Department of English

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A Guide For Creative Thinking

Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:12 am by BHSoft

A Guide For Creative Thinking by Brian Tracy
Einstein once said, “Every child is born a genius.” But the reason why most people do not function at genius levels is because they are not aware of how creative and smart they really are.I call it the “Schwarzenegger effect.” No one would look at a person such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and think how lucky he is to have been born with such …


Africain Literature

Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:15 pm by Lily

Things Fall Apart is a 1959 English-language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, and one of the first African novels written in English to receive global critical acclaim. The title of the novel comes from [url=http://www.answers.com/topic/william-butler-yeats-3]


Algeria's Newspapers ...

Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:11 pm by Lily

study study study study



http://www.algeria press.com/
http://www.algeria press.com/alkhabar.htm
http://www.algeria-press.com/elwatan.htm
http://www.algeria-press.com/echoroukonline.htm
http://www.algeria-press.com/elmoudjahid.htm
http://www.algeria-press.com/liberte.htm
http://www.algeria-press.com/horizons.htm
http://www.algeria-press.com/el-massa.htm
[url=http://www.algeria-press.com/ech-chaab.htm]…


Algerian Vote

Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:39 pm by Lily

Algerians are voting in a presidential election which opposition groups have described as a charade.












American English

Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:00 pm by Maria

Going to is pronounced GONNA when it is used to show the future. But it is never reduced when it means going from one place to another.

We're going to grab a bite to eat. = We're gonna grab a bite to eat.
I'm going to the office tonight. = I'm going to the office tonight.

2. Want to and want a are both pronounced WANNA and wants to is pronounced WANSTA. Do you want to can also be reduced …

American Slangs

Sat Mar 21, 2009 8:54 pm by Maria

airhead: stupid person.
"Believe it or not, Dave can sometimes act like an airhead!"

amigo: friend (from Spanish).
"I met many amigos at Dave's ESL Cafe."

ammunition: toilet paper.
"Help! We're completely out of ammunition!"

antifreeze: alcohol.
"I'm going to need a lot of antifreeze tonight!"

armpit: dirty, unappealing place.


An Introduction to the British Civilization

Wed Nov 18, 2009 10:54 am by Maria

University of Batna First Year
English Department G: 6-7-8-9
General Culture

[center]An Introduction to the British Civilization

*The United Kingdom :

Full Name : The UK's full and official name is the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".

Location: The United Kingdom (UK) of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a country …

Announcements and News

Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:55 am by Lily


"Dear students , we would like to inform you that , from now on , your marks can be consulted through your Website ...Let's surf ! bounce bounce Wink

Applying for Research Study in the Department of English

Sun Apr 12, 2009 11:32 pm by Lily

Applying for Research Study in the Department of English

The process of applying for a research studentship begins with the identification of a potential supervisor. If you already know a staffmember who is willing to work with you to develop a research proposal,please start by contacting them. If you do not have a supervisor inmind already, …



    Modules Taught

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    Suprasegmental Features of the English Language

    Post by Lily on Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:44 pm

    Suprasegmental Features of the English Language

    Traditional orthography and phonetic transcription promote the view that speech is segmentable. Substitution tests of minimal pairs where the substitution of one segment creates a change in meaning by establishing contrasts (e.g. pit – bit – fit) lends supports to this assumption.

    This conviction however is somewhat simplified since spectrograms showspeech as continuous where the sounds merge into one another, evenanticipating the following sounds. Speech is by its very nature continuously varying. The same segment which is perceived as the samemay be articulated differently in different contexts. As an example,consider the phoneme /p/ which can be realised aspirated in pie but unaspirated in spy. Furthermore, sounds may differ in different discourse patterns such as in loudness or in different pitch contours.
    The Prosodic Features of the English Language
    The prosodic features in language encompass the pitch, loudness, andduration of speech. Such features also contribute to the soundstructure of a language and they contribute to meaning by establishing contrast. Prosodic features are also referred to as "Suprasegmentals"because such features generally occur over large stretches ofutterances above the segment.
    In order to contribute to meaning the prosodic features have to establish a difference in pitch, duration, or loudness in relation to the surrounding stretches of the utterance. In other words a contrast mustbe established between the absolute values of the intrinsic loudness,pitch, or duration of the segmental features of a given speaker withe relative and extrinsic values over stretches of the utterance.The relative modulation in pitch, relative loudness, or relative duration contribute to the phonological structure of a language by giving some syllables – the smallest possible domain over which they may extend –more prominence than others. Such prominence is often linguisticallyimportant and contributes to meaning.
    The Importance of Word Stress and its Contribution to Meanin
    Wordstress may involve in varying degrees all the prosodic features ofspeech sounds in the English language and it may also distinguishbetween different levels of meaning in words such as ‘billow and be’low – ‘differ and de’fer.

    A more common distinction that occurs in English is between differentgrammatical classes. Distinctions occur between verbs and nouns e.g. ‘insult and in’sult – ‘rebel and re’bel.In such cases the noun is always stressed on the first syllable while the verb is stressed on the second syllable. Similarly, the stress may distinguish between an adjective and a verb e.g.‘abstract and ab’stract.
    Prosodic Features and Intonation in Speech
    The contrast in meaning that the prosodic features produce is not limited at word level. The stressed syllables are the backbone of intonation which can produce a number of different meanings by the means of pitch accents.

    The English language unlike tone languages uses pitch primarily for intonation purposes. The unit of intonation isknown as an intonation group which carries its own group of meaning. In each intonation group there is one most prominent syllable, referred toas the nucleus, with major pitch movement.
    The same word or phrase uttered in a different pitch pattern can convey a different meaning. A simple utterance may convey emotions in speech intonation such as the impression of finality with a fall, whereas arise may convey uncertainty. Intonation in speech also signifies a difference between questions and statements.
    The placement of the nucleus also contributes to meaning. It can be usedfor a contrastive purpose for instance by focusing on one particular aspect of the utterance:



    • Where is the book?
    • The blue one.
    • No the red one.
    Intonation is continuously used to convey difference in meaning. It focuses the attention on the most important part of the utterance.The use of pitch,duration and loudness work from the syllable to word-stress or sentence stress, to rhythm and intonation, which all contribute to meaning inour everyday discourse at a level above the segment. Meaning is created above the segment by the means of prominence established by pitch,loudness and duration.


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    Re: Modules Taught

    Post by Lily on Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:25 pm

    Intonation and Stress in English Pronunciation

    The Rhythym of a Language Speakers and learners of English are interested in improving their ACCENT They quite properly give importance to their pronunciation.The Rhythym of a Language:


    Speakers and learners of English are interested in improving their ACCENT. They quite properly give importance to their pronunciation. However, making the correct English sounds is only a part of a correct accent. A native accent also depends on proper links between parts of the expressions spoken, and also the proper intonation or stress on the parts of the words in the spoken utterance.

    It is necessary to have the proper ?music? or rhythm of the language that is spoken. You all know the following word game. What is a ?zookee?? Ask this of a native born English speaker and they will not know what you mean. If you say, ?It is used to open the gate to a place where animals are kept?. He or she will know that you are saying ?zoo key?. You may have pronounced the sounds perfectly but your link between the two parts of the word caused your listener to not hear ?zoo key?.

    The same thing happens with word stress. A native speaker of English knows whether you mean the place where the president of the United States lives, or a house that is painted white when you say ?white house?. Similarly when you say ?dark room?, you mean either a room with no lights on, or the place where a photographer develops film. It is the word stress (which has certain rules that you will learn in other articles) that makes the difference.

    This article will present an example of and the reasons for the importance of proper word stress.

    A. Read the following sentences aloud timing how long each one takes to read. Then count the syllables in each sentence.

    The beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance.
    (How long did it take to read? ______ seconds.) (How many syllables does it have? ________)

    He can come on Sundays as long as he doesn't have to do any homework in the evening.
    (How long did it take to read? (______ seconds.) (How many syllables does it have? ________)

    ? Notice that the first sentence actually takes about the same time to speak well!

    ? Even though the second sentence is approximately 30% longer than the first, the sentences take the same time to speak. This is because there are 5 stressed words in each sentence.

    B. Learn the following facts concerning pronunciation.

    ? English is considered a stressed language while many other languages are considered syllabic.

    ? In other languages, such as French or Italian, each syllable receives equal importance (there is stress, but each syllable has its own length).

    ? English pronunciation focuses on specific stressed words while quickly gliding over the other, non-stressed, words.

    ? Stressed words are considered content words: Nouns e.g. kitchen, Peter - (most) principle verbs e.g. visit, construct - Adjectives e.g. beautiful, interesting - Adverbs e.g. often, carefully

    ? Non-stressed words are considered function words: Determiners e.g. the, a - Auxiliary verbs e.g. am, were - Prepositions e.g. before, of - Conjunctions e.g. but, and - Pronouns e.g. they, she

    C. Practice and Keep it up

    ? Write down a few sentences, or take a few example sentences from a book or exercise.

    ? First underline the stressed words, then read aloud focusing on stressing the underlined words and gliding over the non-stressed words.

    ? Be surprised at how quickly your pronunciation improves! By focusing on stressed words, non-stressed words and syllables take on their more muted nature.

    ? When listening to native speakers, focus on how those speakers stress certain words and begin to copy this.

    ? Now, do some listening comprehension or go speak to your native English speaking friends and listen to how they concentrate on the stressed words rather than giving importance to each syllableStressed words are the key to excellent pronunciation and understanding of English.

    D. Tips:

    ? Remember that non-stressed words and syllables are often "swallowed" in English.

    ? Always focus on pronouncing stressed words well, non-stressed words can be glided over.

    ? Don't focus on pronouncing each word. Focus on the stressed words in each sentence.




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    Piaget's Four Developmental Stages

    Post by Lily on Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:50 am

    Stage 1: the Sociological Model of Development
    During this first stage, roughly corresponding to the 1920s, Piaget investigated children's heretoforeunexplored semiclinical interview. He began with a standardized question, but followed up withnonstandard questions that were prompted by the child's answer. In order to get what Piaget called children's "spontaneous convictions" he often asked questions that the children neither expected nor anticipated. In his study of children's conception of the world, for example, he asked children whether a stone was alive and where dreams came from. He made a comparative study of children's answers and found that for these and for similar questions there was a gradual progression from intuitive to scientific and socially acceptable responses.Conceptions of the world, the hidden side of children's minds. To further this exploration Piaget made use of a combination of psychological and clinical methods.During this early period, Piaget published The Language and Thought of the Child, The Child's Conception of the World, The Child's Conception of Physical Causality, and The Moral Judgment of the Child. Each of these books was highly original and they made Piaget world famous before he was thirty. In these books he elaborated his first theory of development, which postulated the mental development was fueled by a social dynamic. He proposed that children moved from a position of egocentrism (a failure to take the other person's point of view into account) to sociocentrism (the recognition that others see the world differently than they do).Children moved from the egocentricsociocentric position thanks to social interaction and the challenge to younger children's ideas by the ideas of those children who were more advanced. Piaget made it clear, however, that the young children's egocentric ideas were not wrong, but merely different from those of the older children. Egocentric ideas are developmentally appropriate for young children, if not for older ones.
    Stage 2: the Biological Model of Intellectual Development
    In 1928 Piaget married one of his graduate students and started a family in the 1930s. Having his own infant children set the stage for the second phase of Piaget's work, the exploration of the development of intelligence in infants. During this period, Piaget studied his own three offspring. The semiclinical interview was clearly not of much use with infants who could not talk. Piaget, therefore, invented a number of ingenious experiments to test the infant's knowledge about the world. Forexample, he placed a cloth over a toy that the infant was playing with to see whether or not the baby would try to remove the cloth to recoverthe toy. If the baby removed the cloth this would be evidence that he or she had some mental representation of the toy. If the baby did not remove the cloth, but merely cried in frustration, this would be evidence that the infant had not yet attained representational thought.
    During this second period of his work, Piaget elaborated a biological model of intellectual development, which he combined with the sociological model of the earlier period. He now described intelligence as having two closely interrelated facets. One of these, carried over from the earlier period, was the content of children's thinking. The other, new to this period, was the process of intellectual activity. Piaget now introduced a truly powerful idea, namely, that the process of thinking could be regarded as an extension of the biological process of adaptation.
    He argued, for example, that the child who sucked on anything and everything in his or her reach was engaging in an act of assimilation, comparable to the assimilation of food by the digestive system. Just as the digestive system transforms a variety of foodstuffs into the nutriments needed by the body, so the infant transforms every object into an object to be sucked. At much higher level, whenever one classifies an object, say a dog, he or she in effect assimilates this exemplar to their more general dog concept. In so doing the particular dog is transformed into the universal, conceptual dog. At all stages of development, therefore, whenever one transforms the world to meet individual needs or conceptions, one is, in effect, assimilating it.
    Piaget also observed that his infant children not only transformed some stimuli to conform to their own mental structures but also modified some of their mental structures to meet the demands of the environment.He called this facet of adaptation accommodation. At the biological level the body accommodates when, for example, its blood vessels constrict in response to cold and expand in response to heat. Piaget observed similar accommodations at the behavioral and conceptual levels. The young infant engages primarily in reflex actions, such as sucking the thumb or grasping.But shortly thereafter the infant will grasp some object and proceed to put that in his or her mouth. In this instance the child has modified his or her reflex response to accommodate an external object into the reflex action. That is to say, the infant's instinctual thumb sucking reflex has been adapted to objects in the environment. Piaget regarded this behavioral adaptation as a model for what happens at higher intellectual levels as well. Whenever one learns new facts, values, or skills, he or she is, in effect, modifying mental structures to meet the demands of the external world.
    In Piaget's view, assimilation and accommodation are the invariant processes of intellectual processing and are present throughout life.Furthermore, because the two are often in conflict they provide the ower for intellectual development. The child's first tendency is to assimilate, but when this is not possible, he or she must accommodate.It is the constant tension between assimilation and accommodation and the need for some form of equilibrium between them that triggers intellectual growth. For example, in the "hiding the toy experiment" described above, the six-month-old infant simply cried while the one-year-old infant lifted the cloth to reveal the hidden object. This initial upset, and failure of assimilation, thus led to the infant's construction of a mental image of the object. This new construction allows the child to solve the problem and remove the cloth from thetoy. At each level of development, the failure of assimilation leads to a new accommodations that result in a new equilibrium that prepares for yet another level of disequilibrium.
    Piaget published the results of these infant studies in three books, The Origins of Intelligence in the Child, The Construction of Reality in the Child, and Play Dreams and Imitation. These books continue to stimulate a wide range of investigations into the developing abilities of infants.
    Stage 3: the Elaboration of the Logical Model of Intellectual Development
    During the third period of his work, from the 1940s through the 1960s, Piaget explored the development of many different physical and mathematical concepts in children and adolescents. To explore the physical and mathematical conceptions of children and adolescents, Piaget returned to the semiclinical interview, but in modified form. He decided that the way to test children's level of conceptual development was to challenge their understanding of conservation, that is, their understanding that an object's physical or mathematical properties do not change despite a change in its appearance. Piaget based this methodology on the fact that scientific progress occurs when judgments of reason win out over judgments based upon appearance. The discovery of the roundness of the earth is a good example. The ancients believed that the world was flat. It was only from later observations and reasoning about the disappearance of ships on the horizon and the shadow of the earth on the moon that the perception of flatness could be overcome.To test children's understanding of conservation,Piaget presented children with a wide array of tasks in which the child had to make a judgment on the basis of either perception or reason.Only when the child made his or her judgment on the basis of reason was the child said to have attained conservation. For example, in his studies of children's conception of number, Piaget confronted children with two rows of six pennies, one spread apart so that it was longer than the other. Young children judge the longer row to have more pennies, while older children judge both rows to have the same amount.Older children have attained the conservation of number while younger children have not.With this conservation methodology, Piaget and his longtime colleague, Barbel Inhelder, explored how children constructed their concepts of number, space, time, geometry, speed, and much more. In this third phase of his work, Piaget introduced a logical model to explain children's attainment of conservation in different domains and at different age levels. It is this logical model of intellectual development for which he is perhaps best known.

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    French Phonetics IPA

    Post by Lily on Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:54 pm

    ExemplesObservations

    fr. la, là, âme ; all. da, Rad

    En français, cette voyelle apparait aussi à la fin de mots comme roi, toi(t) et écrite ê dans un mot comme poêle

    als. mache "faire", Naacht "nuit"
    Voyelle de l'alsacien, absente du français et de l'allemand standard. - Le même signe est utilisé avec un autre sens dans certaines transcriptions du français (le [] de pâte, opposé au [a] de patte).

    fr. entendre, plan, jambe
    Voyelle propre au français (nasale)
    als. (strasb.) Brätt "planche"Voyelle très ouverte, proche de [a]
    all. leiden, Laib, WeisweilLe groupe [ai] est à produire en une seule syllabe, comme dans le français page.
    all. Lauch, FrauLe groupe [au] est à produire en une seule syllabe, comme dans l'anglais how, ou mouse
    fr. bébé ; all. bauen, Bad, EbbeEn alsacien, on se servira de ce signe pour une consonne en fait un peu différente, mais qui correspond souvent au ou au [p] de l'allemand

    fr. aide, don ; all. die Bude
    En alsacien, on se servira de ce signe pour une consonne en fait un peu différente, mais qui correspond souvent au [d] ou au [t] de l'allemand

    fr. recevoir, ancre ; all. alle Tage, als. mache, verliere.
    Voyelle extrêmement variable d'une
    langue à l'autre, et à l'intérieur de chacune ; en alsacien, certaines parlers ont une voyelle simple à la place d'une diphtongue pour ce qu'on écrit ie.
    fr. été, effacer ; all. lesen, WegVoyelle en principe longue en allemand, brève en français.
    fr. prêt, lève, effet, fait, pleine ; all. Messer, SägeL'alsacien a pour cette voyelle et la précédente des formes un peu plus fermées, qu'on représente à l'occasion par les mêmes signes.
    fr. fin, faim, thym, plein, limbeVoyelle propre au français (nasale).
    fr. faim, girafe, photo, paraphe ; all. Foto, rufen
    fr. gogo, langue ; all. gegessen, Lage, GrundNe pas confondre avec la consonne de fr. lange. (Voyez à la fin de la liste le signe )
    - En alsacien, on se servira du signe [g] pour une consonne en fait un peu différente, mais qui correspond souvent au [g] ou, dans certaines positions, au [k] de l'allemand
    all. haben, verheißen, HildesheimConsonne absente du français, où elle ne subsiste que sous forme d'absence de liaison et d'élision (dans la honte, les Hongrois)
    fr. lit, ridicule ; all. die LippeEn fait l'allemand a deux voyelles distinctes ici, l'une brève et l'autre longue ; nous ne les distinguons pas dans ce document.
    fr. yoyo, paille, moyen ; all. jeder, jaNous ne noterons pas par [j] ici le second élément des diphtongues [ai] (voyez ci-dessus, signe ai)
    fr. coq, coque, claque, clac ; all. kaufen, Frack, KükenLes mots français clac ou claque seront donc transcrits [klak].
    fr. Lille, cil, bol ; all. Liebe, BallLa prononciation des ll de ville, mais non de ceux de fille !
    fr. môme, comme ; all. Dame, zusammenComme souvent pour d'autres consonnes, la graphie double ne sert qu'à indiquer la brièveté de la voyelle qui précède.
    fr. nonne, cane, canne ; all. Kahn, nur, ich kannLes mots fr. cane et canne se transcrivent l'un et l'autre [kan] (homonymes complets).
    fr. parking, ping-pong, ; all. singen, Engel, eine Menge, linksLes mots fr. comportant ce phonème sont tous des emprunts, en général à l'anglais.
    fr. soigner, poignet, gagner Phonème absent de l'allemand, mais présent en italien (gn comme en français), en espagnol (ñ) et en portugais (nh)
    fr. sot, seau, pôle ; all. so, Boden, bohrenVoyelle fermée, en principe longue en allemand, le plus souvent brève en français. - En alsacien, on note par ce signe une voyelle moyenne (un peu plus ouverte)
    fr. mort, sotte, poteau ; all. doch, soll, LotteEn français, la voyelle est moins nettement ouverte en syllabe non finale de mot.
    fr. long, bon, tomberVoyelle propre au français (nasale).
    fr. deux, creuser ; all. lösen, noms propres comme Roederer
    fr. beurre, coeur, all. Mönch, Mörder
    fr. lundi, un, à jeun, Autun, VerdunBeaucoup de Français ne distinguent pas cette voyelle de [] : ils prononcent de la même façon brin et brun, Ain et un, hautain et Autun (mis à part les liaisons et les élisions)
    fr. pape, trappe ; all. Lippe, PreisLes consonnes française et allemande ne sont pas totalement identiques en fait, mais la différence peut être négligée ici.
    all. reden, grConsonne compliquée, en allemand, en raison du traitement particulier après voyelle.

    fr. rire, gros, frère
    On use de signes différents pour le
    français et pour l'allemand en raison de la réalisation différente de cette consonne, mais on pourra négliger ici cette différence.
    fr. si, lisse, douce, science ; all. dass, Maß, ProstNe pas confondre avec [z] (voyez ci-dessous). - En fait cette consonne apparait aussi dans la réalisation de ce qui s'écrit x (fr. taxe [taks], all. Axt [akst])
    fr. vache, chanter ; all. schauen, waschen

    fr. tête ; all. Tat
    Malgré les différences entre l'allemand
    et le français, et surtout entre l'alsacien et ces deux langues écrites, cette consonne ne pose pas de problème.
    fr. vous, cou ; all. Ruhe, du
    oo dans des mots anglais comme shoot - Ne pas confondre avec [y] (voyez ci-dessous). - L'allemand a en fait ici une voyelle brève et une voyelle longue, que nous ne distinguerons pas.
    fr. vous, rêve ; all. wo, LawineNe pas confondre avec [w] (voyez ci-dessous)
    fr. toi, moyen, kiwi ; angl. waterNous ne noterons pas par [w] ici le second élément des diphtongues [au] (voyez ci-dessus, signe au)
    all. lachen, Bach, Loch, TuchArticulation presque comme pour [k], mais en laissant passer l'air ; le rapport entre [k] et [x] ressemble à celui qui existe entre [t] et [s].
    all. Licht, rechnen, mancher, durch, StrolchArticulé beaucoup plus en avant que [x], comme [j], mais sourd (faites un [j] "chuchoté")








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    Kolb's Learning Style

    Post by Lily on Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:32 pm

    Kolb's learning styles

    David Kolb has defined one of the most commonly used models of learning. As in the diagram below, it is based on two preference dimensions, giving four different styles of learning.
    ACCOMODATORS
    Concrete
    Experience

    DIVERGERS

    ^
    Perception
    |



    Active
    Experimentation
    <-------- Processing --------
    ------>

    Reflective
    Observation



    |
    |
    V



    CONVERGERS


    Abstract conceptualization

    ASSIMILATORS

    Preference dimensions
    Perception dimension
    In the vertical Perception dimension, people will have a preference along the continuum between:

    • Concrete experience: Looking at things as they are, without any change, in raw detail.
    • Abstract conceptualization: Looking at things as concepts and ideas, after a degree of processing that turns the raw detail into an internal model
    People who prefer concrete experience will argue that thinking about something changes it, and that direct empirical data is essential. Those who prefer abstraction will argue that meaning is created only after internal processing and that idealism is a more real approach.
    This spectrum is very similar to the Jungian scale of Sensing vs. Intuiting.Processing dimension
    In the horizontal Processing dimension, people will take the results of their Perception and process it in preferred ways along the continuum between:

    • Active experimentation: Taking what they have concluded and trying it out to prove that it works.
    • Reflective observation: Taking what they have concluded and watching to see if it works

  • Four learning styles
  • The experimenter, like the concrete experiencer, takes a hands-on route to see if their ideas will work, whilst the reflective observers prefer to watch and think to work things out.
    [b]Divergers(Concrete experiencer/Reflective observer)

    Divergers take experiences and think deeply about them, thus diverging from a single experience to multiple possibilities in terms of what this might mean. They like to ask 'why', and will start from detail to constructively work up to the big picture.
    They enjoy participating and working with others but they like a calm ship and fret over conflicts. They are generally influenced by other people and like to receive constructive feedback.
    They like to learn via logical instruction or hands-one exploration with conversations that lead to discovery.
    Convergers (Abstract conceptualization/Active experimenter)

    Convergers think about things and then try out their ideas to see if they work in practice. They like to ask 'how' about a situation, understanding how things work in practice. They like facts and will seek to make things efficient by making small and careful changes.
    They prefer to work by themselves, thinking carefully and acting independently. They learn through interaction and computer-based learning is more effective with them than other methods.
    Accomodators(Concrete experiencer/Active experimenter)

    Accommodators have the most hands-on approach, with a strong preference for doing rather than thinking. They like to ask 'what if?' and 'why not?' to support their action-first approach. They do not like routine and will take creative risks to see what happens.
    They like to explore complexity by direct interaction and learn better by themselves than with other people. As might be expected, they like hands-on and practical learning rather than lectures.
    Assimilators(Abstract conceptualizer/Reflective observer)

    Assimilators have the most cognitive approach, preferring to think than to act. The ask 'What is there I can know?' and like organized and structured understanding.
    They prefer lectures for learning, with demonstrations where possible, and will respect the knowledge of experts. They will also learn through conversation that takes a logical and thoughtful approach.
    They often have a strong control need and prefer the clean and simple predictability of internal models to external messiness.
    The best way to teach an assimilator is with lectures that start from high-level concepts and work down to the detail. Give them reading material, especially academic stuff and they'll gobble it down. Do not teach through play with them as they like to stay serious.
    [/b]
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    The experimental Learning Cycle

    Post by Lily on Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:07 pm

    The Experiential Learning Cycle

    Experiential Learning Styles
    Elaborations of the Experiential Learning Cycle
    Forms of Knowledge and the Learning Cycle
    The Kolb Model and Subject Disciplines
    The ideas on this page have been adopted and adapted to all kinds of learning situation, but it should be noted that they refer to learning from experience or discovery (such as situated learning) rather than to taught (or "reception" learning, as Ausubel calls it) or rote learning.

    This suggests that there are four stages in learning which follow from each other: Concrete Experience is followed by Reflection on that experience on a personal basis. This may then be followed by the derivation of general rules describing the experience, or the application of known theories to it (Abstract Conceptualisation), and hence to the construction of ways of modifying the next occurrence of the experience (Active Experimentation), leading in turn to the nextConcrete Experience. All this may happen in a flash, or over days, weeks or months, depending on the topic, and there may be a "wheels within wheels" process at the same time.The most direct application of the model is to use it to ensure that (pace the reservations above) teaching and tutoring activities give full value to each stage of the process. This may mean that for the tutor or mentor, a major task is to "chase" the learner round the cycle, asking questions which encourage Reflection, Conceptualisation, and ways of testing the ideas. (The Concrete Experience itself may occur outside the tutorial/mentoring session).

    Experiential Learning Styles

    Honey and Mumford (1982) have built a typology of Learning Styles around this sequence, identifying individual preferences for each stage (Activist, Reflector, Theorist, Pragmatist respectively), Kolb also has a test instrument (the Learning Style Inventory) but has carried it further by relating the process also to forms of knowledge.

    Learning styles mean that:


    • At a minor level there is a need for adjustment between learner and teacher: sometimes their preferences are complementary, sometimes antagonistic, and of course sometimes collusive if they both tend to go for the same stages in the cycle.

    1. At a major level, neglect of some stages can prove to be a major obstacle to learning.
    2. At a really serious level, teachers are easy to con with plausible but pernicious snake-oil (e.g. ideas about "learning styles" —follow the links to the right).
    Elaborations of the Experiential Learning Cycle

    Not all forms of skill and knowledge emphasise all the stages of the Cycle to the same extent, and Kolb has carried the argument further by relating topics and subject areas to the cycle in the following ways:


    • Concrete Experience corresponds to "knowledge by acquaintance", direct practical experience (or "Apprehension" in Kolb's terms), as opposed to "knowledge about" something, which is theoretical, but perhaps more comprehensive, (hence "Comprehension") and represented by Abstract Conceptualisation. This distinction was first made by Aristotle, and has been discussed by epistemologists ever since
    Reflective Observation concentrates on what the experience means to the experiencer, (it is transformed by "Intension") or its connotations, while Active Experimentation transforms the theory of Abstract Conceptualisation by testing it in practice (by "Extension") and relates to its denotations.


    The denotation/connotation construct is mine rather than Kolb's, offered as a way of clarifying the model. Kolb also plays around with the spelling of "intension" (sic.).
    This distinction is not easily identified by many people, and is one example of where Kolb may go over the top: he does have a tendency to elevate his model to a theory of Life, the Universe and Everything. Nevertheless, there is a simpler point here, which he does not make very clearly: Concrete Experience and Reflective Observation are essentially the private and personal parts of the cycle, whereas Abstract Conceptualisation and Active Experimentation are more public and visible to others. Hence behavioural theories of learning concentrate almost exclusively on the visible Active Experimentation processes.


    Forms of Knowledge and the Learning Cycle

    The four quadrants of the cycle are associated with four different forms of knowledge, in Kolb's view. Each of these forms is paired with its diagonal opposite.
    Convergent and Divergent Knowledge

    1. This distinction was first made by Hudson (1967) in terms of styles of thinking rather than forms of knowledge: convergent knowledge brings to bear a number of facts or principles on a single topic: problems have "right" and "wrong" answers. Hudson believed convergent learners tended to be more highly valued in school, because most assessment approaches focus on convergent skills. Examples include applied maths, engineering, and some aspects of languages. It is located in the quadrant between Abstract Conceptualisation and Active Experimentation.
    2. Divergent knowledge on the other hand, is (very broadly) more about creativity — it is about the generation of a number of accounts of experience, such as in literature or history or art. Judgement about the quality of divergent knowledge and skills is much more difficult, because these are private areas. It is generated between Concrete Experience and Reflective Observation.
    Assimilation and Accommodation
    Hands up if you remember your Piaget! Assimilation and Accommodation are in his view two dialectically related processes (i.e. opposing principles — thesis and antithesis — between which a compromise —synthesis — has to be negotiated) which describe (roughly) different relationship between knowledge of the outside world and knowledge already held in our heads.
    Kolb's approach to integrating these Piagetian ideas with the cycle is generally less successful than his application of Hudson. The search for new rules (Abstract Conceptualisation) to formalise observations (Reflective Observation) may well be an accommodative exercise, and very often trial and error learning (Active Experimentation) consists of moving from one known rule to another in the hope that one of them fits, so it is has an important element of assimilation in it. Nevertheless, the approach does help to focus attention on the relationship between the general and the particular. Assimilation includes fitting particular instances into general categories, and Accommodation is about working from the general principle to the particular application Personally, I would replace the term "Assimilation" with the more common-sense one of "Description" and "Accommodation" with "Prescription", in the sense of a concern for what you ought to or must do.
    The Kolb Model and Subject Disciplines

    Kolb and his colleagues have undertaken extensive empirical work using the Learning Styles Inventory to relate different subject disciplines to the quadrants of the learning cycle and hence to different forms of knowledge: partly for reasons of space and partly for copyright reasons, you are referred to the text for the results.

    1. Broadly speaking, he suggests that practitioners of creative disciplines, such as the arts, are found in the Divergent quadrant.
    2. Pure scientists and mathematicians are in the Assimilative quadrant
    3. Applied scientists and lawyers are in the Convergent quadrant
    4. Professionals who have to operate more intuitively, such as teachers, are in the Accommodative quadrant
    5. There are also differences in the location of specialists within the more general disciplines
    This would suggest that different subject areas call for different learning styles, and raises the usual chicken and egg question as to whether the discipline promotes a particular learning style, or whether preferred learning style leads to adoption of a discipline, or of course, both. (All of the above assumes that there is some validity in this conceptualisation of "learning styles".)
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    Vancouver English Pronunciation

    Post by Lily on Sun Jun 28, 2009 3:44 pm

    English Pronunciation Courses




    Beginner Pronunciation

    Reduce common pronunciation errors and develop more natural intonation and stress patterns.
    Terms: 4 weeks and 8 weeks
    Prerequisite: VEC Level 3-5
    Schedule: Monday to Thursday / 12:50 pm to 3:40 pm
    Intermediate Pronunciation
    Reduce common pronunciation errors and develop more natural intonation and stress patterns. Learn about English consonant and vowel sounds, intonation, word stress, word reductions, sentence rhythm, and blending words in English conversation.
    Terms: 4 weeks and 8 weeks
    Prerequisite: VEC Level 6-9
    Schedule: Monday to Thursday / 12:50 pm to 3:40 pm
    Advanced Pronunciation

    Reduce common pronunciation errors and develop more natural intonation and stress patterns. You will learn about English consonant and vowel sounds, intonation, word stress, word reductions, sentence rhythm, and blending words in conversation.
    Terms: 4 weeks
    Prerequisite: VEC Level 10
    Schedule: Monday to Thursday / 12:50 pm to 3:40 pm
    Free Online English Practice

    Improve your English pronunciation skills. Our conversation partner pronounces various English phrases and word pairs. You can repeat what she says and listen again. This will help you identify and pronounce different sounds in the English language. Start learning now with our free
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    Linguistics :Cambridge Course Outline

    Post by Lily on Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:41 am


    Course outline
    Linguistics is divided into a one-year Part I and a two-year Part II. Part I provides a foundation across a wide range of linguistics taught within the Department of Linguistics while Part II allows you to specialise in the areas which particularly interest you.
    Part I
    Year 1
    In Part I, you take the following four papers:


    1. Sounds and Words
    2. Structures and Meanings
    3. Language, Brain and Society
    4. History and Varieties of English
      Part IIA
      In Part IIA, you take four papers chosen from a wide range of options dealing with different linguistic levels and perspectives, including the following:


    • Phonetics
    • Foundations of Speech Communication
    • Phonology and Morphology
    • Syntax
    • Semantics and Pragmatics
    • Historical Linguistics
      There are around a dozen further papers to choose from, dealing with the linguistics of particular languages or language families, or (in one case) experimental psychology.
      Part IIB
      Year 3
      In Part IIB, as well as choosing two further papers from the options above, you take a compulsory general theory paper, and during the year you write a dissertation on a topic of your choice.
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    British Literature:Cambridge Seminars

    Post by Lily on Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:12 am


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    Phonetics:Vowels

    Post by Lily on Sun Jun 21, 2009 12:14 pm

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    Phonetics:Classification of Consonants (Pulmonic and non-Pulmonic)

    Post by Lily on Sun Jun 21, 2009 12:13 pm



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    Phonetics:Tones and Word accents

    Post by Lily on Sun Jun 21, 2009 12:09 pm

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    Phonetics:Diacritics

    Post by Lily on Sun Jun 21, 2009 12:08 pm

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    Phonetics:Suprasegmentals

    Post by Lily on Sun Jun 21, 2009 12:06 pm

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    Phonetics:Spectrograms4

    Post by Lily on Sun Jun 21, 2009 10:58 am

    Nasal stops
    Nasals have some formant stucture, but are better identified by the relative 'zeroes' or areas of little or no spectral energy. In Figure 7, the final nasals have identifiable formants that are lesser in amplitude than in the vowel, and the regions between them are blank. Nasality on vowels can result in broadening of the formant bandwidths (fuzzying the edges), and the introduction of zeroes in the vowel filter function. Nasals can be tough, and I hope to get someone who knows more about them than I do to say something else useful about them. You can sometimes tell from the frequency of the nasal formant and zero what place of articulation was, but it's usually easier to watch the formant transitions. (This is particularly true of initial nasals; final nasals I usually don't worry about--if you can figure out the rest of the word, there's only three possible nasals it could end with.) (Actually, being loose with the amount of information you actually have before you start trying to fit words to the spectrogram is one of the tricks to the whole operation.)

    Figure 7. Spectrograms of "dinner", "dimmer", "dinger".
    The real trick to recognizing nasals stops is a) formant structure, but b) relatively lower-than-vowel amplitude. Place of articulation can be determined by looking at the formant transitions (they are stops, after all), and sometimes, if you know the voice well, the formant/zero structure itself. Comparing the spectrograms above, we can see that 'dinger' (far right) has an F2/F3 'pinch'—the high F2 of [ɪ] moves up and seems to merge with the F3. In the nasal itself, the pole (nasal formant) is up in the neutral F3 region. 'Dinner' (middle) has a pole about 1500 Hz and a zero (a region of low amplitude) below it until you get down to about 500 Hz again. The pole for [m] in 'dimmer' is lower, closer to 1000 Hz, but there's still a zero between it and what we might call F1. Note also that the transitions moving into the [m] of dinner are all sharply down-pointing, even in the higher formants, a very strong clue to labiality, if you're lucky enough to see it.Approximants

    In case you're not familiar with the term (generally attibuted to Ladefoged's Phonetic Study of West African Languages or as modified in Catford's Fundamental Problems in Phonetics), the approximants are non-vowel oral sonorants. In English, this amounts to /l, r, w, j/. They are characterized by formant structure (like vowels), but constrictions of about the degree of high vowels or slightly closer. Generally there's no friction associated with them, but the underlying approximants can have fricative allophones, just as fricative phonemes can occasionally have frictionless (i.e. approximant) allophones.Canonically, the English approximants are those consonants which have obvious vowel allophones. The classic examples are the [j-i] pair and the [w-u] pair. I have argued that [ɹ] is basically vowel-like in structure, i.e. that syllabic /r/ is the most basic allophone, but there are those who disagree. Syllabic [l]s are all at least plausibly derived from underlying consonants, but I'm guessing that'll change in the next hundred years.

    Figure 8. Spectrograms of 'ball', 'bar', 'bough', 'buy'.
    In Figure 8, the approximants are presented in coda/final position, where the formant transitions are easiest to discern. Note that in all four words, the F1 is mid-to-high, indicating a more open constriction than with a typical high vowel. For /l/, the F2 is quite low, indicating a back tongue position—velarization of 'dark l' in English. The F3, on the other hand, is very high, higher than one ever sees unless the F2 is pushing it up out of the way. In "bar", the F3 comes way down, which is characteristics of [ɹ] in English. Compare the position of the F3 in "bar" with that in "bough" and "buy", where the F3 is relatively unaffected by the constriction.In "bough", the F2 is very low, as the tongue position is relatively back and the lips are relatively rounded. Note that the this has no effect on F3, so let it be known that lip rounding has minimum effect on F3. Really. The next reviewer who brings up lip rounding without having some data to back it up is going to get it between the eyes. It's worth noting that the nuclear part of the diphthong is relatively front (as indicated by the F2 frequency in the first half of the diphthong) with the [aʊ] than in [aɪ]. In 'buy', the offglide has a clearly fronting (rising) F2.
    Common allophonic variation
    One of the absolutely characteristic features of American English is "flapping". This is when an underlying /t/ (and sometimes /d/), is repaced by something which sounds a lot like a tapped /r/ in languages with tapped /r/s. I refer the reader to Susan Banner-Inouye's M.A. and Ph.D. theses on the phonological and phonetic interpretations of flappy/tappy things in general. But the easiest thing to do is compare them. The spectrograms in Figure 9 are of me reading "a toe", "a doe" and "otto", with an aspirated /t/, voiced /d/ and a flap respectively.

    Figure 9. Spectrograms of "a toe", "a doe" and "otto".
    Note that for both proper plosives, there's a longish period of relative silence (with a voicing bar in the case of /d/), on the order a 100 ms. The actual length varies a lot, but notice how short the 'closure' of the flapped case is in comparison. It's just a slight 'interruption' of the normal flow, a momentary thing, not something that looks very forceful or controlled. It doesn't even really have any transitions of its own. The interruption is something on the order of three pulses long, between 10 and 30 ms. That's basically the biggest thing. Sometimes they're longer, sometimes they're voiceless (occasionally even aspirated), but basically a flap will always be significantly shorter than a corresponding plosive.Okay, so let's turn back to the proper plosives. Notice the aspiration following the /t/, and the short VOT following the /d/. Note the dying-off voicing during the /d/ closure, presumably due to a build up of supralaryngeal pressure. (Frankly, we're lucky to get any real voicing during the closure at all.)
    (Other big allophonic categories I want to cover are nasalized vowels and rhoticized vowels, but I'm wondering how important they are at this level. Remember that this is a primer, not the be-all and end-all work on spectrogram reading. Also worth doing is some prosodic stuff, pitch and duration, amplitude and that kind of thing, as it relates to finding word and phrase boundaries in spectrogram reading. Comments?)
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    Phonetics:Spectrograms3

    Post by Lily on Sun Jun 21, 2009 10:50 am

    Manner (and place) of articulation
    Plosives (oral stops) involve a total occlusion of the vocal tract, and thus a 'complete' filter, i.e. no resonances being contributed by the vocal tract. The result a period of silence in the spectrogram, known as a 'gap'. A voiced plosive may have a low-frequency voicing bar of striations, usually thought of as the sound of voicing being transmitted through the flesh of the vocal tract. However, due to passive devoicing, it may not. And due to perseverative voicing even a 'voiceless' plosive may show some vibration as the pressures equalize and before the vocal folds fully separate. But let's not get lost in too many details.Generally we can think about the English plosives as occurring at three places of articulation—at the lips, behind the incisors, and at the velum (with some room to play around each). The bilabial plosives, [p] and[/b] are articulated with the lower lip pressed against the upper lip. The coronal plosives [t,d] are made with the tongue blade pressing against the alveolar ridge (or thereabouts). [k] and [g] are described as 'dorsal' (meaning 'articulated with the tongue body') and 'velar' (meaning 'articulated against or toward the velum'), depending on your point of view. (I tend to use the 'dorsal' and 'velar' interchangeably, which is very bad. I use 'coronal' because it's more accurate than 'alveolar', in the sense that everybody uses their tongue blade (if not the apex) for [t,d], but not everybody uses only their alveolar ridge.)That controversy aside, the thing to remember is that during a closure, there's no useful sound coming at you—there's basically silence. So while the gap tells you it's a plosive, the transitions into and out of the closure (i.e. in the surrounding vowels) are going to be the best source of information about place of articulation. Figure 4 contains spectrograms of me saying 'bab' 'dad' and 'gag'.

    Figure 4. Spectrograms of "bab" "dad" and "gag".
    There's no voicing during the initial closure of any of these plosives, confirming what your teachers have always told you: "voiced" plosives in English aren't always fully voiced during closure. Then suddenly, there's a burst of energy and the voicing begins, goes for a couple hundred milliseconds or so, followed by an abrupt loss of energy in the upper frequencies (above 400 Hz or so), followed by another burst of energy, and some noise. The first burst of energy is the release of the initial plosive. Notice the formants move or change following the burst, hold more or less steady during the middle of the vowel, and then move again into the following consonant. We know there's a closure because of the cessation of energy at most frequencies. The little blob of energy at the bottom is voicing, only transmitted through flesh rather than resonating in the vocal tract. Look closely, and you'll see that it's striated, but very weak. The final burst is the release of the final plosive, and the last bit of noise is basically just residual stuff echoing around the vocal tract.Take a look at those formant transitions out of and into each plosive. Notice how the transitions in the F2 of 'bab' point down (i.e. the formant rises out of the plosive and falls into it again), where the F2 of 'gag' points up? Notice how in 'gag' the F2 and F3 start out and end close together? Notice how the F3 of 'dad' points slightly up at the plosives? Notice how the F1 always starts low, rises into the vowel, and then falls again.Okay, these aren't necessarily the best examples, but basically, labials have downward pointing transitions (usually all visible formants, but especially F2 and F3), dorsals tend to have F2 and F3 transitions that 'pinch' together (hence 'velar pinch'), and the the F3 of coronals tends to point upward. The direction any transition points obviously is going to depend on the position of the formant for the vowel, so F2 of [t,d] might go up or down. A lot of people say coronal transitions point to about 1700 or 1800 Hz, but that's going to depend a lot on speaker-individual factors. Generally, I think of coronal F2 transitions as pointing upward unless the F2 of the vowel is particularly high.Another thing to notice is the burst energy. Notice that the bursts for "dad" are darker (stronger) than the others. Notice also that they get darker in the higher frequencies than the lower. The energy of the bursts in "gag" are concentrated in the F2/F3 region, and less in the higher frequencies. The burst of is sort of broad—across all frequencies, but concentrated in the lower frequencies, if anywhere. So bursts and transitions also give you information about place.Figure 4 also illustrates that in initial position, phonemic /b, d, g/ tend to surface with no voicing during the closure, but a short voice onset time, i.e. as unaspirated [p, t, k]. In final position, they tend to surface as voiced, although there's room for variation here too.
    Fricatives
    Frankly, fricatives
    are not my favorite. They're acoustically and aerodynamically complex, not to mention phonologically and phonetically volatile. There's not a lot you can say about them without getting way too complicated, but I'll try.Fricatives, by definition, involve an occlusion or obstruction in the vocal tract great enough to produce noise (frication). Frication noise is generated in two ways, either by blowing air against an object (obstacle frication) or moving air through a narrow channel into a relatively more open space (channel frication). In both cases, turbulence is created, but in the second case, it's turbulence caused by sudden 'freedom' to move sideways (Keith Johnson uses the terrific analogy of a road suddenly widening from two to four lanes, with a lot of sideways movement into the extra space), as opposed to air crashing around itself having bounced off an obstacle (Keith's freeway analogy of a road narrowing from four lanes to two works here, but I don't really want to think about serious sibilance in this respect....)Sibilant fricatives involve a jet of air directed against the teeth. While there is some (channel) turbulence, the greater proportion of actual noise is created by bouncing the jet of air against the upper teeth. The result is very high amplitude noise. Non-sibilant fricatives are more likely 'pure' channel fricatives, particularly bilabial and labiodental fricatives, where there's not a lot of stuff in front to bounce the air off of.In Figure 5, there are spectrograms of the fricatives, extracted from a nonce word ("uffah", "ussah", etc.).

    Let's start with the sibilants "s" and "sh", in the upper right of Figure 5. They are by far the loudest fricatives. The darkest part of [s] noise is off the top of the spectrograms, even though these spectrograms have a greater frequency range than the others on this page. [s] is centered (darkest) above 8000 Hz. The postalveolar "sh", on the other hand, while almost as dark, has most of its energy concentrated in the F3-F4 range. Often, [s]s will have noise at all frequencies, where, as here, the noise for [ʃ] seems to drop off drastically below the peak (i.e. there's sometimes no noise below 1500 or 2000 Hz.) [z] and [ʒ] are distinguished from their voiceless counterparts by a) lesser amplitude of frication, b) shorter duration of frication and c) a voicing bar across the bottom. (Remember, however, that a lot of underlyingly voiced fricatives in English have voiceless allophones. What other cues are there to underlying voicing? Discuss.) Take a good look at the voicing bar through the fricatives in the bottom row. You may never see a fully voiced fricative from me again.It's worth noting that F2 transitions are greater and higher with [ʃ] than with [s], and I seem to depress F4 slightly in [ʃ], but I don't know how consistent these markers are.Labiodental and (inter)dental (nonsibilant) fricatives are notoriously difficult to distinguish, since they're made at about the same place in the vocal tract (i.e. the upper teeth), but with different active articulators. Having established (in a mystery spectrogram) that a fricative isn't loud enough to be a sibilant, you can sometimes tell from transitions whether it is labiodental or interdental—labiodental will have labial-looking transitions, interdentals might have slightly more coronal looking transitions. But that's poor consolation—often underlying labiodental and interdental fricatives don't have a lot of noise in the spectrogram at all, looking more like approximants. Sometimes, the lenite into approximants, or fortisize to stoppy-looking things. I hate fricatives.Before moving on, we need to talk about [h]. [h] is always described as a glottal fricative, but since we know about channels and such, it's not clear where the noise actually comes from. Aspiration noise, which is also [h]-like, is produced by moving a whole lot of air through a very open glottis. I heard a paper once where they described the spectrum of [h]-noise as 'epiglottal', implying that the air is being directed at the epiglottis as an obstacle. Generally speaking, we don't think of the vocal cords moving together to form a 'channel' in [h], although breathy-voicing and voiced [h]s in English (as many intervocalic [h]s are produced) maybe be produced this way. So I don't know. What I do know about [h]s is that the noise is produced far enough back in the vocal tract that it excites all the forward cavities, so it's a lot like voicing in that respect. It's common to see 'formants' excited by noise rather than harmonics in spectrograms of [h]. Certainly, the noise will be concentrated in the formant regions. Compare the spectrograms in Figure 6.

    Notice how different the frication looks in each spectrogram. In "hee", the noise is concentrated in F2, F3 and higher, with every little in the 1000 Hz range. In "ha", in which F1 and F2 straddle 1000 Hz, the [h] noise is right down there. In "who", there is a lot less amplitude to the noise between 2000 and 3000 Hz, but there around F2 (around 1000 Hz) and lower, there's a great deal. You can even see F2 really clearly in the [h] of "who". So that's [h]. Don't ask me. It's not very common in my spectrograms....
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    Phonetics:Spectrograms2

    Post by Lily on Sun Jun 21, 2009 10:40 am


    Figure 2. wide band (left) and (narrow band) spectrgrams of me saying [aː], but with wild pitch changes.
    A word on sources

    I like to divide the kinds of sources in speech into three categories: periodic voicing (or vibration of the vocal folds), non-voicing (which most people don't consider, but I like to distinguish it from my third category), and aperiodic noise (which results from turbulent airflow).
    Voicing is represented on a wide band spectrogram by vertical striations, especially in the lowest frequencies. Each vertical 'line' represents a single pulse of the vocal folds, a single puff of air moving through the glottis. We sometimes refer to a 'voicing bar', i.e. a row of striated energy in the very low frequencies, corresponding to the energy in the first and second harmonics (typically the strongest harmonics in speech). For men, this is about 100-150 Hz, for women it can be anywhere between 150-250 Hz, and of course there's lots of variation both within and between individuals. In a narrow band spectrogram, voicing results in harmonics, with again the lowest one or two being the strongest.
    Non-voicing is basically silence, and doesn't show up as anything in a spectrogram. So while there isn't a lot going on during silence that we can see in a spectrogram, we can still tell the difference between voiced sounds (with a striated voicing bar) and voiceless sounds (without). And usually there's still air moving through the vocal tract, which can provide an alternative source of acoustic energy, via turbulence or 'noise'.
    On the other hand, it's worth distinguishing several glottal states that lead to non-voicing. Typically, active devoicing, results from vocal fold abduction. The vocal folds are held wide apart and thus movement of air through the glottis doesn't cause the folds to vibrate. If the vocal folds are tightly adducted (brought together in the midline) and stiffened, the result is no air movement through the glottis, due to glottal closure. Ideally, this is how a 'glottal stop' is produced. Finally, the vocal folds may be in 'voicing position', loosely adducted and relatively slack. But if there is insufficient pressure below the glottis (or too much above the glottis) the air movement through the glottis won't be enough to drive vibration, and passive devoicing occurs.
    Noise is random (rather than striated or harmonically organized) energy, and usually results from friction. In speech this friction is of two types. There's the turbulence generated by the air as it moves past the walls of the vocal tract, usually called 'channel frication'. This is just 'drag', resistance to the free flow of air. If the air is blown against (instead of across) an object, you get even more turbulence, which we sometimes call 'obstacle frication'. For instance, when we make an [s], a jet of air is blown against the front teeth—the sudden displacement results in a lot of turbulence, and therefore noise. In spectrograms, noise is 'snowy'. The energy is placed in frequency and amplitude more randomly rather than being organized neatly into striations or clear bands. (Not to say they're aren't or can't be bands. They're just usually don't have 'edges' to the degree that formants do. Or may.)We'll return to voicing and voicelessness below, after we deal with vowels.
    So what's the deal with formants?
    A formant is a dark band on a wide band spectrogram, which corresponds to a vocal tract resonance. Technically, it represents a set of adjacent harmonics which are boosted by a resonance in some part of the vocal tract. Thus, different vocal tract shapes will produce different formant patterns, regardless of what the source is doing. Consider the spectrograms in Figure 3, which represents the simplex vowels of American English (at least in my voice). In the top row are "beed, bid, bade, bed, bad" (i.e. [bid] [bɪd] [beɪd] [bɛd] [bæd]). Notice that as the vowels get lower in the 'vowel space', the first formant (formants are numbered from the bottom up) goes up. In the bottom row, the vowels raise from "bod" to "booed"—the F1 starts relatively high, and goes down indicating that the vowels start low and move toward high. The first formant correlates (inversely) to height (or directly to openness) of the vocal tract.
    Now look at the next formant, F2. Notice that the back, round vowels have a very low F2. Notice that the vowel with the highest F2 is [i], which is the frontmost of the front vowels. F2 corresponds to backness and/or rounding, with fronter/unround vowels having higher F2s than backer/rounder vowels. It's actually much more complicated than that, but that will do for the beginner. If you're picky about facts or the math, take a class in acoustic phonetics.
    Figure 3. Wide band spectrograms of the vowels of American English in a /b__d/ context.Top row, left to right: [i, ɪ, eɪ, ɛ, æ]. Bottom row, left to right: [ɑ, ɔ, o, ʊ, u].There are a variety of studies showing various acoustic correlates of vowel quality, among them formant frequency, formant movement, and vowel duration. Formant frequency (and movement) are probably the most important. So we can plot vowels in an F1xF2 vowel space, where F1 corresponds (inversely) to height, and F2 corresponds (inversely) to backness and we'll end up with something like the standard 'articulatory' vowel space.
    Note that some of the vowels in Figure 3 ([eɪ] and [ʊ] especially) show more movement during the vowel (beyond just the transitions). Whether that makes them diphthongs (or should be represented like diphthongs) I'll leave for somebody else to argue. But before we get too far, what would you imagine an [aɪ] or [aɪ] diphthong would look like?
    It's worth pointing out now that all the formants show consonant transitions at the edges. Remember that the frequency of any given formant has to do with the size and shape of the vocal tract—as the vocal tract changes shape, so do the formants change frequency. So the way the formants move into and out of consonant closures and vowel 'targets', is an important source of information about how the articulators are moving.
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    Phonetics:Spectrograms

    Post by Lily on Sun Jun 21, 2009 9:28 am

    How do I read a spectrogram?
    The same way you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice!First, read the chapter on acoustic analysis in Ladefoged's A Course in Phonetics, or better yet take a course based on Ladefoged's Elements of Acoustic Phonetics or Johnson's Acoustic and Auditory Phonetics. Or you can just read this summary, but bear in mind there's going to be a lot left out, especially in the 'why' realm. Then (as usual) learn by doing!The goal of this page is to provide just enough basic information for the novice to begin, perhaps with some guidance, the process of decoding the monthly mystery spectrogram. This page is not intended to be the last word in spectrographic analysis in general, nor even the last word on spectrogram reading. However, reasoning your way through a mystery spectrogram is very instructive, especially in relating acoustic events with (presumed) articulatory ones. That is, in relating physical sounds with speech production.If you're reading this, I assume you are familiar with basic articulatory phonetics, phonetic transcription, the International Phonetic Alphabet, and the surface phonology of 'general' North American English (i.e. phonemes and basic contrasts, and major allophonic variation such as vowel nasalization, nasal place assimilation, and so forth). I try to keep in mind that I have an international audience, but there are some details I just take to be 'given' for English. Someday if we do spectrograms of other languages, we'll have to adjust.I really recommend that beginners find someone to discuss spectrographic issues with. If you're doing spectrograms as part of a class, form a study group. If you're a 'civilian', form a club. Or something. I'm toying with the idea of starting a Yahoo group or something for us to do some discussions as 'community'. Strong opinions anyone? Unfortunately, I don't have time to answer in detail every e-mail I receive about specific spectrograms or sounds or features, but if you have a general question or suggestions, please feel free to contact me.Please note: My style sheet calls for this page to be rendered in either Victor Gaultney's Gentium font, or in SIL's SILDoulosIPAUnicode. These fonts are (in my opinion) the best available freeware fonts for IPA-ing in Unicode for the web. Please see my list of currently supported fonts for justification and links to download these fonts.So what is a spectrogram anyway?
    A sound spectrogram (or sonogram) is a visual representation of an acoustic signal. To oversimplify things a fair amount, a Fast Fourier transform is applied to an electronically recorded sound. This analysis essentially separates the frequencies and amplitudes of its component simplex waves. The result can then be displayed visually, with degrees of amplitude (represented light-to-dark, as in white=no energy, black=lots of energy), at various frequencies (usually on the vertical axis) by time (horizontal).Depending on the size of the Fourier analysis window, different levels of frequency/time resolution are achieved. A long window resolves frequency at the expense of time—the result is a narrow band spectrogram, which reveals individual harmonics (component frequencies), but smears together adjacent 'moments'. If a short analysis window is used, adjacent harmonics are smeared together, but with better time resolution. The result is a wide band spectrogram in which individual pitch periods appear as vertical lines (or striations), with formant structure. Generally, wide band spectrograms are used in spectrogram reading because they give us more information about what's going on in the vocal tract, for reasons which should become clear as we go.
    Sources and filters

    We often talk about speech in terms of source-filter theory. Put simply, we can view the vocal tract like a musical instrument. There's a part that actually makes sound (e.g. the string, the reed, or the vocal folds), and the part that 'shapes' the sound (e.g. the body of the violin, the horn of the clarinet, or the supralaryngeal articulators). In speech, this source of sound is provided primarily by the vibration of the vocal folds. From a mathematical standpoint, vocal fold vibration is complex, consisting of both a fundamental frequency and harmonics. Because the harmonics always occur as integral multiples of the fundamental (x1, x2, x3, etc.—which phenomenon was mathematically proven by Fourier, hence "Fourier's Theorem" and "Fourier Transform"), it turns out that the sensation of pitch of voice is correlated to both the fundamental frequency, and the distance between harmonics.The point is that vocal source isn't just one frequency, but many frequencies ranging from the fundamental all the way up to infinity, in principle, in integral multiples. Just as white light is many frequencies of light all mixed up together, so is the vocal source a spectrum of acoustic energy, going from low frequencies (the fundamental) to high frequencies. In principle, there's somefiltered or shaped by the body of the instrument. In essence, the filter sifts the energy of some harmonics out (or at least down) while boosting others. The analogy to light again is apt. If you pass a white light through a red filter, you end up removing (or lessening) the energy at the blue end of the spectrum, while leaving the red end of the spectrum untouched. Depending on the filter, you might pass a band of energy in the red end and a band of energy in the green band, and something else. The 'color' of light that results will be different depending on which frequencies exactly get passed, and which ones get filtered.In speech, these different tonal qualities change depending on vocal tract configuration. What makes an sound like an [i] is not something to do with the [i]source, but the shape of the filter, boosting some frequencies and damping others, depending on the shape of the vocal tract. So the 'quality' of the vowel depends on the frequencies being passed through the acoustic filter (the vocal tract), just as the 'color' of light depends on the frequencies being passed through the light filter.So, we can manipulate source characteristics (the relative frequency and amplitude of the fundamental—and some properties of some of the harmonics) at the larynx independently of filter characteristics (vocal tract shape). < a href="#figfilter">Figure 1, is a spectrogram of me saying [ i ? i ? ] (i.e. "ee ah ee ah") continuously on a steady pitch. On the left, a wide band spectrogram shows the formants (darker bands running horizontally across the spectrogram) changing rapidly as my vocal tract moves between vowel configurations. (Take a moment to notice that the wide band spectrogram is striated, and the horizontal formants are 'overlaid' over the basic pattern of vertical striationsn.) On the right, a narrow band spectrogram reveals that the harmonics—the complex frequencies provided by the source—are steady, i.e. the pitch throughout is flat. Because some harmonics are stronger than others at any given moment, you can make out the formant structure even in the narrow band spectrogram. The filter function (the formant structure) is superimposed over the source structure.If you're still not sure what I mean by 'band' or 'formant', pass your mouse cursor over the figure. I've marked the center frequency, more or less, of each visible formant in the figure. Look for the image in captions of spectrograms for extra information like this. Depending on your hardware/software configuration, you should also be able to play the audio clip, by pressing the 'play' button in the figure caption. energy at all frequencies (although unless you're talking about an integral multiple of the fundamental, the amount will be zero).
    If you're still not sure what I mean by 'band' or 'formant', pass your mouse cursor over the figure. I've marked the center frequency, more or less, of each visible formant in the figure. Look for the in captions of spectrograms for extra information like this. Depending on your hardware/software configuration, you should also be able to play the audio clip, by pressing the 'play' button in the figure caption.

    Figure 1. wide band (left) and narrow band (right) spectrograms, illustrating changing vowel quality with level pitch.
    The other side of the source-filter coin is that you can vary the pitch (source) while keeping the the same filter. Figure 2 shows wide and narrow band spectrograms of me going [a?], but wildly moving my voice up and down. The formants stay steady in the wide band spectrogram, but the spacing between the harmonics changes as the pitch does. (Harmonics are always evenly spaced, so the higher the fundamental frequency —the pitch of my voice—the further apart the harmonics will be.)

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    Phonetics:Spectrogram Reading

    Post by Lily on Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:32 am

    Spectrogram Reading
    What are spectrograms?



    Figure 1 - Spectrogram of the word "compute." The vertical axis represents frequencies up to 8000 Hz , the horizontal axis shows positive time toward the right, and the colors represent the most important acoustic peaks for a given time frame, with red representing the highest energies, then in decreasing order of importance, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and magenta, with gray areas having even less energy and white areas below a threshold decibel level.

    An experienced spectrogram reader has no trouble identifying the word "compute" from the visually salient patterns in the image above. To give one example, the vertical burst of energy followed by a red area at the bottom and lesser energy above at the extreme right of the spectrogram is a typical pattern for the sound 't' at the end of a syllable or word. The other speech sounds, or phonemes, in the word "compute", are equally distinct in their shapes; the initial unstressed syllable /kh ^ m/, the silence and bilabial burst of /pc ph/, and the stressed vowel /ju/which represents the passage from a high front vowel to a high back vowel by the falling F2, and the proximity of the alveolar plosive by a subsequent rise in F2 toward the alveolar locus of 1800 Hz.
    Speech consists of vibrations produced in the vocal tract. The vibrations themselves can be represented by speech waveforms. It is not possible to read the phonemes in a waveform, but if we analyze the waveform into its frequency components, we obtain a spectrogram which can be deciphered.
    The notion of frequency is very important in many branches of science. When physical events are cyclical, or nearly cyclical, frequency is a measure of how many times the cycle repeats per unit time. The unit of frequency is the Hertz, abbreviated as Hz. If something is happening 10 times per second, it has a frequency of 10 Hz.
    The audible frequency range in human beings extends from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz (20 kHz).Human beings cannot hear vibrations which occur at frequencies less than 20 times per second, nor can we detect frequencies greater than 20 kHz. Dolphin vocalizations and bat hunting cries, however, have frequency components up to 100 kHz, since members of these species have a more extensive audible range than the primates. Speech sounds contain energies at all frequencies in the audible range, although it is thought that most phonetic information is concentrated below 8000 Hz. Telephone speech cuts off frequencies above 3500 Hz, but we are able to communicate without major difficulties over the telephone, although with more need for clear speech and more requests for repetition.
    We apply a mathematical technique called Fourier analysis to the speech waveform in order to discover what frequencies are present at any given moment in the speech signal. The result of Fourier analysis is a spectrum. After we have computed the spectrum for one short section or window (typically 5 to 20 milliseconds) of speech,we compute the spectrum for the adjoining window, and so on to the end of the waveform. In general, neighboring spectra vary slowly and smoothly, reflecting the slow movements of the vocal tract relative to the length of the analysis window.
    A spectrogram such as the one at the top of this page is created by displaying all of the spectra computed from the speech waveform together. The vertical axis in a spectrogram represents frequency, with 0 Hz at the bottom. The lines visible in the spectrogram on this page each represent 1000 Hz along the frequency axis, so that the spectrogram contains 8000 Hz in total. All of the spectra computed by the Fourier transform are displayed parallel to this vertical or y-axis. The horizontal axis represents time; as we move right along the x-axis we shift forward in time, traversing one spectrum after another. Spectrograms are normally computed and kept in computer memory as a two-dimensional array of acoustic energy values. For a given spectrogram S, the strength of a given frequency component f at a given time t in the speech signal is represented by the darkness or color of the corresponding point S(t,f).
    Spectrograms have traditionally been displayed in a gray-scale rendition, where the darkness of a given point is proportional to the energy at that time and frequency. Click here to see a gray-scale version of Figure 1 above. At the CSLU we are experimenting with the use of color to highlight the important features of a spectrogram. In the spectrogram in Figure 1 we use shades of red to mean increasing energy along the frequency axis, blue to mean decreasing energy, and yellow and green to mean an energy maximum. Areas which are white do not have enough energy to be of interest to us.
    We often display the waveform and spectrogram for the same segment of speech one on top of the other. In such displays, it is easy to see the relation between patterns in the waveform and the corresponding patterns in the spectrogram. Click here to see the combined waveform and spectrogram for the spectrogram on this page.
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    Phonetics:Transcription Tips

    Post by Lily on Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:52 pm

    Transcription Tips
    Here are a couple of tips for students who are learning how to write broad phonemic transcription of English. As well as give positive suggestions, these will draw your attention to a number of pitfalls to be avoided:


    • First of all, use a coherent set of symbols, obviously that used by your lecturer and make sure that your dictionary uses the same set (phonetic symbols are usually listed at the start of dictionaries). There is a rather large difference between the American and British schools in this sense, and even British material varies according to its date. The set that I recommend and use is that used by such authors as John Wells and Peter Roach in their respective Pronouncing Dictionaries.
    Some of the characters in the set will be new to you: observe them carefully and practice writing them. Some of the main pitfalls are below:

    • Remember that the tops of the /ʊ/ symbol point outwards, make sure you are distinguishing it from /u/
    • The schwa, /ə/, is an 'e' that has been rotated 180?, make sure it will not be confused with /a/
    • Remember that there is an important distinction between /a/ and /ɑ/, the first is a front and the second a back vowel. Diphthongs use the former e.g. /aɪ/, /aʊ/
    • Similarly, English diphthongs use /ɪ/ rather than /i/, e.g. /aɪ/, /ɪə/, /eɪ/, and /ʊ/ rather than /u/ e.g. /əʊ/, /aʊ/, /ʊə/
    • The /ʃ/ symbol is a stretched 's', it reaches from the height of the top of a capital letter to the bottom of a 'p', for example.

      Also:


    • Remember to use /k/ instead of 'c' for the voiceless velar stop and /j/ rather than 'y' for the palatal approximant
    • Orthographic 'x' is usually transcribed as /ks/, e.g. 'fax' => /fæks/. The phonetic symbol [x] does exist but it is rarely used in English (only for foreign words).
    • An orthographic 'n' before a velar, i.e. /k/ or /g/ should be transcribed as a velar nasal stop with the /ŋ/ symbol, e.g. 'thanks' => /θæŋks/
    • Remember to put the length marks on long vowels e.g. /i:/, /ɜ:/, /ɔ:/, /ɑ:/ and /u:/
    • In Standard British English the post-vocalic 'r' is not pronounced (hence not transcribed) unless followed by a vowel, e.g. 'there' => /ðeə/ v. 'there on the table' => /ðeər ɒn ðə teɪbl /
      Many are confused by the use of /i/ and /u/ without length marks, their use is, in fact , limited to:


    • for /i/, words that end with 'y' e.g. happy /hæpi/ and pronouns e.g. she /ʃi/
    • for /u/, basically for 'you' and 'to', 'into'.
    Finally, a word on two special cases:Words like 'bottle', 'handle', 'simple' etc. end with a syllabic 'l', transcribed as a small tick under the letter e.g. /bɒtl ̩/, /hændl ̩/, /sɪmpl ̩/, respectively.

    • A similar caseis that of the final 'n' in words like 'garden', 'widen' and 'fatten' that can be transcribed as /gɑ:dn̩/, /waɪdn̩/, /fætn ̩/.

    • N.b. the fonts for this mark are imperfect: you may well see an 'n' with a longer 'leg' rather than with a short vertical line beneath. Note that some authors use a superscript schwa instead.
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    Phonetics:Introduction to Intonation

    Post by Lily on Sat Jun 06, 2009 1:36 am

    Introduction to Intonation

    Intonation is always a bit of a sticky question for
    those learning pronunciation. While some people seem to find this partoflanguage learning relatively easy, many find it quite difficult.Learning to analyze pitch contours in a conscious fashion does notalwaysresolve the problem, as recognizing patterns is quite different fromreproducingthem in spontaneous speech. However, you must remember that, while youareprobably unaware of it, you are an expert in the intonation of your ownlanguage- there is no real reason why you can't acquire the same expertise whenlearninga new language - all you have to do is listen carefully and imitate asmuch aspossible. After all, if a parrot can do it, why shouldn't you be ableto!
    Intonation is usually described in terms of an analogy with the concept of height in music: high, low, rise fall etc.Therefore, those who play an instrument are at an advantage, as they havealready been trained to recognize differences in pitch and do so each time they tune up their instruments.
    This series of modules will introduce you very gradually to the notion of pitch and different tones, and then proceed show how these contours are used in everyday conversation to carry out different functions.
    Two key words:
    Pitch: definitely the most important variable inintonation. Technically, this is frequency, measured in Hz, see Fig 1. Pitch can be compared to notes in music, e.g. 'high note', 'low note' etc.



    Fig. 1 Pitch analysis with the Praat program

    Tone: this is basically the direction in which pitch moves. In fig.1 there is a rising tone on 'up', and a falling tone on 'down'.
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    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain 3

    Post by Lily on Sat May 23, 2009 11:18 pm

    Themes, Motifs & Symbols
    Themes :Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
    Racism and Slavery
    Although Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn two decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War, America—and especially the South—was still struggling withracism and the aftereffects of slavery. By the earl 1880s,Reconstruction, the plan to put the United States back togetherafter the war and integrate freed slaves into society, had hit shakyground, although it had not yet failed outright. As Twain workedon his novel, race relations, which seemed to be on a positive pathin the years following the Civil War, once again became strained.The imposition of Jim Crow laws, designed to limit the power of blacks in the South in a variety of indirect ways, brought the beginning of a new, insidious effort to oppress. The new racism of the South,less institutionalized and monolithic, was also more difficult to combat. Slavery could be outlawed, but when white Southerners enacted racist laws or policies under a professed motive of self-defense against newly freed blacks, far fewer people, Northern or Southern,saw the act as immoral and rushed to combat it.Although Twain wrote the novel after slavery was abolished,he set it several decades earlier, when slavery was still a factof life. But even by Twain's time, things had not necessarily gottenmuch better for blacks in the South. In this light, we might readTwain's depiction of slavery as an allegorical representation ofthe condition of blacks in the United States even after theabolition of slavery. Just as slavery places the noble and moralJim under the control of white society, no matter how degraded thatwhite society may be, so too did the insidious racism that arosenear the end of Reconstruction oppress black men for illogical andhypocritical reasons. In Huckleberry Finn, Twain,by exposing the hypocrisy of slavery, demonstrates how racism distortsthe oppressors as much as it does those who are oppressed. The resultis a world of moral confusion, in which seemingly “good” white peoplesuch as Miss Watson and Sally Phelps express no concern about theinjustice of slavery or the cruelty of separating Jim from his family.
    Intellectual and Moral Education
    By focusing on Huck's education, Huckleberry Finn fits into the tradition of the bildungsroman: a novel depicting an individual's maturation and development. As a poor, uneducated boy, for all intents and purposes an orphan, Huck distrusts the morals and precepts of the society that treats him as an outcast and fails to protect him from abuse.This apprehension about society, and his growing relationship with Jim, lead Huck to question many of the teachings that he has received,especially regarding race and slavery. More than once, we see Huck choose to “go to hell” rather than go along with the rules and follow what he has been taught. Huck bases these decisions on his experiences,his own sense of logic, and what his developing conscience tells him. On the raft, away from civilization, Huck is especially free from society's rules, able to make his own decisions without restriction. Through deep introspection, he comes to his own conclusions, unaffected by the accepted—and often hypocritical—rules and values of Southern culture. By the novel's end, Huck has learned to “read” the world around him, to distinguish good, bad, right, wrong, menace, friend,and so on. His moral development is sharply contrasted to the character of Tom Sawyer, who is influenced by a bizarre mix of adventure novels and Sunday-school teachings, which he combines to justify his outrageous
    and potentially harmful escapades.
    The Hypocrisy of “Civilized” Society
    When Huck plans to head west at the end of the novel in order to escape further “sivilizing,” he is trying to avoid more than regular baths and mandatory school attendance. Throughout the novel, Twain depicts the society that surrounds Huck as little more than a collection of degraded rules and precepts that defy logic.This faulty logic appears early in the novel, when the new judge in town allows Pap to keep custody of Huck. The judge privileges Pap's “rights” to his son as his natural father over Huck's welfare.At the same time, this decision comments on a system that puts a white man's rights to his “property”—his slaves—over the welfare
    and freedom of a black man. In implicitly comparing the plight of slaves to the plight of Huck at the hands of Pap, Twain implies that it is impossible for a society that owns slaves to be just,no matter how “civilized” that society believes and proclaims itself to be. Again and again, Huck encounters individuals who seem good—Sally Phelps, for example—but who Twain takes care to show are prejudiced slave-owners. This shaky sense of justice that Huck repeatedly encounters lies at the heart of society's problems: terrible acts go unpunished,yet frivolous crimes, such as drunkenly shouting insults, lead to executions. Sherburn's speech to the mob that has come to lynch him accurately summarizes the view of society Twain gives in Huckleberry Finn: rather than maintain collective welfare, society instead is marked by cowardice, a lack of logic, and profound selfishness.
    Motifs

    Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text's major themes.

    Childhood
    Huck's youth is an important factor in his moral education over the course of the novel, for we sense that only a child is open-minded enough to undergo the kind of development that Huck does. Since Huck and Tom are young, their age lends a sense of play to their actions, which excuses them in certain ways and also deepens the novel's commentary on slavery and society. Ironically, Huck often knows better than the adults around him, even though he has lacked the guidance that a proper family and community should have offered him. Twain also frequently draws links between Huck's youth and Jim's status as a black man: both are vulnerable, yet Huck, because he is white, has power over Jim. And on a different level, the silliness,pure joy, and naïveté of childhood give Huckleberry Finn a sense of fun and humor. Though its themes are quite weighty, the novel itself feels light in tone and is an enjoyable read because of this rambunctious childhood excitement that enlivens the story.
    Lies and Cons
    Huckleberry Finn is full of malicious lies and scams, many of them coming from the duke and the dauphin.It is clear that these con men's lies are bad, for they hurt a number of innocent people. Yet Huck himself tells a number of lies and even cons a few people, most notably the slave-hunters, to whom he makes up a story about a smallpox outbreak in order to protect Jim. As Huck realizes, it seems that telling a lie can actually be a good thing, depending on its purpose. This insight is part of Huck's learning process, as he finds that some of the rules he has been taught contradict what seems to be “right.” At other points,the lines between a con, legitimate entertainment, and approved social structures like religion are fine indeed. In this light,lies and cons provide an effective way for Twain to highlight the moral ambiguity that runs through the novel.

    Superstitions and Folk Beliefs

    From the time Huck meets him on Jackson's Island until the end of the novel, Jim spouts a wide range of superstitions and folktales. Whereas Jim initially appears foolish to believe so unwaveringly
    in these kinds of signs and omens, it turns out, curiously, that many of his beliefs do indeed have some basis in reality or presage events to come. Much as we do, Huck at first dismisses most of Jim's superstitions as silly, but ultimately he comes to appreciate Jim's deep knowledge of the world. In this sense, Jim's superstition serves as an alternative to accepted social teachings and assumptions and provides a reminder that mainstream conventions are not always right.
    Parodies of Popular Romance Novels

    Huckleberry Finn is full of people who base their lives on romantic literary models and stereotypes of various kinds. Tom Sawyer, the most obvious example, bases his life and actions on adventure novels. The deceased Emmeline Grangerford painted weepy maidens and wrote poems about dead children in the romantic style. The Shepherdson and Grangerford families kill one another out of a bizarre, overexcited conception of family honor.These characters' proclivities toward the romantic allow Twain a few opportunities to indulge in some fun, and indeed, the episodes that deal with this subject are among the funniest in the novel. However, there is a more substantive message beneath: that popular literature is highly stylized and therefore rarely reflects the reality of a society. Twain shows how a strict adherence to these romantic ideals is ultimately dangerous: Tom is shot, Emmeline dies,and the Shepherdsons and Grangerfords end up in a deadly clash.

    Symbols

    Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
    The Mississippi River

    For Huck and Jim, the Mississippi River is the ultimate
    symbol of freedom. Alone on their raft, they do not have to answer to anyone. The river carries them toward freedom: for Jim, toward the free states; for Huck, away from his abusive father and the restrictive “sivilizing” of St. Petersburg. Much like the river itself, Huck and Jim are in flux, willing to change their attitudes
    about each other with little prompting. Despite their freedom, however,they soon find that they are not completely free from the evils and influences of the towns on the river's banks. Even early on,the real world intrudes on the paradise of the raft: the river floods,bringing Huck and Jim into contact with criminals, wrecks, and stolen goods. Then, a thick fog causes them to miss the mouth of the Ohio River, which was to be their route to freedom.As the novel progresses, then, the river becomes something[b] other than the inherently benevolent place Huck originally thought it was. As Huck and Jim move further south, the duke and the dauphin invade the raft, and Huck and Jim must spend more time ashore. Though the river continues to offer a refuge from trouble, it often merely effects the exchange of one bad situation for another. Each escape exists in the larger context of a continual drift southward, toward the Deep South and entrenched slavery. In this transition from idyllic retreat to source of peril, the river mirrors the complicated state of the South. As Huck and Jim's journey progresses, the river, which once seemed a paradise and a source of freedom, becomes merely a short-term means of escape that nonetheless pushes Huck and Jim ever further toward danger and destruction.
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    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain 2

    Post by Lily on Sat May 23, 2009 10:29 pm

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    Mark Twain
    Plot Overview
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn opens by familiarizing us with the events of the novel that preceded it, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Both novels are set in the town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, which lies on the banks of the Mississippi River. At the end of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, a poor boy with a drunken bum for a father, and his friend Tom Sawyer, a middle-class boy with an imagination too active for his own good, found a robber's stash of gold. As a result of his adventure, Huck gained quite a bit of money, which the bank held for him in trust. Huck was adopted by the Widow Douglas,a kind but stifling woman who lives with her sister, the self-righteous Miss Watson.
    As Huckleberry Finn opens, Huck is none too thrilled with his new life of cleanliness, manners,church, and school. However, he sticks it out at the bequest of Tom Sawyer, who tells him that in order to take part in Tom's new“robbers' gang,” Huck must stay “respectable.” All is well and good until Huck's brutish, drunken father, Pap, reappears in town and demands Huck's money. The local judge, Judge Thatcher, and the Widow try to get legal custody of Huck, but another well-intentioned new judge in town believes in the rights of Huck's natural father and even takes the old drunk into his own home in an attempt to reform him.This effort fails miserably, and Pap soon returns to his old ways. He hangs around town for several months, harassing his son, who in the meantime has learned to read and to tolerate the Widow's attempts to improve him. Finally, outraged when the Widow Douglas warns him to stay away from her house, Pap kidnaps Huck and holds him in a cabin across the river from St. Petersburg.
    Whenever Pap goes out, he locks Huck in the cabin, and when he returns home drunk, he beats the boy. Tired of his confinement and fearing the beatings will worsen, Huck escapes from Pap by faking his own death, killing a pig and spreading its blood all over the cabin.Hiding on Jackson's Island in the middle of the Mississippi River,Huck watches the townspeople search the river for his body. After a few days on the island, he encounters Jim, one of Miss Watson's slaves. Jim has run away from Miss Watson after hearing her talk about selling him to a plantation down the river, where he would be treated horribly and separated from his wife and children. Huck and Jim team up, despite Huck's uncertainty about the legality or morality of helping a runaway slave. While they camp out on the island, a great storm causes the Mississippi to flood. Huck and Jim spy a log raft and a house floating past the island. They capture the raft and loot the house, finding in it the body of a man who has been shot. Jim refuses to let Huck see the dead man's face.
    Although the island is blissful, Huck and Jim are forced to leave after Huck learns from a woman onshore that her husband has seen smoke coming from the island and believes that Jim is hiding out there. Huck also learns that a reward has been offered for Jim's capture. Huck and Jim start downriver on the raft, intending to leave it at the mouth of the Ohio River and proceed up that river by steamboat to the free states, where slavery is prohibited. Several days' travel takes them past St. Louis, and they have a close encounter with a gang of robbers on a wrecked steamboat. They manage to escape with the robbers' loot.
    During a night of thick fog, Huck and Jim miss the mouth of the Ohio and encounter a group of men looking for escaped slaves. Huck has a brief moral crisis about concealing stolen “property”—Jim,after all, belongs to Miss Watson—but then lies to the men and tells them that his father is on the raft suffering from smallpox. Terrified of the disease, the men give Huck money and hurry away. Unable to backtrack to the mouth of the Ohio, Huck and Jim continue downriver. The next night, a steamboat slams into their raft, and Huck and Jim are separated.
    Huck ends up in the home of the kindly Grangerfords, a family of Southern aristocrats locked in a bitter and silly feud with a neighboring clan, the Shepherdsons. The elopement of a Grangerford daughter with a Shepherdson son leads to a gun battle in which many in the families are killed. While Huck is caught up in the feud, Jim shows up with the repaired raft. Huck hurries to Jim's hiding place, and they take off down the river.
    A few days later, Huck and Jim rescue a pair of men who are being pursued by armed bandits. The men, clearly con artists,claim to be a displaced English duke (the duke) and the long-lost heir to the French throne (the dauphin). Powerless to tell two white adults to leave, Huck and Jim continue down the river with the pair of “aristocrats.” The duke and the dauphin pull several scams in the small towns along the river. Coming into one town,they hear the story of a man, Peter Wilks, who has recently died and left much of his inheritance to his two brothers, who should be arriving from England any day. The duke and the dauphin enter the town pretending to be Wilks's brothers. Wilks's three nieces welcome the con men and quickly set about liquidating the estate.A few townspeople become skeptical, and Huck, who grows to admire the Wilks sisters, decides to thwart the scam. He steals the dead Peter Wilks's gold from the duke and the dauphin but is forced to stash it in Wilks's coffin. Huck then reveals all to the eldest Wilks sister, Mary Jane. Huck's plan for exposing the duke and the dauphin is about to unfold when Wilks's real brothers arrive from England. The angry townspeople hold both sets of Wilks claimants,and the duke and the dauphin just barely escape in the ensuing confusion.Fortunately for the sisters, the gold is found. Unfortunately for Huck and Jim, the duke and the dauphin make it back to the raft just as Huck and Jim are pushing off.
    After a few more small scams, the duke and dauphin commit their worst crime yet: they sell Jim to a local farmer, telling him Jim is a runaway for whom a large reward is being offered. Huck finds out where Jim is being held and resolves to free him. At the house where Jim is a prisoner, a woman greets Huck excitedly and calls him “Tom.” As Huck quickly discovers, the people holding Jim are none other than Tom Sawyer's aunt and uncle, Silas and Sally Phelps. The Phelpses mistake Huck for Tom, who is due to arrive for a visit, and Huck goes along with their mistake. He intercepts Tom between the Phelps house and the steamboat dock, and Tom pretends to be his own younger brother, Sid.Tom hatches a wild plan to free Jim, adding all sorts of unnecessary obstacles even though Jim is only lightly secured. Huck is sure Tom's plan will get them all killed, but he complies nonetheless. After a seeming eternity of pointless preparation,during which the boys ransack the Phelps's house and make Aunt Sally miserable, they put the plan into action. Jim is freed, but a pursuer shoots Tom in the leg. Huck is forced to get a doctor, and Jim sacrifices his freedom to nurse Tom. All are returned to the Phelps's house,where Jim ends up back in chains.
    When Tom wakes the next morning, he reveals thatJim has actually been a free man all along, as Miss Watson, who made a provision in her will to free Jim, died two months earlier.Tom had planned the entire escape idea all as a game and had intended to pay Jim for his troubles. Tom's Aunt Polly then shows up, identifying “Tom” and “Sid” as Huck and Tom. Jim tells Huck, who fears for his future—particularly that his father might reappear—that the body they found on the floating house off Jackson's Island had been Pap's.Aunt Sally then steps in and offers to adopt Huck, but Huck, who has had enough “sivilizing,” announces his plan to set out for theWest.
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    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

    Post by Lily on Sat May 23, 2009 9:48 pm

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    Mark Twain
    Context
    Mark twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in the town of Florida, Missouri, in 1835.When he was four years old, his family moved to Hannibal, a townon the Mississippi River much like the towns depicted in his twomost famous novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).Clemens spent his young life in a fairly affluent family that owned a number of household slaves. The death of Clemens's father in 1847, however, left the family in hardship. Clemens left school, worked for a printer, and, in 1851, having finished his apprenticeship, began to set type for his brother Orion's newspaper, the Hannibal Journal. But Hannibal proved too small to hold Clemens, who soon became a sort of itinerant printer and found work in a number of American cities, including New York and Philadelphia. While still in his early twenties, Clemensgave up his printing career in order to work on riverboats on theMississippi. Clemens eventually became a riverboat pilot, and hislife on the river influenced him a great deal. Perhaps most important,the riverboat life provided him with the pen name Mark Twain, derivedfrom the riverboat leadsmen's signal—“By the mark, twain”—that the water was deep enough for safe passage. Life on the river also gave Twainmaterial for several of his books, including the raft scenes of HuckleberryFinn Lifeon the Mississippi (1883).
    Clemens continued to work on the river until 1861,when the Civil War exploded across America and shut down the Mississippi fortravel and shipping. Although Clemens joined a Confederate cavalrydivision, he was no ardent Confederate, and when his division deserteden masse, he did too. He then made his way west with his brotherOrion, working first as a silver miner in Nevada and then stumblinginto his true calling, journalism. In 1863,Clemens began to sign articles with the name Mark Twain.
    Throughout the late 1860s and 1870s,Twain's articles, stories, memoirs, and novels, characterized byan irrepressible wit and a deft ear for language and dialect, garneredhim immense celebrity. His novel The Innocents Abroad (1869) wasan instant bestseller, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) receivedeven greater national acclaim and cemented Twain's position as agiant in American literary circles. As the nation prospered economicallyin the post-Civil War period—an era that came to be known as theGilded Age, an epithet that Twain coined—so too did Twain. His books weresold door-to-door, and he became wealthy enough to build a largehouse in Hartford, Connecticut, for himself and his wife, Olivia,whom he had married in 1870.
    Twain began work on Huckleberry Finn, asequel to Tom Sawyer, in an effort to capitalizeon the popularity of the earlier novel. This new novel took on amore serious character, however, as Twain focused increasingly onthe institution of slavery and the South. Twain soon set HuckleberryFinn aside, perhaps because its darker tone did not fitthe optimistic sentiments of the Gilded Age. In the early 1880s,however, the hopefulness of the post-Civil War years began to fade.Reconstruction, the political program designed to reintegrate thedefeated South into the Union as a slavery-free region, began tofail. The harsh measures the victorious North imposed only embitteredthe South. Concerned about maintaining power, many Southern politiciansbegan an effort to control and oppress the black men and women whomthe war had freed.
    Meanwhile, Twain's personal life began to collapse. Hiswife had long been sickly, and the couple lost their first son afterjust nineteen months. Twain also made a number of poor investmentsand financial decisions and, in 1891, foundhimself mired in debilitating debt. As his personal fortune dwindled,he continued to devote himself to writing. Drawing from his personalplight and the prevalent national troubles of the day, he finisheda draft of Huckleberry Finn in 1883,and by 1884 had it ready for publication.The novel met with great public and critical acclaim.
    Twain continued to write over the next ten years. He published twomore popular novels, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)and Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894),but went into a considerable decline afterward, never again publishingwork that matched the high standard he had set with HuckleberryFinn. Personal tragedy also continued to hound Twain: hisfinances remained troublesome, and within the course of a few years,his wife and two of his daughters passed away. Twain's writing fromthis period until the end of his life reflects a depression anda sort of righteous rage at the injustices of the world. Despitehis personal troubles, however, Twain continued to enjoy immenseesteem and fame and continued to be in demand as a public speakeruntil his death in 1910.
    The story of Huckleberry Finn, however,does not end with the death of its author. Through the twentiethcentury, the novel has become famous not merely as the crown jewelin the work of one of America's preeminent writers, but also asa subject of intense controversy. The novel occasionally has beenbanned in Southern states because of its steadfastly critical takeon the South and the hypocrisies of slavery. Others have dismissed HuckleberryFinn as vulgar or racist because it uses the word “nigger,”a term whose connotations obscure the novel's deeper themes—whichare unequivocally antislavery—and even prevent some from readingand enjoying it altogether. The fact that the historical contextin which Twain wrote made his use of the word insignificant—and,indeed, part of the realism he wanted to create—offers little solaceto some modern readers. Ultimately, The Adventures of HuckleberryFinn has proved significant not only as a novel that exploresthe racial and moral world of its time but also, through the controversiesthat continue to surround it, as an artifact of those same moral and racial tensions as they have evolved to the present day.
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    British Civilization:Civil War 2

    Post by Lily on Tue May 19, 2009 12:00 am

    Maps of territory held by Royalists (red) and Parliamentarians (green), 1642 — 1645
    The First Civil War
    The followers of king and Parliament did not represent two absolutely distinct social groups, as the popular conception of the royalist Cavaliers and the parliamentary Roundheads would indicate. However, it is true that the parliamentary, or Puritan, group drew much of its strength from the gentry and from the merchant classes and artisans of London, Norwich, Hull, Plymouth, and Gloucester; it centered in the southeastern counties and had control of the fleet. The majority of the great nobles followed the king, who had the support of most Anglicans and Roman Catholics; geographically the royalist strength centered in the north and west.
    The first major engagement of the armies at Edgehill (Oct. 23, 1642) was a drawn battle. Charles then established himself at Oxford. The royalist forces gained ground in the north and west, although repeated attempts by the king to advance on London proved abortive. The indecisive engagements of 1643 were remarkable mainly for the emergence of Oliver Cromwell, an inconspicuous member of the Long Parliament, to military prominence with his own regiment of “godly” men, soon to become famous as the Ironsides.
    Futile negotiations for peace had been conducted at Oxford early in 1643, and in Sept., 1643, Parliament took a decisive step by securing the alliance of the Presbyterian Scots in accepting the Solemn League and Covenant. Scottish aid was obtained only by a promise to submit England to Presbyterianism, which was soon to produce a reaction from the Independents and other sectarians (particularly in the army) who opposed the idea of any centralized national church.
    The war now entered a new phase. A Scottish army, under Alexander Leslie, 1st earl of Leven, advanced into Yorkshire early in 1644 and gave aid to the parliamentary army in the north. Charles's nephew, the brilliant and dashing Prince Rupert, did something to stem royalist losses by retaking Newark, but his gains were temporary. His campaign to relieve the besieged York led to the battle of Marston Moor (July 2, 1644), in which Cromwell and Leslie inflicted a crushing defeat on the royalists. Charles managed to cut off Essex in the southwest but shortly thereafter met parliamentary troops from the north in an indecisive engagement at Newbury.
    To stem the rising dissension among parliamentary leaders, Cromwell sponsored in Parliament the Self-Denying Ordinance, by which all members of Parliament were compelled to resign their commands, and the parliamentary army was reorganized (1644–45) into the New Model Army. Thomas Fairfax (later 3d Baron Fairfax of Cameron) became the commander in chief.
    After further futile peace negotiations at Uxbridge, Charles, hoping to join the forces under James Graham, marquess of Montrose, moved north and stormed Leicester. He met Cromwell in a sharp battle at Naseby (June 14, 1645). This battle cost the king a large part of his army and rendered the royalist cause hopeless. Unable to join Montrose (who was defeated by Leslie in Scotland) and thwarted in his attempts to secure aid from Ireland or the Continent, the king was unable to halt the steady losses of his party and finally was compelled to surrender himself to the Scots, who made him reassuring but vague promises. The first civil war came to an end when Oxford surrendered in June, 1646.
    The Second Civil War and Its Aftermath
    The king was delivered (1647) by the Scots into the hands of Parliament, but the Presbyterian rule in that body had thoroughly alienated the army. The army resisted Parliament's proposal to disband it by capturing the king from the parliamentary party and marching on London. Army discontent gradually became more radical (see Levelers), and the desire grew to dispose of the king altogether.
    Refusing to accept the army council's proposals for peace (the Heads of the Proposals), Charles escaped in Nov., 1647, and took refuge on the Isle of Wight, where he negotiated simultaneously with Parliament and the Scots. In Dec., 1647, he concluded an agreement with the Scots known as the Engagement, by which he agreed to accept Presbyterianism in return for military support. In the spring of 1648, the second civil war began. Uprisings in Wales, Kent, and Essex were all suppressed by the parliamentary forces, and Cromwell defeated the Scots at Preston (Aug. 17, 1648). Charles's hopes of aid from France or Ireland proved vain, and the war was quickly over.
    Parliament again tried to reach some agreement with the king, but the army, now completely under Cromwell's domination, disposed of its enemies in Parliament by Pride's Purge (Dec., 1648; see under Pride, Thomas). The legislative remnant known as the Rump Parliament erected a high court of justice, which tried the king for treason and found him guilty. Charles was beheaded on Jan. 30, 1649, and the republic known as the Commonwealth was set up, governed by the Rump Parliament (without the House of Lords) and by an executive council of state.
    Charles I's son Charles II was recognized as king in parts of Ireland and in Scotland but was forced to flee to the Continent after his defeat at Worcester (1651). The years of the interregnum, under the Commonwealth to 1653 and the Protectorate after that, are largely the story of Oliver Cromwell's personal rule, which was marked by strict military administration and enforcement of the Puritan moral code. After his death and the short-lived rule of his son, Richard Cromwell, the Commonwealth was revived for a brief and chaotic period. It ended in 1660 with the Restoration of Charles II. Although some of the changes brought about by the war were swept away (e.g., in the restoration of Anglicanism as the state church), the settlement of the contest between the king and Parliament was permanently assured in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

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