Language & Power - A Level Revision Guide

This booklet will provide you with all the information and theorists that you'll need if you answer the Language & Gender question in ENGB1. This guide has information for those wanting C's or those wanting A*'s. What you do with the guide, is up to you!

Hope it helps - Mikey

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Revision Summary
This topic is like a cross between context and theory, so if you've got an eye
over this section in the exam you will have to do a lot of analysis because there
will be subtle little hints throughout the piece you will have to pick up on.
So what does this section involve, well there's theories into pragmatics and
then there is occupational powers and how each of these influence the
reader/listener in different ways. So let's power up!
Types of Power
It is always good practice to know which kinds of power are being used in a
text and with each of these there are common linguistic features to look out
for in the text itself to support your claim to that type of power.
This is expressed by using specialist language (or jargon).
Example texts could be: academic texts in law, medicine,
education, religion, business...
Specialist (topic specific) lexis
This is to make people do things or make things happen; so
used in commands or setting conditions. Example texts could
be: legal or official documents, rules, contracts, forms.
Formal Register (Making the voice seem distant rather than friendly)
Specialist & Latinate Lexis
Imperative sentences (You must do this ...)
Modal Auxiliaries; e.g. must, will, can (Express certainty and confidence in
telling you what you can or cannot do)
Conditionals (if...)
Declarative sentences
Faceless language; e.g. impersonal constructions, official job titles
Avoidance of ambiguity
Mitigation (When a writer tries to sound polite or "soften" the bluntness of a

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This is the power to make us believe or support something. These are
generally found in political or media texts.
Embedded assumptions (You will want to read this ...)
Metaphoric references ("A healthy economy", obviously economies don't
get sick!)
Assertions (Opinions stated as facts)
Loaded language (Words chosen to evoke strong negative/positive
connotations) e.g. ethnic cleansing vs mass murder
The use of language itself to persuade us to buy, donate, support or adopt a
point of view.…read more

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Unresponsiveness ­ This is more negative method of assertion. If the
speaker is ignored or if back-channel noises (mmm/ uh huh) of the
audience are hesitant then the status of the speaker is undermined
5. Topic changing ­ This can be a method of reasserting control if someone
loses it. Politicians will tend to do this if they are uncomfortable with a
6. Closing down a conversation ­ This asserts power by not allowing other
speakers to carry on talking.…read more

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Power in Contexts
Ever noticed how schools will often give out Student/Parent agreements (or
something to that affect)? Well when you think about it school isn't necessarily
as powerful influentially as something like the army in terms of rules. The
schools only have a limited amount of power and that's normally a last resort
such as exclusion. This is because students hold a great deal of power in this
context as well as teachers.…read more

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Jargon such as subordinate, superior, team leader, Chief executive and many
other business terms can reflect the structure of a business and where
someone is on it.
Law unlike many other categories distinctly has its own special lexicon. Many
Latinate and French origin words reside in legal language. But why is it used?
Its complexity may confuse non-specialists making the language seem like a
code and therefore this leaves the lawyers with practically all the power in
court.…read more

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What a great document! Really informative whilst showing a good attempt at humor by use of memes and the like. Top work! 

Paul Dutton

An excellent revision guide, full of useful information and examples.

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