2009-12-26

Merry Christmas and a happy new Year to every ELK'ler and Mr Ringeisen!

I hope you all enjoy these few days with your family and friends before the time of work begins!
So, have yourself a merry little, blessed christmas with new books and all the other things you've gotten or will get today!

Get well soon, Mr Ringeisen! Hopefully we all shall meet again soon after the holidays!

Cornelia who is almost on her way to the next christmas party at her grandparents house!

2009-12-22

The Lord Bless You And Keep You

One of the popular songs by popular contemporary British composer John Rutter, to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!
Enjoy your holidays, even though they may be rather full of work, and set aside a few days for recovery.
Yours,
PR

2009-12-18

A few days ago my father got his “GEO” magazine. In there I found this picture of the Blue-footed Booby, which I want to show you, because I didn't know what that bird looks like.

© Eingesandt von: elduderino23735
In fact, I didn't expect the feet that blue.

2009-12-14

When shall we meet again?

Before I forget: Thank you very much for your kind gift and for the fabulous adapted rhyming quotation from "Macbeth"! It was really thoughtful of you and I appreciate it a lot.
The book is coming with me, and I'm sure I'll be able to tell you about it soon ;-)

Thanks again, and don't forget your English in the meantime :-)

.~.

2009-12-11

Christmas Spirit

English test is over, only two more to go (I've got Geography and German left),but finally we will be able to focus on christmas and get some christmas spirit going on ;)


2009-12-09

Why it is important to learn English

So, we watched this in the geography LK today because our teacher wanted to show this to us and I found this absolutely hilarious! I hope you'll have a good laugh, too.



And I'm sure we all will do better than that tomorrow :)

2009-11-29

Macbeth

Hello!

This afternoon, I was looking for a certain play by Burton Bumgarner (Personals and Proposals) when I accidentally found this play: Don't say Macbeth

www.histage.com/freeview.aspx?PSID=8305

If you are interested, have a look at it. It's just a preview, not much to read (shouldn't take you longer than 2 minutes), and a rather witty and interesting interpretation of the original shakespeare play, respectively a neat way to deal with it . I don't know how it continues, but i like the beginning of it, so I figured some of you might like it, too.

See you tomorrow...

2009-11-26

Happy Thanksgiving!

Considering that it is already very late and the majority of the ELKs will probably read this irgendwann am Wochenende (?) this is more a reminder or a side note...

It's Nov 26 2009 which means, today, America celebrates Thanksgiving :)
I didn't even know that till somebody pointed that out haha

So, now you know that Thanksgiving of 2009 was today and now you can brag with your knowledge ;)Interesting to know how people define Thanksgiving ;)

Technology and Environment

Hello everybody,

Here's your homework for Monday:
1. Read the excerpt from "Hard Times" by Charles Dickens (pp. 29-30/Viewfinder Special).
2. Translate the first twenty lines into German (pp. 29-30).
3. Do one of the analysis tasks (p. 31/3 or 4).

Don't forget to bring along your books on Monday.

Have a pleasant weekend all the same.

2009-11-21

Your favourite moment?

Have a look at the following video and decide which is your favourite (and your least favourite) moment.



(via Der Englisch-Blog - highly recommended)

2009-10-22

Is this a worksheet which I see before me?

If you want to practice some more, look at this:

A. P. Rossiter

There is no translation task there, but you can start at the beginning ;-)

~.~

2009-10-15

fair is foul and foul is fair...

good evening L(K)adies and Mr Ringeisen!

Maybe you can remember Mr Ringeisen explaining the meaning of the phrase in the headline to us?!

So this is what I thought when I wanted to search for some more details about the drama today!
You might now wonder why... Well, until yesterday I only could imagine our play when anybody talked about "Macbeth" but our lovely WIKIPEDIA disabused me:

Macbeth is also...
  • a scottish king (as we also should know)
  • an opera from Guiseppe Verdi bades on Shakespeare's play
  • a drama fram Roman Polanski based on Shakespeare's play (as we know from today)
AND:
  • one german and one italien metal band
So, that's how Macbeth sounds like...
(maybe it will soon be the soundtrack of a modern drama movie version of Macbeth ... ;)

What do you think about it??

p.s.: Jessy and Sabrina, I hope you had a pleasant day in munich and found the perfect universtiy!!

2009-10-14

International College Day in Munich

Hello fellow course-mates and Mr Ringeisen!

We won't be attending school tomorrow because we will go to Munich for shopping.

Ha, joke! In fact, we are going to the "International College Day" in Munich.

We just wanted to inform you of that in case you should wonder about our whereabouts. Of course, we will tell you about it on Monday if you are interested.

See you then, and have a nice Thursday!

Sabi and Jessi, i.a.
xoxo

2009-10-11

Claudia's words!

Hey everybody, it's me, Claudia! I can't think of my password.. here's my list:

crowd tickler Publikumsrenner
crass grob, derb
to tame zähmen
to deduct schlussfolgern
quatrain Vierzeiler
Hals-, & Beinbruch! Break a leg!
to cure heilen
interest die Zinsen (Pl.)
traitor Verräter
to hasten sich beeilen

2009-10-06

Hey ladies.
here are my words

truncheon - Schlagstock

insurrection - ein Aufstand

to blackmail sb - jdn erpressen

heretic - Gotteslästerer

distinctive - auffällig, prägend

poignant - schmerzlich, ergreifend

dye - Farbstoff, Färbung

repulsion - Abscheu, Abstoßung

to estimate sb. - jdn einschätzen

skill - Geschick

2009-10-04

bloke - Kerl
tube - reagenzglas
levitation - schweben
perch - stange
bricklayer - Maurer
wallour - wälzen
sick leave - Krankenurlaub
(un)due - (un)gerecht
to hoist up - (nach oben) hieven
passed on - von uns gegangen

Words

froward - eigensinnig, trotzig
peevish - reizbar
sullen - düster, mürrisch, trotzig
kneel - knien
staunch - überzeugt, treu, zuverlässig
plague - Pest
wire - Ader; Draht, Seil
to grant - jdm gegenüber zugeben
to tread - betreten, schreiten
to belie - etwas falsch darstellen, über etwas hinwegtäuschen

2009-10-03

starvation-Unterernährung

insinuate sth. - etw. unterstellen

objection-Einspruch

compassion-Mitgefühl, Mitleid

insufficiently-ungenügend

levitation-(freies) Schweben

mischief-Unfug, Schaden, Verderben

touchy-empfindlich, überempfindlich

covenant-Abkommen, Vertrag

hideous-abstoßend

Words

impose sth. upon so. - jmdm. etwas aufdrängen

incredulity - Ungläubigkeit

derisive - verächtlich, spöttisch

relentless - unbarmherzig, unnachgiebig

depravity - Verdorbenheit

thrift - Sparsamkeit

retention - Aufrechterhaltung, Beibehaltung

undue - übertrieben, unangemessen

to dissolve - verschwinden, trennen

pew - Kirchenbank

(Sources: Evangelical Christians feared, but multifaceted; Alice in Wonderland; Take a Pew; Historical and Religious Background of Puritanism)

vocabs

Unfortunately, I noticed a little, quite obvious mistake i made.
It's supposed to be

eve - Vorabend (instead of Vorhaben;)

Another 10 words...

1. (to) tote (verb) angeben
2. (to) contemplate sth (verb) etw in Erwägung ziehen, über etwas nachdenken
3.1 (to) query sth (verb) etw in Frage stellen
3.2 (to) query whether (verb) bezweifeln, dass...
4. (to) crave sth (verb) etw begehren (especially food)
5. subtle (adj) fein(sinnig)
6. (to) swap (verb) tauschen
7. vice (noun) Laster
8. virtue (noun) Tugend
9. (to) deprive sb of sth (verb) jdm etw entziehen
10. (to) concede sth (verb) etw zugeben

2009-10-02

Mary's Words

Some learnable vocs, I hope =)

  1. toddler - Kleinkind
  2. backlash - Gegenreakion, Rückwirkung
  3. offshoot - Ableger
  4. consternation - Bestürzung, Betroffenheit
  5. to refrain from doing sth - etwas unterlassen
  6. restrictive - be-, einschränkend
  7. pawn - Bauernfigur im Schach
  8. bigoted - frömmlerisch
  9. sophisticated - kultiviert, intellektuell
  10. foible - (kleine) Schwäche
(sources: ethnic diversity in the UK; Ev. Christians feared...; Oscar Wilde questions)

Vocabs

to sease - aufhören
specious - scheinbar, trügerisch, bestecherisch
to reason - argumentieren
reluctant - widerwillig
utter - äußerst
eve - Vorhaben
faintness - Schwäche
erudite - gebildet
subscription - Zugehörigkeit
constrict - einengen, zusammenziehen, beschränken

2009-10-01

hello everybody!
here's my list of words, enjoy it (;


1 perpetually - ständig, wiederholt (Hanif Kureishi- When cultures clash)

2 infamy - Verrufenheit, Schande (From Riot to Racial Harmony)

3 pervasive - weit verbreitet (Humor Rules)

4 to convene - sich versammeln (City upon a Hill)

5 carnal - sinnlich, körperlich, fleischlich (City upon a Hill)

6 to renounce - auf etw. verzichten (City upon a Hill)

7 to ordain - bestimmen, festsetzen (formal) (An entirely different way of life- The Amish)

8 effusive - überschwänglich

9 retort - heftige Erwiderung

10 dismay - Bestürzung (From Grief and Fear to over here)



Corneli

2009-09-30

Iris' words

This is the next part:

unwittingly (adv.) - unfreiwillig, unvorhergesehen
atrocities - Grausamkeiten
(to) scrutinise - etw. genau betrachten/ studieren

from "The Parrot Sketch"(I think..)

plumage -
Federkleid, Gefieder
complaint - Beschwerde
squawk (of birds) - Geschnatter, Gequassel
(to) pine for sth - von etw. träumen, etw. ersehnen

asset -
Vorteil
(to) reassure - beruhigen
(to) inherit - erben

So I hope you remember some of the words=).

Jessy's Voc

Hey,

I think I start with the words for our next vocabulary test. So here's my list:



"From Riot to Racial Harmony":

1) to ease: erleichtern, beruhigen

2) to raid: eine Razzia machen

3) drugs den: Drogenhöhle

4) allure: Reiz, Verlockung



"When Cultures Clash":

5) stubbern: stur

6) plain: schlicht, reizlos, klar, eben

7) to witness sth: etwas bezeugen, Zeuge einer Sache werden

8) riot police: Bereitschaftspolizei

9) industrious: fleißig

10) to screw up sth: etwas vermasseln

2009-09-24

Shakespeare

Not all of you got round to looking at all the material that was there on Tuesday.
So here you can read up on what you missed - and maybe have a second look at the rest:

William Shakespeare and His Time [PDF format, 1.8 MB]

2009-09-21

Guy Fawkes

Good evening.
When I was a child, I've got the PC-game: "Pink Panther's Passport to Peril".
It's about Pink Panther saving children. So, of course, he is going to England to get the favourite puppet of a boy, who has homesickness.
But this is no normal puppet. It should be Guy Fawkes.
Pink Panther does not know about Guy Fawkes and then the butler of that boy is singing about him, to explain Pink Panther who he was.
I thought I should send you this clip of this singing butler because Mr. Ringeisen was touching this subject today and also it gives you some information in a funny way.


Song about Guy Fawkes.

2009-09-19

No more Mary, in Peter, Paul and Mary

Mary Travers, the female star of the folk trio "Peter, Paul and Mary" died last week, aged 72. Many of the group's songs are part of the eternal American hit parade, and once you've heard their particular sound, you probably won't forget it.
There is a rather detailed obituary at the New York Times site, and of course YouTube has a number of songs to offer, among them Peter, Paul and Mary's version of the Bob Dylan Song "Blowin in the wind".



Also recommended:
Puff, the Magic Dragon
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

2009-09-17

The Sound of Music

Hello!
Today, Mr. Ringeisen told us that a lot of songs from the movie "The Sound of Music" were sung by famous musicians.
A few months ago I found this very funny clip on youtube. It shows Judi Dench performing "16 going on 17".

16 going on 17

2009-09-10

Looking for inspiration for the coming year?

Being president isn't about politics all the time.
President Barack Obama held an inspiring speech to motivate students to go to school on Tuesday, Sept 8 2009.



You can turn on the caption if you like (if it isn't on already; i'm confused about the word order right now...). Just click on the "CC" in the lower right-hand corner. I'm only at 8:30 so far (senior president was funny at around 1:56 ;) but I've read that there are conservative parents criticizing Obama's speech because it hints to socialism. What a joke.

To me, his speech is nothing more than inspiring and somehow it even makes one look forward to school on Tuesday ;)
Only one more year to go, girls!

Source: The White House

2009-08-31

Dorian Gray - The Movie

I found something interesting today :)



Dorian Gray will hit theaters on 09.09.09 in the UK, starring Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian in Narnia) as Dorian and Colin Firth (Bridget Jones's Diary, Mamma Mia!)as Lord Wotton.

You remember the play The Picture of Dorian Gray we saw in the ACC, don't you? If not, here's a short summary of the plot (taken from wiki because I'm too lazy to write one myself ;)

When a naïve young Dorian (Ben Barnes) arrives in Victorian London he is swept into a social whirlwind by the charismatic Lord Henry Wotton (Colin Firth), who introduces Dorian to the hedonistic pleasures of the city. Henry’s friend, society artist Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin) paints a portrait of Dorian to capture the full power of his youthful beauty and when it’s unveiled Dorian makes a flippant pledge: he would give anything to stay as he is in the picture - even his soul.


I think this will be Firth's second movie adaption of a work by Oscar Wilde after The Importance of Being Earnest (it rings a bell, doesn't it?).

I find the movie posters great, so I'll just add the other one, too - it is scarier though. Ben Barnes just has this something here... =)



Naturally, people will mostly watch Dorian Gray because of the cast and not because they've read "The Picture of Dorian Gray".
I know I would haha but we've seen the play at least.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the summer break ;)

EDIT:

OMG, I totally freaked about this trailer I found on YouTube



I wonder how close they kept the script to the original novel and how they designed the set. The last movie set in the Victorian Age I saw was Sweeney Todd and the city looked (for my taste) a bit too computerized.
The trailer reminds me of a mix up of thriller and horror...but I guess that's because the novel itself is written like that?

A scary trailer - but it makes the movie so tempting!

2009-08-26

Back To School Fashion

If you're worried about what to wear in the middle of September, here's some advice ;-)
(And remember: "advice" never has a plural "-s". Never ever.)

2009-08-06

Beat it :-)

Another tribute to Michael Jackson - enjoy.

2009-08-03

Summer holidays & movies

First of all, I wish you very enjoyable and relaxing summer holidays.
And second, have a look at this trailer - this version of "Alice in Wonderland" looks as if it will be a fascinating movie, too:

2009-07-11

Lost Generation

Feeling like being part of a "lost generation"? I hope not, but even if you do, there is hope. Turn everything around (well, maybe not everything, but the things that are going in the wrong direction). ;-)




2009-07-04

BBC Poetry Season - Sensational new football signing

Let's not forget poetry ... there's so much in it, and it has a magic quality that manages to fascinate people - even in the unusual setting that this videoclip uses. This year's BBC Poetry Season is on, and there are loads of treasures to be discovered.
The text of William Blake's poem can be found here, and while you're at it, it's a must to listen to the song "Jerusalem" (composed by Hubert Parry), which is one of the traditional last songs at the hugely popular last night of the Proms (Promenade Concerts) in London's Royal Albert Hall and other concert halls. With the last round of songs, which includes "Jerusalem", "Land of Hope and Glory" and, finally, "God Save the Queen", the members of the audience join in and sing enthusiastically.
If you are wondering what the text might be supposed to mean, have a look at the respective Wikipedia entry; it's quite well-written and gives you a short interpretation before going into the details.
Thanks a lot, Jochen Lüders, for drawing my attention to this fantastic clip for the first time, and to Markus Brendel for reminding me of it.

P.S.: Just discovered in the comments at Markus Brendel's blog: There is a song by Depeche Mode entitled "Told you so" (lyrics: Martin Gore, 1983), which is obviously based on Blake's poem. You can even listen to a Depeche Mode live performance of 1984. Not my style of music, I must say. But the textual parallels are interesting.

4th of July

Happy 4th of July!

Probably not so much of a big deal for Germans, but for Americans it is. Today's Independence Day. The USA declared its independence from the United Kindom in 1776, July 4th, evidently =)
So, if we were in the states today, we'd see huge fireworks, parades and people celebrating.
Just figured we should mention that in our blog at least a little....
Hope everyone's enjoying an amazing weekend.=)
See you monday.

2009-07-03

The joy of singing

I'm sure you've heard of Lily Allen. Here's a British children's choir who obviously have a lot of fun singing one of her songs. If you'd like to have a look at the lyrics, here we go: Chinese.

2009-07-01

Michael Jackson documentary

After Sabrina has already posted a comment and a video, maybe you're also interested in 45 min. documentary about Michael Jackson.



:|:

2009-06-26

Rest in peace Michael Jackson

So I was on my way to the graduation ceremony this morning (it was both fun and sad, right Claudi? :) when the radio DJ suddenly said that Michael Jackson has died.

I thought I should contribute something because I think MJ was a great inspiration for a lot of stars we like today, e.g. Justin Timberlake (okay, I'm only talking for myself here, but I hope you understand ;)

He wasn't called "King of Pop" for nothing and even if there have been scandalous rumours about him (remeber Neverland Ranch?), there's noboy who can deny that Jackson had a huge impact on the music industry regarding both music and dance(Moon-walk, anybody?).

Actually, I wasn't a big fan of him either although I really loved how kids performed his songs on the "Mini Playback Show" when I was little :)
And no...the following clip isn't the Mini Playback Show but MJ's performance of Billie Jean(1983) - those were the good times.

2009-06-23

Analyzing a cartoon

As I promised, here's a model answer for the interpretation of a cartoon.
It looks a little long, but that is because there are such a lot of details in this particular cartoon. Other cartoon interpretations may be somewhat shorter.

Model answer: Abitur cartoon

:|:

2009-06-18

PETA wishes Obama hadn't swatted that fly

This just made my day :)

WASHINGTON – The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants the flyswatter in chief to try taking a more humane attitude the next time he's bedeviled by a fly in the White House.

PETA is sending President Barack Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside.

"We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals," PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said Wednesday. "We believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals."

During an interview for CNBC at the White House on Tuesday, a fly intruded on Obama's conversation with correspondent John Harwood.

"Get out of here," the president told the pesky insect. When it didn't, he waited for the fly to settle, put his hand up and then smacked it dead.

"Now, where were we?" Obama asked Harwood. Then he added: "That was pretty impressive, wasn't it? I got the sucker."

Friedrich said that PETA was pleased with Obama's voting record in the Senate on behalf of animal rights and noted that he has been outspoken against animal abuses.

Still, "swatting a fly on TV indicates he's not perfect," Friedrich said, "and we're happy to say that we wish he hadn't."

Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said the White House has no comment on the matter.



I don't really know what to think of that...
Here is the clip of Obama swatting the fly.



Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090618/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_obama_dead_fly

2009-06-17

What have the Romans ever done for us

Thank you, Nina, for mentioning this movie. Now this is the other scene I told you about. It contains a couple of terms worth looking up, like "irrigation", "sanitation". - The end of the scene is marked by a strong knock at the door ... it's a Roman patrol, coming to search the house.



And here is a really good parody of the Monty Python scene, or rather it's a sort of translation into present-day arguments ;-)

Life of Brian

Do you remember that we talked about "Life of Brian" a long time ago? ;)
I was looking for something at youtube and incidentally I found one of the scenes Mr Ringeisen told us about.
If you're still interested you can have a look at it -->
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIAdHEwiAy8

2009-06-16

Obama note 'pardons' 4th grader

This is a cool example of how Obama can write a note, listen to a question, and put on a good show, all at the same time ;-)

2009-06-14

If I were a rich girl...

Being rich and famous – that’s what lots of people all over the world wish for themselves. And what seems to secure the existence of numerous internet services like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. But for becoming famous, you don’t really have to be talented, sometimes just a good or rather a striking idea counts.
Recently, I read about Tom Dickson’s broadcast on YouTube, called “Will it blend”, which about 1 million people watch in the USA. He’s become a kind of celebrity in the USA, but he works neither as an actor nor as a singer. Actually, he sells mixers. And the way he does is quite impressive, so if you don’t already know him, watch this video =)
(And yes, it is completely crazy.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxq90xmYUs&feature=related

2009-06-11

T-Mobile Sing-along Trafalgar Square (extended version)

A little crosscultural, international harmony in the middle of London (ethnic diversity, remember?) - it doesn't hurt to sing along ;-)
If you need the text, here it is: Hey Jude (songtext). Have fun.

2009-06-06

HOME (cinematic trailer)

Have a look at this - it's only two-and-a-half minutes long. And if you like it, you may want to watch the whole movie. "HOME" is a fascinating film about the beauty of our planet - and its imminent destruction if we don't act to protect it.


For the whole 93 minutes, go to this youtube site: HOME, the movie

:|:

2009-05-14

"The Chaos" - phonetic version

Yesterday I was looking for some texts written in IPA to practise for our oral note.  Then I found the phonetic transcription of "The Chaos". It's the poem we read some time ago.
Maybe someone is interested in it.

http://www.jochenenglish.de/misc/dearest_creature_phonetic.pdf

2009-05-07

Hey girls and Mr Ringeisen

Do you remember the word "schadenfreude" in our english lesson today? As you already know, it's a germanism. This one reminded me about the web site:

www. spreadgermanisms.com

There are some more germanisms. It's really interesting to read, because you normally don't think that there are so many in the English language. But I need to say this isn't the best web site, because there are a lot of repetitions of germanisms.
(Another one I read yesterday: "ersatz")

Also, I was looking for the video about Paris Hilton and the interview about the word huge.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmoeSrE3mmA

2009-05-06

Recipe

Hello again.
(I guess I have my productive day today=)
When I did my presentation about the United States, some of you were asking for the recipe of the cookies I baked for you. It actually just came up to my mind while I was making some for my family the other day
So, there we go, the original choclate-chip-cookies-recipe of my lovely hostmom:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate morsels (I'm pretty positive you can use small "smarties" or "m&m's" as well, in case you don't have chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Directions:
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

(If someone is too lazy to convert the measures, I've got measuring cups at home I let you borrow =)

I'm not sure whether I've put those links already or not, so I just do it again, they're quite amusing (at least Lisa and I think so when we are still cracking up whenever we watch it...)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwA_lU1AMRQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wggTSHb9RVk




Hugh Laurie: The British accent vs. American accent

Hello fellow classmates,
some of you might know Hugh Laurie from House, MD. (Tue, 09.15pm on RTL).
In case you have ever seen House in English, I have this "fun fact" for you: being a British national he's faking his American accent for House, MD.

He does a great job because for me, it was a great surprise to hear Hugh Laurie speaking with his "normal" accent. It just sounds...not House-like!
But I don't post this video to get you into House...no, of course not.
You learn some entertaining words to widen your horizon.
And with all our text-reading and pronunciation/intonation practice I thought it would be nice to hear native speakers again, at least after the Parrot Sketch.

the curious case of benjamin button

Just a quick note!
I figured some of you might be interested in that. Tonight (16.15 and 19.30) runs at Amberg's movie theater The curious case of Benjamin Button in English with German subtitle. I'm planning on going, so maybe I see some of you there!
Have a wonderful day!

2009-05-04

Hello everybody!

Accidentally I found a website where you can practise phonetic transcription (in addition to those exercises Mr Ringeisen showed us today ;))
If you want to have a look at that page just click here: http://www.btinternet.com/~ted.power/phonetics.htm

2009-04-29

Secrets of success

We all want to be successful in one way or the other - or better even, in more than one way.
Well - here's the key to success, if you've got three minutes to spare. Watch this speech by analyst Richard St. John, where he condenses years of interviews into a really worthwhile slideshow on the real secrets of success.



This video comes from the TED site. This is what they say about themselves:
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.
The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

If you've got some spare time (and a good internet connection), watch more of the speeches presented at ted.com. They're all fascinating, and it's a great way to practice your listening comprehension and to expand your vocabulary. Not all of the speakers are native speakers of English, so be careful there. But only great speeches and presentations make their way onto ted.com.

2009-04-23

One-word essay

After Mr. Ringeisen asked me more than one time to post my TEA-story, I'm finally doing that.

So if you remember, long time ago, we had to( or we were supposed to)
write a one-word essay about tea...I did my best and created this little fantasy narration:

TEA

It was just a normal Thursday. Cindy was on her way home from school when she passed a waste bin. Normally, there's nothing special about the corner where a cosy bench is waiting for a tired passer-by, with the waste bin and a tree standing beside it to keep it company.
But on this normal Thursday, as it seemed before, Cindy discovered a very nice wooden box lying on the ground next to the waste bin. She wondered if somebody might have lost it because it looked quite exclusive and not at all like garbage. So the girl decided to pick it up and maybe take it to the lost- property office later.
At home, Cindy went to her room without her mother noticing her. She began to examine her interesting discovery. It was carved very beautifully in a pretty pattern of exotic flowers. At the front, there was a fine gold handwriting saying "Indian Garden Freak Tea".
"Oh, it must be a souvenir from an adventure journey" , Cindy thought. Slowly she opened the lid.
A strange fragrance brushed over her nose. She closed her eyes. It was a smell like foreign herbs, like lavender, roses, jasmine, pepper, vanilla and some other scents Cindy could not name.
Suddenly she heard some birds singing and somewhere behind her there had to be a waterfall. A soft wind played with her hair and still she could smell the scent coming out of the little wooden box she was holding in her hands.
Then she looked up and realized that she wasn't sitting in her room anymore. Instead of her furniture, all around her soft green meadows streched to the horizon. All the plants and flowers and trees in full blossom were swaying in the summer wind. Cindy couldn't understand what had happened and how she was brought to this paradise. On a winding path two girls came towards her. They looked like Indians. In their hands they carried a cup of tea.
"Now I know why it smelled like tea. It seems that I landed in India", Cindy thought.
"Welcome to the Garden- Freak- Area, new girl", the two Indian girls said with a strange melody.
"You arrived at the right time to drink a cup of tea with our society. Follow us".
So Cindy stood up to go with them and to find out some more about this foreign garden.
"Cindy! Are you in there?", a voice shouted.
And suddenly, Cindy couldn't say how it worked, she found herself in her room again, just at the moment when her mother opened the door.
"Your father is home from work. It's lunch time! Are you coming?", she asked.
Cindy shook her head to get a clear mind.
"Sure, Mum, but can I have a cup of tea, please? I thought it's the right time for one", she answered.

2009-04-15

Have you seen Bo yet?

If you haven't, here he is:


Bo's First Day from White House on Vimeo.

Have a pleasant last third of the Easter holidays. Don't work too hard. And don't work too little ;-)

2009-04-02

importance of being earnest

Hello to everybody...
I don't know who has seen the play on wednesday, but I have =)
and I thought it was an amazing interpretation, and the actors did a really, really good job (only with the help of a director, who has at least the same amount of talent =), of course)
So, my personal advice to everybody: Try to get the best film version (keep in mind not the second best!), and watch it, otherwhise you definately miss out on something.
I hope you all enjoy your break, have a good time, and take care!
Jessica

2009-03-11

Obama declares March Irish-American month

This is totally random...but somehow I found this article quite amusing :D
It's a nice way to honor all the Irish-Americans.


Obama proclaims 'March is Irish'
US President Barack Obama has proclaimed March as Irish-American heritage month.


"I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, programmes, and activities," said President Obama.
"Irish-Americans are integral to the rich fabric of the US, and we are grateful for their service."

He said he wanted to honour "their journey and their lasting contributions to the history and culture of the US".
"Following the colonial migrations, the United States enjoyed the greatest influx of Irish during the 1840s as Ireland suffered the Great Famine," he said.
"Hungry but hopeful, poor but perseverant, Irish-Americans seized the opportunity to work hard, enjoy success, and pursue the American Dream.

'Leaders'
"Many took on the difficult work of constructing America's infrastructure. Others assumed positions of leadership.
"Among those leaders were signers of the Declaration of Independence and Presidents of the United States. Still others enjoyed great success and influence in the arts and literature.
"From social activists to business leaders, athletes to clergy, and first responders to soldiers, distinguished Irish-Americans have made indelible contributions to our national identity.
"Today, tens of millions of Irish-Americans can look back with pride on the legacy of their forebears."

Stella O'Leary, of the Irish-American Democrats, said: "We're getting a great reaction to it."

"People are saying it's wonderful, they're delighted we're being acknowledged.
"The White House issues these proclamations to honour various ethnic groups.
"We're not the only ones, there's an African-American heritage month, and an Indian one."

Ms O'Leary said she believed the idea for the proclamation for Irish-Americans came from the president himself.

"In my brief conversations that I've had with him, he tells me that he's very proud of his own Irish ancestry in County Offaly.
"I think he's very conscious of his Irish associations."

Source:
"Obama proclaims 'March is Irish'." BBC News. 04 March 2009. 11 March 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/7922481.stm. Web.

2009-03-09

2009-02-10

Additional stanza for "Not my best side"

Hey,
here's another suggestion for the "fourth stanza" of "Not my best side". I know that we talked about it some weeks ago, so I hope you can still remember the poem =)

This idiot on my back is quite heavy,
it's time for him to go on a diet.
God, I hope he's cautious with that big lance.
In any case, I don't even know why
he wants to rescue her,
she's so ugly in that pink dress
as it doesn't match her red hair.
And why can't we just take a little break
instead of fighting that damn dragon?
I believe she looks quite happy with her dragon.
Perhaps Georgie should leave them in peace
and look for a real job.
Dragon Management, what's that?
Technology would be nice and it's better paid, too.
He could even go hunting dragons in virtual worlds
- without getting us in danger!




rip says:
Just to make it easier for everybody to find related posts:

2009-01-25

Sunita Jain, "Fly the friendly skies"

"Fly the friendly Skies"- Sunita Jain
Short Short Stories Universal, Reclam
Pages 106- 111


Author:
Sunita Jain was born in Punjab 1941 in India and grew up in Delhi. She studied at the State University of New York and at the University of Nebraska. She teaches English at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi. Her writings contain Hindi and English works. This works include the short stories "A Woman is dead", "Eunuch of Time" and "Fly the Friendly Skies". She has also written a novel called "A Girl of Her Age", a collection of poems and she did also a number of translations from Hindi to English.

Content:
The short story "Fly the friendly Skies" is about a young Indian man called Arjun. He has moved to New York to discover the big apple as his new world. Already in India, he always wanted to escape the small village where he was born, unlike his brother who prefers his life in safety with his family. Arjun had moved to bigger cities in India, to New Delhi and finally to "America, the beautiful" (p. 108, l. 10). In New York he wants to start a new life.
But this dream doesn't become true like Arjun had imagined it to. After three days in New York he realizes that the way of life there turns out to be not very dreamy. In fact, it's very boring when you have nobody to talk to. He is "extremely tired and alone" (p.106, l. 17). Arjun suddenly feels resigned about his decision to go into a foreign country (cf. p. 106, ll. 11-17).
In front of a carpet shop, where Indian carpets are shown, he meets an old lady who starts a conversation with him. She asks him, "Tell me, how long does it take to make one of those?" (p.109, ll. 12-13). They walk almost to her home while talking. The young man realizes "how little he knew about India" (p.109, ll. 17-18). Arjun is happy to have someone to speak to, but on the other side he remembers that a friend had once told him not to trust old people in America. They might want friendship and one remains hurting them with not giving back this friendly feeling (cf. p.110, ll. 6-8).
Suddenly Arjun sees another Indian. He gets excited about the possibility to have a word with a man from his country about his experiences and feelings in the foreign land. So he leaves the old lady and talks to this Indian.
But the conversation is not very successful, because the man tells Arjun that he had come to New York to meet new people and not to meet other people from India (cf. p.111, ll. 7-9).
Arjun is quite disappointed about this quotation and he realizes that his new life is not a candy mountain and that it's not easy to reach the friendly skies.

Stylistic Devices and Language:
The authoress uses a number of stylistic devices to make her text more effective.
For example, she emphasizes the meaning of America for the young inexperienced Arjun with the allusion "America, the beautiful" (p.108, l. 10). This quotation is from an old song which expresses a strong patriotic feeling in the United States. It shows what big, important and impressing effect this country has on Arjun. The allusion also tells that the young Indian sees America as his new home country, so Arjun is already familiar to one of the patriotic songs everybody knows there.
Another stylistic device is a personification. "The buildings belched out men and women" (p. 106, ll. 4-5) is a picture that shows how lively and moving New York enters the minds of its visitors. Especially Arjun experiences a great change from India to America. For him, the Big Apple seems to be even more impressive, because it's also a totally different culture he steps in. As a result this personification gives a good idea how the city looks for an "alien" (p. 106, l. 4), who comes to a new environment.
In general, Sunita Jain uses simple phrases, which are easy to understand. Furthermore, the reader is introduced to a few Indian terms to underline Arjuns' background. He longs for "the vague evenings near Regal or Janpath" (p.107, ll. 6-7) and for "the hypnotic scent of jasmine gajaras" (ll. 8). The usage of these words emphasizes Arjuns' homesickness in this moment, when he sees all the New Yorkers going home.

Narrator and Point of View:
"Fly the Friendly Skies" is told by a third-person narrator with a limited point of view. The narrator is not a character in the story, but looks at it from the outside. He sees everything what Arjun sees because he explains his point of view. He also knows Arjuns feelings e. g. when he gets homesick and remembers the "scent of jasmine gajaras" (p.107, l. 8). The narrator also knows what happened in the past when Arjun talked to his brother before he left India (p. 107, ll. 13-19). Because of the limited point of view of the narrator we don't know thoughts or feelings of the people Arjun is talking to (old woman, Indian man).
Sources:

http://sunitajain.com/bio_en.htm
http://sunitajain.com/index.htm

__________________________________
by Iris Lotter and Anna Reuschl

2009-01-22

Donald Barthelme, "The Baby"

Breitkopf Michaela & Schmidt Sandra

“The Baby“ by Donald Barthelme



At first we want to give you some information about the author Donald Barthelme.
The author of the short story “The Baby”, Donald Barthelme, was born on April 7th 1931 in Philadelphia. Two years later his family went to Texas because his father got a job as an architect at the university of Houston. From 1951 onwards he wrote his first articles for the Houston Post. In 1953 Donald Barthelme was conscripted into military services and was drafted in the Korean War.
In 1961, Barthelme became director of the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston. He announced his first short story the same year. The author published his short stories at The New Yorker at first, but after a while a choice of them was released in books.
Together, the author wrote four novels and more than 100 short stories.
Moreover he is seen as a considerable exponent of the american post-modern literature.
Donald Barthelme died on July 23rd in Houston because of cancer.



Summary:

The story is about a baby that tears out pages out of books continuously.
At the beginning the baby had started tearing out only one page. Later on the amount of pages rises day by day. As a punishment the parents locked her daughter in her own room and ignored the screaming and crying from behind the closed door. The more books the baby destroyed the longer Born Dancin’ had to stay in her room. She takes every chance to pull out some pages but she manages to concentrate only on the corners of the papers because she is scared of her parents’ cruel punishment. The parents still believe that their way of education is the best because later her child has to live in a world of laws and rules.
One day the situation escalates when the baby was locked for 88 hours and her mother takes the door off its hinges with a crowbar. This is the point in the story where the first doubts emerge. The child’s activity doesn’t diminish no matter what measures the parents take.
Consequently the couple accept their child with all of her behaviours.



Language:

The narrator in the short story is a First-person narrator with a limited point of view. He is a character in the story. Throughout the story he doesn’t remain neutral, but he is able to get the feelings and thoughts of the characters to the readers.
The author uses a number of stylistic devices to make his short story more effective.
To emphasize the strange behaviour of the baby, Donald Barthelme uses the simile “like a bat out of hell” (l.2). A simile is a comparison between two things with similar qualities. A bat is supposed to fly very quickly away, but the addition “out of hell” lends a supernaturally quality to the image, suggesting that some kind of evil magic could enhance that bat’s speed. The baby rushes very quickly out of her room as if she were persecuted by a devil. Born Dancin’ is really keen on tearing out some pages of every book she is close to. Her parents always lock her baby in her room that she isn’t able to catch some other books. But always the baby has the chance to get out of her room she rushes to the next book insanely.
The baby’s destiny is also linked to another stylistic device. A parallelism “It solved it by declaring that is was all right to tear pages out of books, and moreover , that is was all right to have torn pages out of books in the past. “ occurs in ll. 11-13 to embody the father’s doubt about of the way of education. The author wants the reader to pay attention to these lines through a string of phrases with more or less the same structure. This is the reversal point where the father accepts the behaviour of his little daughter. It seems that the father tries to make the best of the baby’s activity and stops punishing his daughter in future.



Interpretation:

After reading the short story “The Baby” we were really horrified how the parents treat her own baby. We assume that a baby at the age of fourteen month hasn’t got a natural sense of justice and doesn’t know what’s right or wrong. It should be the parent’s job to explain their baby that it is not correct to tear out pages of books. Whereas it’s an irresponsible attitude to lock their child in her room for hour instead of taking care of Born Dancin’.
Especially in this time of growing up babys need love, affection and feelings of security. Nowadays many parents are overstrained in questions of education. Many children are neglected or even abused. We know that it is difficult to parent a child in these days but you have the option to get professional assistance in case of demands.

2009-01-21

"Holiday in Germany" by Richard Brautigan

Fellow ELKs,
we proudly present our Short Story Presentation on "Holiday in Germany" (no, that's not showing off here, it's just that we're taken aback by that funny stanza by Iris :).
Please do enjoy :D

"Holiday in Germany" by Richard Brautigan



About the author:
Richard Gary Brautigan was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1935. Being raised by his mother and several stepfathers, he hardly had any contact with his biological father, who had abandoned him and his mother even before Brautigan was born. The experience of a shattered family and child abuse in his childhood had a big influence on his writing as he began writing poems at the age of 12. At the beginning of the 1950s he cut all ties with his family and settled down in San Francisco, California to establish his career as a writer. His novels were mostly read by college students thus his sudden fame through his society-criticizing novel Trout Fishing in America slowly decreased with the end of the student movement in the 70s. Although he kept on publishing various novels, short stories and poems with other theme subjects, he could never reach the fame he had with his first novel. Apparently that’s why he committed suicide in 1984. He leaves a series of poetry collections and various novels behind, often dealing with black humour, satire and parody which includes the short story “Holiday in Germany”.

Plot
“Holiday in Germany” is about two German boys on a bus who are on a trip through the US.
They are busy with chatting until they see a Volkswagen coming up next to the bus window they are seated at. The moment the two boys see the two girls in their VW, they boys can’t help but to stare at the girl on the passenger side all the time, which causes her to act in a nervous way like playing with her hair, although she doesn’t see the boys glaring. They lose sight of her twice because of traffic, but every time the Volkswagen and the girl reappear beside the bus they continue staring at her until she and her friend notice. The girls wave thus making the boys on the bus happy until the VW disappears taking an off ramp.

Narrator
The short story “Holiday in Germany” is told by a first-person narrator with a limited point of view.
He begins the short story by introducing himself, his financial situation and goes on with explaining what happened the day before on the bus he was on. The narrator only describes what he can observe from his point of view. He never tells the reader what the people he observes are thinking or feeling. Only an omniscient narrator would be able to do that.
The only time the narrator is omniscient is at “They were in America for a three-week vacation. It was almost over [...]” (p. 55, ll. 21) because the narrator himself couldn’t know that the boys were on vacation or how long they were staying. The boys only speak in German and the narrator does not seem to understand what they are saying. So if they were talking about their vacation the narrator would not have been able to understand them.
Also, the narrator comments on the other protagonist’s behaviour. He appears to make omniscient comments but he only says the ideas he got from the actions of the people around him: “They were healthy, normal sex fiends. “ (p. 56, l.1), and” [...], participating in the age-old Candy-Store-Sex-Window Syndrome. “(p. 56 ll. 20) appear to be comments from an omniscient narrator, but it must be pointed out that the narrator here is commenting on outward acts of the people he observes.

Stylistic devices
To make the story more visual and to give readers a better idea of what is happening in the story many stylistic devices are used.
One of them is the imagery “The German boys really had their faces pressed against the window now.” (p. 56, ll. 4). It underlines that the two boys love to gaze at beautiful women. Furthermore a few lines after that situation Brautigan uses a metaphor for the young woman sitting in the car next to the bus. He calls her „a perfect freeway Mona Lisa“(p. 56, ll. 24). This symbolizes the ambiguity of the half-smiling young woman, because the painting “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci has got the same ambiguous smile and nobody knows what it actually means.
Also, the “Candy-Store-Sex-Window Syndrome. “ (p. 56 ll. 20) is used to lighten up the situation by putting a candy store window on the same level as sex (or flirting). This sentence also makes the latter less serious and more playful, which the author wanted to achieve in this short story.
But the stylistic device, which is used the most often, is irony: „Too bad, there was no way they could get out of that bus and into the Volkswagen to meet the girls, but things like that are impossible.“ (p. 57, ll. 16) This statement underlines the gloating of the narrator, who just wanted to have a nice ride to Monterey, but then he has to bear with the boys.

Language
Brautigan uses a simple, familiar language in his short story. The narratopr doesn’t even mind making fun of himself: “Let’s put it up in front right now: I’m not an expert on holidays. I just don’t have that kind of money. You might even go so far as to say that I am poor. I don’t mind because it’s true.” (p. 55, ll. 1-5)
The use of irony (cf stylistic devices)and the familiar language makes the story seem more relaxed.

Interpretation and comment
Oddly enough, Brautigan named the short story “Holiday in Germany” whereas the story is about two boys from Germany going on holiday in America. We wondered why, but actually there are a few things that do make the holiday in America seem like a holiday in Germany: First, the two “American” girls in the VW – a German brand - are both blonde and at the first sight aloof. It takes time to “shatter[…] [their] cool.” (p. 57 l.8) although people say Americans are open minded to foreigners.
Asking somebody about the image crossing his mind when thinking of the adjective “German”, the respond will be: blonde. Germans are said to not be humorous nor open about their feelings. In contrast to that image, the two “German” boys are openly showing their interests towards the girls in the VW by having “their faces pressed against the window” (p. 56 ll. 4-5). To cut it short, Brautigan seems to have switched the typical character traits of Germans and Americans.
Considering that and the fact that he published his works after WWII, when Germans were prejudiced and even hated, Brautigan created a funny parody on Germans with his short story “Holiday in Germany”.

Sources:
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b162/JstLykaWmn/brautigan.jpg (2009-01-20)
Barber, John F. "Richard Brautigan: Personal Background." Brautigan Bibliography and Archive. 17 Jan. 2009. 19 Jan. 2009 http://www.brautigan.net/biography.html. Web.

Brautigan, Richard. Holiday in Germany. Short Short Stories Universal. Stuttgart: Reclam, 2005. Print.

written by Lara and Sabi

About the horse

Hey Elks!
Just in case you need an alternating programme from all the short stories:
I wrote a little section about St. George's horse.=)

But wait, listen it's me
who cannot be left out.
I'm sure, now that you've realized me
you don't understand how you
could forget ME.
Am I not majestic?
The curve of my neck,
the power of my hindquarters,
the swing of my tail,
my shimmering white
and my splendid armour...
my whole appearance is impressive, isn't it?
So, do you finally learn that
I AM THE TRUE HERO?
I've got the responsability
for this whole thing.
My power, my speed and my nature..
Isn't it ME who deserves your cheering?
Well, I think I am.


So, this is it and I hope you liked it a little bit.
And don't forget:
copyright by Iris*g*


2009-01-18

"Happy" by Joyce Carol Oates


Author
Joyce Carol Oates was born in Lockpot, New York.
She grew up on a farm and enjoyed the natural environment. She displayed a precious interest in books and writing and at age 14 she began preparing herself, "writing novel after novel" throughout highschool and college. Later she had become one of the most respected and honored writers in the United States.
To date, she has published 37 novels and novellas, including a series of experimental suspense novels under the pseudonym Rosamund Smith.
She is Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University and continues to live in Princeton with her husband of over 35 years. In 1996, Joyce Carol Oates received the PEN/Malamad Award for "a lifetime of literary achievement"
Summary
The story "Happy" is about a girl who flys home at Christmas to visit her mother. At the airport she meets her mother and her mother´s new husband. Both of them payed compliments after they welcomed each other (p.46,l.1-10).
The girl feels the happiness of her mum, but also can see that she is an elderly lady now, with "veins in her arms" (p.46,l.11) and a "pancake makeup" (p.46,l.14) to hide her lined face.
They drive to Easy Sal´s and drink something which her mother calls "celebration drinks" (p.47,l.2). The woman tells about saling the old house and moving into a newer building.
After that she speaks about her great new feelings and that she is so happy with the new circumstances but the daughter reacts sceptical.
Because Easy Sal´s has entertainment a young landy, looking like a punk, appeares and sings about abortion, lesbians and other crazy things. The girl´s mother and her new husband are amused but the man sais that he doesn´t "approve of dirty language issuing form woman´s lips, whether they are dykes or not" (p.449,l.5/6).
After that they eat something in a Polynesian restaurant and the elderly woman and her husband behave like teens, hold hands and giggle together (p.49,l.12 ff.).
When the lady goes to the toilet the man wants the girl to know that her mother is the most wunderful woman to him and the girl sais that she knows it.
The mother´s new husband answeres in "a fierce vioce cose to tears: Damn right, sweetheart:
you know it" (p.49,.l 21 ff.)
Stylistic Divives
The two similes (p. 47,l. 23 ff.) "He makes me feel like living again" and "(...) like a woman again" emphasise how happy and lucky the elderly woman is.
However she is at older age everybody can see that she doesn´t feel like that and that the situation is like starting a new life for her. She can´t stop smiling and talking about the new plans she has with her new husband and that shows that he, and his love, are the reason for her wonderful feelings
On page 49 (l.13 ff) you can find an enumeration: "(...) they were in high spirits again, laughing a good deal, holding hands between courses, sipping from each others tall frosted bright colored tropical drink".
This sentence makes clear for the reader that the girl´s mother and her new husband feel and behave like teens, however they are grown-up. For them everything in the world is wonderful and their love is the only thing that counts.
Language
The author uses a large number of adjectives and adverbs to describe the situations, the emotions and the appearances of people and things. It makes the story more interesting and exciting for the reader and it´s more fun for him to read it.
The omnicent narrator describes in detail and so the reader has the possibility to get a lively and great story. He tells about feelings and reactions that everybody knows what´s happening inside the persons.
All in all, i can say you should read that story.



by Katharina Müller

2009-01-16

Learn welsh website

Hello everbody,

our new topic is really inspiring...

Accidentally I found one webside by the BCC where you can learn welsh. So - who is interested in learning one or two more words or just want to have a short look on this (in my eyes) strange but fascinating language can click here.
(Tip: The litte game with Colin and Cumberland is really sweet =)).

So, thanks for reading
and Pob hwyl(=Alles Gute).
BB,
the (!) Mary

2009-01-15

"Dead men's path" by Chinua Achebe

Short short stories universal (p.67-71)

“Dead men’s path” by Chinua Achebe

The author:
Chinua Achebe was born in 1930 in Ogidi, in Nigeria and belongs to black Africa’s most widely read novelists. He is a member of the Ibo people and was born into a Christian family. Nevertheless he always felt attracted to the customs of non-Christian Nigerians. As he personally made the experience of ethnic and religious discrimination in his country as well as of violence during the civil war in 1967, tolerance and the cultural problems and changes which were caused by the arrival of the Europeans in Africa belong to the most important topics of Achebe’s works. The conflict between the original African culture and the modern, western culture is also the main topic in his short story “Dead men’s path”.
Plot:
"Dead men’s path” is about a young teacher, Michael Obi, who is promoted to headmaster of a school which is said to be very unprogressive. He and his wife are looking forward to this new challenge because they are given the chance to modernize the school and to realize their idea of the perfect school. His wife is even making plans about the sorts of flowers on the school grounds. But soon Obi observes that some of the people living in the village near the school use a small path across the school compound. As Obi fears the Government Education Officer could reject this use of the school compound, he decides to block the path by planting sticks at the end and the beginning of the path. After a while, the priest of the village comes to visit Obi and asks him to reopen it. The priest explains the villagers’ belief that it is used by dead peoples’ souls to leave the earth, and that it is the path for the newborns’ souls. However, Obi doesn’t make up his mind. When a woman dies giving birth to a child two days later, the villagers blame Obi for her death. Believing they have to reconcile their ancestors, they trample down the flowers of the school compound and even pull one of the school buildings down. To make things worse, the supervisor comes to inspect the school and writes a bad report about Obi’s unwise decisions as a headmaster because of the damages which were caused and the conflict Obi elicited.
Narrator:
"Dead men’s path" is told by an omniscient third-person narrator, because he switches forth in time twice in the story ("Three days later”, p.70, l. 4). The narrator isn’t part of the story and the most important character for him seems to be Obi, as it is him who appears in every scene of the story. Additionally, the narrator describes mainly Obi’s opinion, wishes and behaviour. Even so you could say that the narrator’s view is limited because he merely depicts the different places in which the protagonist’s are set as well as the characters’ emotions and thoughts. The narrator also comments very little on the different characters’ decisions and behaviour in the story.
Language and stylistic devices:
In general, the language that Achebe uses in “Dead men’s path” is easy to understand. Even so the numerous images in the text, above all the ones which seem to be taken out of a religious context, are striking, e.g. the phrase “let the hawk perch and let the eagle perch” (p.71, l.1), which is the golden rule of the Ibo religion (cf. http:// www.kwenu.com /odinani/ odinani.htm) and a demand for more tolerance and peaceful co-existence between different cultures or religions. There is also an allusion to the Bible, when “Obi was admiring his work” (p.69, l.6), which presents Obi as a kind of god in the world he created: the school.
Frequently used stylistic devices in the story are for example exaggerations and irony. Firstly, there is an exaggeration that underlines Obi’s position towards the path’s importance. It is obvious that he doesn’t respect the priest’s explanation of the path’s meaning for his religion. Obi considers it as nonsense and therefore he doesn’t want "people to make a highway of [his] school compound" (p.70, ll. 12 f.). This expression shows how important this perfect little world is for him and that he can’t allow anyone to destroy his work.
Moreover, Obi’s one-sided way of thinking is emphasized by a sarcastic phrase:" I don’t suppose the ancestors will find the little detour too burdensome" (p.71, ll. 7 f.). This example shows that Obi thinks of the priest’s religion in a ridiculous way and makes fun of it. He doesn’t count other opinions and considers his position as the one and only. Furthermore, Obi criticizes the priest’s old-fashioned way of thinking. His religion is very ancient and unfamiliar for him and therefore he thinks it is less important and less respectable, too.
Intentions:
"Dead men’s path" leads to two different intentions. Firstly, the author wants to stress that it is important to move on, to develop and to be modern, as the change the school undergoes is actually positive. But progress doesn’t automatically mean the devaluation of old and traditional things. In the story Obi is the character who represents the modern pole, whereas the priest holds on to his traditional religion. Obi, who considers himself to be in a higher position, has a very low opinion of unmodern things. This leads us to the second intention. The author wants to emphasize that the world is missing of tolerance. Above all, the various religions get into fights with each other. They want to prove which one is the right one without accepting other opinions or making compromises. This lack of tolerance sometimes even causes wars or the death of hundreds of people regarding the suicide attacks committed because of religious conviction. In "Dead men’s path" Obi doesn’t respect the priest’s religion and devalues it as superstition. He doesn’t even try to understand the unknown and just waits for the moment to jump in and show the priest how wrong his attitude is. In fact, these two different men could co-exist happily if they just made a compromise, which gets at any rate impossible by Obi's intolerance, and finally both parties lose.

Sources (2009-01-09) :
http://www.kwenu.com/odinani/odinani.htm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/profile/chinua-achebe.shtml (author)
Written by Katharina Mayer und Jessica K.

2009-01-13

Welsh Language broadcast

After talking about Wales in class and listening to an interview with pupils from a Welsh Medium School, maybe you're interested in what it sounds like if people actually speak Welsh coherently (as opposed to pronouncing single, isolated words like I demonstrated ...).
This little video (just under 3 minutes) is a party-political clip by Plaid Cymru, which is (if I got that correctly) a rather strongly nationalist Welsh party, with quite leftist political aims. But that shouldn't bother you - their Welsh is beautiful :-)

2009-01-11

Grace Paley, "Mother"


“Mother” by Grace Paley (p.50,51)



The Jewish Grace Paley was born in 1922 and grew up in the Bronx, New York.
Quite dedicated in the civil rights movement she started writing short stories in the fifties. Additionally, Paley was involved in the women’s- and the peace movement.
She wrote a number of short stories but got never done a whole book.
Her stories contain mostly daily people from different ethnic groups, especially of the Jewish population. Grace Paley often tells her stories in an ironical sound and perspective of a female narrator.



Summary and Interpretation:

The story “Mother” by Grace Paley is told by a daughter, we assume, who misses her dead mother. She mentions several times that she wishes she could see her mother in the doorway one more time, like she used to before her mom passed away (p.50, ll.6/7). Additionally, she has different flashbacks of certain moments she experienced with her mother. Always caring about what will happen to her daughter in the future is how she kept her mother in mind (p.50 ll.21/22). The sentence “Then she died”, which refers to the mother’s passing, occurs here for the first time (p.50, l.23). Regretting her mum had to die in a time where she still had to worry about her daughter so much, she wants her mom to see her now and notice what she’s done with her life and that she’s able to take care of herself.
Despite the fact that her mother isn’t alive anymore, she imagines her whole family being together in the living room (p.51, ll.4-10). The pictured scenery appears to her like it has just taken place. That’s the reason why she wants her mother back. The daughter has the opinion that she would have a happy, complete, perfect family again.
In the last two paragraphs she pictures a scene between her mom and her dad. They are sitting together, having lack of communication because her mum wants to talk to her husband but he would prefer just to get some rest after his workday (p.51, ll.16/17).
After all, the young woman realizes that her family has never been perfect even when her mother was still alive. Consequently, the phrase “Then she died” (p.51, l. 19) appears again probably for the reason that she finally accepts the fact that her mother is dead. She becomes aware that things didn’t just become bad because of her mum’s absence. They haven’t been the greatest before either.


Stylistic devices:

The author uses different stylistic devices in order to make the story more effective. With the obvious rhetorical question “what will become of you?” (p.50, ll.21/22) the mother wants to express her concern about her daughter’s future. Being aware of the fact that she’s going to die, the mother points out with that question that she wants her daughter to get up and change herself. The reader gets the impression that the mother really cares about her daughter although she isn’t trying very hard to achieve the expectations of her mother (p.50, ll.9-11)
Another striking stylistic device amongst others is when the father complains about his work. He uses a repetition of the word “talk”. It occurs four times in the last paragraph (p.51, l.17). The father responds to his wife’s demand to talk with these words, but he actually does the contrary of the words’ meaning (p.51, ll.17/18). As a result, he says the words “talk talk talk talk” (p.51, l.17) back-to-back but, nevertheless, still doesn’t talk to her which is rather ironic.

Language:

The first thing which is very conspicuous for Grace Paley’s language is that she leaves all the quotation marks in her direct speeches out. She might do this to point out that the scenes are just the narrator’s flashbacks and don’t happen in the present. Secondly, the author expresses herself in quite simple words, and keeps her sentences relatively clear and brief.

Comment:

The general message of the text is about a relationship between a mother and a daughter. It’s not rare that girls just start to appreciate their mothers once they’re on their own. Like it is in the story, most don’t take much of their mothers’ advice, but later they realize how their mom made the family complete and how much they needed her.


Work Cited:

Paley, Grace. "Mother". Short Short Stories Universal. Ed. Reingard M. Nischik. Stuttgart: Reclam, 2005.


Source of picture:

The newsletter for the society for women in philosophy, Fall 2007. Accessed: 10 January 2009. www.uga.edu/iws/swipnews/archives/memorials_f07.html.


Jessica B. and Nina