Close Reading Starter 2 – ‘Language’ (analysis)

Starter 2 – ‘language’ (analysis)

Such attitudes continue to shape thinking about the city. Yet, like it or not, at some point in 2008, the city finally swallowed the world. The number of people living in cities overtook those left behind in the fields. It’s a statistic that seems to suggest some sort of fundamental species change, like the moment when mankind stopped being hunter gatherers and took up agriculture.

Q. In the lines above, the writer tells us that for the first time in history more people are now living in cities than in the countryside. Show how the writer’s use of language in this paragraph emphasises the momentous nature of this change. 2 A

Starter 2 – ‘language’ (analysis) possible answers
Single insightful comment worth up to 2 marks; more basic comments worth up to 1 mark each.
1. “finally” suggests this moment was one the world had been waiting for impatiently
2. “swallowed the world” (use of personification) presents “the city” as some kind of all-conquering monster: brutal, ravenous, insatiable, greedy, unstoppable, …
3. “swallowed” suggests an all-engulfing consumption; the change is abrupt, final and irreversible
4. “the world” hyperbole stresses the huge scale of the change
5. “overtook” suggests a race in which those in the city are moving forward at pace, leaving their rivals trailing behind
6. “left behind” (continuation of “race” imagery) suggests people in the country are not making progress, inferior
7. “in the fields” associates people living in the country with a very basic, almost primitive way of life
8. “fundamental” stresses essential, primary nature of the change
9. “species change” suggests an evolutionary shift
10. “like … agriculture” use of comparison to another fundamental moment in man’s evolution to stress great importance


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