Task

2 Genres - Tasks

Published: 27.01.2010, Updated: 04.05.2011
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Below you will find eight different types of written text (extracts from the original sources, slightly regularised).  For each, state

a)    what type of text it is
b)    where you are likely find such a text
c)    what the purpose of each is
d)    what you go by to decide its purpose
e)    what stands out as noteworthy in the way the language is used

For each of the extracts you are supposed to write a short text which answers questions a) – e).

1

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery like no other. The detective and narrator is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered, he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.

Mark Haddon’s portrayal of an emotionally dissociated mind is a superb achievement… Wise and bleakly funny. (Ian McEwan)

A remarkable BOOK …An impressive achievement and a rewarding read (Time Out)

2

It must have been around midnight when I drove home, and as I approached the house I turned off the lights of the car so that the beam would not shine through the window and wake up Harry Pope. But I need not have troubled. Coming through the gateway, I noticed that his light was on, so he was awake, unless perhaps he had fallen asleep while reading.

I parked the car, entered the house, turned on the light in the hall and opened the door to Harry’s room.  He was lying on the bed, awake, but he didn’t move.

“Timber, Timber,” he said, “come here.  Don’t make a noise, take your shoes off…”

3

HARLEM

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore-
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over –
Like a syrupy sweet?

May be it just sags
Like a heavy load

Or does it explode?

4

1    Wipe the ribs and place skin side up in roasting tin
2    Sprinkle with salt and cook at 400 degrees F for 30 mins.
3    Gently fry the onion in lard until soft but not coloured
4    Blend together all other ingredients except the prunes and apricots.
5    Add to onions, simmer a few minutes
6    Pour off excess fat from ribs and cut ribs in portions
7    Leave in tin and pour sauce over. Continue to cook at 400 degrees for 30 mins.
8    Add drained fruit, spoon sauce over and cook for further 5 mins.
9    Serve with parsleyed new potatoes
10  To really enjoy spare-ribs, nibble every scrap off the bone. Use your hands!

5

Travel chaos disrupts bank holiday Britons

Millions of Britons heading away for the bank holiday weekend face lengthy delays from rail works and congested roads.

Train passengers will be badly hit, with engineering work causing cancellations and service alterations on dozens of routes.

Transport problems are likely to be exacerbated as people seek to exploit the predicted warm weather – particularly in the South - following the gloomy Easter weekend.

6

Friction is a force that appears whenever one surface rubs against another, or when an object moves through water, air, or any other liquid or gas. It always opposes motion. Friction happens because two surfaces in close contact grip each other. The harder they press together, the stronger the grip. The same molecular forces are at work as in springs.

7

Grace – Space – Pace
Nothing beats a Jaguar

8

back2front Britain

I always knew this country was stupid, back in 1979.we in Liverpool were typecast as ‘dolites’. Dear old Margaret Thatcher (the Bitch) screwed the country and the politicians are screwing the taxpayer. That’s why I support my legs! Cos they support me. Have not voted in any election and never will. WAKE UP BRITAIN.
Promise everything; deliver nowt.

  1. ‘Harlem’ by Langston Hughes, in The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Alfred A. Knopf, Random  House, 1994;
  2. 'Poison’ by Roald Dahl in Taste and Other Tales, -simplified by Michael Cauldon, Longman, 1980. Adapted.
  3. 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time', Vintage Books, London, 2004
Key

KEY

Text 1
Text 1 is a text that is intended to arouse readers’ interest in a book of fiction and in that way promote the sale of the book. It is found on its back cover (and in other publicity material) and is sometimes referred to as a blurb (‘vaskeseddel’).
Typically such texts contain many positive and intriguing formulations (murder mystery like no other, terrifying journey…, turns his whole world around…),  all meant to make people curious and buy the book.
They often contain glowing recommendations in the form of quotes from other authors and/or literary magazines. Blurbs are really a special type of advertising text. The language is fairly difficult, particularly in the quotes, cf. portrayal of an emotionally dissociated mind, so we may conclude that the text is aimed at grown-up readers.

Text 2
This text is an extract from a piece of fiction. We are thrown into a first person story and see everything from that person’s perspective. Stories are to be read and enjoyed. Often there is something, an event or special character, which makes us read on because it excites us.
In this extract there is a sequence of actions leading up to something that creates suspense.
Timber, timber… don’t make a noise, take your shoes off...

The language is so simple that it is probably intended for young readers.

Text 3
Text 3 is a piece of poetry. We see this from the line division and from the rhymes: sun-run, meat-sweet, load- explode. More noteworthy is the consistent use of figures of speech, here a series of similes: dry up LIKE a raisin, fester LIKE a sore, stink LIKE rotten meat, sugar over LIKE syrupy sweet, sags LIKE a heavy load.
These technicalities are still less important than the pregnant and compact language which focuses on a political problem – racial inequality – with a new and potentially threatening outcome.
The interpretation is dependent on the reader’s ability to associate ‘dream deferred’ with Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream speech.
As a genre, poetry rests on its ability to express thoughts and ideas in novel, striking, compact and elegant form.

Note that the entire poem consists of interrogative sentences, which means that the reader is invited to ponder what happens if the dream of racial equality is never fulfilled. Will it result in violence (explode)?, continue to plague the nation (stink like rotten meat)?, become less harmful (dry up like a raisin in the sun)?, etc.

Text 4
This is a recipe; the kind of text you find in cooking books. We know this from the words that refer to the ingredients needed for the dish, the utensils necessary and the order of he sentences which matches that in the cooking process.
But we also know it from the way the language is used. There is a series of ‘verbs of doing’ in the imperative form followed by noun phrases as direct objects and possibly adverbials denoting how the action is to be done: Cf:
Wipe the ribs and place…
Sprinkle with salt and cook…
Gently fry the onion…
Add to onions, simmer five minutes…
Serve with parsleyed new potatoes…
To really enjoy… nibble every scrap… Use your hands!

Text 5
This is a news text, an objective and ‘depersonalised’ report of what might happen to Britons setting out on the country’s congested roads and rail networks ahead of a bank holiday weekend.
The text is primarily intended to inform, but may of course lead to change of plans, and therefore indirectly function as advice.
Its language is typical of news reportage. It has
•    a compact heading where bank holiday Britons is a noun phrase
•    fairly long sentences
•    no I or you to make the text personal
•    a vocabulary that includes some difficult words, congest, alteration, exacerbate, exploit
•    actions turned into nouns:… causing cancellations and service alterations
•    passive verbs: will be badly hit, to be exacerbated.

Text 6
This text offers a technical explanation of a physical law. It contains a fair number of nouns which denote physical objects or properties, cf. force, surface, water, air, liquid gas, motion, contact, molecular force. It is in the simple present tense, the verb form appropriate to refer to never-changing phenomena.
This type of explanatory text is likely to appear in textbooks, reference works, etc.

Text 7
This is an advertisement. We recognise Jaguar as the name of a high-quality car and the statement: Nothing beats a Jaguar contains the customary hype.
But then, in addition, the first line has three one-syllabic, rhyming words referring to the positive qualities of the car. In that way, the line sticks in the reader’s mind.

Text 8
This is a personal blog. It expresses a subjective point of view full of frustration and anger in  informal and offensive language, screwed the country, the Bitch. The writer tries to be funny by exploiting the related meanings of support in I support my legs, Cos they support me.
Nowt is a dialect word for nothing.

[The original has been modified to remove even more offensive language.]
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