English Ib Group 1 Comparison

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The two given texts share the theme water and the perception thereof. Predominantly, the discussion ensuing the reading of the two quite polar articles concerns first and third world problems.

The first text is an article written for ‘the Observer Food Monthly’ in 2003 by William Leith and has the title ‘Give me an Eau’. The second is an information sheet adapted from UNICEF, written in the same year.

The article written by Mr Leith has many compelling factors, the first being its aimed audience. Being written for a foods magazine, it is directed at food lovers, chefs and gourmands. Furthermore, the way it is written (the irony, humour and puns) reflects an entertaining tint that suggests it is not meant to be taken seriously. However, on the second glance, one would notice that though the writing style is witty, there are thoughtful, critical points being made leading one to believe it s really an article critically viewing our appreciation of the subject at hand- water. Content-wise, the text depicts the author’s meeting with the head sommelier of an up-scale restaurant where he does a sort of water tasting. Interestingly, there are two sides to his criticisms. First, his view that the goal of a water enthusiast is to find a water that tastes of the least- seen as the water best in quality- and secondly the economic repercussions and consequences of this newfound phenomenon. This complex subject means the register is especially important. Yet there are many facets, even here. On one side you have the head Sommelier Holmes’ flowery language; who uses jargon habitually associated with wines (“quite soft, very rounded” line 18) and Leith’s obvious economic savvy (“The fastest growing drink on the market” line 4, “the market has gone global” line13) juxtaposed with his drop in register when describing the actual water (“…of the stuff” line 15). This familiar language seems to be a sort of Freudian slip of the author, revealing his lowly esteemed opinion of this new undertaking. Furthermore, the constant repetition of the phrase “it tastes of nothing” recurring at least five times, underlines this sentiment of ridicule as well. Accompanying the author’s already pronounced sense of disagreement with his subject is the use of irony. Especially prominent are the puns- even in the title “Give me an Eau”, ‘eau’ being French for water and also the phrasing is a typical expression used at rallies to spell the names of teams etc. Other puns include the term ‘heavy drinker’ (line 7) when referring to water enthusiasts. Furthermore, the irony is apparent when one looks at the juxtapositions Leith uses to highlight his opinion in comparison to Holmes’ watery praises. For example in lines 18-19: “ ‘It’s quite soft, very rounded.’ [Holmes] I take a sip. […] It tastes of nothing. [Leith] ”. Especially the chosen quotes taken from the interview with Holmes seem to be specifically chosen in order to maximise Leith’s mockery. Furthermore, the fact that this text has quotes from an interview and is even a recount of Leith’s personal experience with a water enthusiast makes his arguments all the more trustworthy. Also the relatively simple sentence structure fortifies this point. Additionally, he does not exclude himself from marketing’s influence (“This, I realize is good marketing. I love the waterfall” line 30) which brings him closer to the readers, as do the already mentioned the infrequent drops in register.

Yet his arguments are also directed at a certain audience: middle class, food enthusiastic, first world, most likely western people. The second text by the organisation UNICEF is a beautiful juxtaposition to this take on water’s importance in our society in comparison to its important in our world.

“Water and Sanitation” has a very different view on water. Where Leith laughs at the banality of bottled water and the money we throw at it, UNICEF talks about its values and our needs of it as a fundamental...
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