landmines in angola challenge
FND Unit 2 query | Pinkie | May 15th, 2000
I've been looking at the Foundation Module Units 1 and 2 this weekend. In general, I've found these materials very interesting and very useful; but I have a problem with Unit 2. Specifically, I have difficulty understanding Dr. Edge's analysis of the "Landmines in Angola" text. In fact - and fully aware that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing - I would tentatively suggest that there are several problems with Dr. Edge's analysis. Have other participants encountered problems here?
FND Unit 2 | Christina Polizogopoulou | May 15th, 2000
Pinkie wrote that there are several problems with Dr Edge's analysis. Pinkie, do you mean that you disagree with the SPRE analysis given? Please be more specific so we can discuss the matter.
FND Unit 2 | Pinkie | May 15th, 2000
Thanks, Christina. Yes, I do mean that I disagree with the SPRE analysis given, though I'm afraid my reasons may be rather hard to digest. Here goes...
1) First, I think it's important to distinguish clearly between three different things: a) the "SPRE model", i.e. a common discourse pattern in which the text is divided into functional blocks showing the order SPRE or a recognizable variant thereof (e.g. S-P-R-E with substructures within one or more blocks; or patterns such as SP-R-E, or S-PRPRPR-E, or S-P-E-R); b) "SPRE analysis" sensu stricto, which takes a given text and attempts to divide it into functional blocks in accordance with the SPRE model; and c) ad hoc analyses of the S, P, R and E functions of individual semantic elements (words, phrases, sentences), perhaps without any attempt to identify a large-scale structure, and certainly without any attempt to apply the SPRE model.
2) Dr Edge's analysis states that "The text does respond to an SPRE analysis". From his preceding discussion, I take this to mean that the text shows the S-P-R-E pattern or a variant thereof. I agree that the text can be considered to show an S-P-R-E pattern (in fact, S-P-E-R; see point 4); but I disagree that the analysis given demonstrates such a pattern.
3) In fact, it's not very clear exactly what Dr Edge's analysis is. Reading between his lines, we get something like S-P1-R1-E-R1-P2-R2-E-R2. It's not really clear whether he's trying to do an SPRE analysis sensu stricto, or an ad hoc analysis of the functions of individual elements. Certainly, the pattern he obtains is a long way from the basic SPRE pattern. And why P1 and P2, and R1 and R2? See next point...
4) I would suggest that the root cause of this lack of clarity is inaccurate definition of the top-level Problem and the corresponding Response. On first reading, the "problem" referred to appears to be that of landmines in Angola, and of course this is true: but it is not the top-level Problem in the SPRE sense. The top-level Problem is that MAG needs money; the landmines and all the associated horror simply constitute part of the Situation. Similarly, the text refers to two types of response: the various responses of MAG (such as demining and education), and the response requested of the reader (giving money). This latter is clearly the top-level Response in the SPRE sense. If we accept these definitions of the Problem and the Response (unlike Dr Edge, who appears to use all four definitions, and assigns them apparently equal rank; hence P1 and P2, and R1 and R2), we can produce a much more straightforward and credible analysis of the text, as follows: paragraphs 1-5 constitute S, paragraph 6 constitutes P, paragraph 7 (except final sentence) constitutes E, and the final sentence constitutes R. In other words, we get an SPER pattern: a variant of SPRE with transposition of the last two blocks. Within S, we might then wish to perform a sub-analysis, where the Problem is now indeed that of landmines in Angola, and the Response that of MAG (demining and education). Furthermore, we might argue about the precise breakdown of P, E and R in the final two paragraphs: there is clearly considerable functional overlap here (indeed, so much that we might begin to question whether this text can be usefully described by the SPRE model after all...). Nevertheless, I would suggest that this analysis offers a more coherent breakdown of the text's macro-structure than that given by Dr Edge.
Over to you!