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Analyse language in 'Singh Song!'

In this worksheet, students will practise analysing language in 'Singh Song!', (part of the 'Love and Relationships anthology' cluster of poems).

'Analyse language in 'Singh Song!'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  

Curriculum subtopic:  

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Want to practice your language analysis in 'Singh Song!'?

 

Thought bubble

 

Good! You've come to the right place. All you need to do is refer to the poem 'Singh Song!' in your anthology! 

 

To quickly recap: Written by Daljit Nagra, Singh Song! is about a British Indian man who is speaking about his life, which revolves around working in a corner shop. He often neglects the shop to spend time with his new wife.

 

The speaker states that the customers complain about the neglectful state of the shop, but he doesn't care! As long as he can spend time with his wife, he's happy and content.

 

 

Young woman writing

 

Take notes as you do this activity. It'll definitely help you absorb more information if you're writing down the new things you learn. Take your time and absorb the teacher's explanations; they are full of helpful gems!

Looking at the quote from the second stanza:

 

"cos up di stairs is my newly bride...'"

 

Tick one box that you think best explains the language used in this quote.

The adverb "newly" suggests that the speaker loves his bride

The adverb "newly" and noun 'bride' suggest that the speaker has a new bride

The adverb "newly" and noun "bride" suggest that the speaker can't wait to be with his new bride

The adverb "newly" paired with noun "bride" emphasises the speaker's love and excitement over his new wife

"in di worst Indian shop on di whole Indian road"

 

What's the significance of repetition in this quote? Pick three options.

The repetition calls attention to the fact that the shopkeeper is Indian

The repetition of "Indian" emphasises the community and culture of Indians running shops.

The repetition suggests that the speaker is almost proud of neglecting his shop or that he doesn't care what the customers say/think

The repetition suggests that the speaker is really ashamed of the way he has neglected his shop

The repetition gives the quote a song-like quality which matches with the lighthearted, romantic tone

Pick one quote out of the fifth stanza which conveys the wife's unconventional personality:

 

Pick one out of:

 

- "My bride"

- "She effing at my mum"

- "Tiny eyes ov a gun"

- "Di colours of Punjabi"

"Above my head..."

 

 

What's the significance of this quote in relation to the speaker and his attitudes? Pick one number:

 

1. The preposition "above" signals that the wife is walking above the speaker

 

2. The preposition "above" symbolises the role that the wife plays for the speaker: she is above everything, according to him, because he prioritises her.

 

3. The preposition "above" signifies the wife is above everyone and is quite arrogant in the way that she walks.

 

4. The preposition "above" symbolises the wife's role in society; she is above everyone else because she is so unconventional. 

 

"my bride tiny eyes ov a gun"

 

First, identify the one device used in the quote

 

Second, identify the one explanation which best describes the quote.

Have a look at the whole of stanza (beginning with: "my bride she hav a red crew cut...")

 

 

Fill out the table with the language devices that are present or not present in this stanza.

 PresentNot present
Possessive pronouns
Adjectives
Similes
Character description

"... and sit on my silver stool ... vee stare past half-price window signs"

 

 

Fill in the blanks with your choice of four words from the selection below.

 

Alliteration, Tone, Sibilance, Pronoun, Simile, Adjective, Motif, Love, Hate

 PresentNot present
Possessive pronouns
Adjectives
Similes
Character description

"from di stool each night I say is half di cost ov yoo baby'"

Fill in the blanks with three words out of the selection below. 

 

Contrast, Darkness, Metaphor, Simile, Symbolism, Repetition, Baby, Love, Half di cost, Playfulness

 PresentNot present
Possessive pronouns
Adjectives
Similes
Character description

Link the correct language device to the quote (all within the last 5 stanzas).

 PresentNot present
Possessive pronouns
Adjectives
Similes
Character description

Well done ... you've made it to the last question!

 

Fill in the table linking a language device found in the poem to its effect.

  • Question 1

Looking at the quote from the second stanza:

 

"cos up di stairs is my newly bride...'"

 

Tick one box that you think best explains the language used in this quote.

CORRECT ANSWER
The adverb "newly" paired with noun "bride" emphasises the speaker's love and excitement over his new wife
EDDIE SAYS
Think about the non-standard use of English throughout this poem ... Nagra reinforces the stereotypes around the Indian accent, yes, but there's a strong sense that the speaker doesn't really care about how his English comes across, just as he doesn't seem to care about his responsibilities as a shopkeeper. All he cares about is being with his bride. So the adverb "newly" is used alongside the noun "bride", perhaps incorrectly, according to English grammar, but there's something charming about it. The sense that the speaker is so excited to go upstairs and see his wife that he breaks grammatical rules! Think about the stereotypes around Indian marriages as well. Often, the stereotype is that Indian marriages are arranged and loveless. Quite clearly, this stereotype is broken in the poem.
  • Question 2

"in di worst Indian shop on di whole Indian road"

 

What's the significance of repetition in this quote? Pick three options.

CORRECT ANSWER
The repetition of "Indian" emphasises the community and culture of Indians running shops.
The repetition suggests that the speaker is almost proud of neglecting his shop or that he doesn't care what the customers say/think
The repetition gives the quote a song-like quality which matches with the lighthearted, romantic tone
EDDIE SAYS
Think about the way repetition is usually used to emphasise words. In this case, the noun 'Indian' is repeated, in an almost song-like way, to emphasise the community of Indians who probably own shops all along the 'Indian road'. So, within this lighthearted refrain, we have this call to attention that Indians are running shops, creating a culture of consumerism (buying and selling) for themselves. Take note of the hyperbole ('di worst') here. It emphasises the fact that the speaker really does neglect his shop. The sing-song quality of this section of the poem also suggests that he doesn't really care about the fact that his shop's the worst. Maybe he's even proud of it?
  • Question 3

Pick one quote out of the fifth stanza which conveys the wife's unconventional personality:

 

Pick one out of:

 

- "My bride"

- "She effing at my mum"

- "Tiny eyes ov a gun"

- "Di colours of Punjabi"

CORRECT ANSWER
"she effing at my mum"
she effing at my mum
EDDIE SAYS
The fourth/fifth stanzas really showcase the bride's personality. She's independent, as she seems to preoccupy herself with her "Sikh lover site" (suggesting that she, perhaps, runs a business where she sets up couples?). Look at the significance of the verb 'netting' in "netting two cat", suggesting that the wife is quite powerful in her own right, as she "plays Cupid" and sets people up? Similarly, stanza five emphatically shows us the wife's unconventional, powerful personality. She swears at her husband's mum and mocks his dad "like a drunk"! So, not only is she funny and independent, and perhaps runs her own business, but she has a position of power in people's lives (setting up people, occupying her husband's thoughts and distracting him from his duties). Like the way the bride mocks the speaker's father, and the fact that, in stanza one, the speaker defies his dad's wishes "he vunt me not to hav a break". The speaker of the poem prioritises his wife over his own family. This is an incredibly unconventional thing to do, as Indian families are usually quite close-knit (parents usually live with their children until old age)!
  • Question 4

"Above my head..."

 

 

What's the significance of this quote in relation to the speaker and his attitudes? Pick one number:

 

1. The preposition "above" signals that the wife is walking above the speaker

 

2. The preposition "above" symbolises the role that the wife plays for the speaker: she is above everything, according to him, because he prioritises her.

 

3. The preposition "above" signifies the wife is above everyone and is quite arrogant in the way that she walks.

 

4. The preposition "above" symbolises the wife's role in society; she is above everyone else because she is so unconventional. 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
2
EDDIE SAYS
The preposition "above" paired with "my head", where the pronoun "my" indicates the speaker himself, definitely suggests that the speaker views his wife as the highest priority. It's a symbolic quote, representing the high role that the wife plays in the speaker's life. Also, the fact that her high heels are tapping on the ground above him really signifies that, perhaps, she is always on the speaker's mind. Constantly tapping away, occupying his thoughts and distracting him from his duties. Consider, also, that fact that she's wearing high heels. Why is this important and what does it convey about the wife's sense of fashion? When you think about a typical, conservative Indian bride, do you see her wearing high heels?
  • Question 5

"my bride tiny eyes ov a gun"

 

First, identify the one device used in the quote

 

Second, identify the one explanation which best describes the quote.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The speaker describes his wife quite colourfully: she has eyes "ov a gun" and a tummy "ov a teddy". Why do you think these specific and unconventional metaphors are used ... especially by the speaker, who seems to be madly in love with his wife? The fact that the metaphor here, compares the speaker's wife's eyes to a "gun" is significant, too. A gun isn't particularly feminine or charming, but can be considered the opposite, in fact!. It suggests violence! So think about why the speaker lovingly compares his wife's eyes to a gun? What does this convey about her personality? What about her femininity? Well, think about the authenticity of the speaker's love for his wife. She's not conventionally attractive, nor is she described as particularly submissive or feminine. She's not the reserved Indian daughter-in-law that stereotypes would expect her to be! But the speaker loves his wife, anyway. He doesn't love her for the stereotypes she presents. He loves her because she is her own individual. So, think about the way the poem builds up expectations of Indian stereotypes and then breaks them down.
  • Question 6

Have a look at the whole of stanza (beginning with: "my bride she hav a red crew cut...")

 

 

Fill out the table with the language devices that are present or not present in this stanza.

CORRECT ANSWER
 PresentNot present
Possessive pronouns
Adjectives
Similes
Character description
EDDIE SAYS
Think about the unconventional way that Nagra presents the speaker's bride: she has a "red crew cut" (another unfeminine and unconventional way of presenting the wife's beauty) paired with a "tartan sari" and "donkey jacket"! Why is it so interesting that the wife's features are so non-traditional? Again, think of how stereotypes are constantly being broken or reinforced throughout the poem. What is Nagra conveying about Indian culture and the idea of conventionality?
  • Question 7

"... and sit on my silver stool ... vee stare past half-price window signs"

 

 

Fill in the blanks with your choice of four words from the selection below.

 

Alliteration, Tone, Sibilance, Pronoun, Simile, Adjective, Motif, Love, Hate

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Here, there's a contrast to the rest of the poem. For so long, throughout the majority of the poem, the speaker is prioritising his wife above his shop, thinking about her, ignoring the voices that chime and chant that his shop is the worst out of all of them! Finally, it's nighttime, and the speaker has some alone time with his wife. There's a sense of peace, calmness, a motif of love which is prioritised over the consumerism/selling/buying.
  • Question 8

"from di stool each night I say is half di cost ov yoo baby'"

Fill in the blanks with three words out of the selection below. 

 

Contrast, Darkness, Metaphor, Simile, Symbolism, Repetition, Baby, Love, Half di cost, Playfulness

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
There is a lot of repetition in the last bit of the poem, reinforcing the consistency of the couple's love for each other, yes, but also the consistency of the playful, humorous and romantic tone of the poem. In fact, consistency is a major theme in the poem: the speaker is quite consistent in his attitudes towards his wife and his neglect of his shop.
  • Question 9

Link the correct language device to the quote (all within the last 5 stanzas).

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
There's a lot to unpack in the last bit of the poem, but it's not as hard as it seems when we pinpoint the key themes of the poem and how they are reflected through language. Think about the romantic elements of the poem. How is romance conveyed? What about stereotypes? Think about the tone of this bit of the poem. Does it contrast with the rest of the poem? If so, how? Lots of questions that have been asked here! Try to jot them down; come up with your own answers. This should prepare you for the evaluation activity.
  • Question 10

Well done ... you've made it to the last question!

 

Fill in the table linking a language device found in the poem to its effect.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Remember that every device in the poem needs to be evaluated. What is the effect on the reader and what are the attitudes presented by the poet? Keep this in the back of your mind and be creative when you think about the different possibilities. Yep, a metaphor is used to link one thing to another but it also enhances the depth of meaning. Here, 'eyes ov a gun' enhances the wife's passionate, maybe even deadly, side. Personal pronouns in direct address enhance a connection between reader and subject, giving the poem a more human tone. Think about the tone of Singh Song! and the approachability of the speaker. Can we relate to him? Many of us definitely can (especially the bit about not wanting to work and spending valuable time eating delicious food)! What about repetition? Think it gives the poem a more song-like, chant-like quality? It definitely emphasises the importance of certain words and ideas associated with those words, doesn't it? Lastly, what about the Indian dialect? Does it introduce the reader to a different culture/different standard of English? Perhaps it illuminates the diversity and difference in dialect, but also highlights the universal emotions and feelings we all have?
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