a point
  • These psychological territories > 4 zones

Intimate zone – no stranger is welcome here

  • Is shared by lovers, spouses, children, parents, & very close relatives & friends
  • Anyone who tries to enter is an intruder   

Personal zone – shared by close friends, colleagues, & associates

Social zone – the most official/formal interactions fall here

  • Also interaction with occasional visitors like gardeners, plumbers, electricians etc.

Public zone – public speaking & presentations come in this zone

Haptics / Touch

  • The most communicationon type of non-verbal communicationunication
  • Handshakes, holding hands, hugs etc.
  • The meaning conveyed by touch is dependent on the situation, the relationship b/w the communicationunicators & the manner of touch
  • It is culture-centric

Chronemics – the perception of time

  • Includes punctuality, willingness to wait
  • Time can be used differently by individuals & in cultures

Chromatic – the use of colour to communicationunicate

  • e.g.: white > peace
  • Purple > royalty
  • Red > danger

Para language/Vocalics

  • The study of the different aspects of our voice
  • Includes pitch, volume, tone, rate, pause, articulation, pronunciation

Pitch = the rise & fall in the human voice

  • Plays a crucial role in communicationunication
  • Expresses all the emotions that are to be conveyed

Volume = the loudness/softness of the voice

  • It is not just what you say but how you say it
  • e.g.: whispering = you want to hide something
  • Speaking aloud = you want to be heard by all
  • While addressing an audience if you are not loud enough it suggests lack of confidence
  • Speaking loud over the phone = lack of good manners

Tone – the attitude of the speaker > friendly, critical, sarcastic etc

Rate = the no of words you speak per minute

  • The normal rate = 120-150 words per minute

Pause = a short silence flanked by words

  • Lets the listener reflect on the message & digest it
  • Indicates the speaker’s uncertainty, tension, hesitation etc.

Articulation = the clarity in your voice

  • A clearly articulated message = competence
  • The speaker should speak in such a way that all the words are understood by the listener

Pronunciation =an important role

  • Use the accepted form of pronunciation
  • In the case of English, it is RP  


  • People communicationunicate through silence too
  • It is an often neglected but powerful tool
  • Silence can effectively communicationunication responses like sorrow, anger, disapproval etc.
  • It allows us to think, breathe, listen & hold the attention of the listener
  • Heightens the expectation of others  
  • Allows others to process what you have said & consider their response
  • Silence can be a cold sort of punishment
  • The silent treatment when you go home late
  • In an interview silence can encourage the other person to ‘open up’
  • It can also be use intentionally to create anxiety & discomfort in the other person 


  • Duplicates verbal communication
  • e.g.: head nod > yes/no
  • Replaces verbal communication
  • e.g.: answering yes/no with just a head nod
  • Complements verbal communication
  • e.g.: when a friend wins a competition you verbally congratulate him/her & also shake his/her hand or pat him/her on the back    
  • Strengthens / Accents verbal communication
  • E.g.: we can raise the volume of our voice on certain words > I am VERY angry
  • Regulates verbal communication
  • E.g.: eye contact while talking
  • Using vocal segregates like ‘um’ contradicts verbal communication
  • Telling your friend, you’re fine with a sad face
  • Indicates the relationship between people
  • e.g.: Romantic partners standing close together, mere acquaintances maintain a distance.
  • Demonstrates/Maintains cultural norms
  • e.g.: hugging, greeting with hands folded reveal the respective cultures of nations


  • Verbal communication – single channel > words
  • Nonverbal – multiple channels > gestures, pitch
  • Verbal – ambiguous, not easy to decode
  • Verbal accompanied by Nonverbal – easy to decode
  • Verbal communication – linear > messages have a beginning & an end
  • Nonverbal communication – continuous > we can get Nonverbal cues even after the verbal message has ended
  • Verbal communication – conscious > we think & formulate the words before we communication
  • Nonverbal communication – unconscious & spontaneous > our facial expressions reveal our emotions
  • Verbal – language-specific > the receiver can understand the sender’s message only if he knows the linguistic codes the sender uses
  • Nonverbal communication – of a universal nature > smiles, frowns mean the same the world over


  • Editing refers to the preparation of a text for publication, by correcting & revising the draft
  • Revision & editing play an important role in the completion & composition of a professional/official writing
  • Accuracy, transparency & effectiveness — the prerequisites of professional/official documents


  • Perfection needs practice
  • Just as actors need long rehearsals to fine-tune their stage performances, careful editing makes the written work error-free & polished
  • The third step in the writing process (step 1 > planning what to write; step 2 > writing it)
  • Improving what has already been written
  • Editing cannot coincide with the writing of the first draft
  • The first draft is spontaneously written
  • The writing of the first draft becomes slow & tedious if we try to improve it bit by bit and achieve perfection
  • Worrying too much about the final outcome distracts the writer from building the main text of the document


  • Reading the entire manuscript thoroughly
  • Checking for accuracy
  • Identify the errors related to usage, grammar, punctuation & ensure that the language used is accurate & appropriate
  • Deleting unnecessary parts
  • While revising the first draft do away with all unnecessary words/ phrases /sentences / expressions & paragraphs
  • Augmenting unsubstantiated & depleted sections
  • Add the relevant material to those sections of the document lacking in specific details
  • Recasting paragraphs
  • Paragraphs must be recast to ensure consistency in the ideas projected & to create the desired impact on the reader
  • Moving paragraphs around
  • The written manuscript must be unfolded in a logical & systematic manner 
  • Rewriting the Beginnings & Endings
  • The beginning & the end of a passage/text is likely to be remembered for a longer time
  • Editing the opening & closing paragraphs of a document is essential to make it effective
  • Checking for Consistency & Balance
  • Care must be taken to change/alter/delete portions of the text for the sake of proper arrangement of ideas
  • Restore balance by giving each part of the discussion its due attention, focus & weightage
  • Introducing variety
  • Repetitive words, similar phrases etc. make a text monotonous
  • Variety in style should be made by
  • Mixing simple, compound & complex sentences
  • Using an elaborate sentence structure
  • By using more verbs than nouns
  • By avoiding long strings of compound nouns
  • Using transitions wherever required
  • Linkers must be effectively used to communicate the overall idea in a coherent manner
  • Restoring order & shape
  • Writing a document in various writing styles confuses the reader
  • The style of various sections must be harmonized to give the document a unified coherent image
  • Choosing appropriate tone & style
  • Ensure that the text has the desired tone & style
  • Putting mind over matter
  • Avoid expressions that may sound controversial, bizarre & libellous statements
  • Ensuring Consistency in Documentation
  • All the references in the text must be properly cited
  • The bibliographical details should be sequenced as per MLA/APA/Chicago Manual format
  • Ensure that all the pages in the document are correctly numbered & the chapters numbered with consistency
  • Match the items listed in the table of contents to the text of the document
  • Ensure consistency in the space b/w paragraphs & in the margin on both the sides of the text


  • Email/electronic mail/paperless communication
  • Came into existence in the late 20th century
  • A method of exchanging digital messages across the internet/other computer networks
  • One of the quickest ways to communicate in writing


  • Header – shows the sender’s mail ID, the receiver’s mail ID, the date, time & the subject
  • Body – is the message, formal/informal; also contains the complimentary close


  • Fast, cheap, and easy to operate – can be sent instantaneously to as many people as required
  • Captures the spirit of the age – anything that saves time is most welcome in the present age
  • Flexible in tone and style
  • Are legal and valid


  • Have a neutral email address that reflects your identity
  • Keep the header short & sweet
  • Avoid an abrupt beginning
  • Use effective subject lines
  • Start courteously with a proper salutation
  • Have a neutral email address that reflects your identity
  • Keep the header short & sweet
  • Avoid an abrupt beginning
  • Use effective subject lines
  • Start courteously with a proper salutation
  • Add a warm up sentence
  • Avoid use of capital letters all through the text
  • Avoid acronyms
  • End carefully with a complimentary close
  • Sign off with your full name
  • Proofread your email for errors in language — vocabulary, grammar & punctuation


  • Reply immediately
  • Avoid circulating e mails to everyone
  • Send the copy of a mail only to those who have something to do with it
  • Avoid attaching unnecessary files
  • Answer all queries as exhaustively as possible
  • It strengthens our professional image & adds to the goodwill of the organization we work for
  • Avoid sexist language like ‘man is mortal’
  • Use e mail jargon sparingly
  • Keep your mailbox uncluttered
  • Delete junk mail regularly from the inbox
  • Read & edit your mails


  • Privacy is lost
  • Casualness creeps in – the email writer often forgets the distinction between a formal and an informal mail
  • Ambiguity – no universally accepted conventions in mail writing so people write in whatever way they want – casually, informally, colloquially – hampering the efficacy of the message
  • Virtue is sacrificed to convenience – using short quick and abbreviated versions
  • Abundant unsolicited mails