English vs. French amongst the Generations

“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.” – René Descarte

 In the final phase of the process work, I will basically share what I found by analyzing the excel spreadsheet. My second blog post consisted of analyzing the data I collected, while this blog post will focus on the whole data. As I mentioned in my second blog post, I will be looking at the books that were read by the older generation and the younger generation and I will compare the two of them. I will further look at the languages of the books and see if French books are still read nowadays as they were during the 20th century.

On a larger scale

I went through the whole data collected during the 20th century, from 1957 until 1995.


The count of people that graduated before 1995 is 26.

16 out of 26 books are in French, 9 are in English, and one is in Arabic.

In order to get equal results, and since the data of younger people is larger than the data associated with people that graduated during the 90’s, I will focus on the most recent 26 collected data.


23 out of 26 books are in English, 2 are in French and one is in Arabic


In order to have a clear view of the data collected within the older generation and the newest 26 years, I plugged the 52 collected data into Palladio.


I found that during the 20th century, people mostly read French books. As we can see in this graph, there’s a variety in the French books. Although there are some English books that were read during those years, such as Pity the Nation, Kafka On The Shore, The Conquest of Andalusia and the Old Man the Sea, the French books exceed the English ones by 7 books. 

It is also interesting to investigate if the same results will be found during the last 26 years of the 21th century.


In comparison the older graph and to the 26 books that were read during the 26 years in the 20th, it is clear that the number of English books read exceed the number of French books. As stated before, 23 books are in English and only three are dedicated to French. 

After obtaining those results, I can state that the French literature is not given the same importance nowadays. In a society where English is becoming the dominant language, not only in high schools, but also in universities and the field work, French has lost its influence on people. Although some French system schools (such as the ones that were established after the French colonization and are inhibited to the French embassy and follow the same French curricula in France) are very well-known for their effective educational level; I believe that most of the Lebanese parents no longer enroll their children in French schools as before. In respect to all the French educated audience and French high schools and even though it is beneficial to be multilingual in any country; French as a language is no longer used prominently as English and Arabic. I, for example,  am a french student graduate from Lycee Franco Libanais Verdun in Lebanon, yet I am studying at an American University. I think that if I had the chance to be enrolled in a American system school, it would have been more beneficial for me due to the fact that I barely use French as language nor read French books as much as English. And honestly, I believe that this is the case of most of the Lebanese community.

Furthermore, I created an Excel table that shows After 1995 and Before 1955 column labels in function of  Free time and School time in Private school and Free time and School time in function of Public school.


I actually found very interesting results. The table did no dedicate any column to Free time in Public school neither Before 1995 or After 1995, which shows that children who are enrolled in public schools did not read at all during their free time. In addition, 10 people in public school read during school time before 1995, and nobody read during school time after 1995. In comparison to private school, people read during their free time and school time before 1995 and after 1995. This shows that children in private schools read more and spent more time reading in their free time. It also very important to note there must be a problem concerning the public school curriculum.

Last but not least, I was personally chocked when I was looking through the table and found that children in public school do not read during their school time. It made question why literature and the dedication to reading is not as important in public schools. I think the Lebanese public schools should be aware of this issue and focus more on literature as much they give value to science and others materials. 

How to improve the research/Digital project?

I suggest that during the following semesters, two layers were added to the excel file. Adding two layers will be helpful to provide a better understanding of the data . I think that a layer on people’s background would be helpful. For example, I would have asked my intervenes their Language of education and their L1, L2 and L3(rated according to fluency and native language). I also think that each person should have the same number of intervenes in total. In addition, it would be helpful to ask the intervenes about three books only, due to the fact that some students filled the sheet incoherently. I also would like to mention that I could not find the longitude and latitude of some of the schools such as Berro Al Hussein, since it was established in Baalback and was closed long time ago. Thus it affected my map on Carto Db hence I did not include it in my blog.

Literature amongst older generation

     After meeting with my group members, and after several discussions on Whatsapp – we agreed on a common theme: language. The ways in which each of our projects diverge are based on our personal interests and interpretations of the acquired data. Theresa will be talking about the lack of intersection between school curriculum and the books read in people’s free time and school time, Marriane will be looking at the ways that transnational theory and Lebanon’s history of colonial and mandate powers have affected the different kinds of educational systems we have laid out for us, and I will specifically be talking about the ways canonicity and languages intersect and how differences arose between the older generation and the new generation. Although, our second blog posts will mostly be dedicated to looking at the ways we could start to analyze the data. 

   My own Data

As mentioned in my previous blog, I believe many aspects could be focused on. In order to demonstrate the canonocity awareness in Lebanon, I will go through some of the questions that were treated in my first blog.

Since most of my intervenes consist of people who graduated before year 2001, I’m going to focus on the older generation that graduated in the following years: 1957-1965-1968-1975-1981-2001-2004-2007-2015. To narrow down the process, it will be interesting to study how the canonicity awareness of those people during those years varied in private and public schools and within the generations.

Hypothesis 1: After questioning the intervenes whether they read books during high school in their free time or in their school time, and considering their cultural and intellectual background; the results found in the spreadsheet show that none out of 10 intervenes that were enrolled in public schools read books in their free time. While only two out of 8 people who went to a private school read in their free time. However, this following analyze is not enough to support my argument, therefore I will look at more people that graduated during the 90’s. I gathered all the 26 people that graduated before 1995 and the last 26 that graduated during the 21th (results shared in the third blog).


I created this Excel table in order to differentiate between the older and new generation in function of free/school time. Before 1995, 10 people out of 26 read during their free time, while 16 read during school time. In addition, after 1995, 14 people out of 26 read during their free time while 12 read during their school time. In both cases, the number is added by  4 people, which shows that the two generations equally read during their free time and school time. To be more specific, I will be looking in the third blog at the same differences but added by a private/public school label.

In addition, many people believe that the education offered in the Lebanese public schools is not as a good the private schools’ one (hypothesis 1). This realization allows me to argue that the Lebanese people seek the best education in town. However, after having interviewed people who went to a private school, I have come to realize that the public schools’ curricula and canonicity awareness are not as bad as everyone think. I would like to mention that French plays and novels read in high schools by the Lebanese people are repetitively read through out the years in both private and public schools. Although some public schools does not give enough importance to French and mostly English literature as private schools, some of them still require students to read very interesting and well-known novels. For example, Le Malade Immaginaire/The Imaginary Invalid is read in both schools. In addition, when it comes to French Literature, books by Moliere, Jean de La Fontaine, Gustave Flaubert and Pierre Corneille were read in public schools.

Main focus 

Another finding that will be interesting to focus on is books that are read in French language. Thus I will compare the older generation’s reading vs. the younger generation, and investigate if French, as a language, is still important as it were after the French colonization in Beirut until the 21th century. The younger generation, graduated between 2001 and above, read books such as Frankeistein, Anna Karenina, The count of Monte Cristo, Veronica decides to die, Les Miserables and L’avare. However, the older generation that graduated in between 1957 and 1981, read books that are mostly French. Out of twelve people who graduated during the 20th century, only two of them read English. I believe that this association within French/English books is very significant since the number of people that read French is higher than the ones in the younger generation part. In order to have equal results, I will look closer at a larger scale of the data, which will equalize the number of intervenes in the older and the new generation ; allowing the research to be more reliable and significant.

Therefore, I will broaden the research on my main focus in the third blog, and compare the books that were read among the older and new generation. Then, I will analyze the results I obtained by adding a Palladio graph, which allows me to complete my research and support my argument. I addition I will tend to look at the schools people went to during the older and the new generation. 

Reflection on digital project

         Writing Blog posts on WordPress is something I really enjoy. I wrote other posts on this WordPress account in an other English course. Some of the previous blog posts consist of maps showing different street signs in Beirut, Lebanon. However, in this post, I will introduce a different project assigned in another English course at AUB. This project is based on collecting a data base of books that were read by people from different ages and in different high schools. This digital project will reveal what and why particular books have specific values and were regarded as important texts that should be read.  It also shows how each the public and the private school follow a certain curricula.


       images  In this project, over 20 student contributed in gathering the necessary information such as book titles and authors, graduation year of the intervene, which school they went, etc..and then plugged them into a specific spreadsheet that all the students are accessed to. In this spreadsheet, each student adds what he or she has found during his interviews. In this project, students should actually collaborate since it’s a group project. My group is formed by three members,  including me. The three of us all created WordPress accounts. Marianne and I used to take another English course together and I think she has writing skills. Yet I don’t have enough background on my other team-mate Theresa, but I think she is a kind person and has writing skills. Their participation and knowledge is very essential in this group since this project focuses on literature and genre; however, I’m overwhelmed with comfortableness when it comes to group works because I enjoy working on my own and some group members depend on the other to complete the work. Hopefully, I won’t go through any disadvantage in this group! 


        The most surprising part about interviewing people is that some of them have read the same Novels that were read by different people that went to different high schools. I used to believe that private schools’ requirements differ completely from the private’s schools ones, especially French system schools. However, after collecting the date base, I came to realize that the French plays and Novels are read repetitively through out the years in both private and public schools. 

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies..the man who never reads lives only one. -George R. Martin

           One of the most important aspects that features this project is the fact that we, as students will be able to differentiate between the books that were read in public schools and the books that were read in private schools. Furthermore, another interesting feature that I would like to focus on, is looking at the importance given to literature and reading in both high schools and whether the students in private schools were more educated. In addition, I will also tend to focus on the younger generation nowadays, and look at the books read by French system schools. It will also be interesting to investigate if French as a language is still important as it were after the French colonization in Beirut until the 21th century. In addition, it is significant to notice what were these people reading during their free time, and based on that I will evaluate their cultural background, and whether this person is more intellectual than the person who does not read in his/her free time, and if the school has an effect on that. 

Wild card

Homophobic language

Homophobic and sexist language are one of the hate speeches that can cause in the harm of people in the society. In this page I will be focusing on homophobic language, which basically refers to terms or forms of abuse that are often used towards queer (lesbian, gay or bisexual) people, or those thought to be LGB because of their gender expression (Challenging Homophobic Language, n.d.). While some may not actually be homophobic, by using the word “gay” in this incorrect manner, they are partaking in making people who are actually gay, feel as though they are inferior.

In this website, https://visualisingadvocacy.org/blog/nohomophobes, called “No Homophobes”, one can see how homophobic language is being used on twitter. This website continuously updates the information as tweets are constantly being posted on twitter. Actually, “the site was conceptualized by the Institute of Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta in Canada and led by Dr. Kristopher Wells
(“No Homophobes”).

In addition, “No Homophobes” specifically tracks the use of four hashtags that are the following : “#faggot,” “#sogay,” “#nohomo,” and “#dyke,” and has found that “‘#sogay’ and ‘#nohomo’ are used on average 10,000 times daily, ‘#faggot’ is used on average 45,000 times daily, and ‘#dyke’ is used on average 4,000 times daily” (Kibirege & Tryl, n.d.).

Fortunately, as one keeps refreshing the website, the numbers keep changing, which leaves us with some hope that the use of these homophobic words may continue to decrease over time. In addition, in order to prevent this homophobic language from continuing to prosper, people should be taught about the actual meaning of the word “gay” and that there is nothing wrong with being gay. It is through people’s understanding of the consequences of homophobic language that these languages can hopefully cease being used. It also has major impacts on the subjects of this abusive language as well as on non-homosexual people.

Source citations: 

Challenging Homophobic Language. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ilga-europe.org/sites/default/files/challenging_homophobic_language.pdf

Kibirige, H., & Try, L. (n.d.). Tackling Homophobic Language. Retrieved from https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/tackling_homophobic_language_-_teachers_guide.pdf


Reflective essay

Lebanon is the perfect country to start a mapping project. The streets of Beirut are unique in a way that leave a person astonished by the disparity between the usage of language in it. This is due to the fact that languages are always changing and mixing together. People therefore tend to be influenced by other languages, and start inferring them in their everyday life. Moreover, Lebanon is a westernized country, where English, French and  are the dominant languages, besides Arabic. Thus, there’s a huge diversity concerning signage whether we are in Beirut or outside of it. During my mapping project, I took pictures inside of Beirut by using a mobile application called “Fulcrum”. By using this application, the pictures will be uploaded according to location of the pictures.

Earlier in the semester, I started taking pictures in Hamra, Kornish Al mazraa, Berj Abou haidar, Malla, and then I focused more on Barbir, Nouweiry, and Barbour. While taking the pictures, I noticed that the languages used in signage are different. I wasn’t aware of this diversity between signage until I started taking pictures. The signs are basically constituted of Arabizi style of writing, English only, Arabic only, or French only. There are unlimited  options in the select of languages in street signage. Some signage were also a mix of English and French, Arabic and English, or all of them together.  There are even some misspelled French words and Grammar mistakes. For example,  in this picture, one can read “Belle Papillon Salon” that was taken in Malla.


Papillon is a French masculine noun; however, the word “Papillon” was described as being “Belle”, which is a feminine adjective. The corrected version should be “Beau Papillon”. In my personal opinion, I think that they used Belle instead of Beau, due to the fact that, it’s a beauty salon signage, and they are referring to women as being beautiful by using “belle” papillon.

Furthermore, as one can see in this map, the red points refer to the pictures that were collected by my other colleagues in Beirut and surrounding it, and the purple points refer the one I collected. Moreover, one can notice that the concentration of purple points is exceedingly high especially in Hamra/Bliss Street, and this is due to the fact that my colleagues were taking pictures next to AUB. 

Here’s a clearer version of the data that I collected on my own:


Lastly, when I started taking pictures in Barbour, I realized that there’s a huge usage of French in this particular street. I also noticed that there’s a rare usage of French in Barbir. After this recognition, i decided that my final mapping project will be constituted of the comparison of two neighborhood, and study of the language used in those areas. In addition, it was a little bit awkward taking pictures in Barbour, because it’s a crowded neighborhoods. Lastly, I’ve come to realize that people will tend to look at you in a weird way when taking pictures, as if taking pictures of stores is something wrong. Therefore, I started taking pictures on Sundays, and it went much better.





While browsing through the English Oxford Dictionary; it was shocking how many “new” words I was unaware of. Neologism is based on the creation of new words. For example, words like “Copernicium” and “Adipokine”, are some of the words I didn’t know before. Moreover, other terms that I found interestingly weird are “Happy slap” and “Jeggings”. First, I was actually quite surprised that these words exist in the dictionary. And second, I realized that some of the recently added words are either related to Science or to the Media. For example, the definitions of terms like “Photo bomb”, “happy slap” and “Selfie”; are related to technology and smartphones. Many other words such as “Twerking”; had an already know conation before, but it was revived after Miley Cyrus’s excessive performance of it in public.


If someone selects the Caribbean Region in the “Categories” section in the OED, and then chooses “Jamaica”; a list of 174 words will appear. I noticed that these words entered the dictionary in between the 18th and the 21th century. As I mentioned in the previous section Neologisms, many new words entered the OED in the 22th, which is not the case of this particular region. The last recent word that was entered; date from around the 1980. The usage of English in this region must be insignificant. The words that I found are either related to food, fruits and drinks. There are also dozen of words associated with plants, and especially words that are linked to the practice and culture of the Jamaican country. There’s an excessive use of words related to music and dance. What’s interesting about it is that the word “Rastafarian” is present in many definitions, which is the Abrahamic belief that was developed back in 1930 in Jamaica. Nowadays, many fans of the Jamaican singer Bob Marley, use this particular term to express their appreciation of his music.


In this last part, I picked the Caribbean region and the “Performing Arts” as a subject. 12570 results were found. As seen below, the periods when certain words were very important for the OED; range between 1850 and 1899, and between 1900 and 1949.



In this Graph, we can see that the number of results of the data range 1900 and 1949 decreased, comparing it with the first graph. Moreover, the sample words are remarkably interesting, especially because they are familiar Performing Art words, unlike the first graph words.



In addition, the sample words mentioned in this region, during 18th and 19th century are in French. For example, some of the French words are  “brisé” and “pas de basque”; however,  the number of results is not significant, and are no longer used in the next decades, especially by new words emerging.


Comparative Lexicography

Today, people have access to dictionaries everyday and any time. Looking up a word’s meaning in the dictionary is quite easy; however, attempting the compilation of a dictionary is not a simple task. Lexicographers during the 18th and 19th century spent most of their lives putting together English words in one context.

One of the most two important and known lexicographers were Samuel Johnson and Noah Webster. These two marked the history in forming their own dictionary. And what is interesting about these two, is that each one of them had two different dictionary style, characters and word entries. Thus, I will compare three entries by using the digital editions of the two dictionaries, the 1755 edition of Johnson and the 1828 edition of Webster.

First, some words do not exist in Johnson’s dictionary. For example, when looking up the word “heaven”; I only found a list of other entries where the word was mentioned. In contrast, Webster’s dictionary had more than 5 entries for the word heaven.



Similarly, the word “race” does not exist in Johnson’s dictionary, whereas in Webster’s dictionary the word is available. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?page_id=7409&SearchValue=race


What’s interesting about Webster’s dictionary is that he extended it by adding words from different fields, and by “explaining many new words, which recent discoveries in the physical sciences had introduced into use”. http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Preface

In addition, each dictionary has its preface where the lexicographer shares his point of view. Johnson tried to correct the language. He also omitted many words, but one should take into consideration that he was able to achieve his goal on its own, along with all the circumstances that occurred in his life. Unlike Johnson, Webster tried to figure out the origins of the words.

Moreover, the word “eye” has around fifteen definitions in the two dictionaries. Some of them are identical in Webster’s dictionary such as the 3rd entry “Look; countenance.” and the 4th entry “4. Front; face.” ; however, he revised the definitions by adding many details and explanations. I noticed that Johnson include the source or the citation in each example he gives. In contrast, Webster doesn’t cite the examples inserted, he creates his own sources. Few examples that are added are cited from the bible. For example the second and the 15ths definition of Eye in Webster’s dictionary shares an example from the bible:

  1. Sight; view; ocular knowledge; as, I have a man now in my eye. In this sense, the plural is more generally used.

Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you. Gal.

  1. The power of perception.

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened. Eph.1.


In addition, Johnson seems to occur more examples of a word than Webster. All of the examples added in his dictionary are taken from literary sources, especially from Shakespeare and poetry. Whereas in Webster, I hardly found a Shakespearian cited example. I think that Webster was trying to deduce the examples added by Johnson that aren’t accurate as much as they were during the 17th century, due to the changing of language among time. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=2668

Semantic change

Words changed through the years by meaning and contexts. For example, the words “tweet”, “to escape” and “to starve” had other meaning/s in the history of English language.

According to Oxford English Dictionary (OED), tweet is defined as: to make a brief high-pitched sound or call, or a series of such sounds. Also in extended use.

The word is still used nowadays in this context; however, a new meaning came across the world few years ago. The word “tweet” is used on social media excessively and it is defined as a message tweeted by people on twitter. The new definition of tweet added by OED is the following: trans. To post (a message, image, link, etc.) on the social networking service Twitter. Also: to post a message to (a particular person, organization, etc.).

Here is an example of a contemporary use of the verb tweet: “I just tweeted”.


Adding to that, the verb “to escape” has many meanings in the OED and many of them are still relevant today. For example, this following sentence posted on twitter: “Judy’s story: how I escaped child marriage in Kenya”, shares the following meaning of escape: intr. To get off safely when pursued or imperilled; to avoid capture, punishment, or any threatened evil; to go unhurt or unpunished.

One of the other definitions offered by OED of the verb escape is:  b. Of organisms, fluids, etc.: To issue, find egress, from some confining envelope or enclosure. The example offered by OED concerning this meaning is the following: 1882   Garden 18 Mar. 189/2   At the time of flowering the leaves are only escaping from their buds.

This meaning of escape is not used anymore comparing it to the first definition mentioned before.

And finally, the verb “to starve” is now used as a synonym of the verb hungry. People nowadays tend to use this verb to express their hunger. For example this girl tweeted a tweet, by writing “I’m starving.. I need food”.

And many people would be surprised to know that it actually meant to literally die out of hunger. In the present day, to starve is used without expressing the literal sense. According to OED, Starve : To die. Said of a person or animal. In late use app. to die a lingering death, as from hunger, cold, grief, or slow disease. Also, in spiritual sense, of the soul. Obs.

It also has another meaning: With various constructions, specifying the cause of death. In later use with modified sense: To be brought gradually nearer to death, to be in process of being killed; to suffer extremely. Now only dial.



I had to pick a manuscript and transcribe it on a sheet of paper for my English assignment. I picked an Anglo-Norman (the dialect spoken among the aristocracy of England and large parts of northern France) manuscript by Marie of France, entitled Yonec (BnF, 14th c ms). Lays of Marie of France are usually written in octosyllabic couplets (8), that often deals with tales of adventure and romance.



When I first looked at the manuscript, the writings looked like they were transcribed on actual paper, but it’s actually written on animal skin. One can notice words that are absorbed or faded away, due to the expensiveness of animal skins during that time.

Moreover, one can notice a tittle, illuminations that are ornately decorated, and border marginalization. The text is divided into two columns; however, the layout of the text isn’t meaningful, especially between the last two paragraphs where a space gap is found. Some initials are bigger than the others, mainly the colored ones with blue and red. The last paragraph in the manuscript seems to be the conclusion, since the initial is colored both in blue and red.

Additionally, the color of ink isn’t pure black. It varies from black to brown. Plus, the letters are written in an angular shape.

What was first difficult to me, was to read the text and try to distinguish some letters from others.I was exposed to new letters and some of them looked weird. While I was trying to copy the text on a paper, it was exasperating to differentiate the letter “u” from the “v”, or the “w” from the “ui”.  As I tried to copy the words, I started recognizing the letters by comparing them to other letters in the words I could read. For example, the last word in the 10th sentence is “de paradis”. I used this word as a reference point to identify some letters. I also noticed that some letters like the “t”, can be written in two different ways, depending whether it was written first or at the end of a word.


Then, I transcribed this manuscript by using a computer device. It wasn’t well accomplished as the first edition (on paper), and some of the letters didn’t exist on the keyboard nor in the symbols offered by Microsoft word; because they are no longer used nowadays.

Et la urge loee

Et lefi fai aucci

F teuote peucee

P our dieu ol euteudes

P eveftous giaus z petis

C autft coulaquita

S es ozois loyaus waris

B elles vertus ifift

L e roy deparadis

When I was doing the transcription process,  I came aware of a huge difference between the written transcription and the digital one. The written transcription is tough, yet easier than the digital one. I transcribed the original manuscript by copying the letters directly into paper, whereas in the second transcription, I had to choose each letter on its own .

To conclude, remediation of manuscripts can change the original text and many choices will be lost. For example, one could not feel the texture (materiality) or smell the original manuscript. In my opinion, I think that transcribing a text without giving the credit to the author is a major issue of remediation, especially by removing some of the symbols added which contributes in the modification of the text.