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Textverständnis "Canal boats: the last option for affordable city-centre living?" by J. Meikle/P. Maynard


Hinweis: Die Angaben in Klammern zeigt die Gewichtung der einzelnen Aufgaben.

Answer the following questions using your own words as far as is appropriate. Quote correctly.

  1. Describe the phenomenon of people living on canal boats in London, taking into account who lives on them and why, and the practicalities of the boaters’ day-to-day lives. (20)
  2. Outline the problems related to canal boats in London for local communities and the CRT. Analyse two examples of imagery that are used to illustrate these problems. (20)
  3. Analyse the writers’ choice of quotations: how are the quotations used and what are their functions? (10)



There is a new trend in London as an increasing number of people decide to escape the rising prices for housing and to live on canal boats instead. These people are a “diverse community“ (ll.56/57) as they come from many different backgrounds: There is a decidedly “bohemian” (l.64) crowd with musicians, artists, puppeteers, clowns and actors who are linked to the entertainment business or like to live an alternative lifestyle. But there is also a number of “vulnerable people” (ll. 48-51) who are facing a difficult situation in life, i.e. suffer from personal or financial problems.
The reasons why they decide to live on a boat instead of in a house are just as diversified: Some cannot afford the house prices, but still want to live in a desirable neighbourhood (cf. ll. 22-27). Some want to live close to their working place (cf. ll. 8+45). Others revel in the fact that this is an unconventional lifestyle.
This lifestyle encompasses new challenges and rules: “Boaters” (l.9) must either have home moorings where they can park their boats permanently, or they must move places regularly. A mooring needs to be close to facilities for water, electricity, petrol, places for daily supplies and the maintenance of the boat (batteries, waste, toilets).
The waterways have their own set of rules concerning noise, pollution, clearance of the waterways and the amount of time one can stay at one place, all of which must be obeyed.


The aforementioned “rules” have to be revised and reinforced, as the huge number of moored canal boats have taken on the appearance of permanent settlements for which there is yet no infrastructure and no city planning (ll.16-21). There is, for example, a decided shortage of moorings, so that “boats are often parked two and sometimes three abreast” (l.15) which blocks the waterways so that traffic cannot pass anymore.
Besides, conflicts arise between the boaters and the residents ashore, as some of the boaters do not feel obliged to follow the rules concerning length of stay, noise and environmental regulations. In the article, this conflict is titled “fleet versus street” (l.9) which uses metonymies to concurrently illustrate the connection of the two opposing parties (as both terms rhyme) as well as their differences, which in this case are the locations, and thus the perspectives of the groups.
The alleged opportunity for boaters to have a “zone-one location to live, work and play” (ll.22/23) without wanting to pay the taxes causes further resentment.
The CRT lacks the legal power (ll.35/36) to solve problems like the need to provide help for those boaters who have personal or financial difficulties, or to ensure that the rules and regulations are being obeyed. To express the severity of these problems, the author uses the metaphor “wrestling” (l. 34), which is taken from the semantic field of competitive sports. The term emphasizes the struggle (one could say the fight) the CRT is having in dealing with the challenges of the ever-expanding settlement on the river.


The choice of quotations make the article, on the whole, appear balanced, impartial and authentic, as all parties involved into the conflict have the chance to voice their opinions: the boaters, a resident who lives next to the canal and the “officials”.
Besides, the statements are strategically placed throughout the text. They support and illustrate the line of argumentation:
The two boaters’ statements frame the text, providing, from the first line on, an authentic insight into life on the Thames, and conclude the text with an emotional appeal to the readers that life on the Thames needs to be preserved.
The resident’s statement stands representatively for the personal implications for those residents living close to the canal, whereas the officials’ statements represent, more neutrally, the administrative and legal aspects.

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