Creative writing activity for individual writers

Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing

Objectives

to play with the grammar (Syntax and morphology of English

to write a poem which makes (non-)sense because of its sound

Organisation

individual work

Examples

‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll

Charlie Chaplin’s Speech as Hinkel in the ‘Great Dictator’

Materials

A good (big) monolingual dictionary

Procedure

Either go through the dictionary and find words that you never heard of before or take a map of an English-speaking country and collect the more unusual place names or make up words which sound English but aren’t. Write them on small cards.

Allocate these words to parts of speech, i.e. verbs (v), nouns (n), and adjectives (adj). Note that they are all content words!

Group the words according to sounds, e.g. alliterations, assonances, long and short vowels, front or back vowels etc.

Make them into a text using as many of the nonsensical content words, but make sure that their inflectional morphology is correct (past forms, plural, -ly adverbs, etc.). You also need to decide what kind of a text this is: a political speech as in Chaplin’s Great Dictator, a love poem, a heroic poem, an advertisement, etc.

Try and make the text sound as interesting and as plausible as possible.




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