Tutor profile: Asha G.
Is writing merely an expression and communication with a focus on keeping it simple or is it a vital means of communication where the focus has to be on accuracy?
It is common knowledge that the interest, ability and the felicity with which one uses language in writing is subjective and innate to a person’s mental and socio-cultural make up. By this yardstick, it becomes crucial that all of us work consciously on our language skills to ensure a successful, meaningful and effective communication, irrespective of our gender, race, class, or any other differences we have. A failure to do this will ensure an automatic power and influence to the ones with a felicity for words. As an educator, as learners, as decision makers or as parents, we need to review our approach towards learning or acquiring language and using it appropriately. The gap between saying it and understanding it needs to be bridged. Else, this is what would happen. A couple of years ago, during a PTM with this particularly, ‘receptive’ set of parents, I had the joy of telling them that their son did not have the aptitude for Literature Higher Level and they should consider moving him to the Standard Level course. It seemed a fact, or at least an observation to me, but to my sheer horror, these parents complained to my Principal that I dismissed their boy for having an “attitude”. It was only during a three way meeting did my principal, the parents and I realise that they used “attitude” and “aptitude” interchangeably! This is exactly why, the ability to tell the difference between normal and natural, is as important as knowing oneself for language accords identity too. This point becomes all the more crucial today, in a world inundated with information and opinion. So, though the felicity of Harsha Bogle, Geoff Boycott or Tony Grieg is not seen in the ever-increasing space of social media, the need to mind one’s language is ironically becoming more crucial. There is an increased emphasis on political correctness, and sensitivity, with a heightened need for diplomacy and euphemism. The irony is that when one examines the social media or even communicates with the general populace, people’s ability to grasp the nuances of a language, any language is perilously limited. Companies and institutions by using slogans such as “Lets Go, “So fun, they won’t even know their learning7,” “ Tasty Contradiction” ” mindlessly limit one’s vocabulary. Then 8 our movies a with dialogues and lyrics initiate a craving for a return to the cave life, not to mention the series of posts on Facebook or Twitter that would give convulsions and nightmares to proficient users of language. Is it a wonder then, that thoughts, ideas, words are often misunderstood, routinely misinterpreted and resolutely manipulated to communicate to a set of people, whose own language abilities is highly skewed thanks to all the word processors and auto corrects? Clearly, for the sake of clarity, there is a greater need for us to urgently review how we learn, write, use and comprehend a language. I would say it is an anomaly to write off the art of writing, talking, and thinking eloquently, as this, more than any other skill, is needed for an increasingly diverse populace that share a same space and platform. In the times of discordant and discombobulated messages shooting each other from multiple spaces, it is vital that we extend our awareness of language, extend our vocabulary and state things with more precision and conviction thus minimising confusion and ensuring communication. The art of waxing eloquent is not dead, it needs to be revived now more than ever before. For Language is essentially Selection, Emphasis, Word Choice and Context. Therefore, writing, a vital means of communication, needs to focus on accuracy, context, intent, purpose and the target audience. (the above response is an extract from my TEDx Talk on Language)
How and why is the upper class represented as hedonistic and soulless in Fitizgerald's The Great Gatsby?
Scott Fitzgerald’s historical fiction is a commentary on concepts like power, greed, betrayal, justice and the American dream. It is an unveiling of the 1920s American society and of the Jazz Age which showcases the social stratification Fitzgerald creates in The Great Gatsby. He comments upon the superfluousness and paucity of meaning in lives of the upper class. He particularly condemns the aristocracy of East Egg as the antithesis ti West Egg, home of the ‘new money’, lacking in flamboyance, the sort Gatsby’s pink suits and baroque lavish mansion holds, but exuding subtle sophistication, evidenced through Daisy and Jordan’s flowing white dresses. The two are split by a picturesque bay symbolising not only geographical and literal space, but also an impossible class distinction. Carraway illustrates his own humility by describing his own home as an “eyesore’” that is “squeezed between two huge places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season” (1.14) claiming his autonomy from the West Egg where he lived. In contrast, the Buchanan’s ‘cheerful’ colonial Georgian mansion of East Egg is described as everlasting, accentuating their aristocracy and dominance as the elite. The East Eggers are characterised by their elegant demeanour, and their proclivity to obscure their dominance, and in some cases, brutishness, behind a cloak of courteousness. Characters of East Egg, Tom and Daisy Buchanan, are seen to disapprove post war, wealthy recently emerging entrepreneurs, such as Gatsby. They are seen to be self-centred, uncaring, and oblivious to the world that lays beyond their ornate garden gates. Tom Buchanan, disliked by the narrator, is described to be an aggressive, supercilious, eugenicist, arrogant man. Throughout the novel, the ‘old rich’ with their social graces and taste, are demonstrated as heartless individuals. There is an embedded unhappiness of emotional and physical troubles, in the cold world of the Buchanan’s, tucked behind their wealth and good fortune. Fitzgerald paints a harsh picture of the reality of the Jazz Age, he demonstrates the materialistic, superficial and purposeless frenzy of society at the time, evident through character’s skewed world-views, hedonistic ways and misplaced priorities.
Subject: Gender Studies
How does language reinforce or relinquish stereotypes or culturally received ideas about women?
Communication among human beings is synonymous with language and it is hard to distinguish the point where language moves from describing reality to creating reality, but at all times, language used displays the intent and characterisation of the person, object or situation that is being spoken of. To illustrate this point, in the late 1990s Hilary Clinton discarded the reference to herself as the first lady when her husband Bill Clinton assumed office as the President of US. Instead, she preferred to being called as the “Presidential Partner,” which at once, illustrates a shift from the stereotypical associations and expectations from the wife of a President. The term is clearly more gender neutral, equitable and veers away from the stereotypical connotations associated and expected of from a lady. It also ascertains independence from the President’s status. On the other hand, oft heard and cliched references to a woman caught up in an emotional situation, such as “damsel in distress” or reference to a female with strong ambition and assertive nature as a “boss lady” underscores the stereotypical, culturally held expectations from a woman and a disdain for such independence and display of individualism demonstrated by a woman as unbecoming or atypical. These terms are pejorative and are used as insults to indicate the societal rejection of such a nature in a woman.
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