Suivre ce blog Administration + Créer mon blog

Hyper Quelque Chose !

  • Maous Artiste Défiant l'Olibrius
  • Une linguiste associée avec une artiste ! Mado fait de la peinture et moi, je m'exerce au journalisme, à la traduction et à l’écriture pour le plaisir des mots et des couleurs.
  • Une linguiste associée avec une artiste ! Mado fait de la peinture et moi, je m'exerce au journalisme, à la traduction et à l’écriture pour le plaisir des mots et des couleurs.

Rechercher Sur Le Site

Le Fourre Tout !

Cadeaux des ami(e)s


offert par mon amie Jeanne Fa Do SI
pour mon regard fouillé sur les coutumes et la nature autrichienne.
Merci Jeanne

Texte Libre

Related Posts with Thumbnails
1 juin 2009 1 01 /06 /juin /2009 15:24

Research paper on


Soap Operas: A Mirror of its Time?


”An Example of a Culture in Transition”


(This research paper was written by a non-native speaker, it could content some spelling mistakes. Feel free to take some ideas for further research, but do not use this text as your own. Your teacher could see it as a plagiary).

(Cet essai a été réalisé par un locuteur de langue française. Il peut contenir des erreurs mais il sera pour vous une source d'idées et d'informations pour de futures recherches. Ne l'utilisez pas dans son ensemble, car votre professeur pourrait vous accuser de plagiat).


Table of Contents






Watching TV


A Popular Genre: Soap Operas


Reasons why people watch Soap Operas


Coronation Street






Expectations of soap operas


Social interaction


Social Issues


Representation of multiculturalism in EastEnders




Works cited



Watching TV plays an important part in our every day life. Even so, do we really know why we watch TV? As viewers, we primarily satisfy a need for entertainment and information, but we may actually be getting far more than we bargain for.

In this essay, I would like to explore the British soap opera genre, its context and its effects. Unlike American soap operas, British soap operas’ key point is realism, as they tackle typical issues of everyday life. After enumerating the reasons for watching soap operas, a short overview of the two most famous British soap operas, Coronation Street and EastEnders, will follow. Audience of course plays an important role in the success of soap operas, as they have strong expectations in terms of storylines, characters, etc. Also, the role played by soap operas in social interaction is not to be overlooked, as they allows viewers to discuss various social issues with their family, colleagues or friends.

While all soap operas vehemently claim that they are not issue-led series, I will nonetheless investigate the representation of multiculturalism in one of the most famous soaps and ask which place TV and soap operas have in our lives.

Watching TV

A quick search on the internet convinced me that nowadays, watching TV has to be considered as a hobby. Most TV viewers declare that it is very relaxing for the brain and you do not even have to think when watching after long working hours. In addition, watching TV is also one of children’s favourite after-school activities.

According to Daniel Chandler, creator of the MCS site, “which is an award-winning portal or ‘meta index’ to internet-based resources useful in the academic study of media and communication”, hosted by the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, audiences generally watch more TV than they intend to when they first sit in front of the television set. In his article “Why do People Watch Television?” Chandler refers to the approach of “uses and gratifications” which “focuses on why people use particular media rather than on content”. “U & G arose originally in the 1940s and underwent a revival in the 1970s amd [sic] 1980s. ( . . .) It presents the use of media in terms of the gratification of social or psychological needs of the individual”. Thus, TV programmes may “gratify different needs for different individuals” and influence their mood. For example, boredom will drive TV watchers towards exciting content while stress will steer viewers to a more relaxing one (Chandler).

In their search for information, TV viewers will satisfy their curiosity and general interest by watching news, debates or education programmes. However, to develop or reinforce their personal identity, viewers will seek models of behaviour and values. In my opinion, this can be achieved by watching series or soap operas. They provide integration such as identification with others and sense of belonging. In addition, they can lead to social interaction in the real world, as they provide common ground for conversation and discussion. Lastly, TV programmes clearly provide entertainment, allowing spectators to have a break from routine or with a diversion from problems (Chandler). Personally, I think that relaxing is certainly one of the most frequent words when people give an answer to the question: “Why do you watch TV?” But Chandler adds another dimension to the “social uses of television” by saying that the television set frequently produces a background noise in the household that provides companionship or allows the reduction of anxiety, etc. (Chandler). However, it would be inaccurate to restrict the role of TV to merely that of companionship, particularly where soap operas are concerned.

A Popular Genre: Soap Operas

Television soap operas are long-running serials which are potentially endless. They share certain features with melodrama, such as “moral polarization, strong emotions, female orientation, unlikely coincidences, and excess” and with literary romance such as “simplified characters, female orientation and episodic narrative” but do not have a “happy ending”. British soaps have a “social realist tradition” and have an “emphasis on contemporary social problems” but I think that sometimes they have an over-dramatised approach (Chandler).

However, gossiping is a key feature in soaps which is usually absent from other genres. In addition, the “viewers are also in an omniscient position” which allows them to speculate about the possible turn of events. Storylines are designed especially in order to ensure that any new viewer can join at any time and will understand the story thanks to the continual and symbolic references to the past. Soap operas are often panned by critics and viewers alike because of the repetitive clichés and stereotypes so commonly found in them. However, the great number of characters and the fact that there is usually “no single ‘hero’” offers spectators “a great deal of choice regarding those with which they might identify”. (Chandler).

Reasons why people watch Soap Operas

Watching soap operas is often seen as an “entertaining reward for work” and is “part of domestic routine”. I believe that both “identification and involvement with characters” are very significant, particularly with British soap operas such as EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Brookside, etc. This is chiefly because these programmes reflect everyday life and depict the working class, whereas American soap operas often portray rich people of the upper class (Chandler).

In 2002, the Broadcasting Standards Commission conducted research in order to examine the role of soap operas within the family in 2002. According to the findings, the first reason for watching soap operas is a pure escapism from daily routine. They also give an element of comparison with the characters’ lives and your own. In addition, increasing opportunities for social interaction are also mentioned by the respondents. (Broadcasting... 7)

Often, audiences of soap operas do not know the names of the artists and call the actors by their characters’ names, thus extending the fiction and reinforcing the idea that the characters are real. Even when actors are recognised on the street, the are often called by their characters’ name. In addition, British soap operas focus “on topical issues,” involving situations such as marital or family discord, extra-marital affairs, marriage breakdown, genuine love etc. (Chandler). They also tackle social issues such as racism, homosexuality, illness (AIDS, cancer, etc.), alcoholism, financial problems etc.

Coronation Street

First shown on 9th December 1960 on ITV, Coronation Street is the longest-running British TV soap opera. One-third of the British population regularly watching “Street” is composed of rather more women than men, the elderly and people issued from lower socio-economic groups.

Street “includes strong and positive middle-aged female” characters, and most of the time, deals more with personal events than political and social ones. Street is set in a fictional street with seven terraced houses in the imaginary industrial town of Weatherfield. Naturally, the local community meets in the corner shop and in the pub “The Rovers Return” to comment on all events.

The storylines focus on the experiences of families and their interaction, and on relationships between people of different ages, classes and social structures. However, it has been “criticised for the minimal role of non-white[.]” characters. When an attempt was made to introduce more contemporary themes, “viewing ratings dropped” and “there was then a move towards a lighter, more humorous style”. That why it is said that Street is funnier than EastEnders. (Chandler).


EastEnders is one of the rivals of Coronation Street and was first broadcast in 1985. While “it is watched by a little under a third of the British population, by more women than men, and more by those in lower socio-economic groups” but it also attracts teenage viewers.

The characters tend to be mainly working class. In addition to adult women, young female as well as male characters are given strong roles, thus broadening the potential audience. The show focuses on the lives of the inhabitants of the fictional Albert Square in east London. Several small shops, a hairdresser and a beauty salon, market stalls, a pavement café, a fish and chip shop, and the pub “The Queen Vic” complete the settings.

EastEnders entertains audiences with dramatic storylines focusing on real-life situations and tackles homosexuality, rape, unemployment, racial prejudice, etc. in a believable context avoiding “politics and swearing”. Focusing on melodrama with death, mental breakdown, disappearances, muggings, accidents and murder, EastEnders is often “criticised for being bleak” (Chandler).


According to a survey published by national STATISTICS, men actually watch more TV than women do, spending an average of over 150 minutes per day on TV and radio, while women generally spend  less than 150 minutes (Lifestyles…).

According to the bbc.co.uk Commissioning website, families who watch sports are also likely to watch drama and soaps. The soap operas come in first and second place with EastEnders and Coronation Street, followed by international football matches in third place (What is the role of TV?).

In keeping with Chandler’s comments, soaps in general have a predominantly female audience because of the female characters’ portrayal. In my opinion, the fact that the first radio series were aimed at housewives has surely contributed to the reputation of the soap operas being made for women. But I totally disagree with the comment of David Morley, in Chandler’s article, where he states that “the competences necessary for reading soap opera are most likely to have been acquired by those persons culturally constructed through discourses of femininity” because there are also soap operas and series designed for men. EastEnders, for instance, has always introduced strong male characters throughout the series, including several villains and even gangsters, which certainly attract more male viewers than female ones. Even, the soap opera sometimes shifts a little towards the “genre of the crime series” in order to please male viewers (Chandler).

As in the extremely interesting report of the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the levels of viewers’ engagement with soap operas show how involved people are. Generally, 26% of all respondents “really enjoy watching soap operas”. But the statistics show that 38% of women versus 14% of men responded this way, confirming the notion that soap operas have more female viewers than male ones. Furthermore, the report reveals that more women (7%) are more addicted to soap operas than men (3%), and that 9% of female viewers claim they could not bear to miss an episode against only 3% of male viewers. Generally speaking, women are more committed to soap operas than men are. However, these findings may be due to women being more likely to admit their addiction to the genre. Men tend to say that they watch the soap because the other members of the family watch it (Broadcasting... 14). Furthermore, 68% of all British adults watch EastEnders; 67% watch Coronation Street followed by Emmerdale (52%) and Brookside (31%) statistics that confirm that watching soap operas is extremely popular in Britain (Broadcasting... 21).

Expectations of soap operas

Entertainment is the first expectation when watching a soap opera with 38 % of all respondents in favour of this answer, followed by 29% of strong storylines “underlining the importance of the soap opera[s] as a way of ‘switching off’ for a period of time”. Between 19% and 26% of the interviewees think that a soap opera should include humour, true-to-life situations and highly dramatised scenes. To my surprise only 7% expect that issues are going to be explored (Broadcasting... 23).

However, the expectations of the audience diverge from one soap to another. On one hand, Coronation Street and Emmerdale are more watched because of their entertaining and humorous storylines. On the other hand, EastEnders is a place “where a large number of gloomy things happen” and which features “highly dramatised scenes”. Though viewers look forward to believable situations in the soaps, they do not focus on viewing something which makes them think or learn. (Broadcasting...  26)

Social interaction

When members of the family watch soaps together, it may lead to social interaction after the viewing, such as comments on the storylines and the characters, or analysis of the issues, etc. However, this sort of interaction also occurs outside the home, such as in the workplace, secondary schools, when meeting friends, etc. (Broadcasting...  28). From my own experience, I noticed that first thing in the morning at work, women and men discussed the last episode of their favourite soaps. To be included in the conversation, it was necessary to be acquainted with the soaps. That is why Chandler says: “Some had begun watching simply because they had discovered how central it seemed to be in lunchtime discussions”. If my deductions are correct, the soap operas have a major place in the social interaction of the British community. (Chandler)

Social Issues

“Despite the fact that soap operas are recognised primarily as vehicles for entertainment, the use of the genre as a way of discussing social issues is recognised by many.” Even so, several soap opera producers refuse to have their programmes catalogued as issue-led. However, for 54% of the interviewees, social issues must be factually correct and presented realistically if tackled. Many respondents are concerned with the broader implications of the topics, and think that episodes involving violence, rape, illness, etc. should be followed by information on telephone helplines. This has already been done: for example, after an episode dealing with spousal/domestic abuse, EastEnders informed the viewers that if they were confronted with one of the issues they could call a helpline that provides advice and information about it (Broadcasting... 31-32).

Representation of multiculturalism in EastEnders

Race and ethnicity can be a difficult subject with soap opera audiences. Though efforts to include more minority characters have been made in recent years, “participants from non-white backgrounds particularly voice a concern about tokenism,” adding that “the importance of creating culturally authentic characters is a key issue for them”. Broadcasters have already made some progress and created “more authentic and relevant characters and storylines”. On one hand, the Broadcasting Standards Commission states in its report that “[t]he advances made in EastEnders ( . . .) are recognised by many” (Broadcasting...  34-35). On the other hand, Hannah Pool, a journalist at The Guardian asked Diane Parish, a black actress who plays Denise in EastEnders, how she felt about being part of a soap that has “such a bad reputation among black viewers”. For Diane Parish, portraying a single mum with two daughters is beyond being black and issue-based. However, she does feel a certain pressure from her community, because, as she points out… “when you see a black actor on the screen you want to say: ‘Please be good’” (Pool).

In my opinion, one of the worse storylines in EastEnders was the introduction of the Ferreiras’ family. Bad acting, stereotypes, involvement with gangsters, fraud, unrealistic storylines, etc. lead to the disappearance of the family after only 5 months of presence. The Ferreiras were EastEnders’ first Asian family but were not cast “as Hindu, Muslim or even Sikh, but Christian from Goa – hardly an obvious choice for a show claiming to give a realistic representation of the capital’s ethnic mix rooted in mainstream India, Pakistan and Bangladesh”. Also, Hannah Pool voices in her article that black character are oft “gangster[s] or related to one” as for example Rudolph Walker who portrays the father of a gangster in EastEnders and who was awarded an “OBE for services to the acting industry”. Even though Walker has been present in the soap opera for many years, the BBC “managed to leave him out of a book celebrating the show’s 20th anniversary. Urging the BBC to reprint the book, the Voice newspaper said in February last year: ‘This book exposes the hidden discrimination still inherent in British television’” (Pool).

Even so, the actress Diane Parish said in an interview for BBC News Online that the progress made by British television in “its portrayal of different ethnic communities” can be described as “[b]aby steps” and added: “We live in a multi-cultural society but we don't represent it on the screen, sadly” (Webb).

In addition, in a survey published by BBC News Online, it is important to notice that only 37% of the white people answered positively to the question: “Do soaps and dramas accurately reflect the lives of ethnic minorities?”. This answer illustrates that white people themselves are aware of the lack of ethnic minorities’ representation. Furthermore, Black and Asian people (57% and 51% respectively) found that the soaps and dramas do not reflect multiculturalism. A third of the interviewees had no opinion or did not know (Survey).


To sum up, watching TV helps people to unwind after a busy day. Viewers are certainly not aware of the influence of television programmes on their mood, but even so, they use TV as a reward. Programmes such as soap operas also bring the viewers a reinforcement of values and offer models with which people can identify. As I have already stated, British soap operas have a sort of gritty realism with a melodramatic, romantic or humorous touch and tackle contemporary social problems. Thus, they have all the ingredients as a prime entertainment genre because they are not too long (normally half an hour), do not develop the issues too exhaustively (no boredom) and suit the particular needs at the time of day they are aired (entertainment during prime time).

Even if Chandler emphasises that soap opera audiences are predominantly female, the introduction of strong male characters in several soap operas nowadays attracts more male viewers. I personally know several men who regularly watch EastEnders and who are nearly as addicted as their wives are. However, their attitudes and feelings are more detached.

I started to watch EastEnders when I was in England. After a few interruptions, I now regularly watch it and was very surprised that social issues are not a prime expectation (only 7% of the interviewees) because when viewing EastEnders, I am quite aware of the representation of multiculturalism and the realism of social issues. I was nearly on the verge of giving the soap up when the Ferreiras were introduced because I was extremely disappointed by the storylines.

Of course, my personal expectations differ from the group that chooses to watch soap operas as distraction. I am interested in the development of the characters, situations, the community’s involvement and I laugh at the gossiping. I have also adopted a critical attitude when watching and I am aware of the weakness of the genre in its treatment of issues, which is far too superficial for my taste.

Obviously, I see EastEnders as an insight into the British society and the community of the fictional Albert Square and a way of better understanding the culture. However, with the new appearance of three major Black and one minor Asian characters, EastEnders’ broadcasting attempts to better represent the today British society. Finally, as Diane Parish stated in her interview: Progress has to be made in the representation of multiculturalism in British TV.

Works Cited


Broadcasting Standards Commission. “Soap box or soft soap? Audience attitudes to the British soap opera“. London. 2002. 07 Jan. 2006 <http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/bsc/pdfs/research/soap.pdf>

Chandler, Daniel. “The TV Soap Opera Genre and its Viewers“. MCS, University of Wales, Aberystwyth. 1995. 05 Feb. 2007 <http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Modules/TF33120/soaps.html>

Chandler, Daniel. “Why do People Watch Television?“. MCS, University of Wales, Aberystwyth. 1995. 05 Jan. 2007 <http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/short/usegrat.html>

Lifestyles. Men spend more time watching TV than women. national STATISTICS. Time Use Survey 2005 (collected on the NS Omnibus survey), Office for National Statistics; Internet access 2006, (collected on the NS Omnibus Survey), Office for National Statistics. Published on 16 Oct. 2006. 11 Feb. 2007 <http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1659>

Pool, Hannah. “Squaring the circle”. The Guardian. 17 July 2006. 10 Feb. 2007 <http://www.guardian.co.uk/race/story/0,,1822281,00.html>

Survey. “Do soaps and dramas accurately reflect the lives of ethnic minorities?”. Article: “Changing the scenery”. BBC News Online. (no date). 10 Feb. 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/uk/2002/race/changing_the_scenery.stm>. Path under the photography of Sir Trevor MacDonald: Do you think there are enough black and Asian people on the telly? Path: Television and the Media. Path: Do soaps and dramas accurately reflect the lives of ethnic minorities?

Webb, Alex. “Changing the scenery”. BBC News Online. 10 Feb. 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/uk/2002/race/changing_the_scenery.stm>

What is the role of TV? bbc.co.uk Commissioning. British Broadcasting. Corporation © 2002-2005. Page Last Updates 25/07/2006. 11 Feb. 2007. Path: Families, like the rest of the population, watch a lot of drama and soaps. But they are more likely than average to watch Children’s, Reality TV, and Chat Shows. They are far less likely to be watching Current Affairs programmes.  <http://www.bbc.co.uk/commissioning/marketresearch/audiencegroup6.shtml>



Hereafter referred to as U & G

In “Watching TV”, the citations are from the article “Why do People Watch Television?

In “A Popular Genre: Soap Operas”, the citations are from the article “The TV Soap Opera Genre and its Viewers“

In “Reasons why people watch Soap Operas”, the citations are from the article “Why do People Watch Television?

Hereafter referred to as “Street”

In “Coronation Street”, the citations are from the article “The TV Soap Opera Genre and its Viewers“

In “EastEnders”, the citations are from the article “The TV Soap Opera Genre and its Viewers“

In “Audience”, the citations are from the article “The TV Soap Opera Genre and its Viewers”

Own experience made in several large offices in an insurance company in Tunbridge Wells.

In “Social Interaction”, the citations are from the article “The TV Soap Opera Genre and its Viewers”

Partager cet article

31 mai 2009 7 31 /05 /mai /2009 15:37

Research paper on:

Lewis Grassic Gibbon
The Concept of Change in “Sunset Song”


Scottish Literature


(This research paper was written by a non-native speaker, it could content some spelling mistakes. Feel free to take some ideas for further research, but do not use this text as your own. Your teacher could see it as a plagiary).

(Cet essai a été réalisé par un locuteur de langue française. Il peut contenir des erreurs mais il sera pour vous une source d'idées et d'informations pour de futures recherches. Ne l'utilisez pas dans son ensemble, car votre professeur pourrait vous accuser de plagiat).


Table of Contents

Table of Contents


  1. Introduction

Page 2

  1. Land & Peasantry


  1. Chris Guthrie


  1. Nothing Endures


  1. Progress and Modernism


  1. The Standing Stones


  1. Religion


  1. First World War


  1. Grassic Gibbon’s Concept of Change


  1. Conclusion


  1. Works cited




Lewis Grassic Gibbon was the pseudonym of James Leslie Mitchell who was born in Scotland in 1901 and died in 1935. Grassic Gibbon was a major figure in the Scottish Literary Renaissance and wrote A Scots Quair which is a trilogy of the following novels: Sunset Song (1932), Cloud Howe (1933) and Grey Granite (1934).

A Scots Quair is a chronicle of the vanishing agricultural way of life in North-East Scotland. Grassic Gibbon's writing blended Scots and English languages, reproducing the “cadence and vocabulary of the Scots idiom, giving a new impetus to the development of a vernacular prose literature in Scotland” (Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism 119). The trilogy as a whole gives a “powerful account of history and social change in Scotland” between 1911 and 1932 (Watson, The Literature 383). However, for the purpose of this paper, I am going to focus on the first book of the trilogy Sunset Song, where Grassic Gibbon recreated in his own words the landscape and farming life in the Mearns area of North-East Scotland where he grew up. He also portrayed a little fictional community as it was before the First World War.

As Douglas Gifford acknowledged in his article “Contemporary Fiction I: Tradition and Continuity”, the main character of the Sunset Song, Chris Guthrie, acts in Grassic Gibbon’s trilogy as a witness to “Land, Change, and Death”. He even considered her as a passive “Earth Mother” (599). This description is much unexpected although Susanne Hagemann stated in her essay that “[w]omen and nationhood prove to be connected in highly ambiguous ways” in Scottish writing and that A Scots Quair can be “interpreted both as a patriarchal and as a feminist text” (320).

It is true that male writers often placed Scottish women at the centre of the novel as “carrier of essential national identity, [and] as tradition bearer” (Gifford Contemporary 598). Through the narrative, the reader sees how Chris reacts to national identity feeling torn by her self-given two identities, the Scottish Chris and the English Chris. She connects with the land through the Scottish language, its songs, and legends but she can also demonstrate how literate she is conjugating Latin verbs. 

Although the depiction of women in a rural Scottish community as children and mature women is very conventional in the story, in the case of Chris Guthrie, the attitude of the father towards education for girls is progressive. However, Grassic Gibbon created his main character in “connections with landscape, maternity, relationships with men which were boundaries marking the territories women were supposed to occupy, allocated by men” (Gifford Contemporary 601). Predictably, the young Chris has to follow the patriarchal rules until her father’s death, after which, she shows initiative, takes her destiny into her own hands, and defies patriarchal social conditioning.

The following paper focuses on Chris Guthrie, of Sunset Song, as she grows from a child into adulthood and seeks a better understanding of the concept of changes, first, for the land and then from the heroine’s point of view that nothing endures. Progress and modernism greatly contribute to the changes. The role and symbolism of the standing stones will be discussed. In counterpart, religion and understanding of diffusionism followed by a short analysis in the changes brought by the First World War will be examined. Finally, a study of Grassic Gibbon’s concept of change will come as a conclusion to understand all the effects upon Chris as a woman who accepts changes.

Land & Peasantry

In Sunset Song, Scotland is going through inevitable changes. First of all, the prelude (or The Unfurrowed Field) gives the reader some background knowledge and describes the various historical changes from Norman times right up to the Twentieth Century. Then, the “old way of life of the crofter” comes into view, particularly at the beginning of the story, where the hard work of the peasant farmers is described sometimes poetically, sometimes imaginatively, with keeping in mind Grassic Gibbon’s point of view of early age of Scotland (Gifford Scottish 586).

But Sunset Song “portrays a harsh, cruel world” particularly well envisioned by Chris’s following thoughts of Scotland (Bold 130) as for example: just after singing The Flowers of the Forest at her marriage, Chris Guthrie-Tavendale feels “how strange was the sadness of Scotland’s singing, made for the sadness of the land and sky in dark autumn evenings” (Sunset Song 165).

In addition, indicative of the vulnerability and the dependency of the crofters, weather and seasons play an important role in the narrative. The last sentence of chapter one reveals the farmers’ expectation from Mother Nature: “the drought had broken at last” (SS 62).

The authentic depiction of the country and the hardships of farming life are due to Grassic Gibbon’s upbringing on crofts in the “Howe of the Mearns, especially at Bloomfield above Inverbervie, later fictionalised as ‘Blawearie in the parish of ‘Kinraddie’” (Watson, The Literature 384). Grassic Gibbon liked to recall that he was from a peasant background and he often expressed his pride that the land was so closely and intimately his (Watson, The Literature 384). However, he developed what Watson described in his article as a love-hate relationship with the land and Chris took shape as his “spokesperson and [became] the vessel for his own imaginative spirit” in order to express these ambivalent love-hatred feelings (The Literature 386).

Therefore, by the end of the First World War, the small farmers are passing away due to social changes – newcomers working for larger farms, tractors and machinery replacing horses, battery farming – breaking the traditional cycle. (Gifford Scottish 586). The First World War’s impact can be seen plainly on the Scots countryside as for example the trees are merely cut down for the war industry. The first one to notice the change is Chae (a minor character):  first, from his house when he looks out of the window and says that the woodmen have ruined his “land”, and then when he wandered around Kinraddie, he found it “a strange place and desolate” one (SS 202-204).

From the point of view of Chris’ brother, Will, Scotland is “dead” or “dying” (SS 216). On the contrary, Chris believes in Scotland saying to herself “Scotland lived, she could never die, the land would outlast them all” (SS 217). Here, Chris’s profound attachment to her country is expressed when she “equates [Scotland] with the land, with nature” in contrast with her brother who “thinks of Scotland in terms of human beings and their activities” (Hagemann 320).

However, it is noticed that Grassic Gibbon throughout all his works expressed his regrets that the “traditional community and its intimate connection with the land” was coming to an end (Gifford Scottish 585).

Chris Guthrie

In Sunset Song, Grassic Gibbon created “a strong female protagonist” which shows a “new and Modernist perception of the condition of women in society” (Gifford, Scottish 594). Surprisingly, he characterised Chris as a strong-minded woman who describes herself as having a dual personality “two Chrissies”, letting us think that she has some psychophrenic tendencies. Chris Guthrie identifies her “Scottish Chris” with the land but also with “the speak of the folk around her” and her “English Chris” with education (Watson, A History 417). She even says to herself (and tells the reader) that they “fought for her heart and tormented her” (SS 32). Roderick Watson is, nevertheless, amazed that the main character, who shows integrity, does not choose to become a teacher after being free of the shackles of patriarchy and poverty (Watson, A History 417). Therefore, Watson argues that it is perhaps because her home parish offers the security of an extended family circle (Watson, The Literature 387).

Furthermore, the “patriarchal stereotype linking women with nature and men with culture remains intact” through the novel (Hagemann, 320). And then, Douglas Gifford alleges that women act as guardians of national soul and tend to be “enduring witnesses rather than agents of significant change” (A History 598).

Throughout the narrative, the heroine faces “so much adversity and loss” but her “perceptiveness and cool detachment” marked her as an “intellectual and [also as a] spiritual centre of the trilogy” (Gifford, Scottish 594). It is said that she is intellectual, because she goes to college in the “Ploughing” chapter, learns French, Latin and Greek, and spiritual because she connects with nature. However, the “Chris of the land” is also sitting at the college, thinking of traditional myths which appear in the form of a heraldic animal carved into the main building (SS 44).

“Chris Guthrie represents Scotland in many ways” and can be seen as its incarnation (MacDiarmid 123). As mentioned earlier in this paper, the two Chrissies, one from Highland and one from Lowland Scot, go to Duncairn’s college each morning letting us think that the “English Chris” has more importance than the “Scot Chris”. Nevertheless, a passage suggests that she instinctively turns to the “Chris of the land” without further thinking as for example when the narrator says: “Chris took a bit peep or so in Religio Medici and nearly yawned her head off with the reading of it, it was better fun on a spare, slow day to help mother wash the blankets” (SS 59). MacDiarmid even argues that there is another level of this split suggested by “the English Chris”, the Chris, who wins the bursary, conjugates Latin verbs and pleases the Dominie. For him, there is no doubt which of these “two Chrissies wins out”; it is the “active Chris, the Chris of the soil, and the Scots Chris” (MacDiarmid 123).

However, Chris’s life is “dramatically altered by three events” in Sunset Song. First, her mother commits suicide and takes the lives of the twins, then her father dies and her husband is killed in the war (Bold 132). These highly melodramatic incidents often cause Chris to reflect upon life and its meaning. Even if she feels free after her father’s death and thinks of studying again, she chooses to listen to her own inner voice “the Chris of the land” and stays in Kinraddie. Gifford writes, “it seems that […] Chris’s role is to remain passive – to observe, to reflect, to endure all kinds of displacement” – and that she does not try to elevate her condition (Scottish 595).

As far as the topic of displacement is concerned, Chris moves with her parents from Echt, a fine land for rain, to Kinraddie, with moors and hot summer. There, she steps out of childhood turning into a mature woman in a gradual transition, moving from wife to mother to widow. Something, however, distinguishes Chris: her own “determination to remain spiritually and mentally her own person in the face of the community” but she also appears as a “solitary figure” (Watson, The Literature, 389).

Nothing Endures

Chris recognises throughout her life that “nothing endures” (SS 46). She says it, for the first time, just after the kiss given by her classmate Marget. She enjoys the sweet kiss but is embarrassed too. Despite her young age, she is aware that shyness, shame, even thrilling sensations do not last. The second time, “she minded Greek words of forgotten lessons, Παντα ρει, Nothing endures“ thinking of the land and nature, and mentioning the Pictish folk, their “sailing and passing” (SS 119). Everything is in movement, the landscape under the crofter’s hand and even her, balancing from one Chris to the other one. Speaking of the land, she questions herself if “her love might hardly endure” as she also experiences feelings of hatred like the author (SS 120).

As Ian Campbell acknowledged in his essay “Chris Caledonia: The Search for an Identity”, Grassic Gibbon offers an “opportunity to analyse a Scottish dilemma” (Campbell  130). Chris is the personification of this dilemma, torn between Scotland and England, in the flesh of a girl of the land and the educated one, going from one side to this other. She “embodies feelings [Grassic Gibbon’s own feeling which he] had known all his life and knew to be shared by his readers”, as a personal conflict (Campbell 130).

Progress and Modernism

Grassic Gibbon’s personality and experiences with farming life are extremely intricate in the trilogy. He shows in Sunset Song that the life was hard in rural Scotland at the beginning of the 20th century but also that Sunset Song is the depiction of a fading peasant age. “He dismisses the idea that civilisation is civilising and contrasts the kindness of the Old Stone Age with the cruelty of contemporary Europe” (Bold 125).

Then, Macaree points out that besides the personal story of Chris, there is another time scheme in operation. Folks have battled against the natural difficulties to settle in Scotland, as the reader follows Chris migrating with her family “through darkness to an unknown destiny“. However, the social organisation around Chris has “after eight centuries of existence” collapsed through its “own debility in the face of changes” in the outside world as for example the impoverishment of its forests through the destruction of trees in woodlands (125).

New technologies also have a symbolism in the rural novel. Even in the introductory descriptive passage, there is the “alien technological image of the motor-car” shooming through the roads (Palmer McCulloch). The motor-car is intruding in the life of the community. They are associated with danger; first, John Guthrie is evicted from his farm because of an altercation with a female motorist, then Chae’s child is nearly killed by a car. Following this argument, Chae has been summoned and fined for assault at Stonehaven. When he comes out of the courthouse, he says there was “no justice under capitalism” (SS 27). Palmer McCulloch writes that Grassic Gibbon unobtrusively introduces the “ideological context of the novel alongside its modernistic descriptive prose and focalisation” (ASLS homepage).

At the end of the novel, the new technologies begin to undermine traditional ways of farming and also new technologies such as incubators appear. The Kinraddie crofters face inexorable changes caused by the “technology in the form of the armaments of war [which] brings the final disintegration of the [peasant] community” (Palmer McCulloch).

The Standing Stones

The standing stones are a very significant symbol in Sunset Song first, because they stand for a connection with the past and secondly because they are for Chris a place of retreat after every turmoil. She often goes there resting next to the ancient stones and the loch which are considerated by Douglas Gifford as “places of mana which connect with [Chris’s] timeless essences”. It is also interesting to notice that he states in his essay that “Scottish women have generally remained sceptical concerning such mystic links between places, history and living beings” (Gifford, A History 590).

As the standing stones remain, the world changes. According to Alan Bold, the novel is “haunted by the tragic impact of civilisation” and the transformations it brings to the lands. “[Grassic Gibbon’s] fervent Diffusionist belief that the Golden Age of the primitive hunter [which] had been destroyed by the curse of civilisation pervades the novel” (125). The Golden Age is voiced by a minister explaining to his community that the first voyagers sailing the sounding coasts brought the heathen idols of the great “Stone Rings” and revealing as it is exactly written in the novel that the “Golden Age was over and past and lust and cruelty trod the world” (SS 53).

According to Bold, the “Stones represent a marker for a way of life that vanished”. However he also considers that they show “a recrudescence of the old Pictish spirit” and that this way of life could come again (Bold 133). In contrast, Young argues that Sunset Song is the story of the last few years of the genuine Pictish folk of the Mearns and their final defeat by the forces of civilisation (Young 127).

So Chris Guthrie seeks refuge at the Standing Stones at the beginning of each chapter. There she feels that she can let her memory flow back over her and can bring to mind her last experiences. Reflecting on the passage of epochs, she sees that life continues despite the deaths. The connection between the standing stones and the passage of time allows Grassic Gibbon to express his “Diffusionist feelings for the timeless value and innocence that […] prevailed when the world was young” (Watson, The Literature 388).

Also at the end of the novel, the two-three stones are used as a War memorial for those who died during the Great War. According to Roderick Watson, the sermon of the minister Colquohoun and the singing of ‘Flowers of the Forest’ serve to “recall once again, older perspectives on mutability and human loss (The Literature 389).


Already at the beginning of the story, the narrator provides the reader with some negative comments on religion. It starts by criticising the little kirk, which was built in the time of the Roman Catholics by “coarse creatures” and the minister who would glow down at the female organist “more like John Knox than ever” (SS 7). Even the paintings on the windows, which represent some Catholic principles (Faith, Hope and Charity), do not find grace in the narrator’s eyes because they were made by “coarse creatures like Catholics” (SS 8). This shows right at the beginning of the book the intolerance of other beliefs.

As already mentioned, Grassic Gibbon was strongly influenced by the philosophical Diffusionist theory. Brown appreciably says that two points of explanation must be made to understand Grassic Gibbon’s point of view. His “philosophy of life was a belief in original innocence” (before the coming of civilised men). The downfall of original innocence began after the discovery of agriculture in Egypt and with the misuse of worship of tyrannous gods and kings, cults of property and power, and wars by a so-called civilized society (Brown 122). Young adds that Sunset Song is “permeated by the Diffusionist myth” and if the reader does not analyse the book in these terms, much of its significance will be missed (Young 127). In addition, he reveals that Grassic Gibbon was a good anthropologist and consequently he knew that the Standing Stones had a religious function. As a good Diffusionist, he also knew that religion had no place in the Golden Age and came only with the coming of civilisation (Young 127).

The standing stones’ symbolism leave perplexed at the beginning and it can be thought that the story would be about druids and ancient Scottish legends. The narrative leads the reader step by step through a range of issues involved with old practices. But, as Ivor Brown pointedly criticises there is “no place to expound [Grassic Gibbon’s] whole doctrine of the archaic civilisation, its diffusion, and its decay” if the story is not about it (122).

In contrast, John Guthrie’s (Chris’s father) strong belief in God leads us to believe that religion is important for the community but the reader gets to know that Rob of the Mill (a minor character representing the other opinion of the community) does not believe in ministers or kirks. Nevertheless, Guthrie is an extremely respectful believer and God’s name should not be given to beings or misused in his presence. As Young defines it, religion has had a sad effect upon the people of Scotland. “Calvinism […] has been an oppressive force of great magnitude” and the best representation of its inhumanity is portrayed in the brutal, bigoted John Guthrie (Young 127).

During the war, Chris asks Chae (another minor character) when the war is coming to an end and he answers: “God only knows”. Here Chris says “And you still believe in Him?” (SS 205). But, here the reader does not see any foremost changes in the story; some peoples believe, some do not. Expressing Grassic Gibbon’s ideology, only some socialistic or communistic views are uttered. Amazingly, Chris Guthrie does not follow her bigoted father’s belief. For example, at the end of Sunset Song, when Will (Chris’s brother) visits her, she asks him if he will come with her to church. He asks her if she is “getting religious”. By her answer, Chris gives a real good insight of Scots’ faith: “I don’t believe [the Scots] were ever religious […], not really religious like Irish or French or all the rest in the history books. They’ve never BELIEVED. [The kirk is] just a place to collect and argue […] and criticise God” (SS 217).

The standing stones are a symbol to “linked Scottish earth to all enduring and universal things, symbol of the early men who were happy until they missed the way” as Brown said (122). But, Young added that the stones were the reminders of that great and tragic step in Scottish history when men encountered civilisation (127). It is also amazing that they are memorials to the Golden Age and Grassic Gibbon turned them at the end of Sunset Song into a war memorial.

First World War

The war breaks out and with it, destruction. At first, no one pays attention to the war. Chris is not particularly interested; she listens to Chae Strachan and does not pay attention: “a war was on, Britain was to war with Germany”. She really does not care (as she is pregnant) and at this point, her husband does not care either (SS 186). But, the Great War is going to mark and destroy “everyone in the little community” (Watson, The Literature 389).

Men live to fight and Ewan Tavendale (Chris’s husband) goes to fight against the Germans too. Ewan is primarily excused from military service due to his “status as a farmer” (Bold 133). But feeling the village’s pressure and because he does not want people to think of him as a coward, he leaves his family and farm to enlist for war service. But when “Ewan comes back on leave before going to France, he is transformed” into an efficient fighting machine (Blod 133). Chris does not recognise her husband and sees him as a stranger. The kind, shy Ewan Tavendale does not exist any longer and Chris hates him for his brutality.

As the war affects people, it also affects the land. Consequently, changes are seen in the way of life because more commercial farming takes over until the “old peasant crofter-class finally passes away” (Watson, The Literature 389). The First World War provides a climax and with the end of the war comes “the sunset of a people and of a whole way of life. “Civilization seems to have triumphed completely in Kinraddie” (Young 128).

Grassic Gibbon’s Concept of Change

“Just as A Scots Quair was planned in three books, so each book is made to operate on distinct levels” (Bold 133). According to Alan Bold, there are three levels: narrative, poetic and mythical. In addition, the story’s mood is rather emotional and from time to time ironic, and sometimes sounds like a comedy. The narrative level deals with the story of Chris and with the English-Scots prose. The poetic level is concerned with the Scots singing and the mythical one referred to the symbolic meaning in Chris’s life (133). In addition, A Scots Quair trilogy deals with three specific social environments (parish, borough, city); Chris will have three husbands (Ewan Tavendale, Robert Colquohoun, Ake Ogilvie) and each book is concerned with three great social events (First World War, general strike, class war) (Bold 134). According to Bold, Chris will remain the “common factor, the constant and eternal feminine principle of creativity and endurance” (134).

In Sunset Song, the point of view is continually shifting from a defined to an undefined narrator. Grassic Gibbon uses an “incomparable flexibility and ambiguity of point of view”. The narrator can be one of the fictional characters or an anonymous individual or the community itself with a gossiping tone (Young 127).

Grassic Gibbon certainly chose his title carefully. Young thinks that the author chose the sun as symbol of the Golden Age and its disappearance interpreted in the singing sunset (127). The sun is truly present in the story and two examples can be cited: first, the relationship of sun and singing: the sun is “shining bravely” when Rob past whistling the songs “Ladies of Spain and There was a young maiden and The lass that made the bed for me” and secondly, the alliance of sun and past: Chris’s mother is “against the sun as though you peered far down a tunnel of the years” (SS 18 & 26). According to Roderick Watson, “A Scots Quair belongs with the several great books in Scottish literature which have dealt with the theme of the divided self and the spiritual antithesis between ‘masculine’ authority and ‘feminine’ sensitivity” (The Literature 393).

It is important to notice that numerous tragedies happened during Sunset Song and in Chris’s life which correspond to a cycle of birth, life and death (her mother killed herself and her twins, her brutal father passed away and her husband is shot). In addition, three men from the village (included Ewan Tavendale) died in war.

Each chapter of Sunset Song corresponds to farming seasons related to the “fertile cycles” of cultivation: Ploughing, Drilling, Seed-Time, Harvest. It is described as a constant revolution.

Grassic Gibbon liked to destabilise his readers by writing against the Kailyard trend. The idealized picture from Scotland is impeded by the hard work of the peasantry. L. A. G. Strong in his essay reveals that Grassic Gibbon was certainly torn between the desire to depict the life and the landscape realistically and the desire to give an “idealized picture”. According to Strong, the “bewildering changes of tone” and the “lack of organization in the narrative” ensued from this longing (Strong 120).  

And then, Chris can be seen at the end of the book as a survivor. Additionally, Bold sees her as a phenomenon, “a survival of the primitive type” (Bold 133). It seems to me important to keep in mind that Chris is described as the eternal feminine principle of creativity and endurance in the first book (Bold 134).


This paper conveys my great interest in understanding Grassic Gibbon’s diffusionist belief and in appreciating his narrative quality through the description of Chris’s character and the land with a rural realism. I also tried, during the writing of this paper, to start sentences with but, and, so and then as Grassic Gibbon does in Sunset Song in order to feel his writing.

Grassic Gibbon excels in capturing the essences of Scotland, exploring progress, rediscovering ancient tradition and understanding religion. Sunset Song is not just the story of Chris Guthrie and of Kinraddie but a total “critique of human civilization” with its chronic failures, emphasis on time, labour, and wealth (Young 126).

Scotland went through historical changes. In Sunset Song, the land is confronted with agricultural and social changes and from Will’s point of view, “she” is losing “her soul”. But, Chris still believes in it. She sees the changes and knows that folk cannot avoid them. She learns to live with the changes, in herself (from innocent childhood through teenage years right into adulthood) and the ones which happened around her (dislodgment, births, marriage, deaths) and, merely just not accept them. The “Chris of the land” triumphs over the “Chris of the books”. She observes, reflects, endures near the standing stones which act as a mystical anchorage.

Surprisingly, the reader sees her determinism growing throughout the novel, by facing the patriarchal society. As Watson wrote, she is distinguished in the narrative by her determination to “remain spiritually and mentally her own person in the face of a community which offers only the narrowest and most domestic of roles to women” (389). She remains as strong as the standing stones.

Very special words have been said from Sunset Song but the following quotation written in 1934 by Basil Davenport deserves to be the final comment as recap: “this trilogy is an enduring memorial of a land” (Davenport 121).

Works Cited


Bold, Alan. Modern Scottish Literature. London: Longman, 1983.

Brown, Ivor. Excerpt from “Lewis Grassic Gibbon”. Essay date 1946. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon K. Hall Vol 4. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981. 122.

Campbell, Ian. Excerpt from “Chris Caledonia: The Search for an Identity”. Essay date 1974. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon K. Hall Vol 4. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981. 130.

Davenport, Basil. Excerpt from “A Novel of the Scottish Lowlands”. Essay date 1934. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon K. Hall Vol 4. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981. 120.

Gifford, Douglas et al. Eds. Scottish Literature. In English and Scots. Edinburgh: University Press, 2002.

Gifford, Douglas. “Contemporary Fiction I: Tradition and Continuity”. A History of Scottish Women’s Writing. Eds. Douglas Gifford and Dorothy McMillan. Edinburgh: University Press, 1997.

Grassic Gibbon, Lewis. Sunset Song. Edinburg: Canongate, 1988.

Hagemann, Susanne. “Women and Nation”. A History of Scottish Women’s Writing. Eds. Douglas Gifford and Dorothy McMillan. Edinburgh: University Press, 1997.

Hall, Sharon K., ed. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981.

Macaree, David. Excerpt from “Myth and Allegory in Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s ‘A Scots Quair’”. Essay date 1934. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon K. Hall Vol 4. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981. 120.

MacDiarmid, Hugh. Excerpt from “’Lewis Grassic Gibbon’ in Modern British Writing”. Essay date 1947. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon K. Hall Vol 4. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981. 122-124.

Palmer McCulloch, Margery. “Ideology in Action: Modernism and Marxism in A Scots Quair“. The Association for Scottish Literary Studies. ASLS Conference: 10 Jun. 2001. Glasgow: Department of Scottish Literature, University, 2003.

Strong, L.A.G. Excerpt from “Fiction: ‘Sunset Song’”. Essay date 1932. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon K. Hall Vol 4. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981. 120.

Watson, Roderick. “’To know Being’: Substance and Spirit in the Work of Nan Shepherd”. A History of Scottish Women’s Writing. Eds. Douglas Gifford and Dorothy McMillan. Edinburgh: University Press, 1997.

Watson, Roderick. The Literature of Scotland. Houndmills: MacMillan Publishers Ltd, 1984.

Young, Douglas F. Excerpt from “in his Beyond the Sunset: A Study of James Leslie Mitchell”. Essay date 1967. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon K. Hall Vol 4. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981. 126-128.



Only in quotation, hereafter referred to as “SS”

From the university of Glasgow

  Mana: Among Polynesian and Melanesian peoples, a supernatural force or power that may be ascribed to persons, spirits, or inanimate objects. (http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9371115)

Partager cet article

8 avril 2009 3 08 /04 /avril /2009 09:13

Research paper on

The Future of Computational Linguistics:
Opportunities of a Fast Growing Discipline.

(This research paper was written by a non-native speaker, it could content some spelling mistakes. Feel free to take some ideas for further research, but do not use this text as your own. Your teacher could see it as a plagiary).

(Cet essai a été réalisé par un locuteur de langue française. Il peut contenir des erreurs mais il sera pour vous une source d'idées et d'informations pour de futures recherches. Ne l'utilisez pas dans son ensemble, car votre professeur pourrait vous accuser de plagiat).


Table of Contents

Introduction to :
The Future of Computational Linguistics: Opportunities of a Fast Growing Discipline

Computational Linguistics and Natural Language Processing

Text Mining

Automatic summarising

Managing Information and Knowledge

Industrial Future of Natural Language Processing

The Future of Computational Linguistics


Works cited



Every day we use and communicate with computers and we easily forget that the artificial intelligence, just in front of us, was created by human beings. Furthermore, our time is dedicated to speech and textual telecommunications and involves for the users new skills in computational communication and natural language interaction with machines.

The first attempt to process natural language was realised in 1946 and was dedicated to machine translation. After this important year, significant developments in the computational field followed. Linguistics and computer science altogether started to form a discipline which has been called “[c]omputational linguistics”, or work on “natural language processing” (Bose 1).

Nowadays, CL is a fast-growing scientific discipline with important industrial and engineering applications but also an opportunity for scholars and linguists to explore a relatively new discipline. It can be noticed that CL is playing a significant role and is currently booming offering numerous job opportunities to young graduates. An opportunity that several universities have already grabbed by giving numerous CL courses and, in the meantime, offering many major fields for the research community.

In addition, the emergence of several associations, centres and groups dedicated to CL proves that this discipline has a future in the international market place and in universities. “NLP technologies are becoming extremely important in the creation of user-friendly decision-support systems for everyday non-expert users”, and I reckon, particularly in the areas of information retrieval such as text mining and automatic summarising, we will see new development (Bose 1). However, before developing these two last features in this paper, I would like to explore the relation between AI, CL and NLP. Accompanying these issues is a growing reliance on managing encoded information and computation knowledge. Having deep roots in CL, many projects deal with information retrieval and I would like to evoke them quickly before finishing with a quick overview of the last systems available on the market. Although CL has come very far in the last sixty years, I believe, the real impact is still to come.

Computational Linguistics and Natural Language Processing

The relation between AI, CL and NLP is clearly established since Karen Sparck Jones, who was president of the Association for Computational Linguistics in 1994, argued in her article published in 1995 that “advance in both science and applications requires a revival of concern with what language is about“ (Sparck Jones 1). The growth of electronic text resources requires an understanding of the role of discourse structure and she suggested that a sense of perspective should be kept in order to measure the progress already made in lexical processing. Karen Sparck Jones said that CL is nearly as old as computing and its development went through successive phases:

First phase in the late 50s: linguistically oriented, focusing on machine translation,

Second phase in the late 60s/70s: development of AI involving NLP,

Third phase in the 80s: acknowledgement of the specific modulating or controlling function for language and grammatico-logical models for NLP,

Fourth phase (not finished): recognition of the “significance of actual language usage, both idiosyncrastic and habitual, as a constraint on performance“ and therefore dedicated to corpora (Sparck Jones 2).

Nowadays, the computer users face an incredible amount of oral and written sources. In order to extract and to categorise information, the users will, in future, needs powerful tools enabling him to deal efficiently with information sources.

Text Mining

Text mining, which refers to the process of obtaining high qualitative textual information by extracting useful details from an hypertext, offers a “solution to the challenge of 'data deluge', information overload and information overlook“ (NaCTeM). Li Gao, Elisabeth Chang and Song Han, authors of the article “Powerful Tool to Expand Business Intelligence: Text Mining“ give the following definition for text mining:

“[T]he discovery by computer of previously unknown knowledge in text, by automatically extracting information from different written resources“ (Gao, Chang, Han 2).

Traditional data mining such as normal search engines has “no power to deal with the huge amount of unstructured and semi-structured written materials“ issued every day on the net (Gao, Chang, Han 1). Automatic term recognition is going to be a very important tool in term of IR in future. The challenge is to build tools which can evaluate a wide variety of documents and permit a text analysis. But how text analysis is going to be different from a search engine? On a search engine, users compose words into queries and expect lists of documents in return“ (Martin 1). A text analysis engine will accept queries out of words and other entities such as grammatical markers, punctuation, separators, tags, part of speech, phrases, sentences, etc. An example will be:

interact* <Adverb>“ (all adverbs that appear immediately after the word stem interact) (Martin 4).

In this matter, the text analysis engine is a step beyond many search engines which are time consuming because of their million hits (Martin 5). Besides, the results will be of different types including sections of documents and permitting rapid statistical analysis of the text pieces that are returned“. The statistical information will show the overall frequency for the query“, the overall number of documents“ and the word positions before giving the users the answers (Martin 2).

Although such engines look/sound more complicated for the hypertextual users in terms of much more complex queries, these are 100% accurate because they return exactly what they are supposed to do“ (Martin 5). As the AI and the NLP further develop, the human users will have to adapt to the new technologies in order to manage the data archival and retrieval. We will have also to face new systems in order to deal with the vast amount of information available.

Automatic summarising

The field of CL has “produced technologies that teach computers natural languages so that they may analyze, understand, and even generate text“ (Gao, Chang, Han). As access to data increased, the creation of a shortened version of a text, containing the most important points of the original text, by a computer program gain great interest. “Summarisation has always, as a key human capability, been a challenge for NLP“ and is a central concern for NLP“ (Sparck Jones 6). According to Karen Spärck Jones, “automatic summarisation research has made valuable progress“ in the last decade (Spärck Jones 3). The system works with “sentence extraction using statistical and location criteria“, and light parsing or with abstraction (Spärck Jones 20). Considering that parsing is a major computational problem in handling ambiguity, a series of factors have to be taken into consideration before developing a summarising strategy: language, register (popular, scholarly, technical, legal source), medium, structure, genre and finally length. Subfactors such as subject, units (source, multiple input units), authorship, header (metadata, information, dates, annotations, etc.) for retrieved document lists have to be also evaluated because of their many input features (Spärck Jones 23-26). As the foregoing implies, the involvement of many factors in summarising, their individual complexity, and the enormous number of possible factor combinations, mean that so far only a few groups of cases have been explored in any remotely systematic way“ (Spärck Jones 36). That why this area remains a potential source for researchers.

Managing Information and Knowledge

In order to answer to the demand of IR and data mining, the need of intelligent agents is growing. These are programs (or software engineering) which are able to find any information in the Internet and after a special analysis to deliver their messages to the users. These communicating agents“ or intelligent agents“ require a natural language understanding such as communicative competence, e.g. knowledge, grammars, semantics, spech (sic!) acts, speech recognition etc.“. In the past, the main activity of CL was in the field of constructing theories for morphological and syntactical analysis and to build the corresponding algorithms“(Lenders 10).

Today, these issues do not, in principle, occurred anymore because of the numerous researches made in parsers (grammar formalisms and statistic methods), lexicon-based sources, analysis programs, explicit algorithms. However, it exists still some discrepancy in case of anaphora, complex clauses, etc. (Lenders 10-11) The remaining problems are ambiguities: ambiguous words, structural complexity of sentences, relations between sentences etc. [F]urther empirical studies“ have to be conducted in order to find the underlying rules of communication and understanding“ not only sentences but much more of the linguistic behaviour“. This represents a vast field and actually a relative difficult one.

One means is the investigation of read speech and spontaneous speech corpora in order to obtain a discourse analysis of the discourse structures. Special corpora not only with written information“ but also with spoken texts like monologs, dialogs etc. including information on participants, relative position of the participants, moves, intonation, gestures, eye movement, etc.“ must be developed in order to provide also a visual information of the human behaviours (Lenders 16). In addition, Lenders is surprised that the use of existing movies or movie scenes“ for discourse analysis has not been explored yet (Lenders 21).

According to Lenders, discourse analysis would, as a main field of research in CL, run off in three steps:

Establishing of advanced theories on entities and structural regularities of communicative events,

Construction of multimodal resources as an empirical basis for research,

Application and optimization (Lenders 16).

In term of the meaning of words and sentences, progress has been made by computational semantics. Semantic networks, mapping and statistically based representation of the language contribute to the process of understanding a sentence. The development of large lexical knowledge bases motivates the establishment of a semantic memory (Lenders 11). An important goal in semantics will be to find particular correlations between linguistic expressions and gestures“ (Lenders 21).

Speech recognition, which is one of the most successful systems with already some industrial applications, will benefit from it.

Industrial Future of Natural Language Processing

CL, or work on natural language processing, began more than sixty years ago. Nowadays, their future has to be redefined as it faces “new technological challenges” and the pressure of the market to create more user-friendly systems.

An emphasis is given on phone services, call centre and voice response systems. These systems should be able to understand questions and, of course, to answer them accurately. Already, many companies use speech recognition when clients want some information about their orders, accounts, etc.

Also, Web portals can beneficiate from NLP. The tools and particularly the search tool must be appealing to many types of users that do not have necessarily competence in SQL, Boolean und simply in understanding the task (Bose 8).

Several other future applications of NLP include:

[C]onversational systems” aim to assist a user to gather information about schedules, timetables or match results verbally. “The first challenge for a speech recognition system [...] remains to be proper recognition of what is being spoken by a wide variety of people with differing vocabularies and accents“ (Bose 9).

Artificial Neural Networks“ aim to relate word to one another. A word can be recognised by the system because it is able to also analyse grammatically the words placed before and after e.g. the word force“ can be either a noun or a verb but by analysing the syntax around it, the system is able to classify the word (Bose 10).

Microsoft MindNet“ aim to recognise relationships between simple words and sentences. Using a combination of database (multilingual dictionaries and encyclopaedias) and algorithms, the system will build and identify relationships by simple questions directed to the system itself (Bose 10).

Medication Assistant“ aim to model the effects of therapy on patients“ with various medical conditions (Bose 10) An analysis of the patient condition can be ask at any time, comparing hierarchically the data. Furthermore, I know that this technique is already applied in various medical tools as for example in brain monitors. The device can quickly analyse and compare data from different patients and is a potential help for diagnosis, assisting clinicians in the direction of care.

Chatterbots“, which is a computer program designed to hold a conversation with a human user, is already used as customer service agents (Bose 10).

However, because natural language is complex, NLP systems are still not perfect“. In fact, it is so difficult to capture the entire linguistic knowledge“ including contexts and cultures that today, the software programs only reach an approximate result . Another decade or so of intensive researches is needed in order to achieve a better result in natural language processing.

The Future of Computational Linguistics

As Bose writes in his article’s conclusion, “the natural language systems are still very complicated to design” (Bose 11). This is clearly evident that further researches are needed in this area.

It has also become clear that TM is a new powerful tool for business intelligence. “[I]mproving the effectiveness and efficiency of knowledge management and decision support” play a significant role in using information wisely in the businesses. By analysing trends, market changes, performance, competitive businesses can assess risks (Gao, Chang, Han 1-6). TM must adopt itself with specific lexical items.

A wide range of projects dealt with automatic abstracting, indexing and retrieval years ago. At present, new specialised systems for information extraction and knowledge management“ are made. We now also have to concentrate on intersentence analysis, discourse analysis, etc. representing a new century of textual studies“ (Lenders 13).

Until now, CL was limited to written texts but a turning point was made with the development of multimedial und multimodal computer systems“. In future, acoustical and visual channel of communication will be also at our disposal for researches (Lenders 12).


A few conclusions can be drawn from all the mentioned issues. Advances in computer science and applications made over the last sixty years have proved that the understanding of the natural language is extremely important for the computational community.

Focussing on IR, TM represents an intellectual challenge in order to obtaining useful information from billion of hypertextual documents which are often not structured. The prospects go from term recognition to text analysis bringing statistical information which can be really exploited. A number of short-term and long-term directions have to be considered in term of data archival and retrieval. Although, conclusions made by Spärck Jones drawn that „automatic summarisation research has made valuable progress in the last decade“ (Spärck 3), I can argue that several issues have not been tackle yet. Functionally difficult areas in summarisation, as evoked in this paper such as ambiguity, parsing, and similar factors and subfactors need important development in theorising.

Increasing move toward developing theories in natural language understanding lead to the field of discourse analysis in order to understand the underlying rules behind oral communication. In this new trend, there is a need for investigating human behaviours in order to gain knowledge on the semantic level. Discourse analysis includes increasing attempts to find correlations between linguistic expressions and gestures.

The last period has seen a rapid growth of work in technology that I have listed in this paper. There are also some emerging trends that will likely play out over the longer term such as conversational systems where at some level, there is significant theoretical convergence with speech recognition theories.

From my point of views, a number of challenging goals are now set. I think that in order to gain a broader understanding of the language and in the area stimulated by AI technology, greater contact with linguistic theory is need.

Works Cited


Bose Ranjit. “Natural Language Processing: Current state and future directions“. International Journal of the Computer, the Internet and Management. 12 (2004), 1, 1-11. Anderson School of Management: University of New Mexico. 20 December 2007.
<www.ijcim.th.org/past_editions/2004V12N1/jicimvol12n1_article1.pdf >

Gao Li, Chang Elisabeth, Han Song. “Powerful Tool to Expand Business Intelligence: Text Mining“. Proceedings of World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology. 8 (2005). PWASET: WASET.ORG. 27 December 2007:

Lenders, Winfried. Past and future goals of Computational Linguistics“. Institute for Communications Research and Phonetics. University of Bonn: Germany. 31 December 2007.

Martin, Joel D. 2005. “Fast and Furious Text Mining“. Bulletin of the IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Data Engineering. National Research Council: Canada. 29 December 2007.

Spärck Jones, Karen. “Automatic summarising: a review and discussion of the state of the art“. Technical Report. 679: 2007. Computer Laboratory: University of Cambridge. 01 January 2007.

Sparck Jones, Karen. 1995. “Natural language processing: she needs something old and something new (maybe something borrowed and something blue, too). Computer Laboratory: University of Cambridge (England). 27 December 2007.

The National Centre for Text Mining. 2007. University of Manchester. 29 December 2007.


     Here after referred to as AI

     Here after referred to as CL

     Here after referred to as NLP

     Ph.D. Ranjit Bose, University of Texas at Austin

     Here after referred to as IR

     Also called data mining

    Researcher at the School of Information Systems, Curtin Business School

    Professor at the School of Information Systems, Curtin Business School

     Researcher at the University of Curtin, Australia

    Here after referred to as NLU

    Hereafter referred to as NLP

    Structured Query Language: a language used to interrogate and process data in a relational database.

    Also called talk bots, chat bots, or chatterboxes.

Partager cet article

25 mars 2009 3 25 /03 /mars /2009 17:55

Research paper on:

Spectatorship in Silent Films: Voyeurism and Exhibitionism


Time and Space in Early American Cinema

(This research paper was written by a non-native speaker, it could content some spelling mistakes. Feel free to take some ideas for further research, but do not use this text as your own. Your teacher could see it as a plagiary).

(Cet essai a été réalisé par un locuteur de langue française. Il peut contenir des erreurs mais il sera pour vous une source d'idées et d'informations pour de futures recherches. Ne l'utilisez pas dans son ensemble, car votre professeur pourrait vous accuser de plagiat).


Table of Contents





Spaces of Reception


Vaudeville Acts & Attractions in Early Cinema


Transformation of the Audience Reception






Performing Body


Place of Spectatorship




Works Cited





The cinema, as viewers know it today, went through several metamorphoses before becoming a real entertainment for the masses.

As Simon Popple and Joe Kember state in their book, Early Cinema: From Factory Gate to Dream Factory, the cinema is born just after numerous new inventions in the field of transportation and communication. The Cinematographe of Auguste and Louis Lumière “was a combination of camera and projector” (Popple and Kember 7). They first film, La Sortie des usines Lumière, was made in March 1895. At the end of the 19th century, Thomas Edison launched his first “Kinetoscope, a type of peep-show device” (1893) which was used in “sideshows, penny gaffs and Kinetoscope parlours across the US and Europe” (Popple and Kember 7). At this epoch, the viewing is an individual, private experience as people look at the moving pictures through a hole sitting in a booth or standing in front of a device in a parlour. Soon, the technological advances will bring cameras, projectors, screens and the moving picture will extend its power to theatre changing the viewing from a private one to a public, collective one. Following the demand for entertainment, projections and film apparatus further developed. Even, special houses were built for public viewing as for example the Electric Cinema, one of the first purpose-built cinemas which opened in Los Angeles in 1902. This opening was followed by the construction of the famous Nickelodeon houses; The first Nickelodeon opened in the US in November 1905 (cf. Popple and Kember 15-17). Experimentation of sound systems, synchronisation and colouring soon followed to make films as we know them today.


One of the most famous directors of the beginning of the 20th century is certainly Edwin S. Porter who worked for the Edison’s company. He was very productive during his career and left a very large filmography. For the purpose of this paper, attention will be given to three films listed below by date:

Trapez Disrobing Act made by Edwin S. Porter and George S. Fleming in 1901 is a short film of two minutes which show two spectators in a theatre attending a vaudeville act,

YouTube : link

Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show filmed by Edwin S. Porter alone in 1902 illustrates a spectator watching a film in a theatre,

YouTube: link

From Show Girl to Burlesque Queen produced by American Mutoscope and Biograph in 1903 depicts a burlesque queen preparing herself for a show.

YouTube : link


This paper will focus on the spaces of reception and modes of framing involved in vaudeville acts in the above-mentioned films. It will also study the boundary between exhibitionism and voyeurism, and compare the three films. Furthermore, it will investigate the performing body and its interaction in early cinema versus the place of the spectators in the new media.

Spaces of Reception

What Miriam Hansen calls “Cinematic Acculturation” referred to the experience lived by the moviegoers at the beginning of public viewing and also, to the emergence of Nickelodeon houses (Early Cinema: Whose Public Sphere?, 1). In her opinion, when people, mostly coming from the working class, were gathering to entertain themselves in front of the new media, they needed an adaptation time for understanding the moving pictures. Surely, to jump from the private viewing in a parlour to a public viewing in a movie house with screen, projector, lecturer, etc. was certainly a new but also an excited experience for the spectator.

According to Hansen, after having overcome its astonishment, the viewer is led from adjustment to participation. However, this participation is not physical (or should not be) but more psychological. “The spectator’s position is split between inside and outside, participant in and consumer of the spectacle” (Hansen, Early Cinema…, 2). Seeing the moving picture is entertaining, but it also provides a visual pleasure which can be referred to as voyeurism. However, the spectator’s participation should stay static which means staying quiet, with no movement and no attempt of participation whatsoever.

At this stage, the “complete absorption of the spectator into the fictional world” is not yet achieved as it comes later with linear narrative. (Hansen, Early Cinema…, 3). Narrativity has the power of captivating the audience but the film must have a beginning, a climax and a denouement in order to belong to the narrative category. The three films describe more than they tell. In addition, the clear division between “screen space and theatre space” is, as in Uncle Josh, not really defined because the actor intends to take part in the action of the film. Uncle Josh does not watch quietly as he should and does not make the difference between illusion and reality, between theatre space and cinematic space.

However, the “private voyeurism in a public space” is certainly one of the greatest advances in the cinema viewing of this time. It takes the viewer out of its “domestic and work spheres” to join a “new public sphere” (Hansen, Early Cinema…, 3). Private viewing in a booth and in a parlour is abandoned and the mode of exhibition tends to be more public involving the masses.

As already mentioned above, the mode of exhibition and appreciation changed extremely as the cinema production and distribution developed (cf. Musser, The Nickelodeon Era Begins: Establishing the Framework for Hollywood’s Mode of Representation, 1). However, these films still last only a few minutes, have no real story lines and no ends. They are filmed indoor and look like a series of theatrical tableaux. That is why they are included in an entertaining theatre’s programme with vaudeville acts and accompanied with “narration, music and sound effects” (Musser, The Nickelodeon Era Begins, 1).

Vaudeville Acts & Attractions in Early Cinema

As the mode of reception is standardized with more houses dedicated to the viewing, but also some innovations in framing, editing and mise-en-scène, the relationship between the new art and the spectator changes (cf. Hansen, A Cinema in Search of a Spectator: Film-Viewer Relations before Hollywood 25-28). What particularly amazed Miriam Hansen is that “early films […] solicit their viewer[s] through a variety of appeals and attractions and through particular strategies of exhibition” (A Cinema in Search…, 24). Particularly vaudeville and animal acts, magic shows, acrobatics and the country rube, which was a stock character in comic strips, are part of this variety. Attractions as such are also filmed going from different modes of transportation to races and journeys over sensational stories.

Uncle Josh is the perfect example of this “excess of appeals” described by Hansen (A Cinema in Search…, 25). However, to understand this term, it is necessary to analyse how the film is made in order to comprehend its conception.

“In its formal construction, Uncle Josh belongs to the tradition of the primitive tableau, a one-shot scene presenting an extended action from a singular (usually frontal) viewpoint and long-shot (stage) distance” (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 28). On the left, an actor plays the role of a country rube (named uncle Josh) sitting in a vaudeville theatre and watching a theatrical display. What really happened on the stage is that three short films are being projected but Uncle Josh misreads the viewing. At this stage, it is also important to notice the introduction of the spectator into the space of the film (cf. Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 34).

First, a female dancer appears, follows by a short extract of the Black Diamond Express film (rushing train) and then by a country couple with flirtatious intentions. Uncle Josh represents there the naïve spectator who mistakes the “representations on the screen for reality” (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 25). Consequently, Uncle Josh’s reaction as a spectator is fully unexpected as he jumps onto the stage and attempts to dance with the female dancer “expressing a need for participation, mimesis, and reciprocity” (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 25). Then the rushing train frightens him. Finally, he gets involved in a fight with the screen because he disapproves the flirtatious intention of a country couple and wants to defend the young woman.

Uncle Josh’s agitation or excitement is seen at every sequence of the film expressing an excess of reactions due to the misunderstanding of what happens on the stage. Uncle Josh is packed with what Hansen calls an “excessive supply of visual sensations” (A Cinema in Search…, 30). Although the film has a sense of narrative progression and closure, it reflects a particular format of programming used in theatre at this time: the variety format (cf. Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 30).

The variety format promises to the viewer “a short-term but incessant sensorial stimulation, a mobilization of [its] attention, through a discontinuous series of attractions, shocks, and surprises” (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 29). Uncle Josh provides all of it but to whom? Surely, to the viewer which is likely to sit, like Uncle Josh, in a vaudeville theatre. However, the “cultural disparity between the spectator-in-the-film and the spectator-of-the-film” implies that the second has already understood the mechanism of watching a film and instead of dancing on the stage, being frightened or fighting with the actor on the screen, will enjoy its viewing quietly (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 29). This behavioural transformation of the audience will affect the mode of reception in the long term.

Transformation of the Audience Reception

Because reception of films was without institutional precedent, audience of early film underwent into an initiation, on one hand mobilising intertextual awareness across genre boundaries and on the other hand understanding the peculiar dimensions of cinematic space after having being entertained in theatrical space. It is true that the difference between cinematic space and a variety show, which encourages “vocal audience participation”, is gradually understood by the spectator; Viewers have to be “passive, silent, and well-behaved” in front of a vaudeville fantasy, restricting their needs of participation (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 59).

It also became a ritual for the filmmakers to solicit the foreknowledge of the viewer (cf Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 25-48). That is why Uncle Josh, so to speak, initiates its viewers by showing the ill behaviour of the spectator-in-the-film in a public space. The right attitude should be a viewer that behaves in a quiet spectatorial way as just said above. The film is the perfect illustration that the spectator has understood the “interaction between the film on the screen and the film in [its] head” (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 48). He is now able to make the difference between watching the reality (theatrical exhibition) and the moving pictures and can laugh at the country rube. In addition, Uncle Josh introduces several genres of attractions, particularly the traditional art forms, which correspond to viewer interests at this epoch and often represent a female dancer, the filming of moving vehicles (usually trains but it can also be cars) or love story. One should not forget that the cinema of attractions also includes many pornographic acts.


The spectator is living a transitional period. From being a peeping Tom, he is developing into an educated spectator. According to Gunning, and corroborating Hansen’s opinion, “the cinema of attractions directly solicits spectators’ attention, inciting visual curiosity, and supplying pleasure through an exciting spectacle (The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, its Spectator and the Avant-Garde : Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde, 163).

The classical voyeur in the early cinema has some affinities with the theatrical voyeur: sitting in front of a vaudeville acts as revealed in Uncle Josh and Trapez Disrobing Act. In addition, the film From Show Girl to Burlesque Queen is the pure expression of voyeurism: a woman appears and starts to undress herself, then she goes behind a folding screen and carries on undressing. After a short time, she appears dressed as a burlesque queen ready to go on stage. Who watches this film is in the position of a voyeur but with a full extension because the spectator can, because of the cinema, go behind the scene and witness an intimate act.

Burlesque Queen is one of a long series of erotic films. As Tom Gunning assumes, this kind of films plays an important role in early film production (cf. The Cinema of Attractions, 162). In addition, the three films show a structural masculinisation of the spectator position where woman is the (sexual) object and the man is the agent of the look (cf. Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 38). At the end of the sequence, the actress establishes contact with the audience, even solicits the attention of the spectator by explicitly acknowledging its presence first with a glance, secondly with her magic stick and then with a pause. As Hansen said, the “direct address invokes conventions of the music hall and burlesque” emphasising the affinity between voyeurism in the cinema space and in the theatre space (A Cinema in Search…, 37).


However, by establishing a contact with the spectator, the burlesque queen shows an exhibitionistic tendency. Gunning describes the cinema of attraction as an exhibitionist one and not only when actresses, specially during erotic stripteases, address the camera but also when actors give a “recurring look at the camera” constructing a special relationship with the spectator (The Cinema of Attractions, 162).

The “look at the camera may momentarily disturb the classical voyeur” (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 37). Perhaps, the relationship between the voyeur and the exhibitionist is important for the primary spectator. The viewer experiences there the space, and the fictional world and its effect. It can also be argued that the actor can as well be the voyeur, because he intensively looks to the camera and consequently to the spectator.

However, voyeurism has always been analysed through the spectator’s eyes and refers to the voyeur who sees things from its point of view as for example through a keyhole or from its space in the cinema. Voyeurism is not seen from the character or actor’s point of view. As Hansen said, the “woman’s flirtatious look at the camera culminates – and thus foregrounds – the act of exhibition” (A Cinema in Search…, 38).

Trapez Disrobing Act, which shows two spectators in a theatre attending a vaudeville act, is also a masterpiece of the exhibitionism. The film is actually a vaudeville act performed on stage. On a trapeze, a woman is performing a striptease, watched by two male spectators that are furiously excited as she manages to undress during her performance. Gunning also emphasises that the “scenegraphy of the cinema of attractions is a[n] exhibitionist one, opposed to the cinema of the unacknowledged voyeur what latter narrative cinema ushers in” (Aesthetic of Astonishment, 41). In fact, the actors will, later, stop looking at the camera in order not to disturb the viewer.

All films include a vaudeville act with a striptease confirming that this genre was certainly very popular at the beginning of the 20th century. In Uncle Josh and Trapez Disrobing Act, the spectator is included in the film showing the ill behaviour of the early spectator. The country rube, a stock character inherited from comic strips, was the perfect chap to interpret the primitive spectator. As already stated, Burlesque Queen is a masterpiece of spectator’s acknowledgement with direct address to the viewer and an excellent example of the new full shot where the spectator can really see the actor, standing but truly closer as in Uncle Josh or Trapez Disrobing Act.

Performing Body

Uncle Josh exploits the myth of the early spectator frightened by a rushing train towards the screen. As Gunning states, “the first audiences, according to this myth, were naïve, encountering this threatening and rampant image with no defenses, with no tradition by which to understand it” (An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In)Credulous Spectator, 32). The actor performing Uncle Josh acts as if he is terrified but the spectator watching the film can only take pleasure of seeing a gullible bumpkin being so scared. The big difference between Uncle Josh/Trapez Disrobing Act and Burlesque Queen, is the mode of framing. In Trapez Disrobing Act, the extreme long shot places the two spectators watching the erotic scene so far that the facial expression cannot be seen ; the spectator only guesses their excitement by their body language as they behave hysterical with many gestures. In Burlesque Queen, the spectator really sees the actress and her face. It is what Hansen describes as “presentational” because of the “frontality and uniformity of viewpoint” as opposed to the “representational” which is the “conception of space and address” (A Cinema in Search…, 34).

Place of Spectatorship

Furthermore, Hansen writes the “spectatorial pleasure is frequently bound up with a position of social and epistemological superiority” (A Cinema in Search…, 57). She describes this pleasure in different aspects: mimetic, narcissistic, kinaesthetic and voyeuristic (cf. Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 28). Having the same idea, Gunning refers to the spectators as the “sophisticated urban pleasure seekers, well aware that they were seeing the most modern techniques” (Aesthetic of Astonishment, 32).

Uncle Josh also presents the development of a mode of reception appropriate to the cinema and as Hansen confirms: It is a lesson concerning the “spatial arrangement of cinema” explaining to the audience the “role of the fixed screen” but also a lesson of “sexual economy” regarding the image of a woman, and a lesson in “film history” (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 28).

This means that the spectator is well aware of its new role and has already understood these ill manners depicted in Uncle Josh or Trapez Disrobing Act. Audience can laugh over the country rube’s misadventures because it already understood the cinema’s function. In addition, the spectator can also resist jumping on the stage when it sees a showgirl because this audience is a mature one capable of “respecting the boundaries between illusion and reality along with the segregation of screen and theatre spaces” (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 57).

It should not be forgotten that this period is very intense in production of visual entertainments for the masses. First, the filming is only concentrated on visual effects and places a great emphasis on attractions. Secondly, the cinema of attraction is built to show something but also to shock the audience what Gunning calls “the delectation of shocks and thrills” (Aesthetic of Astonishment 32).

The impact of the cinema on the audience grows rapidly and all classes rush to the parlours for private viewing. The emergence of the spectatorship coincides with the projection on screen, when the audience moves from the peep-show to the theatre space and movie houses in order to watch a film as we understand it today. Gunning summaries the idea of spectatorship by writing: “The spectator does not get lost in a fictional world and its drama, but remains aware of the act of looking, the excitement of curiosity and its fulfilment” (Aesthetic of Astonishment 32).


The cinematic acculturation, as Miriam Hansen describes it, is related to the learning process that the early spectators underwent. Producers included the country rube character in their films as a perfect example for a thoughtless spectator. The characters in Uncle Josh or Trapez Disrobing Act “prefigured cinematic relations of reception” (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 59). Unlike variety or burlesque, which encourage “vocal audience participation”, the cinema requires a relatively well-behaved spectator “marvelling at the show from a distance”, (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 59). Passing from a static viewing in front of a cinematic device, the spectator is thrown into a multitude of appeals. These appeals are part of the fictional genres mostly deriving from vaudeville acts for instance dances, erotic scenes, circus, etc. Burlesque Queen is one example of these fictional genres: an intimate act (striptease) watches from a close proximity which in real life would be seen as a very intimate one (cf. Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 35).

As the cinema is also an attraction, cinematic viewing is a “new sort of stimulus for an audience” (Gunning, The Cinema of Attractions, 163). Even Gunning states that cinema is in this period an “illogical succession of performances” as in Uncle Josh. (Gunning, The Cinema of Attractions, 164). The variety format offers to its clients a succession of performances from vaudeville acts to short films representing physical action or reproduction of motion. The transformation of the viewer into a real spectator will take time and initiation.  The excessive participation will have to be turned into a “contemplative absorption” (Gunning, An Aesthetic..., 41).

The “mechanisms of cinematic voyeurism” are for the three films, as Hansen writes, a “display of titillating sight” (A Cinema in Search…, 35). All of them include women in a vaudeville act or in an intimate moment showing the relationship of the “male-oriented repertoires of the peep-show” with the cinema (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 38). Therefore, we can conclude that the early film viewing is at this stage similar to a viewing in a theatre.

The boundary between exhibitionism and voyeurism is clear. Exhibitionism tendency is part of the cinema ability of showing something while voyeurism comes from the viewer point of view. The burlesque queen addresses her erotic striptease to the audience. It is even described by Gunning as an “exhibitionist confrontation” because the actress looks straight at the camera (Gunning, The Cinema of Attractions, 162).

The performing body and its interaction in the films follow the evolution of the cinematography. Uncle Josh shows the primary spectator relation with the new medium. According to Hansen, the “spectator emerged along with [a] set of codes and conventions” shaped by the cinematograph itself (A Cinema in Search…, 25). The learning process will bring the spectatorship to understand the cinematic illusion i.e. the “boundaries between theatre space and the space of illusion” leading the spectator to a “more mature mode of reception” (Hansen, A Cinema in Search…, 28). The emergence of a spectatorship in cinema houses contributes to the Nickelodeon’s success, allowing the new medium to further develop and to shape a spectatorship.

Works Cited


From Show Girl to Burlesque Queen. American Mutoscope and Biograph, 1903.

Gunning, Tom. An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In)Credulous Spectator. Art & Text 34 (1989): 31-44.

Gunning, Tom. The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, its Spectator and the Avant-Garde. Wide angle 3 (1986): 161-165.

Hansen, Miriam. A Cinema in Search of a Spectator: Film-Viewer Relations before Hollywood. Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film. Cambridge, Mass.: Harward university Press, 1991. 23-53.

Hansen, Miriam. Early Cinema: Whose Public Sphere? Early Cinema: Space, frame, narrative. Ed. Thomas Elsaesser with Adam Barker. London: British Film Institute, 1990.1-10.

Musser, Charles. The Nickelodeon Era Begins: Establishing the Framework for Hollywood’s Mode of Representation. Early Cinema: Space, frame, narrative. Ed. Thomas Elsaesser with Adam Barker. London: British Film Institute, 1990. 1-9

Popple, Simon, and Joe Kember. Early Cinema: From Factory Gate to Dream Factory. London: Wallflower Press, 2004. 1-44

Trapez Disrobing Act. Dir. Edwin S. Porter and George S. Fleming. Edison, 1901.

Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show. Dir. Edwin S Porter. Edison, 1902.



Here after referred to as Uncle Josh

Here after referred to as Burlesque Queen

Here after referred to as Early Cinema… (appeared only in quotation)

Here after referred to as The Nickelodeon Era Begins (appeared only in quotation)

Here after referred to as A Cinema in Search… (appeared only in quotation)

Here after referred to as The Cinema of Attractions (appeared only in quotation)

Here after referred to as An Aesthetic… (appeared only in quotation)

Partager cet article

12 mars 2009 4 12 /03 /mars /2009 02:25

Selon l’analyse du linguiste D. Graddol (2004), en nous tournant vers l'avenir, un seul regard nous permettrait de croire que le monde entier parlera bientôt anglais.

Beaucoup ont même pensé que l'anglais deviendrait la langue mondiale par excellence, à l'exclusion de tous les autres. Mais cette idée, qui a d'abord pris racine dans le 19e siècle, a dépassé depuis longtemps sa date de péremption.


L’Anglais joue et continuera à jouer un rôle crucial dans le monde du point de vue linguistique, commercial et financier mais son principal effet est aujourd’hui de créer de nouvelles générations de bilingues et/ou polyglottes partout dans le monde.


Suivant S. Skudlik (1990), l’Anglais s’est imposé comme Lingua Franca dans le commerce, les milieux financiers et scientifiques… Une langue qui permet de communiquer à tous les degrés comme par exemple durant les échanges internationaux d’informations au niveau des mathématiques (78 %), de la physique (98 %), chimie (83 %), histoire (20 %), théologie (12 %) et des lois (8 %), sans compter les thèses et dissertations des étudiants, qui s’effectuent en anglais. Près de 25 % des prix Nobel ont écrit leurs œuvres en Anglais, suivi du Français avec 12 % et de l’Allemand avec 11 %.

En France, 71 % des échanges internationaux s’effectuent en Anglais, 10 % en Allemand et 5 % en Espagnol (Viereck 1996). L’Anglais avec ses différentes variétés telles que l’Anglais américain, britannique, australien, canadien, etc. est présent au niveau mondial, pas seulement au niveau du commerce, mais aussi au niveau culturel : spots publicitaires, titres de film, de journaux, sports, chansons (le grand prix de la chanson avait en 1970 encore 40 % de chansons françaises, en 2004, ce pourcentage tombe à moins de 10 %), etc.

insi chaque jour, nous sommes confrontés à un déluge de slogans publicitaires en Anglais.


Vous vous en êtes sûrement aperçus ! Avez-vous quelques exemples à l’esprit ?

Partager cet article

12 mars 2009 4 12 /03 /mars /2009 01:00

Research paper on


The Narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” and the Resting Cure.
Why the mad narrator is not in a mansion but in an asylum.


(This research paper was written by a non-native speaker, it could content some spelling mistakes. Feel free to take some ideas for further research, but do not use this text as your own. Your teacher could see it as a plagiary).

(Cet essai a été réalisé par un locuteur de langue française. Il peut contenir des erreurs mais il sera pour vous une source d'idées et d'informations pour de futures recherches. Ne l'utilisez pas dans son ensemble, car votre professeur pourrait vous accuser de plagiat).





Table of Contents


Literary Allusion to the Rest Cure in “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Why Charlotte Perkins Gilman Wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”

The Writing Style of “The Yellow Wallpaper”

The Description of Violence

“The Yellow Wallpaper” as a Gothic Fiction

Is the House a Colonial Mansion or an Asylum?

Conclusion / works cited




According to Elaine R. Hedges, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) is known as the “most commanding feminist of her time.” Gilman is an American author famous for her non-fiction writings on feminist and social issues. She wrote poems and satirical analysis of the socio-economic status of women in nineteenth-century society, and even published her own magazine “The Forerunner” which is equivalent to 28 books (Gilman 37-63). One of her masterpieces is the short story: “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

“The Yellow Wallpaper” was published in May 1892, in The New England Magazine, where it was greeted with strong but mixed feelings. The short fiction is the “story of a woman’s mental breakdown, narrated with superb psychological and dramatic precision” as Elaine R. Hedges wrote in her afterword (Gilman 37). It depicts the male-female ambivalent relationship in nineteenth-century society, focusing on the communication between husband and wife, and doctor and female patient. The fiction is also an autobiographical work with numerous allusions to the medical treatment that she followed in 1887 in order to overcome her neurasthenia.

In fact, frequent allusions to Gilman’s treatment are made in the course of the story and first of all, I suggest focusing on them in detail before acknowledging why Gilman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper.” By analysing the writing style of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” I hope to demonstrate the repetitive character of some words in the tale that emphasise the madness of the narrator. I mostly focus on the description of violence towards others and the narrator herself. By placing “The Yellow Wallpaper” in its literary period, I would also like to analyse the story differently and advocate that the main female character is not driven into insanity by her husband or by the rest cure but that she is already mad and in an institution.

Literary Allusion of the Rest Cure in “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Right at the beginning of the short story, the narrator questions herself about her own health. She mentions to herself that she does not get better, informing the reader that she is ill. Searching for the causes of her illness, she writes that her husband, John, “is a physician, and ( . . . ) perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster,” adding that “he does not believe” that she is sick. In fact, he does because he tells friends and relatives that she has “temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency” and prescribes her phosphates, phospites, tonics, journeys, air, exercise and forbids “work” until she is well again. Furthermore, for the narrator, John as a physician is incapable of understanding her sickness like the other “wise” men mentioned in the tale such as her brother, also a physician, and Dr Mitchell. The male characters display the nineteen-century attitude towards women where spouses have to remain in the domestic sphere committing themselves to their marriage and maintaining their households (Gilman 10).

Actually, the prescription mentioned above and specified by her doctor-husband is a conformed copy of the resting-cure treatment given to women at the turn of the nineteenth century. Countless patients were treated with these therapies and remedies, which were also prescribed to Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1887. Indeed, she experienced several periods of depression and was diagnosed with nervous prostration by the reputed Dr Weir Mitchell. At this time, the Victorian medical establishment believed that their female patients had depleted nerves and might be compelled to lie in a static state for weeks. This rest cure lasted six to eight weeks and included absolute rest, isolation from family and friends, a rich-nutritious diet, massage and electrotherapeutics. For Gilman’s nervous disorders, Mitchell imposed a strong “restriction on pen, brush, and pencil,” condemning the artist to a forced inactivity (Blackie 57-85).

Dr. Weir Mitchell was indeed a famous man because he was encouraged to run for President by some patients and received donations in support of his “project for the benefit of nervous women.” According to Michael Blackie, the rest cure can be interpreted as a symptom of the male Victorian medical establishment’s desire to reorient women, who suffered from nervous disorders, to a domestic life. We have to consider that in late nineteenth-century America, women were under patriarchal supervision. Gilman’s story reflects the oppressive Victorian standards, revealing the real status of women in society, which is described by the narrator as “heavy opposition” and “special direction” from her husband (Gilman 10-12). Altogether, these two utterances articulate the repression of female individuality and the husband’s restrictions upon the main female character particularly shown when she wants to choose their bedroom.

Against the narrator’s will, John resolves where she will exactly stay. As already mentioned, one part of the treatment is to get plenty of air that is why, in the tale, he rents a house that is isolated from the village and decided that they would take the top room in the house as a bedroom so that the narrator “can absorb” as much air as she can. However, this decision does not satisfy the narrator because she does not like the yellow wallpaper expressing strong feelings about it and taking about its “vicious influence” (Gilman 12-16).

Anyhow, the heroine, who is self-aware of her nervous condition, feels that she is being too “sensitive” and takes pains to control herself in front of her husband. She does not want to raise her husband’s concerns (Gilman 11). Starting to confide in her journal, she begins to hide her feelings from her husband and hides her journal when she hears him approaching. Such sentiments demonstrate her state of mind and her struggling with the resting cure and its rigid treatment of a total intellectual inactivity because she likes writing and want to enjoy company. As Gilman was allowed to perform only two hours of intellectual life a day during her cure, the narrator is condemned to enforced idleness, and is afraid that John will discover her diary and its secrets (Lavender). Totally under male dominance, the unnamed female character is not even allowed to meet her cousins and encounters emotional repression. Although she seems to agree with her husband’s condescending advice, she does not want to obey him, as she becomes aware that the resting cure is not going to make her better (Gilman 16).

Anyway, the psychotic narrator does not believe that her case is “serious,” nevertheless she recognises that she is feeling depressed. She is also confirmed in her belief that her case is not severe because her husband is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious thus if she was very ill, he would stay with her. In addition, she is concerned about not fulfilling her duties as a wife and mother in contrast to the character of John’s sister, who is also her nurse and cares for her baby. Jennie is described as a “perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper” in marked contrast to the narrator’s inability to do these things. She represents the nineteenth-century view of the role of women as housekeepers, caring mothers and wives who devoted their energy and time to childbearing and childrearing rather than having a profession.

Finally, breaking with the rules of the rest cure, the narrator is allowed to receive a visit from some members of her family. Her mother and some relatives stayed at the mansion for a week. After their departure on the Fourth of July, the heroine observes that she is tired, although Jennie undertakes all. The Fourth of July can be seen has a normal date in the story, perhaps related with Gilman’s birthday (July, 3), but symbolically it is a significant date. It marks the celebration of the American Independence Day. First, this calendar day is a symbol for joyful reunions where family and friends traditionally gather together and where the perfect hostess can show her domestic talent. It emphasises the narrator’s inability to undertake any domestic tasks. Her incapability is contrasted with Jennie’s character, who plays the perfect housewife who “sees to everything” in the house. Secondly, I think that Gilman chose the symbolic date purposely. In fact, it contains the strongest imagery with the word “Independence”. The narrator would love to have her independence and so be free to make her own choice, to fulfil her own destiny. Finally, the date can also be interpreted as a deadline where the narrator is free to go back to her fantasy. Her life hinges on this special “Independence” day. She begins to accept her room, even, declaring that she is “getting really fond of the room in spite of the wall-paper. Perhaps because of the wall-paper” and starts to analyse the pattern (Gilman 14-18).

At this crucial moment in the short story, just after the Fourth of July, John threatens his wife with a visit to Dr Mitchell if she does not “pick up faster”. This is a clear reference to Dr. Weir Mitchell and his treatment but also an explicit allusion to Gilman’s own life. Furthermore, the next sentence very well depicts the climate of this time and the patriarchal social milieu as the female character says from Dr. Mitchell: “he is just like John and my brother, only more so!”. That means that it does not matter with whom she tries to speak, the male figures will all react in the same way. After this entry, the narrator shows an excessive sensibility and is in profound distress crying most of the time, nevertheless still following the diet, taking “cod liver oil and lots of tonics and things, to say nothing of ale and wine and rare meat.” But even if the protagonist/narrator tries to have “a real earnest reasonable talk” with her male antagonist/doctor-husband in order to visit her cousins and to have a social life, her controlling husband demonstrates to her that she is not even able to go (Gilman 18-21).

In fact, under the pretext of loving his wife, the paternalistic doctor-husband does not let his wife decide what is good for her and infantilises her. He even names his spouse “blessed little goose” and “little girl.” This is a way of treating her as though she is a child woman, making her passive and helpless. Unable to see any of the symptoms of the mental breakdown, he sees her only as a little sister instead of analysing her needs, although she tries to tell him. His only answer to her is that she can trust him “as a physician,” prescribing more rest and sleep leading to her insanity (Gilman 23-26).

Why Charlotte Perkins Gilman Wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”

“The Yellow Wallpaper” is an accurate analysis of nineteen-century society and a direct response to the “incompetent medical advice” that Gilman received from her physician. As a consequence of her consultation with Dr. Weir Mitchell in 1887, Gilman stayed in his sanitarium for a month. After having received his patronizing treatment, she reported that she “almost lost her mind” and reacted by writing “The Yellow Wallpaper” in 1892 (Gilman 46-47).

In fact, in an article originally published in an issue of The Forerunner in October 1913, entitled “Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman clearly described that after three months of Dr. Mitchell’s treatment she was “near the borderline of utter mental ruin” and using her “remnants of intelligence that remained”, she stopped following the specialist’s advice and the resting cure. She decided to work again and mainly to lead a normal life after having been in her own words a “pauper” and a “parasite” (Lavender). This easily explains why Gilman mentions Dr. Mitchell’s name in her story and all the autobiographical information.  

However, “TYW” is fictionnal with embellishments and additions, and Gilman certified that she “never had hallucinations or objections” to her mural decorations in contrast to her character’s obsession with the wallpaper, but wanted to depict the reasons of insanity (Lavender). She also objected to the people who said that she drove the readers crazy but confirmed that she was willing to reveal the effect on people mainly women who, regarding the treatment of neurasthenia, were exposed to a “serious and extreme lapse in medical judgment” (Hume 3-20). This tale suggests that this kind of medical treatment drives women insane instead of curing them by showing the heroine's descent into madness as a result. Gilman even sent a copy of her short story to the physician “who so nearly [had driven her] mad”. Even if Dr Mitchell never acknowledged the reception of the story, it has been said that to some extend he altered his treatment of neurasthenia after having read “TYW” (Lavender).

The Writing Style of “The Yellow Wallpaper”

On the first page of the story, the reader faces a first-person point of view as for example: “Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it”. It makes the reader think that it is a narrative diary-style because of the short sentences. Two entries later, the narrator speaks of “one,” as for example: “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (Gilman 9). The “one” emphasizes that the narrator speaks with herself but it could be with someone else. From this viewpoint, the “one” in the story could refer to people in general and tell that someone else could have the same thoughts as the narrator. It also gives an anonymous voice to the utterances signifying in my opinion that the protagonist has no right to express her opinion and/or influence decisions. She is only “one” among the others.

The heroine will stay unnamed until the very last lines of the story. Her name “Jane” is revealed but can also be related to the anonymous name “Jane Doe” and its counterpart “John Doe” (Suess 79-97).

In addition, the often conflicting and contradictory thoughts of the narrator are arranged into extremely short paragraphs with sarcastic expressions and unsophisticated sentences which expresses the tiny experiences of each day and her private thoughts. The constant paragraph breaks without linking words and the often repeated words at the beginning of some paragraphs symbolise the difficulty of the protagonist in expressing herself and give the tale a claustrophobic atmosphere with the constant “I”. It also give an insight into the confined heroine’s mind.

I have counted 63 “Is,” which demonstrates how the narrator is obsessed by her own ego and destiny. Furthermore, “it” is used to refer to the wallpaper most of the time and is mentioned 26 times but the word “paper” itself is pointed out 22 times and the term “wall-paper” 12 times. As linking words, “but” and “then” are used 23 times and 7 times respectively, stressing the design of a diary or the simple-minded view of the protagonist. In addition, the narrator is also preoccupied with what her husband thinks about her and “John” and “he” are mentioned 10 times each. It also important to notice that “John” is one of the most common first names in America.

It has to be assumed that the literary anarchy has some relation with the unnamed female character's apparently disordered mind. Overall, she is quite sensible, but Gilman’s style made of short sentences, which move from topic to topic, leads the reader to believe that the heroine is not thinking straight. In addition, the huge reserve of angriness in the narrator’s thoughts and expressions is a sign of lunacy and violence.

The Description of Violence

Obviously, Gilman's protagonist has a “capacity for violence which is ( . . . ) throughout [Gilman’s] narrative” perceptible and which even transforms such apparently inoffensive statements into a threat. For example, when she speaks about her baby and says: “And yet I cannot be with him, it makes me so nervous “. She “cannot” be with her “dear baby” not only because John and the rest cure prohibit it as she must rest, but also because she “cannot” stand the child since he makes her “so nervous.” She experiences an emotional period which is nowadays commonly known as post-partum depression (Gilman 14). The narrator's thinking becomes increasingly confused, while placing clues that she is mad from the first entry to the last as for example on page 29 by saying: “I thought seriously of burning the house - to reach the smell” of the wallpaper. Because she wants to continue with the hallucinatory experience of the exploration of the wallpaper, she experiences paranoia and becomes even menacing when saying on page 33: “But I am here, and no person touches this paper but me,-not alive” (Hume 3-20).

Even one of the last entries demonstrates the aggressiveness of the main female character when stating: “I am getting angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of the window would be admirable exercise, but the bars are too strong even to try”. Here the heroine expresses her fancy to commit suicide revealing that she is a serious danger to herself (Gilman 34).

“The Yellow Wallpaper” as a Gothic Fiction

“The Yellow Wallpaper” has several prominent features of a Gothic production such as a distraught heroine, a male antagonist, a haunted house, ghosts and madness along with confinement and rebellion, desire and fear. Gilman adapted some Gothic conventions to present an allegory of literary imagination portraying the social, domestic and psychological confinements of a nineteenth-century woman writer (Davison 47-75).

First of all, the heroine has no personal and social power over her own person and is alternatively fearful and unreasonably angry about her tyrannical physician-husband. Furthermore, she says that she is “getting a little afraid” and also, that she does not want to “irritate him”. “These fears are magnified by the fact that America seems to be ‘full of Johns’—as the protagonist’s brother is a doctor and S. Weir Mitchell.” Secondly, at the beginning of the story, the first-person narrator depicts the house as “haunted” and “strange” without forgetting the “provoking, formless sort of figure” behind the tapestry (Gilman 9-36). “The house may be revealed to be a prison and the husband a prisonmaster”. Thirdly, the “descent into madness” of the protagonist, who is “virtually imprisoned” in a manor home, corresponds to the exploration of the heroine character, her anxiety, her self-identity and autonomy, and finally the dangerous aspects of the self. All these features form the uppermost images of the Female Gothic narrative of the nineteen-century novel (Davison 47-75). Finally, it is symptomatic of Gilman’s time that the novel ends with the self destruction of the heroine (Gilman 40).

In addition, at the end of the story, she believes that she has “got out at last” from behind the wallpaper and cannot be “put ( . . . ) back” behind the bars (Gilman 36). In fact, “Jane is no longer Jane” because the narrator has lost her own identity and is the woman in the wallpaper (Suess 79-97). This adds a new dimension to the tale as the heroine’s state of mind corresponds to the Female Gothic image of the imprisoned woman in marriage.

Is the House a Colonial Mansion or an Asylum?

Because we have an omniscient limited narration, the reader can assume that the narrator presents her own subjective view. Some crucial clues in the text such as the heavy bedstead, which cannot be moved, the barred windows and the gate at the head of the stairs give a full representation of all security and safety features of an asylum for mental sufferers. The narrator cannot exactly say what surprises her but finds that “there is something queer” about the house and the wallpaper in her room (Gilman 9). The “house”, a well-used name in nineteenth century for asylums and sanatoria, is standing well back from the road and far from the village like all psychiatric hospitals. In addition, the nameless female character has noticed the gates that lock and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and “people”. Here, the reader can ask himself about whom she is speaking. In my opinion, there are certainly some other patients around because she sees several women in the garden and behind certain windows. In addition, it has to be clearly discerned that the protagonist has “a schedule prescription for each hour in the day” like in a hospital and that John regards her as a “nervous patient” (Gilman 12-14).

Actually, John is presented as “a physician” and not straight away as a husband because he is “one’s own husband”. Furthermore, the reader can regard the main male antagonist and the brother as real physicians and Jennie, a minor flat character depicted as John’s sister, as a nurse explaining why she has an “inexplicable [professional] look”. In fact, the heroine believes “just as a scientific hypothesis, - that perhaps it is the paper” they are both observing. She has caught John “several times looking at the paper! And Jennie too ( . . . ) with her hand on it once” (Gilman 27). But as in a normal hospital, it can be that they examine and touch her as a patient. And, as we get to know at the end of the story that the main female character see herself behind the wallpaper, the reader can assume that because she identifies herself with the woman behind the bars, she is imprisoned in a psychiatric ward.


According to Beverly A. Hume, “Gilman may have conceived the tale as one created by a ‘mad’ narrator from beginning to end, rather than by a woman who, through her journal-keeping, deteriorates into a madwoman in front of the reader” (Hume 3-20). After reading “TYW”, I am convinced that Gilman knew even before starting to write that her protagonist is mad as some clues are given to the reader right at the beginning of the story.

Also, the depiction of the male-female relationship and doctor and female patient is related from the narrator’s point of view, giving the reader an insight into nineteenth-century society, where decisions are made by patronizing men regardless of their role in society such as a husband, doctor or male members of the family, and where women have to be competent mothers and charming wives.

The resting cure also plays an important role in the story revealing that Gilman extremely suffered from it, proving that she had a mental illness during this period. Of course, the confinement of the middle-class women to their domestic role as wives and mothers represents the nineteen-century Victorian values where women had to fulfil their duties at home and care for the children. However, I do not think that the nineteenth-century conditions and the rest cure could have driven the heroine into insanity.

Additionally, I could have extended the analysis of the writing style of “TYW” because I have been fascinated by the use of words expressing the descent into insanity of the nameless female character who can make some clear and smart sentences when they are taken individually. However in the context, they demonstrate the mental state and describe her ever-expanding attraction for the wallpaper which fills up her unstable mind. As Barbara A. Suess states very well: the narrator “not only grows to like it, but goes so far as to become, in her mind, literally one with it”. This explains the narrator’s identification and transformation into the “women/woman in the wallpaper” at the end of the story. Although I have neglected the symbolic interpretation of the yellow wallpaper in my paper because of the numerous already-existing essays on this subject, preferring the description of the resting cure and violence, I considered it as crucial in the story. (Suess 79-97)

Since, for me, Gilman knew that her protagonist was mad at the beginning of the story, I consider “TYW” as a masterpiece of Gothic fiction presenting more than a few multifaceted features of this genre such as the out-of-her-mind heroine, the ghostly house, ghosts and insanity. Besides, the house is, in my opinion, an old asylum where the poorly-in-health heroine is imprisoned and where she creates her own story representing a real life with husband, brother, baby, sister in law and other members of the family.

Finally, the Yellow Wallpaper is a heart-rending story which has given Gilman the opportunity of illustrating a woman suffering from depression, insanity and ill-treatment from doctors, husbands and male members of nineteenth-century society.


Works Cited


Blackie, Michael. “Reading the rest cure.” The Arizona Quarterly 60 (2004): 57-85. 18 Dec. 2006


Davison, Carol Margaret. “Haunted House/Haunted Heroine: Female Gothic Closets in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’”. Women’s Studies 33 (2004): 47–75. U of Windsor. 18 Dec. 2006


Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Afterword by Elaine R. Hedges. Old Westbury, N.Y.: The Feminist Press, 1973.


Hume, Beverly A.. “Managing Madness in Gilman's ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper’”. Studies in American Fiction 30:1 (2002): 3-20. 26 Dec. 2006


Lavender, Catherine. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman. ‘Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper’”. Course homepage: Dept. of History (8 June 1999). Routledge Taylors & Francis Group. 26 Dec.2006.


Suess, Barbara A. “The Writing’s on the Wall: Symbolic Orders in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’”. Women’s Studies 32:1 (2003): 79–97. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. 26 Dec. 2006

Hereafter referred to as “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Partager cet article

10 mars 2009 2 10 /03 /mars /2009 14:08

Pourquoi dit-on Paris alors que les Allemands et les Britanniques disent «  Rome » :

  1. Rom ist auch nicht an einem Tag erbaut worden
  2. Rome wasn't built in a day.


Ce qui veut dire : Eh bien, que la belle ville de Rome ne s'est pas construite en un jour. Rome est certes une ville grandiose et impressionnante de par ses nombreux monuments. Mais elle n'a pas surgi de terre en une nuit : il a fallu des siècles de planification et bien sûr le labeur des hommes. Donc ce magnifique proverbe veut dire qu’à chaque fois que vous faites quelque chose, il faut être patient. Il n’y a qu’avec la patience que vous atteindrez votre but. Cette phrase considérée maintenant comme un proverbe est apparue au cours du 12e siècle en France et au 16ème siècle sur le territoire britannique.


Les Français aiment à dire que « Paris » n'a pas été fait en un jour, mais bien entendu cela veut dire la même chose . Le nom de la ville a été changé parce que ... eh bien, parce que Paris est aussi beau que Rome et que les Français sont chauvins. .


Paris n’a pas été fait en un jour.


L’on trouve ce proverbe dans le Dictionnaire philosophique de Voltaire (1838) :
Le peuple dit que Paris n'a pas été fait en un jour: le peuple a souvent raison dans ses proverbes… ou dans le Tableau de Paris de Louis-Sébastien Mercier (1783).


 Ah ! Paris !

  • La capitale de la France. Il y a des lieux où il faut appeler Paris Paris, et d'autres où il le faut appeler capitale du royaume. (Pascal, Pensées).
  • Prendre Paris pour Corbeil, se disait autrefois pour signifier une méprise ; cette locution est née des protestants qui n'ayant pu prendre Corbeil, assiégèrent Paris. Les catholiques se moquaient de nous, disant : Messieurs les huguenots, ne prenez pas Paris pour Corbeil (Lanoue, p. 49, dans LACURNE).


Bref quand je suis en France, je dis " Paris " quand je suis à l’étranger je dis " Rome "…  pour ne pas passer pour une chauvine forcenée. Mais Paris reste Paris

J'ai peut-être le mal du pays après tout...

Partager cet article

28 janvier 2009 3 28 /01 /janvier /2009 15:00



Les enfants peuvent apprendre plusieurs langues en même temps alors que pour les adultes le parcours est semé d’embûches. Le fossé des générations ?


Les enfants jusqu’à l’âge de l’adolescence peuvent normalement reproduire plus facilement les sons, les copier et les enregistrer, comme sur un ordinateur, dans leur mémoire. Ainsi il est possible qu’un enfant de trois ans puisse apprendre oralement le chinois, le hongrois et l’Allemand en même temps et réussisse, par-dessus le marché, à n’avoir aucun accent. Faisons-nous violence… ne soyons pas jaloux !


D’abord, nous avons pendant des années sur les bancs du collège ou du lycée appris à parler l’Anglais, l’Allemand, l’Espagnol etc. et aujourd’hui plus rien ne rentre. Bloqué !?


Le blocage est l’un des problèmes qui surgit le plus souvent lors de la pratique d’une langue. D’abord parce que nous n’osons pas, ensuite parce que nous avons peur du jugement de l’autre. Parfois, nous exigeons de nous même la perfection ! Même, nous caressons l’idée de parler comme un autochtone. Soyons réaliste !


L’important dans ces moments de blocage, c’est d’en reconnaître les signes, de ne pas les ignorer mais de les accepter. Souvent notre esprit à enregistrer depuis des années les « Je ne peux pas » ou « Je n’ai aucun talent pour les langues » à moins que ce ne soit « Dans notre famille, personne ne parle une langue étrangère ». Pourtant l’intérêt est là ! Alors essayons de positiver dans la langue souhaitée : tout simplement en nous remettant dans le circuit, en mobilisant ressources et capacités linguistiques pour supprimer sinon contourner le blocage. Un stage intensif, un séjour dans le pays peut nous aider et nous délier la langue.


Ne soyons pas imbus d’idées préconçues ! Disons nous que nous sommes doués ! A la veille d’apprendre une nouvelle langue, accrochons un fanion du pays, dont nous souhaitons apprendre la langue, à notre porte d’entrée et lançons nous. L’important c’est de communiquer avec nos voisins.


Et n’oublions pas, les rois mages venant de trois pays différents ont bien réussi à communiquer entre eux… alors rien n’est perdu pour nous !

écriture ludique : AEL 02 - Mots imposés 

Partager cet article

5 novembre 2008 3 05 /11 /novembre /2008 21:30

Markus Lüpertz : Hommage à Mozart


Je suis, dirons-nous depuis quelques mois, une blogueuse ! Je divague sur overblog au rythme de mes coups de cœur et j’ADORE laisser des messages. On me fait des e-bisous (dans le cou), des e-blagues, e-compliments, des e-commentaires, et j’en passe et des meilleurs... Bref tout va bien dans le meilleur des mondes, si je comprends tout… Mais au vue des expressions que la blogosphère (les internautes en particulier) utilise, j’en perds mon latin.




Je laisse donc à une charmante blogueuse dite « Biloulou » un commentaire et lui glisse au passage la question fatidique : Que veux dire « lol » ? Deux secondes plus tard, j’ai la réponse. lol est une abréviation en anglais (je crois mais je ne sais plus ce que cela veut dire!) mais c'est du même tonneau que "mdr" (mort de rire!).


Alors là, les enfants vous m’en bouchez un coin ! Déjà avec « mdr », j’aurai eu quelques problèmes… heureusement qu’elle a sympathiquement mis entre parenthèses (mort de rire !). Sinon, cela aurait été le même topo.


Mais la linguiste s’est tout à coup réveillée et mes antennes se sont agitées. Si, si ! Et je vous offre la traduction de l’expression bien galvaudée : lol du dictionnaire urbain anglais.


La définition primaire était "Laughing Out Loud" (parfois aussi écrit « Lots of Laughs »), utilisée comme abréviation pour indiquer un moment amusant dans une discussion, un chat. Maintenant, le terme est surexploité au point que plus personne n’éclate de rire. En fait, ton copain se fout totalement du sujet sur lequel tu viens d'écrire. Plus précisément, l’abréviation "lol" devrait être redéfinie comme "Lack of laughter."

Selon les bavardages (chat), sa définition varie. La liste des significations ci-dessous n’est pas exhaustive :

1) Je n'ai rien d'intéressant à dire dans cette conversation.

2) Je suis trop paresseux pour lire ce que tu viens d'écrire, donc j’écris juste quelque chose dans l'espoir que tu penses que je suis toujours là.

3) Ta phrase n'a pas la moindre trace d'humour, mais je prétends que je me tords de rire.

4) Il s'agit d'une abréviation inutile, mais je vais l’utiliser dans ma phrase juste parce que c'est devenu tellement ancré dans mon esprit que lorsque je discute, je dois utiliser lol pour combler le vide.



Partager cet article

4 septembre 2008 4 04 /09 /septembre /2008 23:30

English Phonetics et Phonology


Nous ne sommes pas toujours conscients de la complexité de notre langue maternelle l’ayant appris dès la naissance avec notre entourage et intra-utérine avec notre mère.


Pourtant il est relativement complexe lorsqu’on l’aborde du point de vue linguistique. Commençons par un groupe de mot usuel  « Happy birthday » :

  • 2 mots 3 morphèmes
  • Respect de l’ordre des mots = syntaxe, on peut pas dire birthday happy
  • Prononciation /’hæpi ‘bqdei/ permettant la transcription du son avec des symboles
  • Syllabes (4)
  • Définition (meaning) dans le dictionnaire, aspect sémantique ;
  • Pragmatique (content), comment utilise-t-on ce mot dans un contexte communicatif.


Reprenons la structure de notre expression (structure of the words) = 3 morphèmes

Happy + birth + day

Le mot « unhappy » a deux morphèmes : un + happy. Happy est donc un morphème entier.

Cela constitue la morphologie du mot.


Speech is a term for spoken language, c'est-à-dire que le terme « discours » ne s’applique qu’au langage parlé. C’est un peu le langage parlé vs le langage écrit car il ne faut pas croire que le langage écrit domine le langage parlé. En effet, de nombreux langages sont encore oraux c'est-à-dire qu’ils n’ont pas de forme écrite (ex. le long de l’Amazone, de nombreuses tribus n’ont pas de forme écrite de leur langage, une tradition orale maintient l’histoire des différents groupes).


Origine du langage


Le langage comme nous le savons s’est développé dès que l’humain a pu parler. Il y a environ 30000 – 40000 ans, les premières formes de langage apparurent. Les anthropologistes pensent qu’il n’est pas possible de dater l’apparition du langage plus tôt, car la position du larynx ne permettait pas la production de sons articulés. Le larynx ayant descendu, l’articulation pouvait prendre place, c’est-à-dire la production de sons.


Les premières traces de langage écrit remontent à 5000 – 6000 ans avant JC. Le premier langage écrit est le cunéiforme issu du plus ancien système d'écriture au monde, mis au point en basse Mésopotamie entre 3400 et 3300 avant J.-C.


Il existe trois grandes théories sur l’origine du langage :

  • L’origine divine (divine origin of the language)
    Dans la bible, selon le testament, Adam reçoit le pouvoir de nommer les choses de la main de Dieu. La tour de Babel est un symbole pour les différentes langues puisque Dieu punit les hommes et leur donne à chacun une langue différente.
  • La théorie du son naturel (natural sound theory)
    Certains animaux produisant un son comme par exemple le coucou, l’humain l’imita et donna un nom à l’animal selon l’onomatopée (onomatopoeia). Mais tous les mots ne sont pas des onomatopées.
  • La théorie des gestes comme moyen de communication (gestures of communication theory)
    Le premier acte de communication entre humains a certainement été un geste. Cependant, l’être humain devait donc marcher pour pouvoir se servir de ses mains. Les anthropologues pensent que le geste émergea suivi de près par le son.


Anatomie et physiologie pour la communication orale (Anatomy & physiology of speech)


.1.     Les organes vocaux (vocal organs)
Sont décris ici tous les parties du corps qui participent à la production du son : poumons, larynx incluant les cordes vocales, bouche comprenant le palais, la langue, les dents, etc.


.2.     Poumons (lungs) & bouche : ont une fonction biologique (biological function) nous permettant de respirer et de manger.
Durant l’évolution de l’être humain, celui-ci s’aperçoit qu’il peut utiliser ces organes pour produire des sons.


.3.     Energie = l’air (stream of air) permettant de produire des sons.
Si vous souhaitez parler il faut inspirer (inhale = breath in) et expirer (exhale = breath out). L’être humain utilise 1/3 de l’air avant d’inspirer à nouveau.
L’air pulmonaire : est égressif (vers l'extérieur); ingressif (vers l'intérieur).
(egressive pulmonic air vs ingressive pulmonic air)
Le cycle de respiration (respiratory cycle) : inspiration et expiration durent environ 5 secondes chacun.



.4.     Larynx : l’air devient audible dans le larynx.
Celui-ci contient les cordes vocales (vocal cords/folds) servant à produire des vibrations audibles. Elles sont composées de deux bandes de tissus musculeux.
La glotte (glottis) permet de réaliser différents effets audibles :
.1. grande ouverte (large open glottis) : l’air passe sans qu’il y ait de vibration, le son est voiceless comme le s.
.2. un peu ouverte (narrow open glottis) : l’air passe en faisant vibrer les cordes vocales, le son est voiced comme le /z/ ou /
.3. complètement fermée (closed glottis) : les deux cordes vocales sont fermées (glottal stop e-g. /P/ bottle in cockney).






L’air provenant des poumons passe dans le larynx et traverse les cordes vocales.


Tratus vocal (vocal tract) = où l’articulation prend place.
Il existe deux types d’articulateurs : les passifs et les actifs.


Articulateurs passifs :
Incisives (incisors/upper teeth) : la langue va se poser juste derrière pour produire le son par ex. /ð/ de « this ».
Crête alvéolaire (alveolar ridge) : la langue se dirige vers la crête alvéolaire pour le son /t/.
Palais (palate/hard palate) : pour le son /j/ comme dans « yes ».


Articulateurs actifs :
Voile du palais (soft palate/velum) : bouge de bas en haut mais n’est pas ressenti lors de la production du son. Le vellum peut se diriger vers le haut afin de bloquer le passage de la cavité nasale pour la production de sons comme /m/ /n/ /ŋ/.
Luette (uvula) : elle détermine si le son est oral ou nasal.
Lèvres (lips) : selon la forme prise par les lèvres, différents degrés d’ouverture ou de fermeture = forme ronde ; bouche fermée, ouverte ou entrouverte.
Langue (tongue) : extrêmement versatile, peut prendre différentes formes par ex. pour la prononciation des voyelles.
Il n’y a pas de frontières bien délimitées lorsque l’on décrit le dessus de la langue : bout de la langue/apex, corps de la langue/dos, racine de la langue (tip of the tongue, blade, front, body, back, root).




Les vibrations sont produites avec les cordes vocales et l’air pulmonaire.


Fréquence : mesurée en Hertz ; la plage de sons pouvant être entendus s’étend de 20 – 20000 Hertz.
Voie masculine : 120 Hertz (une voie plus profonde : 100 Hz)
Voie féminine : 200 – 250 Hertz
Cri d’un enfant : 400 – 500 Hertz.


La hauteur d’une voie (pitch) est très subjective.
Plus la fréquence est haute (higher the frequency = deep voice) plus nous ressentons un ton haut (higher the pitch = lower the pitch).


Décibels : l’intensité/le volume est mesuré en décibels.
L’être humain peut entendre de nombreux degrés d’intensité comme par ex.
La respiration                                       =            10 dB
Une montre                                          =            20 dB
Le chuchotement                                  =            30 dB
Conversation normale                           =            60 dB
Niveau de bruit dans un restaurant         =            70 dB
Un sèche-cheveux                                =            80 dB
Motocyclette/trafic autoroutier              =            90 dB
Orchestre/klaxon                                  =          100 dB
Sirène d’ambulance                              =          110 dB
Musique forte                                       =         120 dB.


Le décibel est une unité de mesure logarithmique ; échelle logarithmique : un cycle par seconde.

L’échelle audible de fréquences va de 20 à 20 000 Hz environ (1 Hz = 1 cycle par seconde).

Pour exprimer par les nombres simples l'ensemble des intensités de sons possibles, on utilise une échelle logarithmique : le décibel (dB). L'oreille humaine perçoit les sons de 0 dB (seuil d'audibilité) à 100 dB (seuil de douleur).


Réception (speech reception)
L’oreille reçoit le son. Celui-ci est transmit par le nerf auditif au cerveau.
L’être humain n’a pas besoin d’entendre chaque son pour comprendre un mot dans un flot de sons (stream of sounds). Il transforme le son automatiquement en un mot et peut se concentrer sur une seule personne même quand plusieurs personnes parlent en même temps.


Sons du langage (sounds of speech)


Phonétique : articulatoire, acoustique, auditive.


La définition simple de la phonétique est : l’étude scientifique des sons du langage et de la représentation par des signes conventionnels de la prononciation des mots d'une langue. L’on pourrait pousser un peu plus loin pour ajouter que la phonétique ne se réduit pas à la transcription d’un mot en signes mais qu’elle étudie aussi l’articulation, la production, la transmission et la réception des sons du langage. A ne pas confondre avec la phonologie qui est l’étude d’un système de son d’un langage bien particulier.


Quelle est la différence entre phonétique et phonologie du point de vue linguistique ?


Phonétique et phonologie sont intimement liées, mais sont néanmoins deux sous disciplines de la linguistique qui traitent des sons du langage. La phonétique est l'étude scientifique des sons du langage indépendamment d’une langue spécifique, tandis que la phonologie concentre son étude sur les systèmes de sons des différentes langues et sur la fonction et la structure de certains sons dans ces systèmes.


Phonologie : phonème


Phonème (phoneme) : c’est le plus petit élément d’un son qui permet de faire la distinction entre deux mots et donc de bien les séparer pour comprendre leurs significations. En Anglais, l’on réfère aux « minimal pairs » pour bien distinguer deux sons.


Par exemple :


/big/ et /pig/

le son /b/ et /p/ sont des phonèmes formant donc une distinction de son dans les mots big et pig.

/pig/ et /pik/

/g/ et /k/ sont deux phonèmes en Anglais qui permettent de faire la distinction des deux sons et bien entendu des deux mots anglais pig et pick.

/hed/ et /hæd/

Deux paires minimales différenciées par les voyelles donnent les mots head et had.



Si vous étudiez les paires minimales, vous pouvez définir les sons d’un langage.

Si la prononciation est identique, il n’y a pas de paire minimale mais un homophone (homonymes ayant la même prononciation).


Pour vous exercer à la prononciation des paires minimales et homophones,
voici un tableau récapitulatif


Veuillez noter : le verbe to pronounce et le nom commun pronunciation !


Paires minimales (minimal pairs)


bee - tea

jeans - genes

sing - thing

knead - need

pig - pick

soul – sole

heat - hit

meat – meet

mess - mass

break - brake

sin - thin

wring - ring

pun - pan

so - sew

rough - tough

roll - role

neat - need

suite - sweet

zoo - shoe

boy - buoy

pear - peer

knight - night

burn - burp

bye - buy

cheap - Jeep

write - right

fine - vine

hi - high

bake - cake


sink - zink


house - mouse


bay - pay


need - neat


chunk - junk


ice – eyes



Le système anglais de sons est constitué de 44 phonèmes (relevant de type de sons et non pas d’accent, la prononciation individuelle n’entre pas en ligne de compte).


Transcription étroite plus précise (narrow transcription)

Ce type de transcription phonétique est beaucoup plus détaillé que celui de la transcription phonétique large. La transcription étroite utilise aussi des symboles de l'Alphabet Phonétique International (API) fondé il y a plus de 100 ans. La transcription étroite est le plus souvent indiquée entre ces parenthèses […]. Cependant, l’utilisation d'autres symboles permet une transcription phonétique bien plus précise. Ce type est principalement utilisé par les phonéticiens.


La transcription phonétique large (broad transcription) est celle trouvée dans les dictionnaires contemporains et elle se distingue par les barres de fraction /pig/.


Publications importantes en phonétique


Alors que la langue anglaise a 44 phonèmes et que la transcription est toujours basée sur le livre de A.C. Gimson : Introduction to the Pronunciation of English (1962), l’on compte plus de 200 sons pour transcrire tous les langages existants et donc 200 symboles.


Le EPD-16 English Pronouncing Dictionnary (16 éd. Peter Roach et James Hartman) est toujours la référence aujourd’hui pour la prononciation de l’anglais britannique. Daniel Jones (1881 – 1967), éminent phonéticien britannique, issu d’une famille du sud de l’Angleterre et éduqué dans une école public boarding school, travailla à l’établissement de son dictionnaire dès 1917.


Public school prononciation fut employé par Daniel Jones pour décrire la prononciation adéquate de la langue anglaise. En 1960, il change le terme pour RP received pronunciation. Cette prononciation standard était déterminée par le système de classe et définissait la prononciation upper class de l'aristocratie et la haute bourgeoisie sans restriction géographique (Oxford – Cambridge – Eton).


Ce terme n’est plus utilisé aujourd’hui dans le EPD-16 à cause de ses connotations. En 1997, le terme BBC English est introduit. Pour la prononciation américaine le terme General American est utilisé. General American est also appelé network english = TV.


John C. Wells publie en 1990 Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. En 2000, une seconde édition voit le jour incluant les deux types de prononciation les plus connus : britannique et américain. Il utilise le terme RP et General American.



Au départ linéaire, cette écriture est progressivement devenue cunéiforme. Le nom cunéiforme signifie « en forme en coins » (latin cuneus), à cause de la forme du stylet utilisé (mais on parle souvent de « clou »). Le cunéiforme était principalement écrit avec un calame en roseau sur des tablettes d'argile. (fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cunéiforme)

Une onomatopée (du grec νοματοποιΐα (ónomatopoiï´a), « création de mots ») est une catégorie d'interjection émise pour simuler un bruit particulier associé à un être, un animal ou un objet, par l'imitation des sons que ceux-ci produisent. Certaines onomatopées sont improvisées de manière spontanée, d'autres sont conventionnelles. fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onomatopée


Partager cet article