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Elements of Style and Poetry

Category: Literature, Vocabulary
Resource: Sparkcharts

Did this last week, but was too lazy to post it (which is the case with most of the stuff I put up here >_<). Took all this stuff from the Literary Terms Sparkchart (it's linked in Resources) but I only took notes on things I either didn't know or specifically wanted to remember.

Elements of Style:
aposiopesis: breaking off of speech due to rising emotion or excitement
apostrophe: a direct address to an absent or dead person, object, or idea.
chiasmus: two phrases with the same syntax but reversed word placement.
colloquialism: informal expression or slang
conceit: elaborate parallel between two seemingly dissimilar objects or ideas
epithet: adjective or phrase describing a prominent feature
euphemism: decorous language used to express unpleasant idea.
litotes: form of understatement in which a statemant is affirmed by negating its opposite.
meiosis: intentional understatement
metomyny: substitution of one term for another that is associated with it
paralipsis (praeteritio): drawing attention to something by claiming not ot mention it. 
parallelism: use of similar grammatical structure or word order in two sentences to sugges contrast or comparison.
pathetic fallacy: human feeling of motivation attributed to nonhuman objects.
periphrasis: an elaborate and roundabout way of referring to things that uses more words than necessary.
synecdoche: form of metomyny in which a part is used to refer to the whole.
trope: category of figures of speech that invite comparison.
zeugma: one word modifies two things in two different ways.

  • Meter
    • Accentual meter: the number of stressed syllables is fixed, and the number of total syllables is not fixed.
    • Syllabic meter: the number of stressed syllables is not fixed, the number of total syllables is.
    • Accentual-syllabic meter: both the numbers of stressed and unstressed syllables are fixed.
    • Quantitative meter: the duration of the sound of each syllable determines the meter
  • The foot: basic rhythmic unit
    • Caesura: the pronounced pause between feet
    • Iamb: unstressed, stressed
    • Trochee: stressed, unstressed
    • Dactyl: stressed, unstressed, unstressed
    • Anapest: unstressed, unstressed, stressed
    • Spondee: stressed, stressed
    • Pyrrhic: unstressed, unstressed
    • Feet measures: monometer, di, tri, tetra, penta, hexa, hepta, octa
  • Rhyme Schemes
    • Couplet: two successive rhymed lines, equal in length
    • Heroic couplet: a couplet in iambic pentameter
    • Quatrain: four line stanza
    • Heroic quatrain: quatrain in iambic pentameter with an ABAB scheme
    • Tercet: grouping of three lines
    • Terza rima: system of tercets liked by common rhymes: ABA BCB CDC, etc.
  • Poetic forms
    • Ottava rima: eight lines in iambic pentameter with ABABABCC scheme
    • Sestina: Six six-line stanzas followed by a three-line stanza. The last word in the last line of one stanza becomes the last word in the first line of the next. All the words appear in the final three-line stanza.
    • Sonnet: one stanza of fourteen lines in iambic pentameter. The first eight lines or “octave” poses a question or dilemma that the last six lines or “sestet,” resolve.
      • Italian/Petrachan: the octave can be either ABBAABBA or ABBACDDC and the sestet can be either CDECDE or CDCCDC
      • Shakespearan: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
      • Spenserian: ABAB BCBC CDCD EE
    • Vilanelle: nineteen lines split into five tercets and one quatrain. All nineteen lines carry one of two rhymes. There are two refrains, alternating between the ends of each tercet and forming the last two lines of the final quatrain.


Animal Farm Write-up

Category: Literature
Resources: Animal Farm, Sparknotes, Wikipedia

Key Facts
Author: George Orwell
Time and Place Written: 1943-1944, London
Published: 1946
Setting: a fictional farm in England ("Manor Farm")
Themes: corruption of socialist ideals in the Soviet Union; societal tendency toward class stratification; the danger of a naive working class; abuse of language as instrumental to the abuse of power
Motifs: songs, state ritual
Symbols: Animal Farm; the barn; the windmill

Animal Farm recounts the Russian Revolution and subsequesnt totalitarian takeover through the extended metaphor or a farm. The animal are spurred to rebellion against their human masters after hearing a speech by a pig named Old Major, who described to them the glories of an equal state, and can be interpreted as representing both Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. After Old Major's death, the animals defeat the neglectful Mr. Jones (representing Czar Nicolas II) and take over the farm. An intelligentsia of pigs is formed, headed by Napoleon (Stalin), Snowball (Trotsky) and Squealer (the minister of propoganda). The farm is at first happy and prosperous, with the tenets of Animalism displayed on the barn wall for all to see, and with equally distributed work and a highly successful harvest. However, as the pigs further assert their superiority, things begin to go downhill.

After numerous disputes, Napoleon runs Snowball off of the farm using a litter of puppies he took from the dogs of the farm (promising to educate them in the ways of Animalism) and has trained into his police force. He then forces the animals to build a windmill, which was originally Snowball's idea but is presented as his. The animals are enthusiastic in their construction of the windmill, because they have been promised that it will ring electricity, and thus convenience and comfort, to the farm. Aunfortunately, it is first felled by a storm, and later blown up by men of neighboring farms. When the windmill is finally built, it is used for commerical purposes rather than homeland improvement.

The farm slowly degrades to a worse state than it was originally. Squealer edits the Seven Commandments of Animalism to further convenience the pigs, the animals are overworked and underfed, and can barely remember what life was like in the glory days because they are constantly pummeled by propaganda. Boxer, the farm's hardest worker, is injured working on the windmill and sold to a glue factory to buy the pigs more whiskey. Public executions are held for animals thought to be enemies of Napoleon. After varying negotiations with the two neighboring farms (Mr. Frederick owns Pinchfield and represents Adolf Hitler, while Mr. Pilkington's Foxwood is the Western Powers), Animal Farm is cheated, and later attacked.

As the intelligentsia continue to hold themselves above the common animals,the difference between them and the humans becomes more and more unlcear. At the end of the story in a party of the pigs and neighboring farmers representing the Tehran Conference, the animals look in through a window and find that they can no longer tell the difference between the two.

Other Notes
-Old Major's rousing song is called "The Beasts of England."
-Minimus (a poet in the intelligentsia) writes a replacement for this song, which is simply "Animal Farm/Animal Farm/never through me/shall thou come to harm.
-The sheep, representing the common people have a mantra which they chant at very inopportune moments (inopportune for Snowball and the common animals, anyway): "Four legs good, two legs bad." This is the simplified version of the Seven Commandments of Animalism. When the pigs begin two walk on two legs, it is changed to "Four legs good, two legs better."
-Boxer also has two mantras: "I will work harder," and "Napoleon is always right."
-The Seven Commanments of Animalism are as follows:
1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.
-The edits made by Squealer are as follows:
 -No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets
 -No animal shall drink alcohol to excess
 -No animal shall kill any other animal without cause
 -and, finally, all the comandments are simplified to "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."


Hablo espanol.

I don't know how to make a tilda.

Anyway. Haven't said much yet because instead of doing A-Team stuff, I've been working on Spanish. That's pretty much what happens when you take an overachiever that's stuck learning a language she likes with a teacher she hates (French) and give her a hispanic boyfriend. I've always liked Spanish much more than French (you get to pronounce the letters! all of them!) but I'm Haitian, and my mom never taught me Creole, and French is closer, so...

I got a beginner's book and some CDs a while ago, so I started doing a chapter a day this week. However the company makes products for people that aren't used to learning languages, so...it's not very academic and I feel like I'm missing out on some stuff. Thankfully, Sparknotes to the rescue! They have a bunch of really useful charts on grammar, vocabulary, and verbs, and I just used the verb charts today to learn how to do regular conjugations and the conjugations of what I consider to be essential irregulars (to be, to be [there are two in Spanish], to have, to go, to want, to believe, and to know). I didn't actually finish my chapter today 'cause I was doing that, though. I should probably go do that.

Maybe at the end of the week I'll summarize everything I've learned.
Ironically, at the rate I'm going, I"ll finish the book right before my boyfriend leaves to spend the summer in Venezuela. >_<

On The Importance of Being Earnest

Category: Literature
Resource: The Importance of Being Earnest

This is actually a play, and apparently considered to be Oscar Wilde's masterpiece. It tells the story of Algernon Moncriedd and Jack Worthing, who both leasd double lives. Algernon lives in the city and uses his non-existent invalid friend "Mr. Bunbury" as an excuse to visit the country. Jack lives in the country and uses his non-existent brother "Ernest" as an excuse to visit the city. However, Jack takes on the name Ernest whenever he comes to London.

Essentially, Jack falls in love with Algernon's cousin Gwendolen and proposes, but is foiled because her mother Augusta disapproves of the fact that he was found in a handbag in a train station, and Gwendolen is enamored by the fact that his name is Ernest--despite the fact that it isn't. Algernon falls in love-at-first-sight with Jack's charge Cecily and proposes, while he has visited Jack's coutnry home posing as Jack's brother Ernest. Cecily is also enamored with Algernon's supposed name. Unfortunately, when Gwendolen and Cecily meet, both men are found out, but promise to change their names, solving that problem. However, Aunt Augusta still won't let Jack marry Gwendolen, though she quite approves of a marriage between Cecily and Algernon because Cecily will come into a lot of money when she comes of age. A stalemate is reached when Jack refuses to give his consent unless Augusta gives hers. However, all is resolved when Cecily's tutor reveals that it was she who left the handbag containing baby Jack at the train station, and thus not only is Jack Algernon's brother, but his Christian name is Ernest.

I loved this play. It was exceedingly witty and I really wish one or more of my friends had read it because it is really excellent for inside jokes as it is extremely quotable. Algernon is pretty much the worse cynic I've ever read, and the dialogue between him and Jack is a pleasure. It's another one of the few classics I've read that I've understood why it's so well-liked.


Here Comes the Sun

It's been summer for the past few weeks in here in Florida, now that the temperature has gotten up into the mid-eighties to nineties. I got out of school last Thursday, and now I'm back to really studying for A-Team. Have to, as the other two people in my IB class's English Triumvirate may be joining next year, and between the two of them I will be pretty useless unless I can stuff myself full of knowledge between now and the beginning of the season. So. Took another look at my lit list, and I'd read about 17 out of the 100. I chose a few more to read over the summer and then picked out ones to at least research.

To read:
Don Quixote
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Grapes of Wrath

"The Waste Land"
David Copperfield
Animal Farm
Brave New World
The Cather in the Rye
Death of a Salesman
The Importance of Being Earnest
Lord of the Flies

There had originally been more, but it occured to me that some I've seen the movies for some and am not actually interested and reading them, so if I know them well by the movie, what's the point? Or I know that other people on the team will have been required ot read them for school and thus know them well enough that i won't really be needed to answer.

To research:
Paradise Lost
The Canterbury Tales
(I'd kind of like to read this one actually but it depends on how much time I have)
Crime and Punishment
Anna Karenina
A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Tale of Two Cities
Pilgrim's Progress
The Jungle
The Sound and the Fury

So...we'll see how this goes. I actually read The Importance of Being Earnest the first day of summer, (it as only like, 60 pages) so the summary follows.

In Honor of Black History Month

Despite the fact that I think Black History Month is obsolete and was rather annoyed to have to do this assignment at all*, I was made to look up some info on an important black figure in American History this week. Thankfully, I drew Langston Hughes out of the bag, who is exactly the person I was hoping for. I'm just going to type up my notes, because, having only been given a half an hour to research my subject, they aren't detailed enough for me to write a good piece.  

*I'm black, so I can say that. Don't you love the standards of the politically correct? I wouldn't've had as much of a problem with it if we weren't studying events about sixty years before the Harlem Renaissance in class right now.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
  • Born in Joplin, Missouri
  • Great-great-grand-nephew of first black American elected to public office in 1855
  • Went to Columbia for engineering due to paternal pressure; dropped out w/ B+ average.
  • Later attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and finished with a B.A. in 1929
  • Traveled to Europe and Africa
  • Central figure of Harlem Renaissance
  • Writer, known for poetry
  • Poetry portrayed black life
  • Was inspired by jazz, so poetry had a jazzy rhythm
  • First poetry book The Weary Blues
  • First novel, Not Without Laughter, won Harmon gold medal for literature
  • Overview of works:
    • 16 poem collections
    • 3 short story collections
    • 20 plays
    • 3 autobiographies
    • 2 novels
    • 4 volumes of editorial/documentary fiction
    • At least 12 radio and television scripts
  • Died of complications of prostrate cancer
  • House in Harlem given landmark status and block renamed Langston Hughes Place
So uh, he was pretty hardcore, and I intend to share a poem by him also, which I like especially (and most probably found during Black History month in sixth grade), and can be viewed here.

Intro to Linguistics

Category: Linguistics
Resource: Linguistics Wikibook

  • Linguistics: study of how language works
  • Linguists observe behavior of language users
  • Primary data source- speech, writing and intuitions
  • Linguists follow descriptive tradition—observe what people actually do and form theories to explain behavior
  • Language teachers follow prescriptive tradition—prescribe what students do
  • Traditional language instruction trains students to use a standard language whose rules are pretty much arbitrary
  • Surface structure and deep structure are connected by rules to move between during use
Important Principles
  • Respect people’s language behavior and describe it objectively
  • Language knowledge is often unconscious, but careful inquiry can reveal it
  • Sentences have deep structure in the mind that is not directly observable, but may be inferred indirectly from patterns of behavior
  • Polyglot: person who speaks multiple languages
  • Traditional language instruction trains students to use a standard language
  • Surface structure: sounds spoken and heard marks written and read
  • Deep structure: exists in minds of speakers
  • Registers: different behaviors used depending on context
  • Trace: mental marker that can determine, for example, how certain words are contracted.


A Short Interlude

I started reading the wikiBook on Linguistics today. Unfortunately, the writer appears to have given up after Articulatory Phonetics. Which, even more unfortunately, is the second section of the second of ten chapters. LAME. However, I did take notes on the intro, which I will post when I have time (translation: when I'm not supposed to be getting ready for bed, as I am now) proving that I do, in fact, take the time to post educational stuff that isn't just vocabulary.

But, I was thinking. 

a) Doesn't it kind of seem like MTV is just a pacifier for teenagers?
b) When you think about it, isn't the tendency of socks to disappear really bizarre? I mean really. Just because they're small doesn't give them good reason to disappear. I own lots of small things that don't disappear, or when they do, they usually turn up within the week. Except my chapstick. But that's just me losing things. Socks disappearing is like a fundamental law of the universe.

Well, that's all I really wanted to say.

Nine Solitary Words

Category: Vocabulary
Resource: Wiktionary

Around two hundred pages into One Hundred Years of Solitude, and now reading The Kite Runner for school. And also trying to convince myself to finish The Scarlet Letter. Sixty pages left! Seriously!

I read too much. I love it.

Anyway, here are some words I didn't know from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's masterpiece. 

1. to annul by an authoritative act
2. to put an end to; to do away with

1. glorification, sometimes to a divine level
2. a glorified example, the apex of perfection

a tower or steeple specifically for containing bells, especially as part of a church

1. (organic chemistry) A white transparent waxy crystalline isoprenoid ketone, with a strong pungent odour, used in pharmacy.

an ardent desire, especially a sexual desire

An early type of photograph creating by exposing a silver surface which has previously been exposed to either iodine or bromine vapour. 

having to do with an act of atonement for a sin or wrongdoing

exequies-noun (plural)
funeral rites

something inducing sleep, especially a drug.

You know, it would've been pretty useful if i had known these when I read them. Pity I'm too lazy to get up and get my dictiionary while reading. I did figure out what a daguerrotype was though, as they play something of a role throughtout the story.V

100 Pages of One Hundred Years of Solitude

I finally got a hold of One Hundred Years of Solitude yesterday, after trying to get it for free or cheap for the past month. Yay for school libraries. Needless to say, The Scarlet Letter has been temporarily abandoned, despite only having sixty pages left. Can you abandon something temporarily? Je ne sais pas que on peut.  

Anyway. One Hundred Years of Solitude is by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It's a mix of history, fiction, and magical realism that metaphorically tells the history of Colombia through the tale of the founding family of the fictional town Macondo over one hundred years. My copy is 422 pages long, and I'm one hundred five pages in. And, basically, it rocks. A lot. 

The first two or so chapters are a little confusing, because they tend to pause the story randomly to give a couple of pages of background every once in a while. It made it kind of hard to keep track of. I thought I was going to have to makea diagram of the characters or something, just because of how twisted it was getting, but it stopped doing that eventually. So, instead of doing an actual character diagram, I'm going to describe them here.

José Arcadio Buendía is the patriarch. After killing a man in his old town because the man disrespected his relationship with his wife, he left to escape the man, who was haunting his house. He and his group of followers founded Macondo. He is always referred to by his full name because most of his sons have variations of it. When he first founds the town, he is very industrious, organizing it so that everyone is the same distance from the river and gets the same amount of sun, for example. However, a gypsy camp visits town, and the wonders they bring completely throw him off. He sets out on a quest for knowledge that starts with trying to find gold with two magnets and widens to include astronomy and alchemy. His obsessions at times alter his sanity, and he eventually completely loses when the ghost of the man he killed returns. At this point he is tied to a tree after trying to destroy his house, and speaks only Latin for the rest of his days.

Úrsula Iguarán is the matriarch. Her refusal to consummate her marraige with José Arcadio Buendía is what causes the scandal that eventually forces them to leave town. (They are distantly related, and her mother instills a fear in her that their children will be deformed due to incest, as a distant relative of theirs was born with a pig's tail for that reason.) Úrsula is hard-working and considerably better-adjusted in her interests than her husband, which gives her the ability to run a family and a bakery buisness, among other things. When she sees her children growing up, she plans and oversees the construction of a huge mansion that is paid for with the proceeds from her buisness.

José Arcadio is the first son of José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula. He apparently has a humongous penis, and uses it to knock up the married fortune-teller Pilar Ternara, then run away with a gypsy girl soon after being informed of this. He is very solitary as a boy, and returns to the village as a huge and strong man, completely covered in tattoos and claiming to have sailed around the world sixty-five times. He marries Rebeca, who is actually his little sister, and they are kicked out of the house.

Aureliano Buendía is the second son of the family. He is also solitary, but also inherited his father's great love of knowledge, though thankfully not quite to the same extreme. He is born with his eyes open, and is thought to be clairvoyant as everything he says comes true. His interest in alchemy eventually brings him to silverwork, and his skill at this brings him prosperity. However, he is a grown man before he falls in love with the child of the magistrate that has recently moved in. They eventually marry, but Remedios dies from complications with her pregnancy, which, now that i think of it, isn't all that surprising since they had to wait util she hit puberty to get married in the first place. 

Amaranta is the third child. As an adolescent she is graceless, but posesses a certain disctinction that sets her apart. She falls in love with the same man as her adoptive sister, Rebeca, and threatens to kill her to postpone the wedding. However, her murderous plans are quelled after Remedios's death.

Rebeca comes to the family at eleven years old from the far of village of Manaure. The people that deliver her carry a letter saying that she is distantly related to the Buendías, and they take her in despite not being able to remember any relatives of the names given by the letter. She is clearly in bad health when she arrivs, and carries only a small trunk, a little rocking chair, and a bag of her parents' bones. It is eventually discovered that she has pica (though of course that word probably wasn't invented yet), a condition which causes her to prefer to eat earth and scrape the whitewash of off the walls. The family cures of her of this, but she returns to the habit when under extreme emotional stress. As a teenage, Rebeca falls in love with the man that comes to put together a pianola for the family and give the girls dancing lessons. They nearly marry, but the ceremony is repeatedly postponed until Rebeca elopes with José Arcadio and leaves the pursuit of Pietro Crespi up to her younger sister.

Arcadio is the illegitimate son of José Arcadio and Pilar Ternera. He shares his father's name, but recieves a nickname to avoid confusion. He inherits the familial thirst for knowledge, and helps run the town's school.

There are more characters, but I only wanted to do the family. Also, that took an age to write (translation: an hour) and I want to get back to reading now. In the next entry I'll probably talk about what else has happened and maybe take a look at some of the magical realism so far in the book.