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    Газета School English #07-08, 2004

    Topsy-Turvy World

    Надежда Никифоровна Рогожина Надежда Никифоровна Рогожина, проректор по международным программам, зав. кафедрой лингвистики и межъязыковой коммуникации Самарского муниципального университета Наяновой, кандидат педагогических наук, доцент.
    Директор негосударственного учреждения дополнительного образования “World Class-Samara”.
    Dear Reader,
        This time I am going to share my impressions of the exhibition which took place at the new Renaissance Hotel in Samara and was dedicated to ‘International Programmes in Education’ and what recollections it triggered!.
        It was an ‘All Russia’ event which started in Lipetsk and continued in Samara and St. Petersburg. It was arranged by Foreign Languages Educational Company (FLEC) and supported by the Ministry of Education of Samara Region.
        I must say, I was impressed by the exhibition itself and the hotel where it was held. I think the city has a well deserved world-class hotel at last!
        As for the exhibition, Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, etc were represented and numerous educational establishments which offered a great variety of programmes of higher education, preparation for internationally recognized exams like TOEFL, IELTS, FCE, etc and summer language schools.
        But there was one university which drew my special attention, it was the University of Limerick which is in Ireland! I talked to the representative of this university, a nice gentleman who was eager to tell me all he knew about it! But I was charmed by the name of the university for it reminded me of limericks! Yes, those short poems!
        I even recited one which in my opinion dealt with education!

    There was a student named Besser
    Whose knowledge grew lesser and lesser.
    It grew so small, he knew nothing at all,
    And today he’s a college professor!

        All teachers of English know about these small poems, the father of which was considered to be Edward Lear. (A Book of Nonsense,1846; More Nonsense,1870).
        The bases for his ‘nonsense’ poems were limericks, short songs the origin of which is traditionally connected with the Irish town of Limerick. They were considered to be ‘table songs’ and sung during parties . All of them finished with the invitation to visit Limerick!

    O, won’t you come up, come all the way up,
    Come all the way up to Limerick?

        Lear, of course, knew those short songs, but he used to say that the one that had inspired him was “There was a man of Tobago”.
        He never called his poems limericks, but ‘poems of nonsense’. As a term it appeared in dictionaries in 1890. Anyway, Lear used the form of a folk limerick and made it a poem of a paradox.
        Edward Lear created a special world which rejected all the laws and rules of common sense. He was an eccentric himself and his literary works are somewhat apart from not only English but European literature, too.
        Edward Lear had many followers (the most famous being Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling) and you can enjoy some of the limericks next to this column.
        You can try to write some of your own, too!


    Topsy-Turvy World*

    There was a sick man of Tobago
    Lived long on rice-gruel and sago;
         But at last, to his bliss,
         The physician said this:
    “To a roast leg of mutton you may go.”
    (W.S. Gilbert)

    There was an old man of Kamschatka,
    Who possessed a remarkably fat cur;
    His gait and his waddle, were held as a model,
    To all the fat dogs in Kamschatka.
    (Edward Lear)

    There was a Young Lady of Russia,
    Who screamed so that no one could hush her:
    Her screams were extreme, no one heard such a scream
    As was screamed by that Lady of Russia.
    (Edward Lear)

    There was a young man of Oporta,
    Who daily got shorter and shorter.
         The reason, he said,
         Was the hod on his head,
    Which was filled with the heaviest mortar.
    (Lewis Carroll)

    There was an old man of the Cape,
    Who made himself garments of crepe.
         When asked, “Do they tear?”
         He replied, “Here and there;
    But they are perfectly splendid for shape.”
    (Robert Louis Stevenson)

    There once was a boy in Quebec,
    Who was buried in snow to his neck.
         When asked, “Are you friz?”
         He replied, “Yes, I is.
    But we don’t call this call in Quebec.”
    (Rudyard Kipling)

    There was a young lady of Niger,
    Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
         They returned from the ride
         With the lady inside –
    And the smile on the face of the tiger!
    (Cosmo Monkhouse)

    There was an old lady of Wales,
    Who lived upon oysters and snails.
         Upon growing a shell,
         She exclaimed, “It is well.
    Now I’ll never wear bonnets or veils.”
    (Anthony Euwer)

    Illustrator: K. Sokolov
    * Topsy-Turvy World: English Humour in Verse.- M: Progress Publishers.-1974.-325p.

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