Comparative commentary (foreign by carol ann duffy and bilingual classes ‘raise results’ from the bbc news)
Siir Tecirlioglu 12 18 September 2011 Comparative Commentary (Foreign by Carol Ann Duffy and Bilingual classes ‘raise results’ from the BBC News) Text one, BBC News article Bilingual classes raise results, written on 15 March 2007, speaksabout analysis done by University of London suggesting that bilingual students show better results inschool than those who speak only one language. Text two, Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Foreign written in1987, speaks about the life of an immigrant in places where their native language is not spoken and howthey think in one language but speak in other. Besides the content as mentioned in the introduction, thetwo texts are similar and different in the following aspects as well: audience, character, setting, point ofview, tone and mood, and literary techniques. The audiences of the texts differ greatly due to their genres. The first text is an article publishedon BBC News. The second text is a famous female poet’s poem which can be found online and in bookstores. BBC News article has wider audience than the poem because it is more commonly accessed. BBCNews article would be read by whoever goes on BBC to check the news, people who are studyingbilingualism and bilingual people. The poem’s audience can be students studying her poems, and aperson interested in different people’s points of views on being foreigner. There texts have similarities and differences in terms of characters. The first text has researchersand bilingual children. Bilingual children are never quoted in the text but the researchers are. The textlacks information on what the bilingual children, themselves, think about the advantages of theirlanguage skills as the researchers say they have. Because the children are never quoted and the reader
doesn’t about the children’s thoughts on this topic make the article less reliable. It is the childrenthemselves who could say whether they see the benefits of having two languages. The second text, onthe other hand, brings an insight to the feelings of a bilingual—in other words a foreigner. The characterin the text is very sad and almost regretful that she/he is living abroad. The following quote convincesthe reader that this character is not happy to have two languages: “You think/in a language of your ownand talk in theirs.” (lines 3-4). The character also mentions the hardships of having a foreign languagebecause of the limited vocabulary he/she has. Another area where the texts have similarities and differences is the setting. The first text is setin the UK, in different universities and schools for research. This shows that the text is a professionalpiece of writing with research to back up the points made. The second text is set in the city the personais living and this place is not his/her home. It is, in fact, a different country than his/her home because ofthe language difference. The persona describes the city from his/her point of view: “…strange, darkcity…” Since this is the first line of the poem, the audience immediately gets a negative feeling about thesetting. This feeling is carried out with other examples throughout the poem. For example, lines 2 and14 to 15 have more negative connotation. Who would want to live in a”dismal dwelling,” which thepersona mentions as the place he/she lives? Lines 14 and 15 make this city she is living in as if its fallingapart in her eyes which is an affect created by the snow deflecting the neon lights (a simile). But thepoems share a similarity in the setting that both bilingual children and the persona of the poem are notliving in their home counties. The texts are very different in the points of view they are written in. The article is not writtenfrom any specific point of view. It is more of a report. Therefore, it makes sense to say that it waswritten in third person point of view. The poem is from a first person point of view. Thus, it givesapprehension of a casual foreigner’s feelings and thoughts. The poem is directed at the audience attimes with the word “you”. It connects the reader and the persona, making it easier to sympathize. In
lines 18 and 19, the persona says, “imagine that one of you says…” This shows that his/her point of viewon living abroad and being bilingual is a fear that all other foreigners like him/her share. The tones and moods of the two texts are very distinct. The poem, clearly, is hopeless, regretful,dark, and desperate. The word choice, structure of sentences and the use of enjambment help bring thismood out. The persona is almost crying for help. The second stanza connects the feeling of home, beinga foreigner, language issues and emotions. It is the best example of the mood of the poem. The article,on the other hand, doesn’t have a clear mood. This makes sense because it is a report of a study.However, overall the article sounds as if their finding is a cheerful event. There is no negative tone ormood throughout the entire article. Structure varies as well because of the genres. The first text has very frequent paragraphs. Mostof the paragraphs are actually one sentence long. There are many quotes inserted from differentresearchers. The article has been divided into 5 subsections. The poem has 4 stanzas, each of 5 lineslong. There is enjambment and use of shot sentences. Both of these techniques point out importantwords and phrases. The best example to enjambment is in line 4: “your foreign accent…” The line startswith these words but the sentence had started in the previous line. It points out having an accent andbeing a foreign, as if the persona is not a part of something larger. The best example of short sentencesis in the last line:”Imagine that.” It has a very strong affect on the reader because the persona is almostordering the reader to imagine his/her position. The article uses almost no stylistic devices unlike the poem. The poem has enjambment asmentioned before, and visual and auditory sensory details. The visual details are in lines 1, 2, 10, 12, 13,14, and 15. The auditory details are in lines 4, 5,6,7,8, 19 and 20. Both of these types of sensory detailsdescribe the setting, events and the situation better. The reader creates a better image of the persona’slife. Once the setting is created, these sounds and visuals take another step and bring the emotional
level of the poem. The reader starts feeling sympathy. However, since the article doesn’t use suchdevices, the reader and the author of the article don’t get as much close or understanding to each other. The choice of vocabulary between the two texts is very different too. The article says“immigrants” whereas the poem chooses to say “foreign”. This shows the different reactions to beingfrom abroad. The word immigrant has a negative connotation because it gives the idea of leaving yourhome because you are poor and need to work in a richer nation to make your living. When you sayforeigner, however, it is not known why exactly the person is there and how he/she came there. Thepersona of the poem, in general has chosen words with emotional and negative connotation. Thevocabulary of the article is usually neutral. Similarity of texts is that they touch the same topic of bilingualism and being foreigners. First text is about the benefits of being bilingual, but in the situation where you are a foreignerin some country. The second text, however, is the emotions of a foreigner living abroad with littlechance, almost none, to use his/her language and culture. Another difference is that the first text is anews article and the other text is a poem. The third difference is in their content which directly affectsthe mood; first text has a positive attitude while the second text is very dark and hopeless. The two textssee bilingualism and being foreigners from different points of view: the poem sees it from a foreigner’spoint of view who is too caught in the negative sides of his/her position, while the article sees it from a3rd person point of view which lacks the emotional part of the topic. The last difference is that the firsttext bases its content from a study, but the second text bases its content from individual experience. Both texts show that being a foreigner is both positive and negative. It is a hard experience thatis rewarding in end, having developed skills, and way of thinking is big thing in today’s world and is greatreward. There is also difference in the time the texts were published and in those two decades a lotchanged from social aspect, that in today’s society helps foreigners a lot, and they are more widelyaccepted.