English Terminology

AQA English Terminology - Talk in life and literature focused.

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English Terminology
Metaphor ­ a figure of speech where two things are concisely compared by saying that one
thing is the other. e.g. `Denmark is a prison!'
Simile ­ an explicit comparison usually using the word `like' or `as' e.g. `as thick as thieves'
Dramatic effect ­ effects created by the writer to evoke an emotional or intellectual
response. For example, dramatic irony is when the audience knows more that the
character(s) and so is made to feel helpless, anxious or tense. Suspense occurs when the
audience is told something and waits in a state of dread or anticipation for the action to
Pathos ­ originally a Greek word meaning `suffering', it usually refers to the feelings of
sadness that a character or scene evokes.
Phonology ­ concerned with studying sounds in languages. It is a broad umbrella term. If
you study phonological features you may well include a close look at stress and rhythm,
which is where the definition overlaps with prosody.
Verse ­ language in metrical form, or in poetry. Verse builds discourse in a dramatic text by
using recurrent syllabic patterns, imposing an order not usually found in spontaneous speech.
Prosody ­ this is usually applied to the analysis of sounds and rhythms in poetry.
Syntax ­ a term that refers to the order of words in a sentence: this is normally subject, verb,
object (or SVO) in Standard English usage. `The dog (subject) sat (verb) on the mat
Imagery ­ this refers to the figurative language. An image or picture can be created by
imagery, but it can also be created by plainer speaking. `The grass is green.'
Phonological features ­ this refers to the sounds in speech: pitch and intonation, speed,
stress and volume. Whispering to convey secrecy or using flat tones to suggest depression
are examples of how sounds convey meaning.
Hyperbole ­ exaggeration used deliberately for emphasis: `Is this the face that launched a
thousand ships?'
Lexis ­ a unit in the lexicon or vocabulary of a language. Put simply: a word.
Rhetorical question ­ e.g. `What time do you call this?' or `Why am I helping you?' where
the intent is to make the listener reflect, rather than expecting them to provide an answer.
Interactional features ­ features of spoken discourse which are commonly seen when people
interact, such as someone being dominant.
Turntaking ­ in spontaneous conversation, this is when people take turns to speak, although
there can be overlaps and interruptions. Scripted turntaking is more orderly.

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Adjacency pairs ­ a pair of utterances from different speakers where the second speaker is
controlled by the first speaker's utterance. This occurs in a questionanswer format or when
one person greets another.
Length of Turn ­ this refers to the length of a participant's speech. The person with the
higher status, because of their power or knowledge, will usually have the longest turn but
monopolising turns may well be seen as rude in conversation when people are of roughly
similar status.…read more

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Demotic ­ everyday, ordinary language. The term `prosaic' is also used to refer to
commonplace speech.
Gatekeeper ­ a person with the power to control the discourse, governing the turntaking or
the ritual, e.g. a judge in court.
Parallelism ­ this occurs when utterances are parallel (similar) in form, e.g. `Our food is
rotten our beds are lousy our clothes are torn.'
Nominates ­ chooses the next speaker, allocating them a turn in speech. This may be by
direct invitation: `What do you think...…read more

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Blank verse ­ unrhymed verse, usually with ten syllables to a line, with alternative unstressed
and stressed beats.
Iambic pentameter ­ this is the commonest blank verse metre. An iamb is a metrical foot of
two syllables, short then long, first unstressed then stressed. Five of these create a
Idiomatic ­ speech typical of people or a place. The origin of the word is Greek idios
meaning `one's own, peculiar, strange.' Idioms break the rules semantically and
grammatically, e.g. `jump the gun.…read more

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Convergence ­ when a speaker wants to show orientation with another speaker they may
change their normal speech, perhaps by adopting a more formal or higher prestige form
(upward convergence) or by adopting an informal register (downward convergence). The
opposite is divergence, where a speaker wants to isolate themselves from another speaker
and ensure differentiation.
Modal auxiliary verb ­ e.g. can, could, might, may, shall, should, will, would, must. Using
modal verbs can create tentativeness or emphasis.…read more


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