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C a p p e l e n Il l u str a sj o n: Ing e r D a l e

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D a m m s

t i d s s k r i f t

f o r

e n g e l s k l æ r e r e


innhold

Leder I denne 25. utgaven av fagbladet vårt fortsetter vi oppkjøringen til den amerikanske valgkampen. I forrige utgave skrev Magne Dypedahl om presidenttalen «the State of the Union». Han følger nå opp med å forklare bakgrunnen for, og betydningen av, de store partimøtene – «the national conventions» – som skal utpeke partienes offisielle presidentkandidater på sensommeren. Vi kan også love at vi kommer til å publisere noen artikler og analyser på våre fagnettsteder underveis i valgkampen, og det kommer selvsagt en analyse av selve valget i neste utgave av dette bladet! Robert Mikkelsen, vår faste ekspert på amerikansk politikk og samfunnsliv, sitrer selvsagt av spenning og skrivelyst foran valget. Men først må han gjøre ferdig den nye utgaven av Access to International English – Cappelen Damms læreverk for programfaget Internasjonal engelsk. En av Roberts medforfattere er Richard Burgess, og her i bladet kan du lese hans betraktninger omkring skriveprosessen og forfatterrollen. Teksten kan absolutt anbefales, selv om undertegnede («Butchering Birger») ikke kommer udelt positivt fra det.

Renewing Access to International English by Richard Burgess

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Having a Big Party: The National Party Conventions by Magne Dypedahl, Høgskolen i Østfold

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Britain’s Civil Unrest: Criminal Elements or Victims of Circumstances? by Jan Erik Mustad, Universitetet i Agder

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I forkant av revisjonen av Access to International English gjennomførte vi en spørreundersøkelse blant engelsklærere som underviser eller har undervist i dette programfaget. Vi vil gjerne få takke de av dere som deltok i denne undersøkelsen, som ga oss svært mange svar og innspill som har vært viktige i arbeidet med den nye utgaven.

Read It! by Siri Hunstadbråten, Drammen videregående skole

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London er stadig gjenstand for oppmerksomhet, og vi har fått Jan Erik Mustad til å ta et analytisk tilbakeblikk på fjorårets voldsomme opptøyer, som hadde sitt utspring nord i hovedstaden og siden spredde seg til flere områder i byen og til andre byer i Storbritannia. Siri Hunstadbråten følger opp med en omtale av en roman – Pigeon English – som handler om en ung afrikansk gutt som flytter til London og blir kastet ut i et tøft miljø med gategjenger, vold og kriminalitet. God lesning!

Denne og alle tidligere utgaver av bladet er tilgjengelig i bla-i-bok-format på nettet. Se f. eks. lærersidene på passage. cappelendamm.no eller access.cappelendamm.no. Der finner du også en oversikt over innholdet i alle utgavene.

[ mæg@'zi:n] '

Ansvarlig redaktør:

CAPPELEN DAMM VIDEREGÅENDE

Birger Nicolaysen

Cappelen Damm Akersgata 47/49

Redaksjon:

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0055 Oslo

Kirsten Aadahl

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Telefon: 21 61 66 54 / 55

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E-post: birger.nicolaysen@cappelendamm.no

Produksjon: AIT Oslo AS

R In


Renewing Access Access toto Renewing International English nternational English by Richard Burgess

Have you heard the one about the Brit, the American and the Canadian in a hotel lift, together with a pretty girl in a short skirt? Well, suddenly there is a power cut and the lights go out. A loud slap is heard. When the lights go on again the American has a big red slap mark on his cheek. “These damn North Americans,” the Brit thinks, “they simply don’t know how to behave!” “These damn Canucks,” the American thinks, “they’re just a bunch of hicks, and I get the blame!” The Canadian thinks: “I hope there’s another power cut soon so I can slap the Yank again!” No, not a real-life anecdote from a Cappelen Damm work session on the new Access to International English book. But confirmation, as if confirmation were necessary, that the national stereotypes are all there waiting to be put to use.

cting es, impa e our liv way we liv expanded and em ecting the en le, deeply aff s. Some have be r examp is Fo n . tio ew t ital revolu n activitie ated entirely an ernet. Bu dig ma int hu the of kt cre ge edia onto could be prostyrket/styr a wide ran hers have been encyclop empowered idet/utvida on . Ot utv idea of the t this informati gathernom extended powered ded the tha e part in y tvers gjen g showed edia exten could tak ilarly, profoundl it nin kip to y, Sim kap d Wi ntl nys ht. nte rta ug innovation re impo ne who wa democratic tho to the flytelse/ even mo that anyo ly ed it up impact inn free and profound d and open terinnverkna å vekke vided for That is a me video form of video en ze editing it. ention of the ho to galvani famle ead the than a ing and rå ch more d it to spr k the inv mu to flounde use too , o e ch asse ub wh s mu tilp å e rie YouT t/ to adapt it becam olutiona jengelighe on rev tilg g So . ility un accessib world the yo 11. legheit t. Just ask n in Egypt in 20 tilgjenge , Buzz tainmen iddelbar tio r, MySpace d in instant um de/passande tic revolu to Twitte r an sen democra ld go on aptly pas on pape n the ations cou e this is printed have see et innov ll tim ern wi the int ps” of dia doubt by The list “killer ap dia” – me others. No m, entirely new “social me g ways. The for and many ke up the d excitin s in book they ma in new an eprint for what is your hand Taken together, er oth e an blu day. me, one ct with on , Facebook – the na light of e era int rse us to of that sam we lived in that allow se is, of cou the 2010 film n ous of the ”. In farms, the Facebook network most fam e lived on sent, a “social s way – “W internet!” At pre try, it now called puts it thi the re a coun the aracters to live on . If it we ng ing wi go of the ch gro ’re t consider pact, jus d now we llion and to its im ow many cities, an er 700 mi world. As old question, “H hip is ov the ers in t mb me larges to that the third has given ck would be aning it revoluSpot che new me the digital ” entirely a) How has ern communicamod you have? tion tied ether? friends do ices tog tion dev ? app ry. At is an ia b) What ent indust s Wikiped ? acy c) How doe entertainm watched their s democr ized the encourage social media? ssibilitie e as they o galvan are New po et for fre n has als undered d) What ern tio flo s int olu nie l rev pa ed on the adapted The digita film and TV com d circulat ver, they sic, l copies an Gradually, howe bsites to first mu to digita Bay. illegal we t. On reduced like Pirate hand, they took en tes products ym pa bsi ing aring we the one line by charg by file-sh loaded on ology. On go legal w techn t down or that could be down lity. to the ne ibi m to shu cts cing the and access ed produ court, for y provid y, quality of variet hand, the of er ms ces oth ter pie the or in es, ter gam re superi , compu e internet which we programs y. In addition, liv ts and load TV y every da nts, music concer take ns down all llio leg mi ms Today nd sports eve more ite the globe

The Canadians resent the Americans, the Americans disparage the Canadians – and the British still haven’t learned to differentiate between the two! Of course, it hasn’t been like that between us three writers. Far from it – Robert Mikkelsen (the Yank), John Anthony (the Canuck) and myself (the Limey) have worked together on the new edition of Access to International English in a spirit of equality, cooperation and amiability. (After all, it must be difficult enough for them not being British without me adding to their burdens!) Three ex-pats with, between us, several decades of experience of writing textbooks in Norway. You would think, then, that we would be used to the process and prepared for its challenges. But, strangely, each book is like a new expedition into the unknown in which you make exactly the same discoveries as last time, but are equally surprised by them. Such discoveries include:

s and the the in shackle seen on g a man phone is depictin a mobile in Egypt along with A mural logo and n of Helwan Facebook 1 revolutio University orating the 201 wall of the mem com k. als other mur ew Hosni Mubara rthr ove t tha

• how much time there seems to be at the beginning of the expedition. • how little time there seems to be at the end. • how it is perfectly possible to spend several hours writing one short paragraph. • how it is equally possible that that very paragraph is the one that gets axed by the editor, Butchering Birger. An expedition is one metaphor for writing a textbook, but there are also others. Pregnancy, for example. Not perhaps an immediately obvious one when the three writers are all middleaged men, but it’s nonetheless apt: the long period of gestation, the regular check-ups to see that the foetus is developing properly, and finally the difficult birth itself, when Butchering Birger becomes Benign and Benevolent Birger, providing encouragement (“just one more push!”) and laughing gas (i.e. three-course restaurant meals) as requ required. Fortunately, on this occasion, we aat least don’t have to argue about wha what to call the infant. She will be nam named after her elder sister … A ra rather more macabre extension of the birth metaphor is found in a term fam familiar to all textbook writers, namely “kil “killing one’s babies”. This refers to the process necessitated by a littlekno known law of physics, closely related to Sod’s Law, which states that “t “the optimum number of pages of a te textbook equals the total number of ppages of the final draft minus one fifth” (often formulated as

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x = y – y/5). This means that not just ? sentences but whole exercises, indeed whole texts have to be thrown out at the Introduction: Media in Mot ion last moment. In the old days these poor rejected texts, like stillborn children, would live out a sort of shadowy existence in the Teacher’s Book – a real book, but one rarely opened (and invariably printed on inferior paper). Today the advent of the internet has made the Teacher’s Book, like Purgatory, a thing of the past. Now any rs text that doesn’t make it past Birger’s axe may be permitted a virtual existence at access.cappelendamm. es no, along with all the other resources to be found there. This not AGE LANGU RMAL D INFO AL AN M only saves the writers from the R E 3: FO OURS AGE C LANGU trauma of literary infanticide, it also means that textbooks now come with a wealth of “free extras” – at least, as long as the websites are free, as they are at Cappelen Damm.

Read the first paragraph below and then make a list of the forms of media you have access to on a daily basis. Which of these are most important to you? Compare your list with a fellow student’s.

In this chapter we are going to be looking at international English and the “media”. But what does “The Media” mean? The roots of this term go back to the 1800s, when newspapers were the first “medium” through which information could be conveyed to a mass audienc e. In the 1920s the term became plural – “media” – to cover the inventio n of new channels of mass communication such as radio and movies. Today, the term refers to a bewildering array of communication channe ls, including TV broadcasting, cable networ ks, online news website s, blogs and much, much more which we will touch on in the coming pages. These are sometimes referred to collectiv ely as a single entity as in “The media will be covering the election closely.”

The internet

There is no doubt that the most important media develop ment of the last decades has been the rise of the internet. The growth and development of the “web” has been breathtaking. In 1989 it became a system open to anyone with a comput er. By 1995 there were about 15 million persons online. By 2000 that number had explode d to 361 million users. Ten years later there were more than 2 billion people online – 30% of the population of the world – and the growth showed no signs of stopping. Oliver Field from Los Angeles video chats via Skype with his girlfriend, Elizabeth Chamberlain, a student in Tacoma, Washington. Skype, the internet video conferonfer encing service, has been a godsend for parents with children away at college, for far-flung relatives keeping tabs on one another, and, of course, for long distance lovers.

to convey å (over)bringe, å meddele / å formidle, å kunngjere plural flertall (gram.) / fleirtal (gram.) bewildering forvirrende/ forvirrande array samling, rekke entity enhet/eining

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Why is a new edition necessary? The need for a radical rewrite – and it is a rewrite rather than just an update – is twofold; for one thing, the world is a different place to whatt it was in 2007 when the old book was published. The Great Recession,, the Occupy Wall Street movement, uity WikiLeaks, the Arab spring, the ubiquity me of social media – these are just some of the events and developments that have changed the world we live in and that demand the attention of a textbook writer trying to take the pulse of the English-speaking world. If I might be permitted a little trumpetblowing, feedback from present users of Cappelen Damm’s books for English at videregående level suggests that the quality of the main “focus texts” of our chapters is still seen as one of our chief strengths. While some argued that the internet and its revolution in accessing information would somehow make such texts superfluous, we have always believed that the opposite is true – that the sheer volume of information available, and the overwhelming cacophony of voices it represents, makes the role of a focused, explanatory text more important than ever. In the new Access to International English this role has been deepened and broadened by drawing in other source texts and embedding them in the focus

THE WORLD AT YOUR DOORSTEP

a ion on impress e a good stituto mak emic in u want more an acad When yo employer, or u should write ve yo prospecti ve applied to, the Director of : to u ha itten tion yo in a letter llege Ida had wr on to y. So if nd formall Bambridge Co ng to Lo n’t at to comi Ca Studies king forward a blast! gonna be s I’m loo It’ g. dyin put off. start stu a little ight be wait udies m tor of St the Direc wrote: ndon to e sh Lo if to tter ll coming d be be ward to ur college. It wi It woul king for yo n hardly I am loo education at and I ca my me e for rsu e pu nc w experie ne a be d. get starte wait to formal

n not see les are mar ru d gram ation an punctu important. al t at e form a tex to be th re a mor alysing ts requi e going to be when an contex ar consider formal. blic r, many ts that in pect to itor, pu Howeve r example tex ed e A key as it is formal or th s to , fo iries to er we English (articles, letter ts, inqu is wheth r people , repor ed ents fo tions, uge with publish nouncements) nal statem al langa , friendly situa ca, inform cebook tices, an n’t know, perso ters of appli axed Fa no rel on We use in , let we do friends ll, and ters to cations pli people ap know we unicating with cards and let t and job s and so on. m post college rmal tex : ay like com and writing diffian info ool ess on ing, This is e more tion, sch in Lond twitter atives. ably us Sandra to ll (no and rel o prob r friend ng to London will als en in fu friends mi Ida to he al text e text be writt co by it. rm to fo en wa rd A rds will ctions), and th wa writt st! Can’t (see p. rds, wo king for ra bla s a wo nt loo ce lt co be ten I’m a cu and sen It’s gonn mplex iations ctions see you. abbrev more co ssive constru ely have more pa text. Safety in will lik ay have al m rm d ts that fo an tex 30) an in rmal of text 34) than example of fo is type (see p. ns are an ssive voice. Th e imperastructio the pa rbs. Th out ve of e e us tiv ra ed with make at is us es impe th us rb ten ands also of of the ve g comm e form en givin tive is th used wh is It it ct. ). and tie a subje shut up in ur head nd up, blowing t over yo (e.g. sta lifejacke Air is added by t. Pull the the jacke ist. your wa the shoulder of around e on iec hp the mout

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t”. e “blas ions lik express n’t. Simple formal , it’s, ca es a t uses in used: I’m . Ida even us This tex ed ons are ”. us cti to e ra g ar Cont “goin words stead of and mmon na”, in and co ement rd, “gon a’s excit tence. slang wo it” expresses Id complete sen waS T“CAanS’t K comis not a to be a ve , but it ha on t ati no ood by anticip t, it does ly is it underst ex nt co form not on In this eviated e tence, as r, but its abbr th AFTER 1 ple te senREADING ent. Inyour reade youexnoted citemamong deddifferences of the elling, Were spmene inten ling of thany es, feeor nr e those ge th like districtsd localinneighbourh tensifies oods tings an rmal setWere the causes of these difin thisfoexcerpt? tioned most in London? For

6 WRITING

2 MAIN IDEAS

3 DISCUSSION

Work in groups: m (see page a Look for examples of ethnocentris find and 100) in this excerpt. Note any you can in your compare your results with the others group. andings, b Culture clash is defined as “misunderst interanxieties and conflicts arising from the values”. action of people with different cultural Do you think Tarquin Hall will experience Lane? culture clash when he moves to Brick Give reasons for your opinion. any c+ Does the bar chart on page 110 give just grounds for the taxi driver saying “There’s too many of them. Britain’s getting swamped”? Why does he say this, do you think? the description d+ Do you think the narrator trusts driver of the Cockney East End that the taxi opinion gives? How does the author convey his any about this to the reader? Can you find clear? phrases he uses that make his attitude

136

notes to help you answer the questions.

– We was like one big ’appy family. – Naa! It’s no good, is it?

ferences similar to those found in or language? example, were any causedORbyLDSincome ING OF areWmajor differences in there say Would you MEET 150 A culture in your local milieu?

and keeps misA classmate is having a very bad day correcting his understanding the text. Help him by statements and questions. enough to lucky was Hall Taquin a Apparently, ble taxi driver. knowledgea very a get a ride with part of b I guess the East End is a very posh London? Cockneys, c And Banglatown is the home of the right? End over the d Not much has changed in the East decades. last few

Halden?

than – better e verbs t will us rmal tex s an info nouns: Wherea … al ed that an verb more th ors recommend ite Inspect e non-fin ): use mor see p. 90 ll likely text wi rticiple, al pa tex soc g , rm al -in est fo rm e Halden . ter 4) A ons (th 1) A fo , I find love, in revision cti on y, er nd tru tor rth Lo cons (e.g. his ok requires fu been to Having t will The bo ll. rmal tex ng info rather du e greater spondi will mak s a corre t noun: al text Wherea ac inform ons: book. str e an ab th s e ise th lden cti Wherea replace thor should rev find Ha constru I ite so , fin ndon The au use of voice en to Lo e passive I have be ll use th ll. wi du t rds of rather rmal tex tice. more wo 2) A fo days’ no ely use en three more: t will lik s were giv rmal tex tive d with Tenant 5) A fo rench origin: e the ac initiate will be tin/F ts will us La on tex ati al nt s inform Impleme effect. days’ Wherea e: te ts three or e tenan immedia e more voice m dlord gave th t will us origin: The lan rmal tex on a info ic/Anglo gl -Sax . reas an he al notice. W rb ht away rman ve e more s: s of a Ge to do this straig us rb rd ve ely wo of ll lik ing out e are go al text wi that are made W rm n fo tio 3) A 151 . nouns a recommenda i.e ORLDS s, W OF e ING noun A MEET tasks: Interactive ors mad Inspect www.access.cappelendamm.no that … London

d in rmal an r into fo g furthe t nouns Lookin e abstrac or m s e text t may us iety):

seems e+ The Truman Buxon Brewery area ent from the rest of the East End. How?

differ-

4 ANALYSIS

This exSee page 279 for an explanation of irony. from an Engcerpt ends with the following quote East End lishman who had moved to the Cockney of the 1930s: society whose “I felt that I had stumbled on a secret one another by members were communicating with lost on me. I signs whose significance was entirely strange was in a strange land inhabited by a people.” compared a Why is this an ironic remark when about with the information given in this excerpt End? the people now living in the New East without b Irony is often used to make a point author actually stating it. What point is the making here? in this c+ Try to find other examples of irony author excerpt. What points (if any) does the make by using irony in these examples? 5 VOCABULARY

East Look at the following sentences in Cockney with them End dialect and identify what is wrong spelling in terms of “proper” English expressions, and grammar. or – ’ardly a day goes by without a knifing shooting. – Terrible it is.

but even so he a Tarquin Hall grew up in London, he arfelt like a stranger in a strange land when had such rived in the East End. Have you ever person an experience? Write a story in the first (see page 278) about this experience. with. Now b + Pick a place you are well acquainted it as if you write a two-paragraph description of first were a foreign reporter seeing it for the nationality time. You can choose your reporter’s as as you wish. Make your description sound to odd as possible. For example: “Compared seems New York, Oslo is a city where everyone are all to wear a backpack. It appears as if they the prepared to head off to the woods in dinner evening to set up their tent and cook over an open fire …”

Answer individually: the London a How long has the carnival been on calendar? b What are the roots of this carnival? are promiculture Caribbean of c What aspects nent during the carnival? d When does the carnival take place? remember if to “don’ts” and “dos” the are e What you are planning to go to the carnival? Answer in pairs: most if the to forward look you would f What you went to this carnival? overcome g+ How can a carnival like this help stereotypes? cultural to such h+ Are there any dangers or drawbacks carnivals?

7 QUICK RESEARCH

Choose one task: including a Write a brief report about Brick Lane today and a short history, pictures of the street there. information about present day activities in b Find the origins of “Cockney culture” of it. London’s East End. Give some examples Has it died out completely? as one of its c+ The London Olympics in 2012 had has hapaims to rejuvenate East London. What held? pened to the area after the games were



CARNIVAL 8 LISTENING: THE NOTTING HILL

East End, there As we have seen in the text from the culcan be conflicts and mistrust when different Notting Hill tures interact in an urban setting. The issue. It is a Carnival in London addresses just this specifically celebration of Caribbean culture started whites and to replace racial hostility between local l fun. Now Caribbean immigrants with multicultura outside Brazil! it is the biggest carnival in the world Take Listen to find out more about this carnival.

Glossary for task 8: hostility fiendtlighet/fiendskap mayhem kaos prior to før oppressor undertrykker/ undertrykkar to repeal å oppheve tension spenning

murky mørk whiff antydning, pust / aning, pust nibble godbit sense of direction retningssans casual her: ikke penklær / her: ikkje finklede

A MEETING OF WORLDS

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A MEETING OF WORLDS

text. The result is, if you will pardon the buzzword, a sort of “polyphonic” narrative – where explanation and exemplification are combined – that we hope will both clarify and inspire debate. The other need for a rewrite calls for a dose of humility on our part; the last book was the first of its kind for an entirely new course. After it had been used for a year or two it was clear, not least from teachers’ suggestions to

our surveys, that there was room for improvement. One important issue here was the focus on language. While the curriculum for Internasjonal engelsk has important competence aims concerning culture, society and literature, it is nevertheless first and foremost a language course. By the end of the year, students should be able to feel that, as well as gaining insights into the world of international English, they have raised their game in the language itself. The old book wasn’t


systematic enough in its approach to improving linguistic competence, neither in terms of students’ own written production nor in what the curriculum refers to as “kunnskap om språkets oppbygning på setnings- og tekstnivå og bevissthet om språklige virkemidler i ulike sjangrer”. Teachers have pointed this out – and we have now had a chance to do something about it. New courses To remedy this we have made some significant changes and additions to the book. At the end of each of the book’s six chapters there are two new units – a Writing Course and a Language Course. The Writing Course aims to give students a helping hand in some of the basics of writing well – crafting good sentences and paragraphs, making texts hang together. We don’t give neat recipes for good texts – such things don’t exist. Writing is a creative process and as such can never be completely systematised. The focus is on practical work with texts, looking at examples of good usage as well as typical pitfalls and how to avoid them. Essays get special mention, since this is a demanding genre that students often wrestle with. This is not surprising, really. It always strikes me as a paradox that for decades Norwegian students have to a large extent been evaluated in both Norwegian and English in their ability to produce a genre that they hardly ever read – except for their own fumbling attempts. While the Writing Course is directed towards language production, the Language Course is directed towards analysis. The aim of the course is to provide students with some of the terminology and tools with which to manage the sort of linguistic analysis that exam questions increasingly demand: looking at how texts achieve their effects, comparing texts for style and intention. The six units deal with everything from the basic concepts of grammar to such topics as formal/ informal language, literary devices and analysing genre. We believe that the course will enable students to tackle a

wide variety of analytic tasks. In both the language course and the writing course the focus is on examples and exercises. There is a world of difference between telling somebody how to do something and showing them how to do it. We try to do the latter as much as possible. A world of literature Another significant addition to the new book is the final literature chapter. There are basically two ways of using literary texts in a textbook like this. One way is to tie them to the themes

dealt with in the chapters and select them primarily for their ability to throw light on these themes. To be honest, it always feels like a rather unsatisfactory way of treating literature, since it often involves compromising quality for relevance. Good short stories and poems about particular topics are often difficult to find. The alternative is to choose literature for its own sake. In the new book we shamelessly use both strategies. That is to say, there are literary texts in the first five chapters, chosen for their relevance to the issues discussed in the main text. But we have also included a whole chapter of literature that is chosen for what it can tell us about its own world – the world of literature.

The literature chapter can be used in two ways: either as a store from which to pick stories and poems at random, or as a separate and continuous “literature course”. If you choose the latter, you get a structured review of some of the key elements of literary analysis – plot and theme, point of view and irony, characterisation and setting, each element discussed in the light of a story in which this element is especially important. Poetry is, of course, also given its due. Some teachers may be surprised to find that we present students with our own y of texts. We make no apologies analysis for this. It is part of our belief in the importance of showing rather than just telling. Anyway, it doesn’t leave the students idle. Far from it – each analysis deals w with one aspect of the text, aand as the chapter progresses aand new elements of literary aanalysis are dealt with, the sstudents are invited to look ba back at earlier texts (and texts el elsewhere in the book) and put th their new insights to the test. At the time of writing this, the wr writers are slogging through a sec second round of proofreading. Soo Soon the fruit of our loins, if you you’ll pardon the expression, will see the light of day, delivered from the printers in all its illus illustrated, multicoloured glory (com (complete, no doubt, with a ridiculous error that inexplicably survived five rounds of proofreading and made it into the final text, only to be discovered, triumphantly and noisily, by a participating teacher at a Cappelen Damm book presentation who always preferred Aschehoug anyway). Soon we can look forward to a time without deadlines, a time when Birger, if he appears in our dreams at all, will appear as Bountiful Birger, without his axe, but dressed in white, holding a flower in one hand and a large cheque in the other. Soon – but not yet. For after the Birth comes the Afterbirth – the book presentations, the answer key, the website. Alas, paternity isn’t the carefree business it used to be …

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Having a

Big Party:

The National Party Conventions

Supporters of Sen. Barack Obama await his arrival at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver on Aug. 28, 2008. Fresh from his party’s unanimous nomination, Obama was poised to give Democrats a stadium-sized send-off into the fall campaign. (ŠNTB scanpix)


Madison Square Garden in New York is associated with great sporting events and concerts with artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and Rihanna. The same can be said about Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul and numerous other sports venues around the country. However, arenas such as these, which seat around 20,000 people, are also typical locations for the national conventions of the two major parties in the United States, which are held every four years. This year the

by Magne Dypedahl, Høgskolen i Østfold

facts

Delegates Big arenas are needed to accommodate thousands of delegates from all over the country. In addition to the delegates, there are some 15,000 members of the media in attendance. The delegates have been selected by their home state or their party to officially select a nominee for the presidency. The delegates can be pledged or unpledged. The pledged delegates are directly bound to candidates, either proportionally or on a winner-take-all basis, based on the election results in primaries and caucuses. In the Democratic National Convention there will be 3,253 pledged delegates and 794 unpledged delegates, or so-called superdelegates. The superdelegates are members of Congress, governors, former presidents and other party leaders who in no way are bound to vote for a certain candidate. Of the 2,286 Republican delegates in the

Tampa Bay Times Forum, an arena in Tampa, Florida will host the Republican National Convention from August 27 to August 30. The Democratic National Convention will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, from September 4 to September 6. The location on the first two days of the Democratic convention is the Time Warner Cable Arena, but on September 6 Barack Obama will deliver his acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium, which is one of the biggest stadiums in the region.

Republican National Convention, there are only 120 unpledged delegates, who are Republican National Committee members. The role of the conventions The primary purpose of the national party conventions is to nominate candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency and to adopt a party platform. Thus the national conventions mark the end of the primary election period and the beginning of the general election campaign. However, presentday conventions rarely involve any real excitement with regard to the nomination process. It is usually known well in advance that one of the candidates for the presidency is bound to win a simple majority of the delegate votes on the first ballot. Early in April 2012, for instance, there was no longer any doubt that Mitt Romney would be nominated by the Republicans as their candidate for the presidency. A sure sign of this was the announcement that Mitt Romney planned to begin raising money jointly with the Republican National Committee in order to prepare for an expensive general-election fight

Primaries and caucuses Presidential primary elections are organized almost like general elections, which means that voting is done through a secret ballot. Primaries can be both closed and open, or somewhere between. In a typically closed primary only voters that are registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary and only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary. In an open primary, registered voters can choose

to vote for either party, but they are allowed to vote in only one primary. Caucuses, which are only held in a handful of states, are meetings open to all registered voters of the party. There are different systems for selecting delegates in caucuses, but generally the voters divide themselves into groups according to the candidate they support. Then they are counted.

against President Barack Obama. This was in many ways the real beginning of the general election campaign. The system of primary elections, which took over as the major nomination system after 1968, is the main reason why the role of the conventions is different from before. The advantage of the primary system is that the nomination process is more open, and you end up with a hardened winner who has been tested along the way. One disadvantage is that candidates speak negatively of other candidates from their own party, month after month. This could have the effect of transferring support to the other party. Another consequence of the primary system is that the nature of the national conventions has been changed. Today, the national party conventions basically confirm the choice made by primary voters. Still, there is always a chance of a socalled brokered convention in which one candidate does not win the first ballot and does not even stand out as a candidate that is likely to win the second ballot. The Republicans came close to a brokered convention in 1976 when incumbent President Gerald Ford was challenged by Ronald Reagan, whereas the Democrats came close in 1984 when Walter Mondale barely won the first ballot. However, real brokered conventions have not occurred since 1952 for the Democrats and 1948 for the Republicans. Back then brokered conventions involved bargaining in smoke-filled back rooms and party leaders who brokered delegate votes for their own candidates in return

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for political favors. For the sake of excitement, one might hope for a brokered convention again in the future, although horse-trading has become mostly smoke-free and involves phone calls and texting on BlackBerrys. A brokered convention would also make excellent reality TV, and it could draw a lot of attention to the party in question. The conventional wisdom, however, is that this would be a disaster for the party. Instead, a lot of money and time is put into these events in order to promote party unity and display enthusiasm. Each party has a federally set budget of some $18 million to produce the conventions as great media events, which also includes use of social-media strategies related to Twitter, Facebook and Google-Plus pages. National conventions have gone from being real news events to showcases and media spectacles. Some people have even called the conventions infomercials, which is the term used for paid programming or teleshopping. Prime time scheduling The Democrats held their first convention in 1832; whereas the Republicans held their first convention in 1856 (the Republican party was founded in 1854). In the beginning, only a few hundred delegates attended the conventions, and the selection

of delegates was rather informal. So was the scheduling of ballots and speeches, but live broadcasting has gradually changed that. Radio coverage of the conventions started in 1924, and television coverage started in 1940. Earlier presidential candidates did not even show up at the convention to accept the nomination, but the delivery of the candidate’s acceptance speech is now the highlight of the convention. More choreographed conventions have eventually made conventions less interesting for the media, but conventions did not stop being exciting after World War II. Perhaps the most memorable, or infamous, convention ever was the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Most of all this convention is remembered for the violence between Vietnam War protesters and the police outside the convention hall. However, the Vietnam War also dominated the atmosphere in the convention itself, with daily shouting matches between delegates. Although Vice President Hubert Humphrey, publicly a defender of the war, won the nomination easily, the Democrats came out of the convention quite weakened. Humphrey also lost the election to Richard Nixon. The Democratic National Convention in 1972 was not very successful either. The nomination of George McGovern

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National Guardsmen wearing gas masks and armed with rifles and automatic pistols drag off a felled protester at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, 1968. (©NTB scanpix)

was not controversial in itself, but the organization of the convention was chaotic, to say the least. In fact, McGovern ended up giving what might be the worst acceptance speech in history. It was not what he said that was the problem, but when he said it. You would think that the Democrats had developed some understanding of radio and television by 1972. After the election of vice-presidential candidate got out of hand, however, McGovern had to deliver his acceptance speech at 3 a.m., local time. Obviously, prime time television viewers were sound asleep by then. The 2012 conventions The choice of Charlotte, North Carolina as the location for the Democratic National Convention this year has probably been influenced by many factors, and one such factor is definitely the prospect of winning as many electoral votes as possible in the general election. In 2008 Barack Obama won North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes by a very narrow margin (about 14,000 votes), which makes North Carolina an undecided or “barely Democratic” swing state in 2012. Consequently, it does not hurt to let the state host the Democratic party for a few days. Moreover, the chair of the convention will be Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a successful Latino politician. Again, this is no coincidence. President Obama needs to maintain his popularity among Hispanic voters in order to ensure reelection. On the first two days of the convention, the location will be the Time Warner Cable Arena, which seats around 20,000 people. On September 6, however, Barack Obama will deliver his acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium, which seats close to 75,000 people. Actually, it may be seen as a bit ironic that Barack Obama will be using the podium of a stadium named Bank of America, as banks have become quite controversial during the present financial crisis. Obama has definitely been critical of American banks, but generally his administration has been criticized for being too inclined to accommodate them. For that reason the Republicans are sure to make a point out of the name of the venue, but the


stadium was probably chosen because it is a huge football stadium, and there cannot be that many stadiums to choose from in Charlotte. Barack Obama may be emulating John F. Kennedy, as he did in 2008, by moving the whole convention outside to a stadium on the day of the acceptance speech. In 1960 Kennedy delivered his acceptance speech to 80,000 people in Los Angeles. In 2008 Obama did the same thing in Denver, Colorado, before 84,000 people at Invesco Field Stadium. You would think 20,000 spectators would create enough enthusiasm, but with a good speaker on the ticket there is of course no reason why the party should not fill a stadium, make the convention available to more people, and use it as a real campaign booster. Traditionally, the incumbent party in the White House hosts its national convention after the other party. So the Republicans will go first, namely from August 27 to August 30. The Republican National Convention will be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, an arena in Tampa, Florida which seats around 20,000 people. Florida is also a strategic choice for a national party convention. It is another swing state with 29 electoral votes that can easily go to any of the candidates in the general election. The Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s largest newspaper, will endorse President Obama, but in August it is the Republican National Convention that will draw most of the attention. One challenge for the organizers of the convention, or rather the Tampa police, is that the convention is also expected to draw many Occupy movement protesters, who protest against social and economic inequality. Inside the convention, however, there will be no protesting. This year it is only the Republicans that have been fighting each other during the primary season, and it is time for the party to show unity. The convention program will certainly include a number of endorsements of Mitt Romney by fellow Republicans, such as his wife, primary opponents, perhaps a former president

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney (L) and President Barack Obama (©NTB scanpix)

and other major figures within the party. In between all this a famous singer or two will show up to entertain the delegates. The Republicans may choose country singers, whereas the Democrats are more likely to invite somebody like Stevie Wonder or Bruce Springsteen. It is also possible to create some extra excitement by announcing the choice of candidate for the vice-presidency, or presidential running mate, as close to the convention as possible. How Mitt Romney will go about this remains to be seen. The general election After the national party conventions are over, the nominated candidates for the presidency, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, will have another two strenuous months ahead of them. The candidates will probably be quite tough, but still fairly moderate in their attacks on each other. However, in general the campaign is bound to become dirty. The dirtiest campaigning will be paid for by the political action committees, the so-called Super PACs. One of President Barack Obama’s challenges will be American Crossroads, the most powerful Republican Super PAC, which was created by George Bush’s former chief strategist Karl Rove. The combination of a Super PAC, which can collect unlimited donations from corporations and individuals, and Karl Rove is powerful.

At any rate, predicting the outcome of the election on November 6 is a risky business. Statistically, an incumbent president who gets full support from fellow party members and is not challenged by other candidates in the primaries, often wins a second term. President Obama has a good starting point in that respect. On the other hand, one of the most reliable indicators of a president’s chances of winning a second term is the amount of money Americans earn after taxes and inflation. This is called disposable personal income or take-home pay. In more popular terms, the basic question is: “Will Americans be better off in November than they were four years ago?” In this respect it looks good for Mitt Romney, as the answer at the moment seems to be “No”. Take-home pay actually fell slightly earlier this year and the U.S. economy is still in limbo. Without downplaying other factors that can influence the outcome of the election, it is safe to conclude that the economy needs to pick up more before November in order for President Obama to feel sure of winning a second term.

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References National Party Conventions 1831-2008. CQPress 2010. http://demconvention.com/ http://www.gopconvention2012. com/

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KOMPONENTER • Lærebok – lese og snakke • Elevnettsted – lytte og skrive, lisens • Lærernettsted, lisens

• core.cappelendamm.no

Core English Basic skills LISBETH M. BREVIK

FOR ELEVER SOM SLITER MED ENGELSK Core English er et helt nytt læreverk i to deler som kan anvendes hver for seg, men der delene virker best om de blir brukt sammen. Læreboka gir elevene lesetrening og hjelper dem med å snakke engelsk. Nettstedet øver elevene i å skrive engelsk, og de øver på å forstå hva som blir sagt. Læreboka og nettstedet handler om de samme temaene: USA, Storbritannia, Sør-Afrika og Australia. BOKA CORE ENGLISH Visste du at elever i norsk skole dybdeleser for mye? Mange elever begynner å lese første ord i teksten, og leser deretter gjennom hvert eneste ord til siste punktum. Core English lærer elevene effektive måter å lese på. Boka gir en praktisk rettet innføring i lesestrategier, og ved å arbeide med strategiene oppdager elevene at de kan lese mindre – men forstå mer! Core English er delt opp i fire kapitler som tar for seg samfunnsforhold og verdier i de aktuelle landene. Hvert kapittel har læringsmål, vokabulartrening, oppgaver på to nivåer, forslag til lesestrategier og «challenge» – en mer utfordrende tekst der elevene kan prøve ut hva de har lært. Til hver tekst er det også oppgaver i muntlig bruk av språket.


NETTSTEDET CORE ENGLISH Elevene logger på Core English med sitt eget passord. Alt de gjør på nettstedet blir lagret, slik at både elevene og Iæreren har oversikt – og Iæreren kan skrive kommentarer til elevenes arbeid. Elevene beveger seg rundt på nettstedet i Iæringsstier. Hver gang de begynner på en ny sti, kan de velge mellom to nivåer. Stiene består av Iyd, filmer og tekst. Core English har et stort utvalg interaktive oppgaver. Ved hjelp av den elektroniske ordboka på nettstedet finner de raskt ut hva ord og uttrykk betyr, og får ordene lest opp. Nettstedet har Iydfiler til alle tekstene i Iæreboka. Elevene kan også lage tankekart og skrive tekster. Nettstedet vil være klart til skolestart. CORE ENGLISH GÅR TIL KJERNEN Core English konsentrerer seg om kjernen av engelskfaget – det viktigste. Det handler om å lese for å forstå heller enn for å huske – det handler om å Iytte og skrive. Elevene Iærer mye, de vil komme langt, men Iæreverket dekker ikke alle kompetansemålene i Iæreplanen og må brukes sammen med andre Iæremidler. På yrkesfag kan f.eks. en periode i hvert halvår settes av til Core English – for å løfte de grunnleggende ferdighetene og for å Iære mer om de fire landene – ved hjelp av boka, nettstedet eller begge deler.


Britain’s Civil Unrest: Criminal Elements or Victims of Circumstances? by Jan Erik Mustad, University of Agder

Introduction In this article I shall try to account for reasons behind the riots in London in August 2011. Parts of my attempt to explain what is perhaps inexplicable will be to draw up a framework of historical and contemporary British characteristics with a view to arguing that these occurrences were not as surprising as people seemed to believe. Unrest and a ‘tit for tat’ vendetta mentality had, for a long time, been part of many inner city areas and the police had defined many of the neighbourhoods we saw affected by the uprisings as ‘no go’ areas. However, in August 2011 several English inner city areas were marred by civil unrest which swiftly escalated to such an extent that the disturbances spread, through the use of social media, to other cities.

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The pace at which the tumult spread and the intensity of the riots left many people, both in Britain and elsewhere, aghast. British media were hesitant in analysing events and offering possible explanations for why such developments could occur. The media seemed to confine their role to describing what they witnessed and reporting from the many scenes as events unfolded. Most commentators were surprised that the killing of Mark Duggan on 4 August and the subsequent peaceful demonstration from Broadwater Farm Estate to Tottenham Police Station in North London could result in such overwhelming violence, destruction and social havoc. In those August days the questions were many, but the answers were few. How could the killing of one man, although bad enough in itself, lead to people going on a rampage of looting, stealing and destruction in their own communities? Responses to the killing

by the police were completely out of proportion to the scope of the killing itself. So what were the underlying causes of the unrest? Social unrest Social and civil unrest has a long history in the UK. It is not as if this was the first time urban centres experienced such lawlessness, and in most cases there was an episode that triggered off a series of events leading to what we saw last August. Without doubt, the episode this time was the killing of Mark Duggan. Peter Ackroyd, the greatest living chronicler of London, said to The Independent newspaper that ‘rioting has always been a London tradition. It has been there since the early Middle Ages … They happen so frequently that they are almost part of London’s texture’ (interview in The Independent with Peter Ackroyd 22 August 2011). This argument can easily be applied to other cities, too: as long as the cities themselves endure, this kind of activity will also endure. In other words, such events will continue to take place in the future, as they occur in areas where different social groups live close together. When these occurrences took place in August the House of Commons had adjourned for the summer recess. It had been a busy summer for the country’s elected representatives since they had been kept longer in their offices than usual due to the circumstances surrounding Rupert Murdoch and the scandals involving the paper News of the World. However, when unrest set fire to London, Prime Minister (PM) David Cameron, Home Secretary Theresa May, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and London’s Mayor Boris Johnson all returned from their holidays. An

emergency like this demanded that Parliament be recalled, and so it was on 11 August in order to debate the situation and attempt to put an end to the events. But many people were struck by Cameron’s harsh language when he referred to demonstrators as thugs and criminals that would be treated roughly in the courts. Perhaps this was fair enough, and with hindsight it is easier to view Cameron’s statements as political rhetoric and alarmist propaganda aimed at clearing the streets and making it crystal clear that people involved in criminal activity had to take full legal responsibility for their actions. It is hard to judge, even ten months later, whether Cameron’s confrontational language fuelled the situation or calmed it down. What seems clear though, is that an increased police presence in the blazing cities of England eventually restored a sense of order. When the fires in the inner city areas had been put out, the public demanded that the politicians should provide reasons for why the unrest had happened. A few attempts at explanations were made, but the coalition government offered little in the way of explaining the background to the events. The general impression in Britain was that the government was busy prosecuting the offenders rather than offering meaningful and viable explanations to the public. As a consequence, an unfortunate political vacuum ensued, which in turn led to a great deal of speculation. There is no doubt that the causes of the riots were diverse and manifold and that the complex situations underlying them cannot be explained by any one single factor. But in this article I shall


try to use British society, both past and present, as a model to explain why riots occur and why, as Ackroyd indicates, they occur regularly. Britain’s past as explanation Britain was the first country in the world to experience industrialisation. From the latter decades of the 18th century and into the 19th century, the country was completely transformed from a rural to an urban society. People who were made redundant in the agricultural sector sought work in the rapidly expanding industries and settled in and around the cities. Gradually, urbanisation changed the social fabric of British society and a more clearly defined working class emerged. In addition to an established land-owning class, the aristocracy, and a manual working class, a new middle class also saw the light of day and the first phase of industrialisation (about 1780-1830) brought political, social and economic changes to the population. It clearly sharpened divisions between people and created gaps between those who had and those who did not have. Throughout most of the 19th century, often referred to as the British Century, Queen Victoria presided over a population that gradually improved its living standards, but still retained class differences. Britain had traded extensively with other parts of the world since the English Renaissance in the 16th century and had acquired and developed huge overseas territories. During the 19th century Britain manifested its position as the world’s leading imperial nation and the British Empire reached its peak in the early 1900s covering nearly one fourth of the globe. The 20th century brought great changes to Britain and the rest of the western world. Two world wars and the USA’s new role changed Britain’s fortunes, especially after World War II. On the industrial front, the country had been overtaken by the United States and other western countries that were able to supply better and cheaper products. Moreover, Britain’s relative economic decline was matched by its diminished political role as the changed world order prompted the dissolution of the Empire. External and internal changes brought Britain to a state of industrial and economic stagnation in the 1960s and 70s, when many of the country’s traditional industries went into decline.

This development continued into the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister (1979–1990), and it left many industrial areas desolate. Thatcher’s monetarist policies sought to reduce public spending, privatise nationally owned industries and curb the influence of the trade unions, which had become powerful during the previous decades. Thatcher’s reforms had a devastating effect on some working-class communities, as they left many people unemployed. In fact, unemployment topped 3 million in 1982 and many of the communities never recovered. A new ‘underclass’ came into being which felt alienated and isolated from the rest of society, and which expressed its dismay in demonstrations and riots in the early 80s, not in dissimilar fashion to the riots in August last year. In the early 80s, Labour stood by their supporters and mounted fierce political opposition to Thatcher and her rightwing political approach. Contemporary society as explanation The purpose of this short historical backdrop is to prepare us to look into contemporary social, economic and political structures in order to detect possible reasons for last year’s riots. Has history bequeathed so much inequality to contemporary society that it alone can account for such violent civil unrest as we saw in 2011? Are the social structures of contemporary Britain preventing groups of people from participating in society on equal terms? Clearly, it is beyond doubt that Britain tops many negative statistics like for example those for teenage pregnancy, child poverty and single mothers, and there are increasing numbers of people, especially in inner city areas, that have been out of work for years and even generations. In the aftermath of the unrest, many people came forward and claimed that they lacked opportunities and felt they had been stripped of any chance of taking part in the mainstream of society. Years of deprivation, socially, politically and educationally, and years of unemployment have left many people in the affected areas marginalised and without hope for the future. Many people in these areas live on the periphery of society and feel they are victims of historical processes and long-term political neglect. Although that does not excuse them for criminal behaviour,

Margaret Thatcher waving to well-wishers outside 10 Downing Street after her third election victory in 1987 (©NTB scanpix)

it does offer a partial explanation for their aggressive and reckless conduct, obviously directed at the authorities. Few, if any, politicians have attempted to admit to structural failures and suggested ways in which these conditions can be changed. Two reports on the uprisings, published in November 2011, concluded that the complex reasons mentioned in this article were motivating factors for people to participate in the riots. Cleverly, Labour did not try to make political capital out of the riots, but rather, together with the government, condemned the criminal behaviour of those who took part in them. Labour was in government from 1997 to 2010 and did little to stimulate growth in the areas affected. In fact, with Labour’s modernisation in the early 90s the party moved away from the traditional working class in search of more middleclass support that could win them elections. Politically, Labour succeeded, but their transformation involved deserting the weakest groups in society. Consequently, these marginalised groups, at least in theory, do not have any political representation any longer and there is nobody stating their case. It is not unusual in such circumstances that people take to the streets to voice their views. As briefly mentioned earlier, this also happened in the early 80s when Thatcher enforced enormous cutbacks in public spending. However, there is an important difference between the Thatcher years and 2011: in 1981 the Thatcher government passed a Nationality Act that effectively changed

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the status of citizenship and nationality in Britain. The Act particularly hit many immigrants from the former colonies who were already struggling due to Thatcher’s economic policies. Therefore the riots in 1981 were partially racially motivated, as many people in the areas in question felt doubly marginalised. Last year’s riots were not racially motivated, although a number of Black Britons living in the troubled areas took part in them. Conclusion Even though it is hard to pinpoint what the exact reasons for last year’s riots were, it seems apparent that the majority of them may be found within the structures of British society. Some of these structures are clearly rooted in the country’s history and have developed over time, while others, like the current financial crisis for example, are more obviously contemporary. Furthermore, there is no doubt that many of the activities which took place during those August days were criminal and that the people involved should be punished accordingly. However, it seems too short-sighted to write off these groups as criminal elements and avoid exploring the complex backcloth any further. It is the job of the politicians to go beyond the surface and investigate how to engage these marginalised groups in constructive dialogue in order to try to improve their situation. In the 1980s they were left to fend for themselves, and at the moment of writing the pattern seems to be repeating itself. It is one thing to describe the illness, but if you do not analyse the diagnosis, you cannot be expected to be able to prescribe the correct medication.

Read It! Stephen Kelman’s novel Pigeon English, shortlisted for the Man Booker prize last year, gives Norwegian readers an opportunity to step outside the comfort zone of “London for tourists”. His novel is set on a council estate in South London and is narrated by 11-year-old Harri Opuka, who has recently immigrated to London from Ghana. Harri’s innocent curiosity makes for a vivid and unvarnished depiction of how he and his family try to carve out a new life for themselves in an area where poverty, crime and social problems prevail. Fortunately, Harri embraces his new life as if it were all one great adventure: The buildings are all mighty round here. My tower is as high as the lighthouse in Jamestown. There are three towers all in a row: Luxembourg House, Stockholm House and Copenhagen House. I live in Copenhagen House. My flat is on floor 9 out of 14. It’s not even hutious*, I can look from the window now and my belly doesn’t even turn over. I love going in the lift, it’s brutal, especially when you’re the only one in there. Then you could be a spirit or a spy. You even forget the pissy smell because you’re going so fast. (* frightening) Needless to say his life in London contrasts sharply with his former life in Ghana, which he refers to simply as “where I used to live”. Although Harri makes many keen observations about his new surroundings and the local residents in his area, many of whom are alcoholics, drug addicts or mentally ill, he is never defeated by the misery and deprivation around him.

8 August 2011: A woman jumps from a burning building in Surrey Street, Croydon. Riots and looting had broken out all across Greater London and were spreading across the country following the shooting of Mark Duggan by police in Tottenham, North London, on 4 August. (©NTB scanpix)

What saves him from becoming brutalised and cynical is his immaturity. He does not understand the full implications of what goes

on around him and in this way he is shielded from at least some of the harsh realities that an inner city childhood entail. Because of this he is an unreliable yet infinitely charming narrator, and much of the novel’s appeal is to be found exactly in this discrepancy between Harri’s limited understanding of his own situation and the reader’s more comprehensive knowledge. We cannot help smiling at Harri’s childish preoccupations and naïve remarks as he struggles to find his place in the urban jungle. Even when Harri experiences something deeply traumatic his tone remains matter of fact. A boy he knows has been killed outside a fried chicken shop and Harry is looking at the scene of the crime. There is blood on the pavement and a police tape saying “Do not cross”. Stoically, Harri thinks about his relationship to this boy and wonders what he might do about it: Me and the dead boy were only half friends, I didn’t see him very much because he was older and he didn’t go to my school. He could ride his bike with no hands and you never even wanted him to fall off. I said a prayer for him inside my head. It just said sorry. That was all I could remember. I pretended like if I kept looking hard enough I could make the blood move and go back in the shape of a boy. I could bring him back alive that way. It happened before, where I used to live there was a chief who brought his son back like that. It was a long time ago, before I was born. Asweh*, it was a miracle. It didn’t work this time. (*I swear) Many of Harri’s most notable features are apparent in this extract – he is a doer, somebody who wants to make a difference. An incurable optimist with a strong belief in the supernatural, he even thinks that if he applies himself to it, he may actually succeed in


Pigeon English – the immigrant experience in contemporary London by Siri Hunstadbråten, Drammen vgs. resurrecting his friend. His conclusion “It didn’t work this time” is a great example of how his dry humour is used to alleviate our distress. Harry is special but at the same time just an ordinary eleven-year-old who greatly admires the cycling skills of an older boy. No matter how troubled his neighbourhood might be, Harri’s life revolves around school, sports, family and friends, just like it does for any other boy his age. It is entirely in character for Harri to be so disappointed about the failure of the police to catch the killer that, together with a friend, he decides to carry out a private investigation into the killing. The plot of Pigeon English is structured around the progression of their investigation, but the two detectives are too successful for their own good and eventually get into great trouble. Only when it is too late does Harri understand how dangerous it is to know too much. Inevitably, the outcome is tragic, but I shall not reveal any more here. Even though Harri is energetic and resourceful, he has to work hard to adapt to living in London. Considering his age, his efforts are impressively systematic. In order to make sense of the do’s and don’ts of his new school he lists the rules he has learnt: No running on the stairs. No singing in class. Always put your hand up before you ask a question. Don’t swallow the gum or it will get stuck in your guts and you’ll die. Jumping in the puddle means you’re a retard. (I don’t even agree with this one). Going around the puddle means you’re a girl. The last one in closes the door. The first one to answer the question loves the teacher. If a girl looks at you three times in a row it means she loves you. If you look at her back you love her. Don’t eat the soup. The dinner ladies pissed in it.

Keep to the left (everywhere). The right is out of bounds. The library stairs are safe. Sadly enough, the killing is only the tip of the iceberg, as the streets of Harri’s neighbourhood are rife with aggression and crime. The other kids keep telling him that there is a war but to start with he admits, quite innocently, that he has not seen one yet. Before long, however, he comes to understand what they have been trying to tell him. He needs another list to keep track of all the conflicts, or wars, in his local community: Kids vs. Teachers Northwell Manor High vs. Leabridge High Dell Farm Crew vs. Lewsey Hill Crew Emos vs. Sunshine Arsenal vs. Chelsea Black vs. White Police vs. Kids God vs. Allah Another pressing concern for Harri is how to deal with the Dell Farm Crew, the gang controlling the kids at his school. He is fascinated by their power and not least their leader X-Fire: The steps outside the cafeteria belong to the Dell Farm Crew. Nobody else is allowed to sit there. They’re the best spot in the whole school. They’re under the roof so you don‘t get wet when it rains and you can see the whole school from there so your enemy can’t sneak up on you. Only year 11 can even go near there and only if X-Fire invites you. […] X-Fire is the leader because he’s the best at basketball and fighting. Everybody agrees. He has chooked* the most people. (*stabbed) When X-Fire offers him membership in the gang on condition that he carries out a job for them, Harri is truly flattered but he fails to carry out the assigned task and learns that to the Dell Farm Crew this is no game. Subsequently Harri is constantly threatened and bullied by the members of the gang.

As has been seen by now, Harri’s life is full of insecurity and challenges, yet he seems to cope surprisingly well, at least for a while. He relies on his family for support, not least his father and his baby sister who have yet to join Harri, his mother and sister in London. He cherishes the telephone conversations he has with his family in Ghana and when his new life is too demanding, he indulges in sweet memories about their life there. Finally, there is somebody else in his life who also serves as a great comfort to him. Harri develops a special relationship with a pigeon which, one day, lands on their balcony. He feeds it, takes care of it and starts communicating with it in secret. Harri thinks of this pigeon as his guardian, providing him with much needed guidance and protection. The pigeon also has a voice of its own in the novel: I watched the sun come up and saw the boy off to school, I start every day with the taste of his dreams in my mouth. The taste of your dreams. You look so blameless from up here, so busy. The way you flock around an object of curiosity, or take flight from an intrusion, we’re more alike than you give us credit for. But not too alike. The passages narrated by Harri’s pigeon function as a device to make the novel’s 01 thematic concerns more universal. 02 By addressing the reader and not just 03 Harri, a more explicitly philosophical perspective is introduced. To me this 04 seems to be a somewhat forced attempt 05 to make the novel more sophisticated 06 or literary, if you like. Quite a few of 07 these passages sound pompous and 08 seem out of place, so I regret to say that this particular aspect of the narrative 09 10 is not all that successful. Even so, 11 Pigeon English is still a novel worth reading, and my answer to the inevitable12 question raised by every conscientious 13 English teacher is “Yes, oh dear yes, 14 this novel is an excellent choice for 15 classroom use.” 16

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ISBN: 978-82-02-39211-6

Modern Britain: Developments in Contemporary British Society

Mustad – Rahbek – Sevaldsen – Vadmand This introduction to British society and culture is a joint venture between Danish and Norwegian writers. The focus is on understanding the main features of contemporary British society through discussions of political, historical and cultural processes. Important topics:  The Union and British identities  Social cohesion  Politics ISBN: 978-82-02-35061-1 For more information, see cda.no

 Britain in the world  Multicultural Britain

Magazine 01/2012  

Magazine for teacher of English in Norway

Magazine 01/2012  

Magazine for teacher of English in Norway