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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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Decomposing Poetry and Other Literary Somersaults by Theresa Bowles Sørhus, Grefsen videregående skole

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Engelsklærere er en mangfoldig gruppe, men en ting mener jeg bestemt er en fellesnevner: Enhver som har valgt å bruke store deler av sitt voksne liv på å studere og formidle engelsk, er glad i og opptatt av litteratur. (Jeg har i alle fall til gode å møte noen som aktivt misliker skjønnlitteratur, og jeg kjenner mange lingvistisk orienterte lærere!) Kanskje det til og med var en roman eller et bestemt forfatterskap som fikk deg til å ville studere engelsk? Hvis du var som meg, brukte du noen studieår på å grave deg dypere inn i en fascinerende verden av eldgammel og postmoderne litteratur, lese teori og diskutere i kollokviegrupper, før du skrev en lærd avhandling ingen har lest etter at sensuren falt. Og så: ut i skolen. Der er det beviselig relativt liten interesse for komparative analyser av Milton og Spensers bruk av metaforer. Ikke desto mindre er litteraturformidling utvilsomt fortsatt en hjørnestein i engelskopplæringen, og samtlige læreplaner for engelsk i videregående skole i K06 inneholder “litterære” kompetansemål. Men hvordan få elevene til å lese litteratur – ja, hvordan faktisk få dem til å like å lese litteratur? Dette er selvsagt et omfattende tema og ikke noe vi kan gi et fasitsvar på. Læreren er som alltid nøkkelen – det er ikke tilfeldig at mange av oss kan huske alt vi leste av litteratur sammen med én lærer og lite eller ingenting med en annen. Men som oftest er det vel slik at en lærer som har et engasjert forhold til temaet for undervisningen, underviser mye bedre enn om temaet er relativt uinteressant eller ukjent. Så vi får tro det drives mye god litteraturundervisning i engelsktimene. Litteratur er viktig, både som et middel for å lære språk, kultur og historie og som et mål i seg selv. Dersom elevene lærer å like å lese litteratur, gir vi dem faktisk en døråpner til en verden de vil ha glede av resten av livet. Vi vil gjerne bidra på vårt vis, og derfor har vi to nye utgivelser på trappene. Black and White av Paul Volponi er en spennende ungdomsroman som vil passe godt på Vg1. Slumdog Millionaire av Vikas Swarup er romanen som filmen ved samme navn bygger på. Den er noe mer krevende, men svært fengende. Begge romanene har sterke fortellerstemmer og tar opp mange temaer som elevene kan jobbe videre med eller diskutere. To erfarne pedagoger, Siri Hunstadbråten og Richard Burgess, har tilrettelagt med artikler, oppgaver og gloser. I denne utgaven av fagbladet finner du mer om litteratur i Theresa Bowles Sørhus’ artikkel om aktiviteter knyttet til dikt. Vi glemmer heller ikke at det snart er valg i Storbritannia. Richard Peel gir oss en gjennomgang av det viktigste elevene bør kunne om det britiske valgsystemet for at de skal kunne følge med i valginnspurten. Finanskrisen har vi omtalt tidligere i bladet, og vi ser nå på hvordan den har påvirket Irland. Den sistnevnte teksten har oppgaver til elevene. God lesning!

Talking Politics Interview with Richard Peel, Bjørkelangen videregående skole

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Read It! by David O’Gorman

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The Demise of the Celtic Tiger by Helen Murray, Gjøvik videregående skole

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by Theresa Bowles Sørhus, Grefsen videregående skole

If we are perfectly honest with ourselves, we have all, most certainly, felt like complete and utter failures at times when we are trying to communicate our love of poetry to our students. Various survival strategies immediately present themselves upon finding oneself in this abject and demoralising situation. One can choose to lightly brush over the treatment of poetry in the hope that one will minimise the danger of putting students off poetry for life and at the same time salvage one’s own reputation. Or one can take the bull by the horns and bravely and generously lavish the students with not only one poem but several, in the hope that not only will they will find pleasure in the process but actually learn something at the same time. After having worked with the poetry sequence in Chapter One in Passage (which already exposes students to more than just one poem) it occurred to me that it would be too soon to move on to another topic if I were to get my students to try, not only to understand some of the mechanics of poetry, but actually to enjoy the poetry they were reading. One tried and true variant after having worked with poetry is, of course, to ask our students to compose their own poems. This, as we have all experienced, has varying degrees of success. I therefore decided to let my students decompose a poem by playing with the lines and shuffling them around, thus creating an entirely new poem. Stevie Smith’s “Not Waving but Drowning” lends itself admirably to this venture.

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Not Waving But Drowning

The Highwayman

Nobody heard him, the dead man, But still he lay moaning: I was much further out than you thought And not waving but drowning.

The wind was a torrent of darkness upon the gusty trees, The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, The road was a ribbon of moonlight looping the purple moor, And the highwayman came riding-Riding--riding-The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn door.

Poor chap, he always loved larking And now he’s dead It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way, They said. Oh, no no no, it was too cold always (Still the dead one lay moaning) I was much too far out all my life And not waving but drowning.

Preparation for this exercise includes cutting the poem (large print) into strips. Students are then divided into groups of three or four. Each group is given an envelope with these strips which they are asked to set together. The object is not to try to guess what the original poem looks like but to try to compose an entirely new and original poem. In the process of trying to find some coherent order to the strips, they will invariably have to discuss who is speaking and what is going on in the poem, and ultimately what they think the poet is trying to communicate through the words they have in their hands. The title is the first strip. Thereafter they are told to divide the strips into three stanzas and when they are satisfied with the poem they have created to rewrite the poem on a transparency. Though the elements are the same, each group now has its own original poem.

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The next step involves presenting the poems in class. Each group is given time to prepare a dramatic reading of the poem and encouraged to use their voices in much the same way that musicians use musical instruments. In other words they can vary the number of speakers reading from one to three/four or they can vary the speed at which they read, the volume and so on. Sounds easy enough but this has proven to be harder than I had imagined beforehand, as students no longer seem comfortable reading aloud in a foreign language much less “performing”. In our eagerness to be modern and pedagogically innovative we seem to have forgotten that reading aloud is a language skill that also needs to be regularly exercised. While the work with poetry itself was successful, especially when the new poems were compared to the original poem, the “dramatic readings” of the new poems were dramatic only in the sense that they were a dramatic failure! Undaunted by the failure of these presentations and, indeed, spurred on by this lack of success I searched for a poem that had a more dramatic core to it and ended up with “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. Now there’s the very thing to ignite the fires of their imaginations, said I to myself optimistically! Hmm …

He’d a French cocked hat on his forehead, and a bunch of lace at his chin; He’d a coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of fine doe-skin. They fitted with never a wrinkle; his boots were up to his thigh! And he rode with a jeweled twinkle-His rapier hilt a-twinkle-His pistol butts a-twinkle, under the jeweled sky. Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard, He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred, He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter-Bess, the landlord’s daughter-Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair. Dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked Where Tim, the ostler listened--his face was white and peaked-His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay, But he loved the landlord’s daughter-The landlord’s black-eyed daughter; Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say: ”One kiss, my bonny sweetheart; I’m after a prize tonight, But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light. Yet if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day, Then look for me by moonlight, Watch for me by moonlight, I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.” He stood upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand, But she loosened her hair in the casement! His face burnt like a brand As the sweet black waves of perfume came tumbling o’er his breast, Then he kissed its waves in the moonlight (O sweet black waves in the moonlight!), And he tugged at his reins in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west. He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon. And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon, When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon over the purple moor, The redcoat troops came marching-Marching--marching-King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door. They said no word to the landlord; they drank his ale instead, But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed. Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets by their side; There was Death at every window, And Hell at one dark window, For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride. They had bound her up at attention, with many a sniggering jest! They had tied a rifle beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast! ”Now keep good watch!” and they kissed her. She heard the dead man say, ”Look for me by moonlight, Watch for me by moonlight, I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though Hell should bar the way.”


She twisted her hands behind her, but all the knots held good! She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood! They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years, Till, on the stroke of midnight, Cold on the stroke of midnight, The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers! The tip of one finger touched it, she strove no more for the rest; Up, she stood up at attention, with the barrel beneath her breast. She would not risk their hearing, she would not strive again, For the road lay bare in the moonlight, Blank and bare in the moonlight, And the blood in her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love’s refrain. Tlot tlot, tlot tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hooves, ringing clear; Tlot tlot, tlot tlot, in the distance! Were they deaf that they did not hear? Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill, The highwayman came riding-Riding--riding-The redcoats looked to their priming! She stood up straight and still. Tlot tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot tlot, in the echoing night! Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light! Her eyes grew wide for a moment, she drew one last deep breath, Then her finger moved in the moonlight-Her musket shattered the moonlight-Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him--with her death. He turned, he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood Bowed, with her head o’er the casement, drenched in her own red blood! Not till the dawn did he hear it, and his face grew grey to hear How Bess, the landlord’s daughter, The landlord’s black-eyed daughter, Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there. Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky, With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high! Blood-red were his spurs in the golden noon, wine-red was his velvet coat When they shot him down in the highway, Down like a dog in the highway, And he lay in his blood in the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat. And still on a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees, When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, When the road is a gypsy’s ribbon looping the purple moor, The highwayman comes riding-Riding--riding-The highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door. Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard, He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred, He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter-Bess, the landlord’s daughter-Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

This ballad (as can quickly be ascertained) is not only long long, (seventeen stanzas) it also has a much more difficult vocabulary. Even the title needs to be explained as most students would probably guess that a highwayman means just what it says i.e. someone who perhaps works on a highway rather than someone who, in the past, stopped people travelling on roads and robbed them! These are not insurmountable difficulties and can be solved in various ways, the easiest of which is to provide a glossary of the most difficult words. Who of us, for example, knows what an “ostler” is (variant of hostler or “groom”) without running to the fattest dictionary we own to look it up (or do we only use online dictionaries nowadays)? One can choose to divide the poem in various ways depending on how many groups the teacher wants to have. My own preferences run to groups of three assigning some groups two stanzas and others three. It is important that students understand the poem first before they can begin to give a dramatic reading of it, so some time must be spent on the storyline of the poem. This can be done in various ways. One can choose to let all the students work with the entire poem or one can let students work with their particular stanzas and then sew the poem together again afterwards. When initial work on the comprehension of the poem is finished, one can also chose to use the animated YouTube video clip with Loreena McKennitt singing the poem (http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=le727fRZHpA). Even though there are some discrepancies between the sung version and the original poem, this viewing successfully visualises the dramatic action of the poem. I’ve done this particular exercise two years in a row and have no set recipe for what will work with all groups, which is why there are several options mentioned above. The whole experiment stands or falls on the students’ willingness to be a part of the “poetic happening” or not. What I think is important, however, is to emphasize the drama inherent in this poem, which is underscored by the repetition of phrases and words such as “riding, riding” and the onomatopoeia of “tlot, tlot” and to encourage students to dare to take risks! As with any performance (and dramatic readings are no exception) practice is necessary. Indeed, students need to practice, practice, practice. They need to ask the teacher the pronunciation of various words and they need to experiment with various readings to see which one is most effective. When all of these stages are completed I have had my students line up in the order they are to read their stanzas and we have performed the poem in class. Was tthis exercise successful? If Oscars were given for dramatic reading we would most certainly not receive one. But have the readings student students learned something about poetry and have they had fun and ppracticed the forgotten skill of reading aloud within a relativelyy safe relativel s framework? Yes I would say. Next time I do this, however, I’ II’d like to have a real audience, and perhaps perform for the other first year students. Would this motivate or terrify my students? W Who knows? Like our students, we teachers too, must dare too tak ke risks and do literary somersaults … even at the risk take o failure! of

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Det nærmer seg tiden for parlamentsvalg i Storbritannia. [ mæg@'zi:n] har snakket med Richard ' Peel, engelsklærer ved Bjørkelangen videregående skole og mangeårig lærebokforfatter. Richard følger den politiske hverdagen i hjemlandet tett, og i dette

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M: There seems to be a lot of talk about Gordon Brown in British newspapers at the moment. Why? R: Well, everyone is waiting for him to say when the next general election is going to be. M: Is it his job to decide? R: Yes. An elected Parliament in Britain can run for five years before a new general election is held, but the Prime Minister can, at any time within those five years, himself call a general election – or, to put it more formally, ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament. M: Really? How strange. R: Not really so strange. Other countries give their Prime Ministers this choice – Denmark, for example, although the limit there is four years, not five. M: I see. But what is the situation now? R: The last general election was in May 2005. The next general election must be held by early June 2010 at the latest. Most people expect Gordon Brown to choose a date in April or May. M: Has Brown any chance of winning? R: Before I try to answer that, we must have a look at how Britain chooses the people who run the country. This is, after all, what democratic politics is all about. If anyone asks me «What is politics?», I answer «Politics is all about who has power – how power is

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intervjuet gir han svar på noen spørsmål norske elever ofte har om valgsystemet, om noen av de britiske politiske partiene og ikke minst om mannen som står i sentrum for de fleste av begivenhetene: statsminister Gordon Brown.

given, and how it is taken away.» So here goes – a quick overview of the UK electoral system. Where shall I start? Tell us what a general election is and how it is organised. What a good idea! A general election is an election on the same day to every seat in the House of Commons, and there will be 650 seats in the next House of Commons. This may make it sound like a cinema, but in the House of Commons they talk about a Member of Parliament’s «seat». So each Member of Parliament is elected as the representative of a particular district? Yes! It is called a constituency – rather a long word, but an important one. Most constituencies have between 50,000 and 60,000 people living in them who can vote – that is, people aged over 18 who are British,

Commonwealth or Irish citizens. These people are called the voters, or the «electorate». M: So Irish citizens can vote in British elections? R: Yes, they can, as long as they live in Britain. A lot of people think that’s a bit odd, but there we are. If there were no odd things in life and politics how dull everything would be! How is an MP elected? We can best answer this question by looking at one particular constituency. We can choose the constituency of Stevenage, just north of London, and see what happened in the last general election in 2005. The winner in each constituency is the candidate who gets most votes. It’s a «winner takes all» situation. In Stevenage, Ms Follett won the seat. M: But she got well under half the total votes.

Results of 2005 election: Stevenage constituency Candidate

Party

Barbara Follett George Freeman Julia Davies Victoria Peebles Antal Losonczi

Labour Conservative Liberal Democrat UK Independence Party Independent

No. of votes

% of votes

18,003 14,864 7,610 1,305 152

42.9 35.4 18.1 3.1 0.4

Turnout 41,934: 62.7 % of electorate (the turnout is the number of people who turn out to vote)


The Houses of Parliament. (© Getty Images)

Results of 2005 election: Leeds Central constituency

Richard Peel

R: Quite right, but so what? She won the race and wins the seat. It’s a hard life. M: Haven’t I heard her name before? R: If you’re interested in British politics, yes – of course you have. If you are not, you have probably heard her husband’s name, Ken Follett. He writes best-sellers, by the way. M: Is Stevenage a safe Labour seat? R: No. But it is the sort of seat the Labour party simply has to hang on to if Mr Brown is to have any hope of winning the general election this spring. It is obvious that if a thousand Labour voters in this constituency swing to the Conservatives, and another thousand Liberal Democrat voters do the same, then the Conservatives will win. M: I have heard about something called a «marginal seat». Is that what Stevenage is? R: Quite correct! A marginal seat is a constituency where support is fairly equally divided, so that a small

Candidate

Party

Hilary Benn Ruth Coleman Brian Cattell Mark Collett Peter Sewards Mick Dear Oluwole Taiwo Julian Fitzgerald

Labour Liberal Democrat Conservative British National Party UK Independence Party Independent Independent Alliance for Change

swing can make a huge difference. It is in these constituencies where the decisive battles will take place. A «safe» seat is the opposite. Here, let me show you the 2005 election result from Leeds Central constituency and you will see what the result from a safe Labour seat looks like. M: Do local issues have much of an impact in a general election? R: Yes, sometimes. In 2005 one MP was elected simply because he wanted to stop a local hospital being closed. Two other MPs were elected for very small parties but they happened to be popular in their local constituencies. Otherwise, independents and tiny parties get very few votes. In a general election it is national politics that dominate, and the main

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No. of votes

% of votes

17,526 5,660 3,865 1,201 494 189 126 125

60.1 19.4 13.2 4.1 1.7 0.7 0.4 0.4

campaign is on national television, where interviews and debates with the leaders of the parties take place. Who becomes Prime Minister? The leader of the strongest party in the new House of Commons is asked by the Queen to be Prime Minister on the day after the election. Supposing the Queen was on a visit to Spain or Spitzbergen or somewhere? She would have come home. Shall we move on and look at the main parties? Sure. I’m in a party mood. Very funny! We can start with the Labour party, since it is at present the largest party in the House of Commons. It was started to represent the industrial working class. For a long time it had a strong socialist element in its programme, but this

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was watered down in the 1980s and 1990s, especially when Tony Blair was leader. Today the Labour party tries to appeal to «Middle England» and not just to the traditional working-class voters in the industrial cities. Middle England? Do you mean the Midlands? No I don’t. Middle England means Mr and Mrs Average living in a normal house with normal middle-class jobs, earning quite good money: not very rich, not poor. People in the middle. All right. I get your point. What about the Conservatives? The Conservative party (sometimes called the Tory party, by the way) does, as its name suggests – like change to come slowly. Business interests usually support it and it is strong in rural districts. Of course, it also has working-class supporters, just as the Labour party is supported by many well-off middle-class people. In 1997 the Conservative party suffered a huge defeat in the general election, and since then has changed leader four times and has been shaking off the hard uncaring image it gained in the 1980s. Like the Labour party, it is trying to present itself as a modern party for modern people. What about the Liberal Democrats? The Liberal Democratic party sees the individual and personal freedom as very important; it is strongly pro-EU. It is the only one of the three main parties to have opposed Britain’s role in the invasion of Iraq. The Liberal Democrats’ dream is to hold the balance between the two big parties: Labour and Conservative. They are very strong in some constituencies, and at the last election won altogether 52 seats, with a national total of about 18% of the vote. That was not too bad: 52 out of 646 seats. So where do the parties get their main support? Do you mean geographically? Well, get on the internet and find a map showing which seats the different parties won in 2005. The blue patches are Conservative seats; the red patches are Labour seats; the orange patches are usually Liberal Democrat seats. Well – the lesson is clear: Labour is strong in and around the great cities and the industrial heartlands; the Conservatives are strong in small towns and rural areas, but are very weak in Scotland; the

Liberal Democrats have three or four centres of popularity where they have built up a tradition of support. All this reflects the history and traditional attitudes of the parties. M: You haven’t mentioned Scotland or Wales? R: Careless of me. Well, things are a little different there, and even more different in Northern Ireland. In Scotland, the Scottish National party (SNP) has a candidate in all constituencies, and in Wales the same is true of Plaid Cymru, the «Party for Wales». The SNP wants full independence for Scotland and is very strong is some parts of Scotland, but in 2005 it only won 6 seats. Plaid Cymru’s goals are more moderate – it won 3 seats in 2005. In fact, these parties are not going to have a major impact in British politics unless their support makes unexpected leaps. Mind you, a lot of Scots would disagree with me there! In Northern Ireland the names and backgrounds of the parties are different, and many of the issues

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are special to Northern Ireland. I don’t think we have time to look at them today. Okay, we will have to get back to you on that! Now, what are the big stories in British politics today and what will happen in 2010? It is probably going to be a very close election. The Conservatives had a large lead in opinion polls through the whole of 2008 and 2009, and Brown was getting a lot of criticism from his own party and from newspapers. But in 2010 he and his party are winning back support in the country, and many experts are predicting that the result will indeed be a hung parliament. So this is the big story: who will win the election? Why did the Conservatives build up a big lead? Well, the Labour party has been in power since 1997 – first with Tony Blair as Prime Minister, and now Gordon Brown. Thirteen years is quite a long time, and a lot of people think a change would be good. The Labour


party is also unpopular because of the war in Iraq and all the problems at home after the global economic crisis. But we should remember that the Conservatives supported the war in Iraq, and remember that you cannot really blame one prime minister in one country for a global crisis. There have been two other big stories in newspapers the last few years. One is terrorism, but all parties are completely opposed to terrorism. The other is a long-running scandal concerning MPs’ expenses – how much money they get for travel, taxis, improving their offices and houses, and so on. Several MPs have been «caught» claiming wildly extravagant expenses, but MPs from all parties. In other words, neither the war in Iraq, nor the financial crisis, nor the dangers of terrorism, nor the scandal of MPs’ expenses, are good sticks for the Conservatives to beat Labour with! M: What do you think Labour’s greatest failure has been? R: Well, official statistics show that

the gap between the rich and the poor in Britain has got bigger during the last thirteen years. In other words, the trend started by the Conservative government in the 1980s has not been reversed by Blair and Brown and their Labour governments. This is a major failure – the Labour party sees itself as the champion of the poor and underprivileged. However, this is also a difficult stick for the Conservatives to bash Labour on the head with, because no one, rightly or wrongly, really thinks of the Conservatives as the friends of the poor and the enemies of the rich. M: A chance for the Liberal Democrats? R: The Lib Dems certainly should be able to attack Labour on this richpoor issue. They have also always been against the war in Iraq. So they really ought to be gaining more support across the country. But they are not, at least not at the moment. Perhaps their leader, Nick Clegg, has failed to register with the voters as an important politician. So we

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have a fascinating situation. The Labour party is unpopular, but the Conservatives seem to be finding it difficult to profit from Labour’s unpopularity, and their lead in opinion polls is shrinking! Is David Cameron the right man to lead the Conservatives? Some people call him a Conservative version of Tony Blair – fairly young, healthy-looking, quite good at speaking in public – all in all, an agreeable sort of bloke. But he went to Eton, which is England’s most exclusive school, so he is hardly a man from «Middle England»! But then nor was Tony Blair, really. David Cameron is also, I think, having problems because, on the one hand, he wants to appear a good «family man», supporting the traditional family, but, on the other hand, he must be seen as a modern man with a social conscience. What about Gordon Brown? Surely he looks like a loser. He has his problems, yes. The London

Party leaders (from left) Gordon Brown (Labour), David Cameron (Conservatives) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats) (©Scanpix)

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newspapers have decided he is a man of yesterday, and jump at any chance to criticise him. Another problem is that he has been treated coolly by his own party. Again and again prominent Labour politicians have tried to get rid of Brown, even though a general election is round the corner! Very strange – as if people are going to vote for a party that ditches its leader just before the big game! Everyone says how unpopular Brown is, but I suspect quite a lot of people around the country like him and admire the way he sticks to his guns and «does his best», as he said he would when he became Prime Minister. He has responded to the global financial crisis well, and he is genuinely interested in global climate problems. Still, I agree, he’s a bit dull. He’ll probably lose the election and resign! M: Oh, so you think the Tories will win?

R: Of course, it is impossible to predict the election result. New «stories» emerge all the time. For example, in the last week in February accusations were made that Gordon Brown bullied people working for him: shouting at them, stressing them unfairly, etc. This could blow over as a lot of nonsense, or it could be shown to be true, with probably disastrous results for the Labour party. But, to answer your question, I think Labour will lose its overall majority in the Commons, and that whoever becomes Prime Minister will need the support of the Liberal Democrats. My own guess is that Cameron will emerge stronger than Brown, and that he, Cameron, will become Prime Minister. M: Are you putting money on it? R: Certainly not. But I’ll be following the election closely when it comes – probably in May I think.

Britain’s opposition Conservative Party leader David Cameron stands with his wife Samantha after delivering his keynote address at the party conference in October, 2009 (©Scanpix)

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The Adventure of English: the Biography of a Language by Melvyn Bragg Reviewed by David O’Gorman

In 2003 ITV broadcast a series of talks by Melvyn Bragg on the history of the English language. The content of the eight episodes of the series, which is available on DVD, was then expanded and appeared in book form in the same year. The first half of the book deals with the growth of English from the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions until the age of Queen Elizabeth I. We follow Old English as it displaced Celtic languages and absorbed features from the speech of the Vikings, and learn how Alfred the Great played a key role in its development. It suffered a major setback when the Normans conquered England and French became the language of the rich and powerful. We see its resurgence in the form of Middle English after the loss of the English possessions in France, richer by the 10,000 or so words it had absorbed from Norman French and with a simpler morphology and more rigid syntax than it had had in Anglo-Saxon times. Bragg shows us how it evolved into a literary language and then once more became the language of English royalty under Henry IV. In the chapter on Chaucer’s English, Bragg quotes David Crystal on the greatest English literary figure of the Middle English period: “In no other author … is there better support for the view that there is an underlying correspondence between the natural rhythm of English poetry and that of English everyday conversation.” He also shows how Chaucer uses different dialects and registers to shape his characters, from the courtliness of the Knight’s English, for which Chaucer is indebted to the influence of Eleanor of Aquitaine, to the Yorkshire dialect of the Reeve.

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English had ousted French, and the time was ripe to take on Latin, the language of the church, the court and learning. In the fourteenth century, says Bragg, “God spoke to the people in Latin.” There was no English Bible, only the Mystery Plays,


Read It! a kind of “biblical soap opera”. Thanks to Wycliffe and generations later to Tyndale, English eventually triumphed, and by the beginning of the seventeenth century there were numerous versions of the Bible in English. The importance of the Renaissance for the English language was enormous. During the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, another 10,000–12,000 words entered English as a result of Britain’s becoming a major trading nation. The new loan words came from French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Malay, Italian, Persian, and from any number of other languages. The rediscovery of the classical past led to the introduction of a mass of new vocabulary derived from Greek and Latin. And, of course, there was Shakespeare. Bragg credits him with introducing some 2,000 words into the language, some of them inventions and others borrowings, and with exploiting the possibilities of English as no writer had done before him. Bragg then turns his attention to the English which developed outside Britain. The chapters on American English have a wealth of information on the differences between Eastern and Western English in what is now the USA, on the influence of Native American languages, of Dutch, French and Spanish, the political system, Benjamin Franklin and Noah Webster, Scots and Irish, business and gambling, the slave trade and the Civil War, cowboys and Mark Twain. The author has many interesting comments on pidgins and creoles and on the pronunciation of American English, which interestingly enough does not vary from area to area to the extent that British English does. In the chapters headed “Mastering the Language” and “The Proper Way to Talk”, Bragg takes up the subjects of prescriptive and descriptive attitudes, of “language purity” and “corruption”. These are by no means modern topics: the author cites Fielding, Johnson, Goldsmith, Addison, Burns and Wordsworth, among others. He mentions Jane Austen’s role in making the novel the benchmark for good English – an

amazing feat at the time – and has a few amusing paragraphs on Thomas Bowdler’s attempts to censor Shakespeare. After dwelling for a while on the linguistic effects of the Industrial Revolution, Bragg has brief chapters on English in India, the West Indies and Australia. Gandhi believed that the English language had “enslaved” the Indian people, but even Gandhi could not drive it from his shores. The Raj came to an end in 1947, but the language stayed, and has been a unifying factor in a country whose indigenous tongues number over 200. Some 50,000,000 Indians speak and write it fluently, hundreds of millions more have some knowledge of it, and The Times of India has three times as many readers as The Times of London. When the British settled in the West Indies, the slave trade flourished. The slaves needed a common language, and spoke pidgins and creoles based largely on English. Modern Rasta has its roots in Jamaican creole, and there are numerous borrowings from African languages in modern English. The Australian experience was similar to the American. Language borrowing took place in both directions, and the Aboriginals developed pidgins of English which produced items such as “walkabout”, which has been exported with great success. As for “Waltzing Matilda”, it was written on a sheep station in late C19 outback slang. The song gives sheep-stealing the status of a bold gesture against authority, and is in a way emblematic of the independent character of the country. The final chapter looks to the future. New types of English are developing, like Singlish in Singapore, which has a vocabulary based on English, Malay and Hokkun and a grammar which most people in Britain and North America would regard as a highly simplified version of their own. The same phenomenon is taking place in other areas, and it is possible, claims Bragg, that in time English will split into a number of varieties which are not

i di t l mutually t ll intelligible, i t lli ibl just j t as immediately Latin fragmented into French, Spanish, Romanian and the other Romance languages. One factor which may well influence the future of the language is “L2 English”. Expressions like “to discuss about” and “How can I say?”, originating with those who have English as a second language, are making their way into traditional varieties. Text English is another important influence: Valentine texts are now much, much more common than Valentine cards, and “i luv u” is the norm among the young. As for neologisms, they are bursting forth at a rate hitherto undreamed of. Try to guess what these mean: earworm, zorse, cyberskiver, e-lancer, gayby, ubernerd. Red lines are appearing as I type them, but will the next version of Word react in the same way? We will see. In his Introduction, Bragg points out that he is not a professional linguist, and that his book is for the general reader rather than the specialist. Some critics have accused him of inaccuracy, and they may be right in some instances, but word origins are often a matter of speculation and controversy. What is certain is that this introduction to the history of English is eminently readable, informative, entertaining, exciting, and at times passionate. True, it deals with lexis above all, and phonology, morphology and syntax are given a lot less space than they deserve. It will doubtless make a lot of readers want more, and for this they can turn to the many scholarly works available to them.

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A joke has been going around Ireland since the autumn of 2008, “What is the difference between Ireland and Iceland? – One letter and about six months!”

The Demise of the

Empty houses on an unfinished street where only two houses have been sold with construction stopping a year ago on the development (©Scanpix)

By Helen Murray, Gjøvik videregående skole

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Iceland was declared bankrupt in October 2008. Ireland has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy since. The country is facing widespread strikes by public sector workers, angered by cuts in pay and rising taxes, unemployment is at a record high and homes are being repossessed. Large new built estates stand virtually empty in muddy fields on the edges of Dublin commuter belts, and the pride of the Celtic Tiger, the new business district beside Dublin’s river, the Liffey, planned as “The Dubai of Europe”, lies empty, its buildings half-completed. Walking around the area is like visiting a ghost town. A new shopping-centre, built for high-class executives with expensive tastes, stands virtually empty. Not many can afford designer clothing in the current economic climate. Sean McDonnell, owner of the new Ralph Lauren shoe store complains, “It was quiet when we opened in April last year, but now it is completely dead. But, we aren’t as bad as Iceland though, are we?”

How did Ireland get to this point? Until the 1990s, Ireland was a poor country. It lay behind the rest of Europe in industrial development, and was reliant on EUsubsidies. However, the Irish economy took off in the 1990s. Corporate taxation was extremely low in Ireland and wage-rates were low, both very attractive incentives to multi-national corporations. Google, Intel, Microsoft, Dell and Johnson & Johnson all established factories in Ireland in the 1990s. By the end of the 1990s, 23% or 248,500 new jobs were created and Ireland had become the largest exporter of computer software in the world. There was a large, young and welleducated work-force available for employment. The Irish had traditionally had big families and this trend continued into the 1980s, which meant that there was a large number of young people available to work around the turn of the century. However, the number of births sank in the 1990s, as women gained greater control over their own fertility, and women took part in the work-force in a way they had been unable to in previous decades. One of the greatest problems for Ireland had always been high emigration, especially

of new graduates and skilled workers, but now for the first time in history, the trend was turned and Ireland became a popular immigrant destination, especially for eastern European countries, like Poland and the Czech Republic. The Irish rode high on the back of the world-wide economic boom. Wages increased massively, entirely out of proportion to the other EU-countries. Between 1989 and 1999, the average Irish worker experienced wageincreases of 35%. Taxation was low and the banks were eager to lend money. The Irish people went on an extravagant spending spree, buying newer, larger homes, second homes in warmer climates, new cars and clothes. The government enjoyed the new found wealth as much as anyone else. Politicians used private jets and helicopters to travel around the country, instead of driving the few hours between cities. On one infamous tour to Florida, government ministers used a private jet, costing the Irish-taxpayer €80,000. Whilst there, they took hairtreatments at their hotel, costing €410 per person. Another government minister used tax-payers’ money to pay €990 per night for a hotel-room at the Cannes film-festival,


Celtic Tiger and €10,000 on the use of a chauffeur-driven limousine while he was there.

Tax-evasion and reckless public spending Cronyism was believed to be widespread within the Irish political and business world. Cronyism means helping friends and relatives (slang-term “crony”) get along better in their businesses. Irish politicians have been accused of accepting money in return for organizing tax-breaks for business-associates, and of turning a blind eye to schemes for tax evasion. The government created regulations that let the rich pay less tax on their incomes than lower paid workers. Irish business people could register easily as overseas residents, lowering their tax-rate, while in fact being in Ireland all the time. Regulations stated that to register as living overseas, the person had to spend 183 days a year living outside Ireland. Business people manipulated this rule by flying into Ireland at the beginning of the working day and leaving at the end – if they weren’t there at midnight, the regulations said that it didn’t count as a day. Some businessmen even went so far as to sell their shares to their wives, and then send them on a 183 day holiday to the Mediterranean coast, while they remained behind working in Ireland. Off-shore bank accounts were common in Ireland. Small, exclusive banks were set up in Dublin which helped run the taxscams. Business people could deposit money in banks just before the end of the year, and this money would “disappear” into a foreign account, so that it wouldn’t appear on the year’s tax returns. The regulative authorities in Ireland knew this was happening, but yet they failed to act. Was

this yet another incident of cronyism? Public spending increased 63% from 2003 to 2008. The government and its officials have been accused of acting recklessly with public money. An example of this is the scheme for free medical cards for all residents over 70 years old, giving free GP visits and medicine to all holders. After some quick calculations the finance minister reckoned that it would cover 39,000 people at a cost of €19 million. In fact, in the first year it covered 63,000 people and cost €126 million. Projects like this helped cause a massive budget deficit that could not be covered without raising taxes, something that the government were unwilling to do. By the end of 2009, the budget deficit was 12%.

Increasing unemployment The Irish economy started to take a serious downturn in 2008, when the global recession hit. Low taxation and wide-spread corruption and tax-evasion among banks, businesses and the richest among the population, had led to a huge difference in the amount of money going into the Central Bank and the amount of money being spent by the government. Irish wages had gone from being the lowest in Europe, to being the highest, and the large multi-national corporations which had been so eager to invest in the 1990s, were no longer interested in keeping operations in Ireland open. Ireland sustained a blow in March 2009, when Dell, the computer-giant which had been responsible for 5 percent of Ireland’s GNP, announced it was moving its production to Poland. The managers said that the production costs were too high for the factory to stay open. Not only did 2,000 people at the factory lose their job,

but about 10,000 others, with jobs connected to the production at the factory, were also affected. As unemployment exploded, the tide of immigration started to turn. Eastern Europeans were finding better employment opportunities in their home countries than in Ireland. The Irish, suddenly faced with unemployment in large numbers, wanted the immigrants to go home and resented their presence in Ireland. Tommy O’Brian, an unemployed demonstrator against the increasing unemployment commented, “The Irish aren’t racist, do you know what I mean? But with people being Polish working in a shop and a person from Ireland walking in not having a job … That job, that shop job, that should be the Irish person’s job. It’s hard, there’s a lot of resentment.” In 2007, 67,000 more people moved to Ireland than moved away, but by 2009 this had changed dramatically, with 30,000 more workers leaving the country than arriving. At the start of 2008, unemployment was running at 5%, by the end of 2009, it was around 11%, the highest in the EU. Irish jobs were disappearing, but the Irish people still owed huge amounts of money to the banks. During the boom-years, the banks had been eager to lend money at extremely low interest rates, meaning that houses were built and bought at rates never before known. As well as the primary home, many Irish borrowed money to buy a second property, to buy a newer and better car, and to furnish their homes in the latest styles. In a survey taken in 2007, 76% agreed with the statement “It’s all about keeping up with the Joneses”. In a similar survey shortly before the economic crisis hit, 44% agreed with the statement “I worry sometimes about how much money I have

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borrowed and whether I’ll be able to pay it back”.

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Unregulated property development From the early 1990s until 2006 property development exploded in Ireland. In 2006, Ireland built 90,000 houses and apartments. This is about half the number of those erected in Britain, but Britain’s population is 15 times larger. Property developers were eager to buy and build on land due to great tax incentives. Among other things, there were incentives for building hotels, holiday camps and cottages. This led to a situation where available holiday accommodation in Ireland had increased by 150%, while the number of tourists visiting Ireland had only increased by 70%. In the summer of 2009, the average hotel occupancy in the middle of the high season was only 53%. Desire to buy land drove land prices up and the cost of buying land grew out of all proportion with the rest of Europe. New housing developments needed new transport infrastructure, but even something as simple as widening an existing motorway became astronomically expensive due to the price of land. Widening 14km of a motorway near Dublin cost the taxpayer €70 million, and that was just to buy the land, never mind build the motorway. All these new houses did not, however, mean cheaper accommodation for the average family. Ireland experienced a property bubble unlike anywhere else in the western world in the late 1990s and early 21th century. Between 1994 and 2006, the average house-price in Dublin increased from €82,772 to €512,461– a rise of 519%. These price increases meant that the mortgage the average worker had to take out was far above the real worth of the house. When the property bubble burst in 2008, house prices fell dramatically, but the same worker still had to pay the enormous mortgage taken out in the boom years, and this time with added job insecurity. A worried homeowner spoke about her situation in a radio-interview: “We have serious negative equity. We can’t sell. If we sold we would owe the bank more than

a third more that what we’d sell it for … I was made unemployed two weeks ago. There is 80% unemployment among architects. I may never work again in my profession.” Response to the crisis In April 2009, Brian Cowen, the current prime minister, released an Emergency Budget, reducing social spending and with the aim of cutting the budget deficit. It reduced state employees’ pensions, releasing the money for government usage. It also cut wage-rates for state employees and reduced unemployment benefits by half, all while increasing taxation. An increase in taxation was an obvious move to reduce the budget deficit, however the tax increases were not aimed at those on a higher income and the rich, but at the poorest in Irish society. The government was accused of continuing to shelter its rich friends. In 2008, it had already agreed to take over all the bad debts of the property developers, bankers and other businessmen affected by the economic recession, effectively making at least two generations of Irish taxpayers responsible for paying for their excesses. The public has grown increasingly disillusioned with the government. In January 2010, lower-paid civil servants went on strike against pay-cuts. Local authority employees and workers in health and education sectors were also on strike, and marchers demonstrated in Dublin against the government’s management of the crisis. It remains to be seen what will be the solution to the crisis. The European Central Bank could bail out Ireland, but if it did so it would demand an increase in corporate tax and the low taxation which has attracted foreign investment to Ireland would be a thing of the past. This would probably slow down Ireland’s economic recovery in the long term. However not everyone looks bleakly at the situation. As Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive Officer of Ryanair, says, “Maybe we drink too much, but the Irish are brilliant people. And they’ll need all their blarney and brilliance to get through this crisis.”

People wait in a queue outside the Social Welfare office in Limerick, Ireland. In Limerick, an underprivileged city in central Ireland, the arrival of the Dell company was to bring prosperity. But the company’s relocation to Poland has dramatically increased unemployment (©Scanpix)

Sources: Michael Burke, Ireland – The Nature of the Crisis, Socialist Economic Bulletin, October 2009 Eirin Hurum, Dell flykter fra dyre irer, Aftenposten, March 2009 Eirin Hurum, Festen er over for Irland, Aftenposten, March 2009 Fintan O’Toole, Ship of Fools. How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger, Faber and Faber, 2009 Shawn Tully, Ireland’s New Troubles, CNN Money, May 2009 Martin Wall, Civil Service Union to Escalate Action Today, Irish Times, January 2010 Martin Wall, Government Plan to Clamp Down on Services to Unions, Irish Times, January 2010 Philip Williams, Ireland Feels the Full Impact of Global Financial Crisis, Lateline, March 2009 Graffiti on a wall in south Dublin (©Scanpix)


Tasks 1 Vocabulary

2 Understanding the text

3 Oral work

a Here are some difficult words or phrases from the article. Can you explain them in your own words? If you don’t know what they mean, look them up in an English dictionary.  to teeter on the brink of something  a commuter belt  an incentive  to ride high on the back of something  a spending spree  turning a blind eye to something  to act recklessly  corruption  to invest  to grow disillusioned with something  the boom-years  recession  to look bleakly at something

Finish off these sentences, using information from the article:

Work in groups of 3-4 pupils. Each pupil chooses a personality from the list below:

a The Irish economy boomed in the 1990s because …

– – – –

b Choose at least eight of the words and use them in a paragraph about a topic of your choice.

b Employment opportunities increased due to … c The government reduced the amount of tax the rich had to pay by … d Unemployment started to increase when… e During the boom-years, the Irish had been very concerned with … f Property developers took advantage of … g Lack of property regulation meant that …

Polish immigrant worker Irish construction worker Successful Irish business owner Irish politician in government office

Based on the information in the article, make a description of your life from about 1990-2010. Although you may need to add details from your imagination, make sure your life-story is realistic. When everyone in the group is ready, tell each other about your chosen person.

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4 Written work Write a letter to the Irish Times about what you think of the government handling of the crisis. This is a formal letter, so although the language you use may be strong, it should always be correct and polite.

5 Internet work h The government responded to the crisis by …

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When the article was written, the situation in Ireland was still unresolved. What is happening in Ireland now? Go to www.irishtimes.com and find out.

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ISBN: 978-82-02-33207-5

Nye romaner i skoleutgaver fra Cappelen Damm! Black and White I Black and White møter vi to venner som kalles Black (Marcus) og White (Eddie) fordi den ene er svart og den andre hvit. De er elever på Long Island City High School, hvor de er stjerner på skolens basketballag. Meningen er at radarparet skal videre til college på idrettsstipend. Guttene har dårlig råd, og for å skaffe penger til skoleturer og kule sko begynner de å rane folk i bakgater og på mørke parkeringsplasser. Men en kveld går alt galt … Boka handler om vennskap, og om hvordan vennskap utfordres av egeninteresse. Et annet tema er det amerikanske rettssystemet og hvordan svarte og hvite fortsatt behandles ulikt. Black and White har fått flere priser, bl. a. the International Reading Association’s 2006 Young Adult Novel of the Year. Siri Hunstadbråten har tilrettelagt romanen for elever i videregående skole. Den inneholder bakgrunnsartikler, gloser og oppgaver til hvert kapittel og oppgaver til romanen som helhet.

Using authentic voices that will draw in both strong and reluctant readers, Volponi writes a taut novel that avoids didacticism and deftly balances drama and passion on the basketball court with each boy’s private terror and anguish. Teens will want to discuss the story’s layered moral ambiguities, heartbreaking choices, and, as Marcus says, ‘the line that separates black and white’. - Gillian Engberg, Booklist

Slumdog Millionaire Denne romanen ble opprinnelig utgitt som Q&A i 2005, men navnet ble n endret etter filmen Slumdog Millionaires fantastiske suksess i 2008. Filmen er en relativt fri tolkning av romanen, og noe annet ville da heller ikke værtt g, mulig. For denne boka inneholder nesten alt man kan tenke seg av spenning, tragedie, humor og grusomhet. Ram Mohammad Thomas er en ung mann som deltar i et spørreprogram på indisk TV. Romanen innledes med at han blir arrestert og torturert av korrupt politi fordi han, en fattig kelner uten utdannelse, p har klart å svare på alle spørsmålene og vunnet toppremien. Ram får hjelp av en ung kvinnelig advokat, og han begynner å fortelle henne hvordan det er hendelser fra hans eget liv som har gitt ham svarene på hvert av spørsmålene. Han tar henne med på en reise gjennom sitt eget liv og gjennom India, i en roman som i all sin frodighet har blitt kalt ’Dickens for det 21. århundre’. Richard Burgess har tilrettelagt romanen for elever i videregående skole. Den inneholder bakgrunnsartikler, gloser og oppgaver til hvert kapittel og oppgaver til romanen som helhet.

Ram’s funny and poignant odyssey explores the causes of good and evil and illustrates how, with a little luck, the best man sometimes wins. - Deborah Donovan, Booklist

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C a p p e l e n 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 Illustrasjon: Inger Dale 09 04 02 03 05 07 01 10 [ ' mæg@'zi:n...

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C a p p e l e n 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 Illustrasjon: Inger Dale 09 04 02 03 05 07 01 10 [ ' mæg@'zi:n...