Saturday, 31 March 2018

Creative Writing in Other Languages Workshop 5 Using grammatical patterns

There is a musicality about many grammatical patterns. We can use the rhythms and repetitions to reinforce the form. We can also use it to create something that is aesthetically pleasing.

Do you remember the poem by Jacques Prévert that manipulates the prefect tense?

Il a mis le café
Dans la tasse
Il a mis le lait
Dans la tasse de café
Il a mis le sucre
Dans le café au lait
Avec la petite cuiller
Il a tourné
Il a bu le café au lait
Et il a reposé la tasse
Sans me parler
Il a allumé
Une cigarette
Il a fait des ronds
Avec la fumée
Il a mis les cendres
Dans le cendrier
Sans me parler
Sans me regarder
Il s'est levé
Il a mis
Son chapeau sur sa tête
Il a mis
Son manteau de pluie
Parce qu'il pleuvait
Et il est parti
Sous la pluie
Sans une parole
Sans me regarder

When I was taught languages by the old "grammar grind" method, one of the joys was chanting out declensions and conjugations in competition with the class next door. Sometimes it was even in a different language.  

It made the patterns stick. But you can also play with those patterns and a heck of a lot of meaning can be punched into a few words. Study Prévert's poem, the picture at the beginning of this post and the other German example below:

Ich habe einen Vater
Ich habe keinen Bruder
Ich habe einen Hund.
Now have a go yourself.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Creative Writing in Other Languages Workshop 4 Some Oulipo ideas

We are beginning to get into something a little like what the Oulipo poets did.

Adding a word

You start off with a simple sentence and add something else simple. This can come from the students' normal repertoire or you may allow them to use a dictionary.  The example below is in French.


Un mot en plus  

Voici mon chien.
Voici mon grand chien.
Voici mon grand chien noir.
Voici mon grand chien noir et mignon.
Voici mon chien qui dort.
Mon chien, que j’adore 


Altering words

You change one word for each new line. Students practise both vocabulary and grammar. Again, they can use their own repertoire or find new vocabulary from the dictionary. This example is in German.   


Der Mann schläft im Garten.
Mein Mann schläft im Garten.
Mein Sohn schläft im Garten.
Mein Sohn arbeitet im Garten.
Mein Sohn arbeitet in einem Garten.
Mein Sohn arbeitet in einem Krieg.

Have a good look at the Oulipo ideas.  You might think of how to use the n + 7 method or the metro poems.