Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Comparison of Consonant Sounds of English and Urdu Languages

Subject: Phonetics and Phonology

Assignment: Comparison of Consonant Sounds of English and Urdu Languages


Phonetics is “scientific study of the production, transmission and reception of speech sounds.” It studies all possible speech sounds, whereas, Phonology is the branch of linguistics which studies the sound system in a language. Bloomfield argues “Phonology is the organization of sounds into patterns”. So the subject “Phonetics and Phonology” we study the description and classification of speech sound as well as the principles that govern the way the sounds are organized in languages and to explain the variations that occur.

The assignment which we are supposed to submit is also based on the study of Consonant sounds. The assignment includes the basic characteristics of Urdu and English Phonology, in which some common and uncommon characteristics of both of the languages are discussed in detail. After then a comparison is carried out between the Consonant sounds of Urdu and English languages with respect to its characteristics. As we are the native speakers of Urdu Language but non-native speakers of the English language, so this comparison will eliminate the ambiguities of the English language in our minds as well as point out the differences in both languages.

In this assignment a speech analysis is also being carried out of a connected speech with reference to the place of articulation, manner of articulation and its aspiration. This analysis pointed out major mistakes in pronunciation which are followed by recommendations. Keeping in view the whole assignment, a conclusion is also deduced.

English and Urdu Phonology

English and Urdu, both languages have some common characteristics which are based on
1) Place of articulation 2) Manner of articulation and 3) Aspiration (voiced/voiceless)

Place of articulation tells us where the consonants are produced. For each consonant two parts of the mouth are involved, and the name given to it reflects it. Starting from the front, some consonants are made using both lips and these are called bilabial consonants. The sound made by an interaction between the tongue and the teeth are just dental sounds. When you run your tongue back behind your teeth, you come to a bony ridge called an alveolar ridge, several sounds are made on or just behind the ridge. It produces either alveolar or palato-alveolar sounds. Moving back from alveolar ridge you come to a hard but smoother zone called the hard palate.

Notice that there is now a difference in the way the tongue is used. The velum is the soft part of the palate, closest to the throat. It is the body of the tongue. The sounds produced are called velar sounds. And the only sound left /h/ is produced by air passing from the windpipe through the vocal cords, or glottis. It’s a glottal sound.

After Place of articulation, we need to consider Manner of Articulation, which tells us how consonants are produced. The comparison of the consonants of English and Urdu language is mainly based on Place of articulation and Manner of articulation. Most important categories are: Plosive sounds also called stop sounds are formed by the air being completely blocked in the mouth and then suddenly released.


Starting with the plosives, in English phonology /p/ and /b/ are plosives having bilabial articulation. /p/ is voiceless and /b/ is voiced. The alternatives for these sounds in Urdu phonology are /pe/ (پ)and /bay/(ب) which are denoted be /p/ and /b/ respectively. These plosives have the same characteristics as that of English plosives. /t/ and /d/ are alveolar sounds. They are plosives. /t/ is voiceless and /d/ is voiced. In Urdu phonology the same symbols /t/ and /d/ have a matching characteristics where /t/ is pronounced as /te/ (ت) and /d/ as /dāl/ (د). But in comparison with /t/ and /d/ plosives of the English language we come across sounds /ʈ/ and /ɖ/ pronounced as /ṭe/ (ٹ) and /āl/ (ڈ). /ʈ/ is voiceless and /ɖ/ is voiced. They are plosives but differ because they are retroflex i.e. post-alveolar (without being palatalized). Their sounds are quite matching with that of English plosives.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Chivalry Romances As A Literary Genre

As a literary genre of high culture, romance or chivalry romance is a style of heroic prose and verse narrative that was popular in the aristocratic circles of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe. They were fantastic stories about the marvelous adventures of a chivalrous, heroic knight errant, often of super-human ability, which often goes on a quest. Popular literature also drew on themes of romance, but with ironic, satiric or burlesque intent. Romances reworked legends, fairy tales, and history to suit tastes, but by c. 1600 they were out of fashion.

The romance genre continues to be one of the most popular fiction genres to date. Romances of all sub-genres have two aspects of the plot that are consistent throughout. First, the love story is the center point of the story, and second, the ending is emotionally satisfying.

Romance has a very long and complex history. It was once the place of knights, dragons, quests, magic, spells, wizards, heroic deeds; it dramatized serious moral and political issues through its allegorical powers, psychological and theological complexities through its symbolism, and it entertained.

Romance disappeared as a force in literature in the 17th century with the rise of empirical thought, rationalism, and a theology based on analogy to the natural world and the advent of the bourgeois mode of realism, although it retained a slim foothold through pastoral.

However, as the immediacy of the Holy threatened to disappear from the culture in the late 18th century under pressure of naturalistic explanation, and as industrialization and urbanization started taking its toll on the countryside and the people, romance arose again (the most powerful response to the loss of the Holy was the introduction of the idea of the Sublime, an idea incorporated into some aspects of romance)..

The period was marked by literary expressions of the sublime, of the mysterious, and of the strange; by a return to the imagination of the mediaeval that marked pre-romantic period, so that the mediaeval was the place of historical reference and allusion; and by an idealization of the lives of the country folk (Wordsworth's "Michael," for instance), especially the folk of times past.
The Romance took two main forms in the English novel -- this in the early part of the 19th century:

1. Gothic romance, which specialized in symbolic exploration of the unconscious through the strange, the haunting, and irrational. Like many romances the Gothic tended to be set in distant lands or on barren, threatening countryside. Gothic romance exposed and dealt with deep anxieties in persons and the culture; Heath cliff in Wuthering Heights, for instance, is a dark foreigner and hence culturally the Other, that against which we define and defend our humanity and civilized state, he a man with no parentage, a waif from the slums of Europe; and he is a figuring-forth of the force and terror of evil and of the irrational, a force of energy without civility. He is inexplicable but compelling because he sums the fears of his time and, to an extent, ours. Frankenstein's monster showed us the terrors that scientific interference in the holiness of the human held for us.

2. Historical romance, as modeled by Sir Walter Scott's Waverley novels, which novels evoked the past -- the past of the people, of the Scottish nation, full of both Lords and peasants -- as a source of value and meaning, that place where life was more concrete, vivid, adventuresome and, well, 'romantic'. James Fenimore Cooper (The Deer Slayer, The Last of the Mohicans, etc.) was the "American Scott."

Romance continued to be popular in the 20th Century and shows no sign of slowing down in the 21st. Popular sub-genres of romance include historical, paranormal, contemporary, erotica, regency, category, and romantic suspense. America took Gothic romance to its bosom. Hawthorne (e.g. In The Scarlet Letter) defined the romance as opposed to the novel as, briefly, a place of more mystery, less specific description of concrete reality, a place where, if you will, both elemental and spiritual forces could be put in play in a landscape that was full of symbolism, almost allegorical, potential. He set his romances, as romances are often set, in places distant, where different rules could apply, or in the past. Today we have still both Gothic and historical romance, and romance is generally associated with the strange and mysterious, the adventurous, with the lure of foreign lands, with something slightly magical, with a story which refuses to be tied to the realist tradition and explores phenomena which are unusual, allegorical, and symbolic. Of course, we have True Romance and the localization of the long tradition of courtship stories in our culture in romance settings, whether it is haunted homes, the Wild West, or bleak, windswept shores.

Romance tends to be more allegorical than realist fiction can be, to dramatize elemental forces, psychological undercurrents, and conflicts on the battlefield of the human heart and soul. It is more subversive, more revolutionary, more bipolar (good/evil, etc.), more allegorical, more symbolic, more evocative, more open to magic, the effects of atmosphere, and the strange.

There follows a set of binary oppositions related to historical romance, as suggested by George Dekker in The American Historical Romance:

Two quotes on Romance:

Many writers of romances require not only strange circumstances and abnormal psychology to portray their visions, but exotic scenery, as well. But their imaginary landscapes provide a way to reality, not an escape from it, and their faraway islands are not discoverable on any map only because, as Melville says, "true places never are."
Edwin M. Eigner in Pastoral and Romance

Curiously enough, the fascination for the bizarre, the individual peculiarity, and the monstrous [of gothic romance] seems to have led more significantly to a fictional discovery of the true depths of human nature than to a mere exploitation of the sensational and the perverse. By its insistence on singularity and exotic setting, the gothic novel seems to have freed the minds of readers from direct involvement of their superego's and allowed them to pursue daydreams and wish fulfillment in regions where inhibitions and guilt could be suspended. Those regions became thereby available to great writers who eventually demonstrated that sadism, indefinite guiltiness, mingled pleasure and pain (Maturin's "delicious agony"), and love-hate, were also deeply rooted in the minds of the supposedly normal....With Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ....For the first time in gothic fiction characters take on the full symbolic resonance of inner psychological reality..... The gothic hero easily shades into what is commonly called the romantic hero....Both share an essential loneliness and the feeling of incommunicability; both are generally scapegoats or guilt-haunted wanderers... [Heath cliff as a gothic character].

Lowry Nelson, Jr., ibid. One aspect of romance, especially gothic, is the idea of the monstrous -- as it happens I have a binary set for monstrosity, which I borrowed from Prof. Sue Spearey.

Among the existing romances Sir Gawain is outstanding other romances that came later were Sir Thomas Malory’s prose work Le Morte D’Arthur, Edmund Spencer’s Faerie Queene, Sir Philip Sydney’s Arcadia and numerous other works. The Elizabethan had a penchant for stories of all kinds, especially the folk tale sort, and the many different rather debased varieties of Romance. The story is a romance based on an ancient legend of a Green Knight who challenges Arthur’s Knights, and who having had his head cut off, picks it up, rides away, and reminds his opponent of his promise to face him in return at the Green Chapel in a year’s time. Sir Gawain is the most subtle verse romance in English medieval literature. The romances, the stories of Arthur, of Charlemagne, and the Trojan Wars, and the more native stories of King Horn and Havelok the Dane, are among the most typical products of medieval literature.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century Middle English alliterative romance outlining an adventure of Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur's Round Table. In the tale, Sir Gawain accepts a challenge from a mysterious warrior who is completely green, from his clothes and hair to his beard and skin. The "Green Knight" offers to allow anyone to strike him with his axe if the challenger will take a return blow in a year and a day. Gawain accepts, and beheads him in one blow, only to have the Green Knight stand up, pick up his head, and remind Gawain to meet him at the appointed time. The story of Gawain's struggle to meet the appointment and his adventures along the way demonstrate the spirit of chivalry and loyalty.

The Faerie Queene is its age’s greatest poetic monument, and one can get lost in its musical, pictorial and intellectual delights. From 1580 Spencer was a colonist, writing The Faerie Queene. He published three books in 1590 (and got a pension), adding three more in 1596. He dedicated his heroic romance to Queen. It is now the chief literary monument of her cult. Spencer was loved by John Milton and the Romantics.

The Arcadia, Sydney’s romance tells the story of two princesses shipwrecked on the shore of Arcadia, the home of pastoral poetry. They disguise themselves and fall in love with the daughters of Basileus (Greek king), who has withdrawn to live with shepherds in order to avoid the oracle’s prophecy: that his elder daughter Pamela shall be seduced; his younger succumb to an unnatural love; he commit adultery with his own wife; and his sons-in-law be accused of his murder. After fantastic adventures, some tragic, and denouements like those of Shakespeare’s romances, the oracle is technically fulfilled; yet ends well. Arcadia is high-spirited play. Its fortunes fell as the nobility fell, and romance gave way to the novel, the more plausible diversion of plainer folk. The Arcadia is an entertainment for family and friends, offering positive and negative moral and public ideals to the governing class to which they belonged.

The Faerie Queene and the Arcadia, both printed in 1590, are the first major works in English Literature since Le Morte D’Arthur. Hugely ambitious, their scale and accomplishment give them an importance which posterity has confirmed in different ways. Spencer’s complex long poem, imitative of early Chaucer, was drawn on by Milton, Wordsworth and Keats. But the popularity of Arcadia ended with the 18th century; its prose was too artful for Hazlitt. In these two works, which have the megalomania of the Elizabethan great house, scholars have recently found rich intellectual schemes.

A History of English Literature by Michael Alexander
The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory by J. A. Cuddon.

Friday, 16 May 2014

How Plato justified to banish poets from his Ideal State?

Plato is a renowned philosopher and stands alone as the fountain of the tradition among Greek Idealists. Three of Plato’s writings form the focus in understanding his theory of idealism in relation to art: Ion, Phaedrus, and The Republic. In The Republic, Plato gave the theory of Ideal State which is further supported by other ideas and theories.
Plato also talked about Poets and wanted to banish them from his Ideal State. To supplement his ambition of banishing Poets he has defined different grounds long with the Theory of Imitation.
Plato’s theory of imitation forms the basis for the rest of his philosophy. This theory deals with metaphysical questions, concerned with nature of existence, truth and knowledge. Plato by presenting his theory has refuted the pre-Socratic concepts and has given novel explanation of all these ideas. To understand the theory of Imitation, it is necessary to read and understand the dialogues between Socrates and Glucon written by Plato in The Republic. The dialogues deal with the formation of an ideal state where Plato banishes the poets. Everything in the state is modeled on the basis of philosophic ideas and judged by the closeness to “real” or “true” (archetypal). As in The Republic, the hierarchy of professionals is based upon their relative proximity to reality. The complexity of this theory lies in the concept of reality. According to Plato, imitation is a hurdle which could be crossed to attain the ideals of knowledge, government or virtue.
“The Republic” begins with Socrates delightful explanation on the “rejection of imitative poetry” from The Republic. A discussion on the nature of imitation follows course considering its various demerits.
The concept of creation is associated with God or the maker since pre-Socratic times, but the novelty in Plato’s theory is that he declares that God has created ideas (also called forms) which are not material. These forms or ideas present the real difficulty in understanding Plato’s theory because the nature of these ideas could only be imagined or perceived rather than being experienced by our human senses. Plato is discrediting human senses and says about ideas and essences.
“…real existence is colorless, formless and intangible, visible only to the intelligence”
According to Plato, all ideas are made by God:
“…by the natural process of creation, He is the author of those and of all other things”
The original Ideas lie with the God. He is the creator. And the relation of all these ideas to the real object is the first step of imitation. Thus everything found in this world is an imitation of a real world. The second level of imitation (called to be thrice removed from reality) is seen in the work of the imitative tribe. Plato considers all poets and painters to be a part of this imitative tribe, as they only copy the visible and tangible objects which are themselves mere imitations of the archetypes (the original idea). So, the work of poets and painters etc is in fact imitation of an imitation. Plato considers that an idea of the bed was crated by God which can not be duplicated.
God, whether from choice or from necessity, made one bed
 in nature and one only; two or more such ideal beds
 neither ever have been nor will be made by God”
Now the answering the question “why poets should be banished from The Republic?” is much easier because Plato has placed them (the poets) in the category of those who occupy lowest level of knowledge. Plot has elaborated the backgrounds for banishing poets from The Republic.
The most important reason for banishing poets is Morality. Plato says poets are imitators. They add nothing to reality. A preacher (or a Priest) conveys God’s idea directly. They convey God’s orders in form of sermons and hymns. They imitate the real idea and just one step removed from reality. But the poets, even if they write about God, still they are copying. Plato says poetry is something immoral because the poets write about gods and goddesses and show their negative capabilities. Gods and goddesses are shown angry and furious and fighting with one another.  Plato says God should be given positive qualities instead of negative ones. They should be praised. Their kind and soft eye should be highlighted. And secondly, the poetry makes the readers emotional which results in their weak and coward morals. Cowardice is a sin and it leads to immorality. An immoral person can do nothing for the sake of his nation and country. Plato approves
Only those poems which are written in favor and in praise of God and that we should not give way to impatience.
Emotional grounds are also very important. Poetry has a spiritual clash; it weakens our idea, logic and reason.
 “And the better part of the soul is likely to be that which trusts to measure and calculation?
Mind is superior part of the soul whereas body is the baser-part and inferior to mind. Poetry does not help us to see beyond reality. The poetry removes the self-restraints and creates aesthetic delights and bodily desires. It waters emotions. As Plato says in The Republic;
awakens … and nourishes and strengthens the feelings and impair the reasons.
The reason represents the better part of the soul while feelings are considered to be the more evil part of a soul. Plato says Poetry should provoke reason and logic. There should be link between ourselves and ideas.

You Shall Also Like to Read : Symbolism in "A Doll’s House" by Henrik Ibsen

The third ground is of utility. Poets contribute nothing to society. They lack the courage and dignity to participate in wars even. They can not train those who want to participate in war. Singers, musicians and poets can not defend the territories. They give no benefit to the society. They cannot deliver knowledge to nation as they themselves do not know. Their work distorts and corrupts immature minds. The children will never understand what they are conveying. Plato says,
And the same object appears straight when looked at out of the water, and crooked when in the water; and the concave becomes convex, owing to the illusion about colors to which the sight is liable…
If a rod is dipped in a glass of water, its surface seems twisted. The phenomenon can be defined with the help of scientific study. But if a man who has no knowledge can be deceived by Art. Art does not add utility. Moreover it distorts the immature minds. Plato promotes mathematics, logic and sciences.
            At the end comes intellectual ground for banishing Poets from The Republic. Plato says Art should not be appreciated as it has nothing logical and reasonable. It has deception and illusion. Poets were of great significance. They used to write poems in praise of Kings and Queens. Plato himself was a great admirer of Homer but he criticized Homer and his poetic works. The time, when Plato was writing The Republic there was a great collapse. Education system was very poor. Poetry seems an anecdote against education and resulted in demoralized children. Poetry is based on human passion and feelings but people believe that poet is divinely inspired and during the process of writing his mind is taken by divine spirits. The poet becomes mentally absent and the thing he writes is a god message. Plato agrees this believe and argues that, a man (the poet) who is not fully aware and unconscious is not worthy to be trusted. He is a mad man and not in senses. Let him write what he wants to. It is not worthy to agree and follow him because he gives no logic and no reason. He may be left alone to enjoy divine inspiration. Plot supports those writers who highlight patriotism and praise God.
            Plato seems very successful in proving the reasons why he has banished the poets from The Republic. He talked about all the aspects of society and the need of a citizen. He knows the importance and utility of a single person. He does not need idle or emotional people who contribute nothing towards society.

  • Book X from The Republic by Plato.
  • Lecture notes 
                           Analysis of a short story "A Dog’s Tale" by Mark Twain

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Symbolism in "A Doll’s House" by Henrik Ibsen

The play ‘A Doll’s House’ is one of the best plays by Ibsen. Ibsen has refined the taste of his plays with the use of many devices. Symbolism is one of the main and common devices used in drama. The use of symbolism may heighten up the emotional effect of a situation. The symbolism imparts additional layer of meaning to the writing. While the apparent meaning lies on the surface. The symbolic meaning is often hidden from views it lies deeper than it seems. Ibsen makes use of symbolism in “A Doll’s House” for the purpose of character revelation. Ibsen always said that he aimed at drawing living creatures and that any symbolism was purely development in Nora’s character at the end is so great that some critics think this change to be dramatically incredible.

The play “A Doll’s House” revolves around two main characters Torvald Helmer and his wife Nora Helmer. They live in a house which is symbolized as a doll’s house by Ibsen. The very title “A Doll’s House” symbolizes that all of the people that live in the Torvald residence are like dolls. Torvald plays with them when he chooses and ignores them when he has something else to do. Torvald maintains his office in his home and use to interact with his wife and children whenever he chooses. Maintaining office in the same premises where he lives, gives us the evidence that work is more important for him and his family is less important. He does no bother his family and indulge himself more in his office work.

Another aspect of the title “A Doll’s House” is that Torvald treats Nora like a doll. Nora tells Torvald that her father and Torvald both have treated her like a baby-doll. Nora’s father used to call her ‘doll-child’. She says in the play that
That is just it; you have never understood me, I have been greatly wronged, Torvald – first by papa and then by you.  
I mean that I was simply transferred from papa’s hands into yours. You arranged everything according to your own taste, and so I got the same tastes as you – or else I pretended to, I am really not quite sure which – I think sometimes the one and sometimes the other. . .

To her father, Nora was a sort of toy or doll that he could play with. Nora feels her relation with her husband like the one with her father. She considers her marriage a mere change of possession. Torvald’s house is a doll house to her. She was cuddled like a child and was never given an opportunity to take a serious decision. She was never consulted for opinions. Instead, she was often molded either by Torvald or her father in their own decisions. It also symbolizes a male dominant society that a woman is a mere puppet in the hands of the possessor. They use them as they find it fair. They seek their own benefit neglecting their feelings, and desires.

Torvald uses to call Nora with different pet names that symbolizes that he considers her a doll and not giving her an equal status of a wife. He considers her role is to amuse and delight. Torvald’s behavior with to Nora is very childish. The pet names he uses for Nora are considered to be used for children. For him she is no more than a doll.

The play begins with religious symbols that are Christmas Evening and Christmas tree, which signifies the security and happiness of the family. Nora orders Christmas tree and insists to hide it until it is completely decorated. This symbolizes that Nora is the keep of appearances. It shows there is a contrast in appearance and reality in Nora’s marital life. Her act of hiding the true inculcates the doubt that there are secrets in her life and she does not want to disclose them before she manages them. She has borrowed money from Krogstad for the treatment of her ailing husband, but she is unable to pay it off. So she is concealing this matter by trying to convince Torvald to keep Krogstad in his job. Nora has carefully maintained appearance of the happy marriage under the encroachment of truth.

Nora’s fancy costume which is bought by Torvald was found torn and Nora tempted to tear it into pieces. This symbolizes the flaws and weaknesses of her marriage and feelings about it. Nora thought to shred her marital relation into pieces because in her opinion it was beyond repair. Mrs. Linde wanted the couple to face the bitter reality and mend their minute misunderstandings. In spite of all these feelings Nora wears the costume for the sake of Torvald because by wearing that costume throws Torvald in a state of erotic fascination. It was her transient qualities that Torvald must appreciate. Nora makes herself in agreement with the likes and dislikes of Torvald. She wants to please him at any cost.

New Year’s Day means a new beginning, because the first day of a new year brings hopes and happiness for people. In the play it symbolizes a new beginning for almost all the characters. The Major character, Torvald, is going to start a new and better paid job at a bank. Nora is seeking to be free from her debt, which was borrowed secretly for the treatment of her husband and Nora starts a new life by leaving Torvald and Her children in the house.

Light in the play symbolizes Nora’s state of awareness. She is innocent and immature in the beginning of the play and with the advent of incidence she is getting mature. The light symbolizes enlightenment of her mental consciousness. She realizes her status of being a female and makes her voice loud for her rights. Light also appears to symbolize hope and spiritual redemption when Dr. Rank is talking to Nora about his upcoming death. The light begins to grow dark, symbolizes that Nora is using her sexual attractiveness to manipulate the dying Dr. Rank into giving her money to pay off her loan. The darkness is a sign of evil. Darkness tempts towards wrong doings. Nora wants to create an atmosphere so that Dr. Rank agrees for giving her money.

The Tarantella, an Italian dance, generally danced by a couple or line of couples, which was named after the tarantula spider, whose poisonous bite was mistakenly believed to cause ‘tarantism’, or an ‘uncontrollable urge for wild dance’. The ‘cure’ prescribed by the doctors was for the sufferer to dance to exhaustion. Modern psychologists speculate that the true cause of the disorder was not the spider’s bite, but the repressed morals of that age. The only outlet for passionate self-expression, they reason, was the Tarantella. This symbolizes that Torvald wants to keep Nora in isolation within her marriage. And she dances more wildly so that Torvald hears her and unable to read the Krogstad’s letter. It also symbolizes that Nora is dancing wildly to free herself from the poison which Krogstad brought in, in her life.

Finally, we can say the Ibsen’s use of symbolism in his play “A Doll’s House shows originality in his respect. The manner in which Ibsen describes the room in the stage directions at the opening of the play gives us an idea of the effect he was aiming the realistic details of the opening stage directions are used to lead the audience into a close identification with the characters who live in this room which seems so familiar.

1) Textbook of the play “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen.
2) Critical notes on “A Doll’s House” by New Kitab Mahal.
3) Lecture notes