What is spaced repetition ? The science behind it

If you are preparing to take an exam, you have a few choices; revise properly, cram as much as you can the night before, or go to the test completely unprepared. Of course, unless you are a total genius, going into an exam totally unprepared is a very risky strategy. Cramming can work for some people, but the knowledge won’t stick. Within a week, the chances are that you will only be able to remember about 10% of the materials which you learned for the test – which is not great if you have an end of year exam on the topic as well. But if you take the time to revise properly, you can commit most of the knowledge to memory, and still be able to recall those important facts and figures years later. Using spaced repetition technique can be one of the best and most rewarding ways to memorise important learning material. In fact, in one memory study, students who used spaced repetition learning techniques were found to have outperformed other students in over 95% of cases (Cepeda et al, 2008).

Repetition learning strategies have been created by memory experts, who have studied the workings of the human brain and discovered that memorisation is easiest if the material is reviewed over and over again. Rather than reviewing materials at regular intervals, spaced repetition learning techniques gradually increase the space of time between each review of the learning material, in order to improve the chances of memorising the information. In other words, if you look at something 5 times in 2 days will help you remember the material for a few weeks, but looking at something 5 times over 2 months can help you to commit that information to memory for the rest of your life.

To understand the reasoning behind this, we must consider a principle which has become known as the “forgetting curve”. If no attempt is made to remember a fact, the memory of that fact will gradually decline over time and will eventually be forgotten, which can be portrayed on an exponential curve. Topping-up your memory by reviewing the material is a good way to refresh your memory and slow the rate of memory decay.

Experiments have shown that it is best to “top-up” a memory as the recall rate declines on the forgetting curve. After this first review, the rate of decline should be slower than after the very first time which you learned the information, and therefore it will take slightly longer for the memory recall rate to decline to a point where it is worth topping up. After the memory is topped up for a second time, the rate of decline should be even slower, and therefore the space between the first review and the second review should be longer than the length of time between the initial memorisation and the first review. As the rate of memory recall will decline even more slowly after the second review, the length of time between the second review and the third review will be even longer, and so on, until there is an insignificant decline in memory recall.


Spaced repetition apps are designed to offer you certain materials to review at the optimum time, so that you can gradually improve your memory recall. Interactive software can use the scientific basis given above to work out when you need to review information. Materials which you are struggling to commit to memory will be offered for review more often, and material which you are successfully recalling will be shown to you less frequently. As well as being effective, this technique can be fun, as flashcards have been designed to maximise your learning potential.

Allegory Examples

Allegory is a term that often gets thrown around quite a bit, especially when one is considering certain pieces of art or literature, however, this can sometimes get mixed with ‘Analogy’, which is something else entirely.

In order to understand the difference, it is useful for us to define the two properly to see how these mistakes can come about due to their slight similarity to one another.

First, an analogy is quite literally a comparison between two things that are incredibly similar or very different. It is a means of understanding things by form of simplification and comparison.

Take ants and the military for example. These two examples are very different as one is insects and the other are presumably human (For all you extra-terrestrials out there), however, we use the military to understand ants due to the fact that they are both heavily regimented, organised, and have a clear and unquestionable hierarchical structure which will defend the queen (or country, Prime Minister, President, etc) until they die.

An allegory, however, is different in that it is a symbolic representation of something else that is projected through arts and mediums to convey something else entirely. True, they both draw on comparisons, but these are not as blatant as analogies and so they are open to more subjective interpretations despite the intentions of the person who has used them.

However, to understand how analogies work and how to spot them, it is always helpful to have examples to hand so that you can discern from a context that you can relate to.

Allegory Examples

Robocop (Original)

Robocop has been argued by many, and confirmed by director Paul Verhoeven to be an allegory of Jesus.

This might sound barmy; however, it is the case. The character of Alex Murphy is killed and resurrected in the form of a kick-ass cyborg. Murphy’s execution was, in the words of Verhoeven, to show the devil crucifying Jesus, and as a result he would re-emerge to enact justice. Also, the guy walks on water!

There are also other allegories that run throughout Robocop, and one of these is that of The Golem. For all you who are not clued up on your Jewish myths, the Golem was an artificial being that was created to project the Jewish people from attack and to ward off evil. This was until the Golem would be deactivated the night before the Sabbath so that it does not ruin it. There are also stories of the villagers turning against the Golem when it remained because they no longer served a purpose. Robocop reflects this due to the call for his destruction by those to who created him when Robocop posed a risk to Omni Consumer Products.

Not only are there religious allegories in Verhoeven’s classic, there are also social commentaries that are presented through satire. For instance, it is argued that the whole film is about a man who has had his whole life (in the form of his memories) to a corporate enterprise that has classed him as product, and the resilience and struggle to find one’s own self in an overbearing consumer landscape.

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is compulsory reading for many an English student. So it won’t come across as much of a surprise to most of you that the story has more to it than just a couple of guys on a work farm.

The novel is littered from head to toe with allegory. As the main characters, Lenny and George are out to get the American dream they begin their work on a farm to gain funds. The farm itself is something called a microcosm, which is a place, community, or situation that embodies the qualities and represents something much larger. In the case of Steinbeck’s novel, it is the USA.

On the farm are those who cannot achieve the America dream (Due to the views of the time), such as Curley’s Wife, who is never given a name because her personality and existence is merely a reflection of her husband. This is where she gets her title, however is denied of her own.

Crooks is a black man who is also disabled (where he gets his name from), Curley is the son of the ranch owner and thus has achieved the American dream but deprives others of that privilege.

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke’s spectacular classic of trippy light effects and bone wielding primates is one of the most visually stunning and eye opening films of the 20th Century.

The whole piece can be an allegory of evolution, in that it literally depicts this via the use of the monolith’s to propel the growth of the human race, however there are more subtle interpretations too.

Namely that it could be an allegory for the growth of an individual. The primates originally on four legs, then raising to two before defeating a rival tribe of apes, the space which we see space stewardesses taking ‘baby steps’.

It has also been argues to be an analogy for cellular growth if one takes into account the space foetus, but this occurs due to Dave entering the fourth dimension. If you have not watched it, then do so.

The HAL 9000 is an allegory for IBM, if you use your head a little.

Allegories are fantastic and they have been crucial in the progression of ideas that cut across a wide variety of mediums and can greatly enrich a piece of art. It is what makes Moby Dick more than just a good old book about a man who hates a whale.

They allow you to really get your thinking caps on and work out what the author/artists intentions are, but also to come up with your own alternative interpretations of a give piece so that you can truly appreciate, and become more active in your experiences with art.

Alliteration Examples for Kids

Alliteration is fun no matter what age you are. They can be as blue and as crass as your mind desires, but for children, they can be a window into wonder and can really generate a love and passion for language.

Children need to be entertained almost constantly and if it is not engaging, then the child will naturally become bored and wish to move on. So how exactly do you make alliteration fun for children?

Well, as alliteration is the use of the same consonant sounds in words that are near each other, they can generate a sound that is almost absurd, and therefore comedic and entertaining.

One of the most popular examples of alliteration that children enjoy is tongue twisters. Tongue twisters, as you can guess by the name, gets your tongue into all kinds of trouble when it comes to speaking quickly because the repetition of alliterations and similar sounds quite literally tie your tongue (well, not literally, but you get the picture.)

From an educational perspective, alliteration serves to really improve a child’s grasp of the phonetic alphabet skills, as well as having a tremendous effect on their level of concentration and memory.

Below are a collection of alliteration examples that will be perfect for children and adults alike.

Alliteration Examples for Kids

Betty Botter by Mother Goose

Betty Botter bought some butter,
but, she said, the butter’s bitter;
if I put it in my batter
it will make my batter bitter,
but a bit of better butter
will make my batter better.
So she bought a bit of butter
better than her bitter butter,
and she put it in her batter
and the batter was not bitter.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
bought a bit of better butter

Three Grey Geese by Mother Goose

Three grey geese in a green field grazing,
Grey were the geese and green was the grazing.

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

The Football Game by Alan Loren
Blitz and blocking, bump –and-run
Drive and drop kick, the other team’s done
End zone, end line, ebb and flow
Snap, sack, scrambling, I love it so
Football is fun and fabulous too
Let’s go to the stadium, just me and you

Eat Wisely by Alan Loren
Franks and fries, and French fondue
Beans and burgers and biscuits too
Chicken, chili, and cheddar cheese
When I munch too much, I always sneeze!

Drumming by Alan Loren
For days and days, the drummers drum
From five AM till fun is done
Then once more they beat their drums
At nine PM their knuckles numb

A certain young fellow named Beebee
Wished to marry a lady named Phoebe
“But,” he said. “I must see
What the minister’s fee be
Before Phoebe be Phoebe Beebee”
If one doctor doctors another doctor
Does the doctor who doctors the doctor
Doctor the doctor the way the doctor he is doctoring doctors?
Or does the doctor doctor the way
The doctor who doctors doctors?
The doctoring doctor doctors the doctor the way
The doctoring doctor wants to doctor the doctor.
Not the way the doctored doctor wants to be doctored.

Mr. See owned a saw.
And Mr. Soar owned a seesaw.
Now See’s saw sawed Soar’s seesaw
Before Soar saw See,
Which made Soar sore.
Had Soar seen See’s saw
Before See sawed Soar’s seesaw,
See’s saw would not have sawed
Soar’s seesaw.
So See’s saw sawed Soar’s seesaw.
But it was sad to see Soar so sore
Just because See’s saw sawed
Soar’s seesaw!
If Freaky Fred Found Fifty Feet of Fruit
And Fed Forty Feet to his Friend Frank
How many Feet of Fruit did Freaky Fred Find?
A tree toad loved a she-toad
Who lived up in a tree.
He was a two-toed tree toad
But a three-toed toad was she.
The two-toed tree toad tried to win
The three-toed she-toad’s heart,
For the two-toed tree toad loved the ground
That the three-toed tree toad trod.
But the two-toed tree toad tried in vain.
He couldn’t please her whim.
From her tree toad bower
With her three-toed power
The she-toad vetoed him
Another fantastic activity for children is the use of Alphabetic Tongue Twisters. By taking turns, the children will progress through the letters of the alphabet to construct tongue twisters. This process is great in that it utilises sounds that children can further develop their audio processing, plus the element of competition keeps children on their toes and engages their creative processing.

Here are my examples throughout the entire alphabet:

A: An awesome aardvark.

B: Bald Billy began bellowing.

C: Chris Carter carried canned carrots.

D: Dangerous Dan devoured Dixy’s dishes.

E: Enormous Ernie entangles every Easter.

F: Fredrick Finkle flicked featherless fowls.

G: Gemma Grey’s goose gobbled several globules of grub.

H: Hungry Harry Henderson handed Harriett Harman hundreds of hourglasses.

I: Igor’s incredible inquiry impressed the inspector.

J: Jane Jenkins’ jellies jiggled during Judge Judy’s judgement.

K: Kelly Kite kicked King Kevin.

L: Lemmy licked lemon lollypops.

M: Moaning Mindy might moan more this morning.

N: Norman Newton nearly kneed Nora Nate’s napkins.

O: Oswald Osborne observed optical illusions openly.

P: Penelope Pitstop’s people partied pleasantly.

Q: Quaid quacked quietly.

R: Robert Reed read rigorous reports regularly.

S: Stewart Smith sailed silently along the sea shore.

T: Timothy Tittle turned towards Tudor Towers, towing tons of traditional turtles.

U: Ursula untangled unbridled urns.

V: Victor Vice’s victory vanquished the villainous Vernon Verity’s venomous vipers.

W: William Wallace wiggled worrying when Wendy Winkle winked.

X: Xerophytes and Xylophones are in Xavier’s Xenia, Xaviera’s Xylo and Xanthus’s Xenon.

Y: Yang yelled yesterday.

Z: Zeus’ zebra zig-zagged in the zoo.

Alliteration is incredibly simple, however, as you can see when you try it with children yourself, the benefits are superb and can really engage with a child’s natural imaginative processes in a fun and constructive way.

Examples of Greek Myths

Greek myths and legends is the name given to stories which are told as part of the mythology of ancient Greece, concerning the nature of the world, the array of gods and deities, the fantastic mythical creatures, and the vast number of fictional heroes. These myths were widely told in ancient Greece and formed the basis of many religious traditions and rituals at the time. The ancient Greek’s prayed to different gods for different things, including as a good harvest, good health or increased wealth.

Some Greek myths were told by people as a way of explaining certain things which were not properly understood by the people at the time. Although these stories were mainly passed from person to person via oral storytelling and poetic traditions, some famous Greek literature has survived to this day, and they are now thought of as classic works of fiction. The oldest pieces of Greek literature are Homer’s poems The Iliad and The Odyssey. As well as finding examples of Greek myths in surviving literature, archaeologists have managed to find out a lot about the mythology of ancient Greece from archaeological excavations in places like Crete. Many ancient statues and vases have been discovered, which are adorned with pictures that show famous mythological scenes. Here are some examples of famous Greek myths:

Examples of Greek Myths

Daedalus and Icarus

Daedalus was a talented sculptor, architect and artist, who was the father of a young boy called Icarus. He was asked by King Minos of Crete to design a complex labyrinth to house the fearsome Minotaur; a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man. The labyrinth was designed to be impossible to escape from without prior knowledge of the route, and King Minos decided to lock Daedalus and his son in a tower on the island of Crete to prevent him from revealing the secrets of the maze.

In an attempt to escape from the tower, Daedalus constructed a set of wings each for himself and Icarus. These wings were made by securing various sizes of feathers together with wax to create a large enough surface area for them to take flight. Before giving his son the set of wings, Daedalus warned him that he must not fly too close to the sun, or else the wax on the wings would melt and they would fall apart. After equipping themselves, Daedalus and his son took to the skies, soaring on the breeze and making their escape from the tower. However, Icarus, who was filled with excitement about his newfound ability to fly, began to rise higher and higher, forgetting his father’s warning about the heat of the sun. Before he had chance to realise what was happening, the wax began to melt and the wings fell apart, sending Icarus tumbling into the sea below. Daedalus was forced to carry on alone, mourning for his dead son and cursing his own craftsmanship.The area of sea in which Icarus drowned is now known as the Icarian Sea.

The Midas Touch

King Midas was the ruler of a region of the Greek empire known as Phrygia. One day, some of his subjects brought him a mythic creature known as a satyr, who they had found wandering lost in the fields. Recognising the satyr as a friend of the god Dionysus, King Midas promised to take care of him and help him to make his way back home. Dionysus was so pleased that Midas had treated the satyr with such respect and dignity that he offered to grant the king one wish. Knowing that money makes the world go round and that unlimited gold would secure his position as king, Midas wished that everything that he touched would be turned into gold. Testing his new found ability on a branch and a stone, Midas was thrilled to watch them turn to gold. Although he was initially pleased by his new powers, he soon discovered that even the food and drink that he touched would turn to gold. In one particularly shocking turn of events, Midas accidentally turned his own daughter into a golden statue.

Horrified by the powers of his new “gift”, Midas returned to Dionysus to beg for the powers to be removed. Dionysus agreed to this, telling Midas that the gift would be gone if he washed himself in the waters of the river Pactolus. Ever since then, the river has been known for its shimmering golden river bed.

Perseus and the Medusa

Perseus was a famous Greek hero, who was part man, part god. His mother was the beautiful princess, Danaë, who had been impregnated by the god, Zeus during a sacred ritual. Danaë’s father had been warned by an oracle that this baby would kill him when he was fully grown, and the king decided to try to prevent this by casting mother and baby off into the sea in a wooden chest.

Years after these events, Danaë fell in love with another king named Polydectes, who was also afraid of Perseus. Polydectes decided to get rid of Perseus by sending him to slay an “unbeatable” foe – the Medusa. It was reported that the hideous Medusa had hair which was made out of vicious snakes and could turn anybody to stone if they looked at her directly.

In order to defeat the Medusa, Perseus procured a helm of darkness which made him invisible, a pair of winged sandals which allowed him to fly, and a magnificent sword made out of a reflective material. By wearing the helm, he was able to sneak into the Medusa’s cave without being seen and by using the reflective sword he was able to see the monster without looking at her directly. When he eventually chopped the head off of the Medusa, a beautiful, winged horse sprang from the body of the beast and Perseus claimed him for his own. Keeping the head of the Medusa in a bag, Perseus was later able to use it to turn his enemies to stone.

Alliteration Examples

Alliteration is one of those literary devices that you come across on an almost daily basis, but what exactly does the term mean?

Well, it is quite literally a repetition of consonant sounds within a sentence or name. This can be achieved for a number of purposes and is particularly common in poetry and advertising because of the instantly memorable tone that they produce when you read them.

Alliteration is an incredibly simple device to identify, as you will soon see with the examples below. They can be fun and it is really easy to come up with some of your own.

These examples are mixtures of names and phrases that will be quite common to you, as well as some of my own thrown in for good measure.

Alliteration Examples

Bulbous billiard balls bouncing between Bolton and Bradford
Sleek and shine
Daffy Duck
Donald Duck
Duck Dodgers
Ronald Reagan
Bill Bryson
Lex Luther
Word wide widows
Bradford and Bingley
Circumnavigate Celtic Circuses
William Wordsworth
Marilyn Monroe
Batman’s Batterang producing Bat Machine.
Six sizzling sausages sizzling in a pan.
Jumping Jacks
Busy as a bee
Good as gold
Piss poor
Right as rain
Reach for the robin redbreast
Mad as a march hare
Seven silly slug slid slowly on the slope
You spin me right round like a record baby
Twelve drummers drumming
Eleven pipers piping
Ten lords a leaping
Eight maids a milking
Seven swans a swimming
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree

Poetry Extracts

The Raven – Edger Allan Poe

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word,
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
Surely,’ said I,surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Much Madness is Divinest Sense – Emily Dickinson

Much Madness is divinest Sense

To a discerning Eye –

Much Sense — the starkest Madness

‘Tis the Majority

In this, as All, prevail –

Assent — and you are sane –

Demur — you’re straightway dangerous

And handled with a Chain

Why – Landon Browning

Why?! Sometimes I ask why. I mean why?

Does the good die young, I mean why?

Does the world make it so hard for single mothers to feed their kids but have enough

money for inmates, I mean why?

Do we constantly see history repeat itself when we have already learned it, I mean why?

Do we fear and can’t trust the police, I mean why?

Do we attack and hurt the people that love us but love the people that attack and hurt us, I mean why?

Do we have a generation that believes love is unsearchable. Where hate is leaned on more. Where happiness is rare.

And where lust is a no brainer, I mean why?

Do kids know every song lyric, but doesn’t know a bible scripture besides the one tatted on their arms, I mean why?

Do I have people in my life that are there for no reason, I mean why?

Do I have a pinch of believers but a handful of doubters, I mean why?

Did I have so much pain growing up, I mean why?

Do now I have enemies that use to be my friends, I mean why?!

Do things never go my way in my life, I mean why?

Eden – SKAT

Eden’s Ending Eulogy-

Proceed here today, Eden’s Ending Eulogy

Gentle gracious her garden, the guidance

I can’t recall what was with the warm, sincere smile, and sunrise

Lost at ease and clarity…….I Sleep!

Forever In Peace, this dark, damp den, coffin will do

at last, a parting powerful, reunion and resting resort


Tongue Twisters

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck would chuck wood?
A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck
If a woodchuck would chuck wood.
A tutor who tooted the flute
Tried to tutor two tooters to toot
Said the two to the tutor
“Is it tougher to toot
Or to tutor two tooters to toot?”
A skunk sat on a stump.
The stump thought the skunk stunk.
The skunk thought the stump stunk .
What stunk the skunk or the stump?
If one doctor doctors another doctor
Does the doctor who doctors the doctor
Doctor the doctor the way the doctor he is doctoring doctors?
Or does the doctor doctor the way
The doctor who doctors doctors?
If Freaky Fred Found Fifty Feet of Fruit
And Fed Forty Feet to his Friend Frank
How many Feet of Fruit did Freaky Fred Find?
Did Dick Pickens prick his pinkie
Pickling cheap cling peaches in an inch of Pinch
Or framing his famed French finch photos?
I’m not the pheasant plucker, I’m the pheasant plucker’s mate,
And I’m only plucking pheasants ’cause the pheasant plucker’s late
I thought a thought.
But the thought I thought wasn’t the thought I thought I thought.
If the thought I thought I thought had been the thought I thought, I wouldn’t have thought so much.
As you can see, alliteration is very easy to comprehend, albeit difficult to say in the form of tongue twisters. So, as Neil Buchanan says, ‘Try it yourself!’

Adjective Complement Examples

An adjective complement is not a complement that is given to an adjective in the style of ‘Oh, what a lovely adjective you’ve got there.’ That would be silly, if not slightly amusing and filled to the brim with innuendo. No, in fact an adjective complement is a way of modernising an adjective so that more information is given about it. For instance, ‘I am scared’ would state that I was indeed scared, but the adjective complement ‘of river dancing’ gives more information regarding the source of my fear. I’m not really afraid of river dancing but you get the idea.

There are two different forms that an adjective complement can take and that is a noun clause or a prepositional phrase.

Adjective Complement Examples

The Adjective Complement will be underlined

Gemma is fantastic at tennis.
He is very skilled in diplomatic relations.
Mary is charitable to the homeless.
Were you proud to get your new job.
I’m curious to find out what you think.
Einstein was superb at Physics
Examples by People

‘I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.’ – Lily Tomlin
‘I am not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.’ – Woody Allen
‘I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.’ Bertrand Russell
‘I don’t think it’s possible to touch people’s imagination today by aesthetic means.’
‘Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality.’ – Jules de Gaultier
Adjective Complements are fairly easy to get your head around once they have been explained properly. One of the major pitfalls that people face when it comes to understanding topics lies in the jargon that is used. The languages and names of classifications make most things sound complex, but as you can see, you experience them on a daily basis.

Satire Examples

Satire Examples

Satire is often a term that you will hear if you’re watching shows like of Family Guy, South Park, and The Daily Show, or reading a copy of Private Eye, or Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, but what exactly does it mean? Does it have to be funny? Well the short answer is no, and the slightly longer answer is that it does not have to bring about a laugh whatsoever, as that is not the intention of satire. The satirist approaches a subject in a style that is intended to ridicule a particular individual or industry, (namely politic), and reveal follies of their character through artistic representation in an attempt to shame them into positive change. Jonathan Swift is a key example of what constitutes a satire. In 1729, he published an essay entitled A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People Being a Burthen to Their Parents of Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick. It was written as though seriously proposing to the people of Ireland, to which were dying of starvation, to eat their children so that you are free of hunger and indeed, the burden of another mouth to feed. Due to the dire situation in Ireland, Swift was able to liken the role of eating a child as being ‘Landlord food’, which can be sold to make quite a profit. It was intended to shame the British government into seizing their abuses. A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People Being a Burthen to Their Parents of Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick, is characterised as being Juvenalian satire. Named after the Roman Satirist, Juvenal, this particular type of satire is characterised as having a speaker truly attack errors with harshness and contempt which really a stark contrast from that of the Horatian satire, named after Horace who favoured a much gentler approach to the subject of absurdities, bringing about a smile rather than anger. The proposal sparked a great deal of controversy, which shows the limitations of the understanding of satire across a wider audience. Some politicians, however, took the proposal very seriously and indeed began to discuss its implementation in parliament. Swift managers to lead the audience down one street, referring to the horrible situation with the poor before switching half way through with his culinary solution, even offing cooking tips for the preparation of the youth. One of the key features of satire is that of the parody. Parody is imitative of particular characteristics which accompany a particular work or style. It is imitation for the point of humour and is incredibly powerful when ridiculing the institutions of politics and religion. Take Gulliver’s Travels once again. The people of Lilliput, the tiny villagers who Gulliver first meets on his travels, are at war with their neighbours, the Blefusco. the war began because the people of Blefusco eat their eggs differently from the smaller point to the larger base, whereas their rivals ate from the base to the smaller section. This, is reminiscent of the religious division within Ireland, where it is quite literally divided by Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. By pointing out the absurdities surrounding the notion of eating the same egg, but differently, has a much more series intention in that it allows the reader to truly see the madness of a conflict between two people who believe in the same god, and yet practice in a different way. Satire is not limited to writing, and, as the print-based satirist James Gillray demonstrates, it does not have to be political. The print of Very Slippery Weather is strangely as relevant today as it was when it was published in 1808. Gillray depicts a gentleman slipping in the street outside a shop that sells prints. The man’s wig has flown from his head as his rear connects sharply to the cobbled ground. In his hand is a barometer, which has certainly identified that it is raining, but has failed to prepare the gentleman from falling over. It is a jibe at the over reliance on technology in favour of common sense. This to some extent rings modern bells with the advent of the Sat Nav, and the numerous stories of individuals following the directions strait into a river because it assured them that there was a road there. It is not laugh out loud funny, but there is dryness to the humour that can certainly be appreciated. It is often through that satire can be misunderstood, as individuals tend to mistake the object of the satire to be that of the subject. There have been a number of controversies, for instance back in 2005 when the Danish cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard had his cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad published. The cartoons represented the nature of wide spread anger that would result. Depicting Mohammad in a police line-up, where the ‘victim’ is unable to identify the culprit because of the lack of visual representation of the profit. This takes the form of Muhammad being positioned in the centre of two women in burkas with their eyes visible; whereas Muhammad’s eyes are censored by a black shape the fit the gaps in the burka to suggest anonymity for both angles. Westergaard also illustrates the taboo subject by inserting himself into the cartoons. The image depicts Westergaard drawing the cartoons with his hands covering the paper from any peering eyes in the dark. Satire as mentioned, runs throughout a number of mediums and can often be misunderstood. Its primary role is to improve the standards of declining individuals, and can be taken in two ways. You either laugh (or simply understand) that you are at fault and then go about to make the necessary changes, or you can be incredibly offended by it, which in turn highlights the issues that you are in error, and that you are mistaking the intention by the satirical subject. Satire Examples ‘During the course of these Troubles, the Emperors of Blefuscu did frequently expostulate by their Ambassadors, accusing us o making a Schism in Religion, by offending against a fundamental Doctrine of our great Prophet Lustrog, in the fifty-fourth Chapter of the Brundrecal, (which is their Alcoran). This, however, is thought to be a meer Strain upon the Text: For the Words are these; That all true Believers shall break their Eggs at the convenient End: and which is the convenient End, seems, in my humble Opinion, to be left to every Man’s Conscience, or at least in the Power of the Chief Magistrate to determine.’ Jonathan Swift – Gulliver’s Travels ‘I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds. I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.’ Jonathan Swift – A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People Being a Burthen to Their Parents of Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick

Personification Examples

Personification (or anthropomorphism) is the act of ascribing human characteristics or human form to something that is not human. The thing which is being personified can be living (such as an animal), inanimate (such as a vehicle) or even just a concept (such as justice or time). Giving a non-human object any human emotions, desires, movements, expressions or speech is described as personification. Personification can range from using a few human characteristics in a way which enhances simple descriptions, right up to giving something a complete human persona and fully fledged character. The device has been used for thousands of years by humans, with different purposes.

Personification Examples

In Literature

Personification in literature dates back thousands of years. Well-known collections of fables, such as Aesop’s Fables used animals with human qualities to help to illustrate some of the principles of life. These “animals” helped people to understand morals or messages which may not have been easily explained otherwise. The use of personification as a moral teaching tool continued throughout the ages with many cultures telling their children cautionary fairy stories involving personified characters, such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears. These tales usually included a moral message.

Time and Death are both examples of concepts which are frequently personified. Many stories focus on people trying to cheat death, or stop the passage of time by interacting with human versions of these ideas. These stories are often symbolic of people’s overwhelming feelings of futility in the face of death or the endless passage of time. By giving these “foes” human form, they are easier to fight against. Depending on the depiction, these concepts can be portrayed as either male or female.

In another aspect of literary description, writers give completely inanimate objects human characteristics in order to make their descriptions more vivid. For example, in the phrase “the wind howled mournfully”, the wind is not literally howling in a mournful fashion, but the rich description gives the reader the chance to properly imagine the state of the weather.

In History

Archaeologists and historians have found paintings and sculptures dating back hundreds of years, showing animals in poses which are human, or showing animals behaving as though they were human. It is likely that early humans attempted to give animals human qualities in an attempt to make sense of the world around them. Giving the unknown qualities of the known can help to make things more explainable. It has also been suggested by archaeologist Steven Mithen that ancient hunter-gatherers would personify the animals that they hunted, so that they could better understand their movements and actions, thus making it much easier to track them.

In Art

Various forms of personification have been used in fine art, including the personification of countries. During the 19th century, a trend emerged for depicting countries as powerful women, who were usually known by the Latin name of the country in question, such as Polonia (Poland), Britannia (Great Britain) and Helvetia (Switzerland). These artistic representations helped to rally national pride and allowed artists to portray international events in more simplistic or understandable terms.

In Film

Some of our most famous films and TV shows rely on personification as one of their major plot devices. The majority of Disney animations involved personified characters, from Mickey Mouse to the Lion King. Aladdin even involves a Magic Carpet which has some very human qualities. Recent examples include Toy Story and Cars, which both focus on the lives and times of normally inanimate objects. Technological progress in the field of animation means that it is now easier than ever to give life to everyday objects.

Metaphor Examples

Metaphor Examples

Metaphor is a term that crops up time and time again. It is often that you will hear the term ‘metaphorically speaking’, if not in Jim Carry’s voice from The Mask, but what exactly is a metaphor, and what values, if any, do they have.

A metaphor is one of the most valuable tools that a creative has within their arsenal, as it can radically transform the intention of a piece of work. Take Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick. There is nothing at all preventing you from enjoying the book from the view-point of its literal representation as a good story about a man who simply hates a whale. Everybody and their screws know that the story is about something more complex than that.

The concept of the metaphor is itself examined within the pages of Melville’s masterpiece, as each of the characters, and indeed the reader will look at the whale as symbolising something much more grander, and for Ahab, it is the reflection of all of his woes, pains and ambition to hunt down and tackle a dream that is consistently evasive and destructive. The tale itself depicts the full extent of human obsession and drive, and how often this sole driven aim is followed to the grave.

Metaphor is a way of explaining things for a more general understanding. If you look through history, you will find that as science has improved, so has our understanding of the world around us.

The best way to understand the complexities, is to link them to something that is completely opposite, and yet related to the subject of that which is being represented. It is therefore a form of analogy which can be seen throughout a number of fields.

Consider in Physics when you are a child, there is little doubt that when you were learning about the solar system, your teacher would bring out a series of balls, or other spherical objects ranging in different sizes. For me there were footballs, garden peas and clumps of putty. Now, there was no way that anybody could be expected to believe that Earth is a tennis ball and Jupiter is a football, but they allowed you to gage in terms that you understand, the true scale of the sizes of the planet, and how many of those smaller shapes could fit within a larger shape.

The common story of the Stalk which parents often tell their inquisitive infants who confront them with the age old question of ‘Where do babies come from?’

Now, you can’t just look down at your child at a tender age of innocence that they were produced by the penetration of an erect penis into the mother’s vagina, for a questionable standard of intercourse, followed by the ejaculation of semen which then inseminates their mother’s eggs. Following nine months (average) of pregnancy, the child emerges in and blood curdling way. No, they would be absolutely horrified if you told them that, and they would not be able to sleep for a month! No, the stalk is a useful and innocent metaphor which provides a child with information which is appropriate at the time.

This is also seen in a number of religious texts. The Holy Bible has often been argued to not be literal and should be viewed as a metaphor. Christianity for example, has often been described as being a metaphor for the movement of the stars, and the it is not literally true. The same can be said for the Ancient Egyptians who believed that the night was constantly at battle with the night, and that wide spread issues such as famine and disease were a product of the God’s which created the world. Due to the complexities of life and insufficient scientific endeavours which were seen is the illiterate regions of the world, simplistic examples were needed in order for life to continue. It is a mark of humanity’s first attempts at philosophy, however like Moby Dick, there are those who view the texts as literal truth.

Like the apparent stories told by Jesus, children are often read stories which have a moral within the stories which they are questioned on once the story is completed. The most common examples of these are Aesop’s Fables.

In the story of The Hare and The Tortoise, the Hare is seen to be showing off, and boasting that he is much faster than the other animals and challenging them to a race which the Tortoise accepts. This both surprises and amuses the Hare, who is obviously much more physically able to win any race. Before the race has even begun, the Hare speaks as though they have already won the race. During the race, the Hare is in the lead and keeps stopping to have a bit of a sleep, as there was no way that the tortoise would win. What resulted was that the Hare fell asleep which allowed the Tortoise to surpass them, and win the race.

This fable, like so many of Aesop’s are Matrix style loading areas for the development of children, who are able to work out what the meaning of these symbols mean in the grander scheme of life. The Hare and The Tortoise, is obviously about the nature of over-confidence to the point that you do not see things through till the end before announcing your results. It also comes with the message that ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ Which of course, is not always the case, but it calls for perseverance in the face of the seemingly impossible.

Metaphor is a truly enriching piece of rhetoric which serves a number of purposes, whether that is artistic in the form of painting, film, writing, or scientific, or philosophically. Although the direct and apparent object is not intended literally, they are to be taken seriously in their representation. The famous ending to Doctor Strange Love: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, shows the true madness of nuclear war in the form of a cow boy riding the bomb like a bucking bronco, hat in hand laughing all the way to destruction.

Idiom Examples

An idiom is a phrase or sentence which should be taken figuratively, rather than literally. Whilst the literal meaning of a sentence would not make sense in the context in which it was used, many listeners or readers are familiar with the most common idioms and therefore understand the intended meaning. Some idioms may seem to be very obscure, but it is often possible to discern the figurative meaning by considering the context in which the phrase is being used. However, when these idioms are taken out of context, it can be very hard for people to work out what they mean. Whilst it is very clear where some idiomatic phrases have originated from, other idioms are less easy to understand, but they are still used because they have become so commonplace that most native speakers can understand their meaning with ease. Idioms can be a couple of words long and used as part of another sentence, or they can be a whole sentence in themselves. In some cases, idioms which are a whole sentence long may also be considered to be proverbs.

Idiom Examples

Examples of Common English Language Idioms

“A bitter pill” – A piece of information which is disagreeable but must be accepted.
“At the drop of a hat” – Instantly and without any hesitation.
“Beat about the bush” – To discuss a topic at length without discussing the main points or difficult aspects.
“Bite off more than one can chew” – To take on more responsibility that one can handle successfully.
“By the skin of one’s teeth” – to only just achieve something or to narrowly avoid disaster.
“Cut the mustard” – to meet the required expectations.
“Have eye’s in the back of one’s head” – to be aware of events which are not happening in front of you.
“Pop one’s clogs” – Die.
“Piece of cake” – A task which is easy.
“Pull someone’s leg” – To tease someone mildly or to tell a joke.
“Put the cat among the pigeons” – To cause trouble or to create a disturbance.
“Raining cats and dogs” – Raining very heavily.
“Spill the beans” – to reveal a secret to someone.
“Take the biscuit” – for something to be particularly bad.
“Through thick and thin” – In good times and in bad times.
“Under the weather” – To feel sick or unwell.
“When pigs fly”- Used to express that something will never happen.
“Water under the bridge” – meaning that something which happened in the past is no longer significant.
Lost in translation

Understanding idioms can be one of the most difficult parts of the English Language for foreign language learners. Whilst many different languages use idiomatic phrases in speech and literature, there are thought to be about 25,000 different idioms in the English language. Although the learner may understand all of the individual words in the sentence, when they read the sentence out in full, it may not seem to make any sense at all! English speakers should not make the mistake of trying to directly translate their idioms into foreign languages either, because idioms are not the same in every language. For example, there are lots of different idioms which refer to death or dying, but most of these phrases do not translate directly from one language to another.

Kicking the Bucket

Here is a selection of foreign language alternatives which mean the same as “to kick the bucket” (to die) does in English:

Danish: To take off the clogs (“at stille trᴂskoene”)
French: To eat dandelions by the root (“manger des pissenlits par la racine”)
German: Look at the radishes from underneath (“sich die Radieschen von unten ansehen”)
Romanian: To turn the corner (“a da colṭul”)
Russian: To give the oak (дать дуба)
Swedish: Take the Sign Down (“ta ner skylten”)
Tlingit: To take one’s basket into the woods (“dákde kákw aawayaa”)
Urdu: The whole elephant was out, but his tail remained trapped (Haathi Nikal Gaya Dum Phans gai)

Some of these may seem easier to guess the meaning of than others. If you think about eating plants or looking at plants from underneath, it is easy to make the logical assumption that the subject of the sentence is underground and is therefore dead. However, other phrases are much harder to understand. Although the true origin of many of these phrases is less clear, linguists can often provide plausible explanations. It is thought that “kick the bucket” may come from the fact that people who were executed by hanging often stood on an upturned bucket whilst the noose was being prepared. Once the bucket was kicked away, the victim would be hanged to death.

Some More Examples of Foreign Idioms

Danish: To Polar bear = to pace up and down (“Ijsberen”)
Estonian: To make an elephant out of a gnat = to make a lot out of a minor issue (“Sääsest elevanti tegema”)
Finnish: To pace around hot porridge like a cat = To talk at length without coming to the real point (“kiertää kuin kissa kuumaa puuroa”)
French: To pedal in the sauerkraut = to go nowhere (“pédaler dans la choucroute”)
German: Dancing on the edge of a volcano = live dangerously (“Tanz auf dem Vulkan”)
Hindi: To excrete hot embers = to be very angry
Gaelic: Like a jackdaw among peacocks = to feel awkward because you are in a unfamiliar situation (“tá si mar a bheadh cág I measc péacóg”)
Italian: To have one’s eyes lined with ham = to be unable to see what’s in front of you (“avere gil occhi foderatidi prosciutto”)
Japanese: Even monkeys fall from trees = even experts can get it wrong (猿も木から落ちる)
Russian: To hang noodles on one’s ears = to tell lies or talk nonsense (Вешать лапшу на уши)
Spanish: Not to have hairs on your tongue = to tell it like it is (“no tenér pelos enla lengua”)
Tibetan: To put up a beer tent = to get married (“chang sa rgyag”)
Turkish: His nose is up in the air = He is conceited (“Burnu havada”)
Welsh: On the back of his white horse = full of mischief (“ar gefn ei geffyl gwyn”)