06 mars 2018


Groupe Lundi

 In parallel / in addition this language is based on the substitution of negative notions / ideas by more positive ones. Badness for example, is “covered” by the word “ungood”, in reality by the word “good”, so that in the end, nothing can be really bad in BB’s world. In fact, later in the book the reader discovers that the regime is based on three major slogans: “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength”; here again contraries become synonyms…

To what extent is our present world a bit of an Orwellian world?

First, if we take a look at what is called politically-correct language, the word “handicapped” is replaced with “disabled” which is exactly the same pattern as “ungood”. The negative is replaced by a positive opposite. The words are transformed in a supposedly less offensive way as if it was preferable to avoid controversy, and as if these words were dangerous for those using them. It is also a way to make everybody equal, it is positive because they can feel they belong but it also a form of standardization of society.

Groupe Mardi

Moreover, if we take the new version of the word “bad”, which is “ungood”, it is composed with the word good and a simple prefix, so that it has a positive meaning because “bad” has completely disappeared, vanished. Of course, it’s not a coincidence because if “bad” disappears, and if “good” takes its place, everything BB does is “good”, there is no possible criticism because the words that are left make criticism impossible. “Bad” becomes “good”. This language eliminates the difference between opposites, later in the book the reader discovers that the regime is based on three major slogans: “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength”; here again contraries become synonyms…

To what extent is our present world a bit of an Orwellian world?

First, if we take a look at what is called politically-correct language, the word “handicapped” is replaced with “disabled” which is exactly the same pattern as “ungood”. The negative is replaced by a positive opposite. The words are transformed in a supposedly less offensive way as if it was preferable to avoid controversy, and as if these words were dangerous for those using them. It is also a way to make everybody equal, it is positive because they can feel they belong but it also a form of standardization of society.

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07 février 2018


Document 7

In a dictatorship, language is very important too. A totalitarian regime is a political regime in which all facets of life are ruled and controlled by a unique party, or by a single individual.

In such regimes, freedom of speech is forbidden because giving people the right to say what they think, to express themselves, to give their opinion, can go against the regime’s official ideology. Sooner or later, it could lead to a revolution and to the fall of the regime: to the regime being overthrown. It goes without saying / needless to say freedom of speech is dangerous for the prosperity of a dictator.

In order to control this freedom or even to get rid of it, dictators are used to censoring the media, controlling education, spreading propaganda, spying on people, punishing free thinkers or dissenters by killing them or torturing them, jailing them, persecuting their relatives, brainwashing them, or what you will.

Luckily, it is always easier to get rid of people than to get rid of ideas. You can kill a million people screaming for democracy but you can’t kill the idea of democracy.

We studied a short passage from 1984, the novel written in 1948 by G. Orwell. In this book, the dictator is called BB and what sets him apart from the other dictators is that the others focused on controlling “freedom” whereas he focused on “speech”. He created “Newspeak”, a language which becomes less and less rich each year so that people have fewer words to voice their opinions. In parallel this language…


Document 8, suite "the Power of Language"


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05 février 2018


Suite des documents pour le travail sur "The Power of Language"


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01 février 2018


III) language and political power.

The first two documents are newspaper headlines referring to the capacity of politicians to convince the public. The aim of politicians is to change people’s minds and in order to reach this goal they need to say what people want to hear. The message or the slogan / motto needs to be strong, short and punchy, for example “Yes we can” or “Make America great again”.

During a political campaign, politicians deliver speeches to have the people’s vote. If they lose the election they don’t have political power at all. But it doesn’t mean they stop talking because they have to be ready for the next election. After they have won the election, they keep talking in order to increase their popularity rate. Speaking is what they do, whether they are in office (en poste) or not.

In times of crisis, politicians keep addressing the nation to say that everything is under control and that they are going to take measures, to take action. If one politician doesn’t say anything in times of crisis, people will think that he/she doesn’t care about the situation. For example, after the Charlottesville violent incidents last year, President Trump didn’t say anything until several days: the press blamed him for being too slow to respond, as we saw in another newspaper clipping. The role of politicians is to speak to the nation when there is a crisis. When they don’t, something is wrong.

The word “Parliament” in itself is very instructive. Parliament is the legislative branch of political power, in other words, MPs (Members of Parliament in the UK) make the law, so to a degree Parliament is at the heart of political power. The thing is that etymologically, it is just a place where people speak. Moreover, a law is sometimes called an “act”, as if for politicians, speaking was acting. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama explained why words have power in politics in the sense that they can have a positive impact on people, and can push them/drive them to take action, provided that they are the words that people want to hear.

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31 janvier 2018


Documents for part 3, "Language and political power"

WordsPolitics (click)

Barack Obama: "Yes We Can"


I think it’s easy to be cynical and just say « you know what, it can’t be done, because Washington is designed to resist change ». But in fact, there have been periods of time in our history where a president inspired the American people to do better and I think we’re in one of those moments right now. I think the American people are hungry for something different and can be mobilized around big changes, not incremental changes, not small changes.

I actually give Bill Clinton enormous credit for having balanced those budgets during those years; it did take political courage for him to do that. But we never built the majority and coalesced the American people around being able to get the other stuff done.

 And … er… you know … so the truth is, actually, words do inspire, words do help people get involved, words do help members of congress get into power so that they can be part of a coalition to deliver health care reform, to deliver a bold energy policy, and don’t discount that power, because when the American people are determined that something is going to happen, then it happens and if they’re disaffected and cynical and fearful and told that it can’t be done, then it doesn’t.

I’m running for President because I want to tell them « Yes we can » and that’s why I think they’re responding in such large numbers.

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18 janvier 2018


Notion 3, Locations and Forms of Power.

The power of Language, the Power of Words.

I)                    The power of divine language, documents 1 & 2.


God need only say the word, and it is. By naming things, God makes them appear; that is how he created light and the sky. This shows us that divine language is the ultimate form of power. We can say that God is the magician of words, as things appear like magic when he decides to utter their name. Naming is creating, thus, we can assume that nothing can be considered real if it does not possess a name, it does not exist.

Nowadays, when a new cardinal is needed in the Vatican, the Pope “creates” one. It is as if he were endowed with God’s power to creating just by naming, as if he were a physical representation of God on Earth. Meanwhile, when a new Prime Minister is needed in Britain, the queen “appoints” the person she finds fittest for the job. She does not possess the power to “create” a Prime Minister, as she is not able to simply name one into existence.

“Verbum Incarnatum” is another way to refer to the Pope that is not often encountered. It is a Latin expression meaning “incarnation of the word”. The Pope is called that because he is supposed to be not only the messenger of God on earth, but also his physical representation. Since God is also said to be Word itself, the Pope is considered the incarnation of the power of divine language.




II) The power of scientific language. (POSSIBLE MODEL)

Then we studied a series of documents illustrating the power of scientific language. 

First there is a sumo wrestler (fighter) and a very skinny man who is desperatly trying to push him over. The wrestler represents science and the midget represents superstition. The idea is that science is much more powerful than superstition, no matter how hard superstition tries. It is illustrated in a second document, a cartoon representing a father and his son, on an island, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. They are watching the eruption of a volcano, and the father explains it in two ways: first with a very rational, very technical and scientific vocabulary, then by just saying that "the gods are angry".

The message is that science gives evidence based on fact whereas supersittion gives only superficial and simplistic explanations based on beliefs. Every fact is explained with a very technical and precise term or expression. The essence of science is explained in a very short quote from the novel "Frankenstein", we learn that science's role is to "penetrate the secrets of nature" and to "give names". When a scientist discovers a new plant, or a new molecule, he gives it a name so that people can understand it. 

The question is to know what it means to understand something. If we look at the various synonyms of the verb "understand", like "master" or "possess", we realize that when we understand the world, we are the master of it, it belongs to us, because when you name problems, it's the first step to control. For science, naming is controlling.

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12 janvier 2018


Part 5

The first two back-covers (1969 and 2000) present Gatsby’s parties as being “glittering” and seemingly endless”. The glitter evokes the perfection of a lavish, dream-like life but as the famous proverb goes, all that glitters is not gold, meaning that this kind of existence is just an illusion, or a “shimmering surface”, as the 2011 edition says. There may be nothing really sparkling behind the “façade”. In the same way, the endless party is a bit of a myth, it’s the party many people dream of, but it just doesn’t exist, except maybe in Gatsby’s fantasy world.

Teacher's correction.

On the back-cover of the 2000 edition, Gatsby is described as a « young, handsome and fabulously rich ». He is the archetype of the Prince Charming who is going to save Daisy. Indeed, if we look closer to the word « fabulous » it is repeated three times, so it’s very important. Interestingly, the word comes from Latin 'fabula' which means a supernatural story from a legend. Consequently, we can deduce that it's impossible to be that rich, except in a myth, as if his wealth had no limit in terms of time and quantity.



The last document, the 2011 back-cover, insists on the fact that Gatsby has accumulated all his wealth with only one thing in mind, namely to reconquer Daisy Fay. Even though the concept of massive fortune doesn’t necessarily evoke romanticism at first sight, the fact that Gatsby’s sole motivation is love and not greed makes him a true romantic hero, the typical Prince Charming as we said before. He loves Daisy, he makes lots of money and he tries to use it to save her from Tom who has incredible amounts of money too, but who doesn’t really care for his wife and doesn’t know the first thing about passion and romance.

The other interesting idea in this back-cover is that they explain only “few people” could recognize Gatsby if they saw him. To a degree, Gatsby is like those super-heroes who can’t be identified without their mask or their suit, his mask and suit being represented by his fortune. Gatsby is a billionaire super-hero who hides his true identity and all his secrets behind his fortune but one might say that he is the only super-hero who fails in the end.

Teacher's correction.

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09 janvier 2018


DS Compréhension écrite jeudi 11/1

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11 décembre 2017


a) + c) The scene where Nick sees Gatsby for the first time in the 1974 film is brief. Indeed, Nick barely has the time to look up that Gatsby has already disappeared. But first, before that, Nick observed him from a low angle shot which reinforces the fact that he looked superior as if he was on a pedestal. The viewer can also see admiration in Nick's eyes by the way he's contemplating him and in the way his face is illuminated: his reaction can be assimilated to someone who's fascinated by a statue of a god in a temple for example or a winner on a podium. Later when Nick looks away a moment, Gatsby just vanishes like a ghost in a supernatural way, neither Nick nor the spectator sees him walk away He is elusive. Then, the addition of a scary and mysterious music gives even more suspense to this scene.

Again in a scene at the restaurant, Nick is with Gatsby but as soon as they see Tom Buchanan,  the camera focuses on Tom and Nick before going back to Gatsby only to show that he's suddenly not here anymore and nobody actually saw him leave. The only difference with the first scene is that his rival Tom is also here in the restaurant.

b) In another interesting scene, the viewer sees him from the back which makes him look mysterious as his face is not visible yet. He's facing the immensity of the ocean and observing the skyline in the sunrise: it accentuates his loneliness, the typical loneliness of the romantic hero confronted to the immensity of nature. He's also clenching his fist as if he was nervous: the spectator may wonder why.

d) There are also a few scenes where he's facing a mirror. It gives the impression that there are 2 Gatsby, the private and the public one, like the myth of the double, which is arguably one of the main themes in the story. Moreover once again, he never directly faces the camera, the viewer always sees him from the back. So which one of the two is the real one, the one in the mirror or the one outside the mirror?

e) The mystery is also here when it comes to his identity and his past. In one of the banquet scenes the guests are all questioning one another about him. Everyone wants to know who he truly is and rumors are spread about him but this false information is not coming from Gatsby himself but from other people: it's just hear say. The problem is that everyone has a different answer, a different version and to a degree, they are making their own version of the Gatsby myth. Then, we can see in the dialogue that Gatsby is mocking them when he says in an ironical way "only one??" when Nick says he is suspected of killing a man, he doesn’t answer “yes” or “no”, he is quite unclear and mysterious again.

Marie, with Inès, Germain and Lou Ana

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10 décembre 2017


Doc 5.

a) Highlights from various back-covers to the novel (1969, 2000 and 2011 editions):

1969. “Everybody at his glittering parties is debating his origins and mysterious past.”

2000. “Young, handsome and fabulously rich, everyone took advantage of Jay Gatsby’s fabulous hospitality.  And it was really fabulous! In his superb mansion, he gave the most amazing parties, parties which never seemed to end. The most remarkable thing was that few of his guests could recognize him.”

2011. “Beneath the shimmering surface of his life, behind this façade, Gatsby is hiding a secret, everything he has built is not meant to impress the world, but to impress just one person, a girl named Daisy.”

Further instructions for doc 5:

1) Focus on his parties. Use the following key-words, "glittering", "the most amazing parties, parties which never seem to end" to illustrate a different aspect of the Gatsby myth.

2) Focus on the repetition of the adjective "fabulous" added to the adverb "fabulously". Think in terms of etimology and say what it means about his fortune, his hospitality, etc.

3) Use the 2011 back-cover to say what makes him a romantic hero. Use the images of the "surface" and of the "façade", use the fact that he is "mysterious" and that "only few [people] could recognize him" to find another aspect of Gatsby as a hero.


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