English Language Key Terms


Adjacency Pairs

An utterance and response that are often seen together:
A: "How are you?"
B: "I'm fine, thanks."

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A type of word class. Adjectives refer to words that describe a noun.

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Another word class. Adverbs describe the verbs and usually end in "-ly". For example: she walked quickly.

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Repetition of a series of consonant or vowel at the beginning of words.

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Repetition of the vowel sound in a series of words.

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Auxiliary Verb

Helps to establish when the action took place.
e.g. The cat was sitting beside the bowl.
"Was" tells us it's in the past.

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Cataphoric Reference

Using a series of pronouns before introducing the proper noun.
"He's the current World No. 2. He's known as 'the Rocket'. He comes from the UK. It's Ronnie O'Sullivan!"

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The language of speech.

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From "con" which means "with", theses are the psychological associations that come with words.

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The type of sentence function that states something/describes something.

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The dictionary definition of a word.

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Discourse Structure

The structure of the text, including beginning, middle, end, any ordering.

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Missing out letters or sounds.

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Missing words out, because the listener/reader can fill in the gaps.

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Language (often hyperbole) used to evoke emotions within the reader.

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A word or phrase used to soften a harsh reality. For example, "passed away" is a euphemism of "death."

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False Starts

Starting again to correct yourself.

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Similar to voiced pause, but actually adding a word. For example: "kinda", "like", "and stuff".

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Exaggeration. (pronounced: hi-per-bo-lee)

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Individual language. Accent, pitch, favourite phrases, etc. all make up someone's personal language style.

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The type of sentence function that commands.

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The type of sentence function that is a question.

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Individual word choice.

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Non-fluency Features

A general term for anything that removes fluency in spoken language - such as voiced pauses, non-voiced pauses, fillers, false starts.

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Where a word sounds like what it's describing. For example: crash, smash, hiss, bang...

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Paralinguistic Features

From "para" which means "outside" and "linguistic" which is about language, paralinguistic features are features of conversation outside of the speech. For example: facial gestures, posture, eye contact, laughing...

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Passive Tense

A sentence where the object is being acted upon to it by the subject.
E.g. The ball was kicked by the boy.

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Repeating sentence structure.

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Giving something inhuman, human qualities.

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From "-ology" meaning "the study of" and "phone" meaning sound, this is the study of sound.

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The underlining meaning.

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Used to position things in a sentence.
Examples are: to, under, in, behind, on, by, at...

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Prosodic Features

Aspects of voice (pitch, volume, intonation, stress) that contribute to understanding.

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Semantic Field

Semantics is concerned with meaning. When a group of words are together with similar connotations, they're part of one "theme" or semantic field.

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Sentence function

What the sentence does. There are three basic functions: interrogative, imperative, declarative.

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Voiced Pause/Unvoiced Pause

Voiced pause: "erm", "um", "err".

Unvoiced pause is naturally a pause but without a sound.

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