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English Language revision glossary of key terms
Lexis vocabulary system; meaning at word and phrase level
Grammar structural relationship within and between sentences and utterances
Pragmatics the ways in which social conventions and implied meanings are encoded in spoken and
Discourse longer stretches of text, looking particularly at aspects of cohesion / the way texts create
identities for particular individuals, groups or institutions, e.g. the discourse of law, politics, the media.
Graphology language as a semiotic system creating meaning through textual design, signs and images
Phonetics / phonology the sounds of English, how they are produced and how they are described;
including aspects of prosody
Register situational variation and register: how language varies in relation to audiences, purposes and
Mode how language may vary as a consequence of the channel of communication (speech, writing and
Idiolect the language style acquired by individuals as a result of their personal characteristics, system
of belief and social experience
Dialect the variations in language produced as a result of local, community and regional diversity
Sociolect language variations produced by the effects of education, socio-economic class, occupation
and membership of social group.
Denotation (semantics) the study of meaning and how it's created
Connotation (pragmatics) the study of context, implication and inference
Open class/lexical word class nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives. They drop in and out of the
language. They are the content words. Without them we lose all meaning.
Closed class/grammatical word class pronouns, determiners, preposition, conjunctions
(coordinating/subordinating), auxiliary verbs (modal verbs or primary verbs), enumerators (one, two
three, first, second, third, etc.). They never change and are the glue which holds the sentence together
without them, the sentence would still make sense.
Non-finite verb phrases verb phrases in which the verb isn't fixed to any time frame, doesn't sound
complete and doesn't sound complete. It can be attached to a finite verb phrase in order to make it
sound complete (e.g. `walking unsteadily' > `walking unsteadily, he crossed the deck')
Epistemic Modality concerns estimation of the likelihood that a certain state of affairs is/has been
/will be true (or false) e.g. `we may see you tomorrow', `can you remember?'
Deontic modals express how something ought to be. They have elements of permission, obligation
and, at the strongest level, requirement.
Progressive aspect uses a form of `to be' along with the `-ing' form of the main verb, e.g. `I am singing'
(which is an activity that isn't over and sounds as if it's in the immediate `here and now')
Perfective aspect constructed using the auxiliary verb `have' along with the past tense of the main
verb. It's primarily used for an action continuing up to the present, whereas in the past tense the action is
over and done with. E.g. `I have worked all day'.
Transitive verbs have a subject and are shown to affect something else, e.g. `The Prime Minister
sacked his chancellor', whereas intransitive verbs do not.
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Common and Proper nouns a common noun is the name of an object, e.g. horse, table whereas
proper nouns are the names of specific people, places, days of the week, etc. and begin with a capital
Count and mass (noncount) nouns count nouns refer to individual, countable entities and mass nouns
refer to an undifferentiated mass or notion (examples of count nouns are `book/s', `horse/s' and
`chocolate/s' and examples of mass nouns are `butter', `chess' and `applause').…read more
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Ellipsis where part of a sentence is omitted.
Contractions e.g. `she'll', `it's'
Elision joining together two words, e.g. `kinda'
The structure of conversation
Adjacency pairs two-part exchange that follows a predictable pattern, e.g. a question followed by an
answer, a greeting and response, a summon and answer, an apology and an acceptance.…read more
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The cooperative principle H.P.Grice saw cooperation between the participants as the fundamental
principle underlying conversation. He argued that the conversations proceed on the assumption that
those taking part have common goals and agreed ways of achieving these goals.
The four maxims of conversation
Maxim of quality be truthful, only say what you believe to be true, only say what you have evidence
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Language and Gender
Semantic deterioration the process by which negative connotations become attached to lexical items.
False generic `man in the street', `mankind', `man gives birth to babies'.
Lexical asymmetry pairs of words which seem to be equal but which aren't. Often there has been
semantic derogation of the female word.
Marked terms are different from the `norm' through covert marking or overt marking (suffix/prefix
Diminutive suffixes adding `-ess' or `-ette' to female forms
Tag questions e.g.…read more