English Terminology

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  • Created by: Florence
  • Created on: 14-05-11 15:58


A reduced form often marked by an apostrophe in writing. Example: Can't, She'll.

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Items which don't carry conventional meanings, but which an inserted in speech to allow time to think, to create a pause or to hold a turn in conversation. Also called a voiced pause. Example: er, um, ah. 

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Deixis/ Deictics

Words that refer backwards or forwards or outside a text, like a verbal pointing. Very dependent on context. Exampe: this, that, here, there.

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Conversational Implicature

Occurs when someone flouts one of Grice's maxims. Example: Person A: Hello, how are you? Person B: Mmm, those carrots look delicious.

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Interactional Talk

Language in conversation used for interpersonal reasons and/or socialising.

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Transactional Talk

Language to get things done or to transmit content or information. Example: When two people are exchanging goods.

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False Start

When the speaker begins an utterance, then stops and either repeats or reformulates it. Sometimes called self- correction. Example: Well, when I (.) when I...."

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Back Channel

Words, phrases and non-verbal utterances used by a listener to give feedback to a speaker. Example: I see, oh, uh huh, really.

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The ways in which words are pronounced: it can vary according to the region or social class of the speaker.  

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The distinctive grammar vocabulary which is associated with a regional or social use of language.

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Speaker Support

Feedback given by a listener to the speaker to let the speaker know he or she is being listened to and to encourage him or her to continue. Example: How interesting, do continue with your story.  

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Prosodic Features

These include stress, rhythm, pitch, tempo, intonation and other features used to mark out key meanings in a message. Essentially, how something is said.

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Speech Event

A use of language in a social context in which the speakes normally follow a set of agreed rules and conventions. Example: Telling a joke or buying a book.

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Speech Act

Refers to what is done when something is said. It can be used when threatening, promising, warning, requesting. Example: I declare this meeting open.

An indirect speech act has a meaning that is different from its apparent meaning. Example: Is that your coat on the floor? This may be more than just a question.

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Phatic Talk

Conversation utterance that have no concrete purpose other than to establish or mantain personal relationships. Related to small talk and follows traditional patterns with stock responses and formulaic expressions. Example: How are you? Alright thanks.

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Non fluency features

Typical and normal characterstics of spoken language that interrupt the "flow" of talk. Examples: hesitations, false starts, fillers, overlaps, interruptions and repetition. However, repetition can also be used for emphasis.

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An individually distinctive way of speaking. Example: George W Bush "they misunderestimated me".

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Words or phrases which soften or weaken the force with which something is said. Also called modifiers or qualifiers. Examples:  perhaps, maybe, possibly.

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Paralinguistic Features

Related to body language: the use of gestures, facial expressions and other non verbal elements (for example, laughing) to add meaning beyond the words conveyed.

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A social dialect or variety of speech used by a particular group, such as working class or upper class speech.

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Adjacency Pairs

Utterances that often occur in pairs. Often question and answer or introduction and greeting. Example: How are you? Good thankyou. 

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The omission or slurring of one or more sounds or syllables. Example: gonna, wannabe, wassup.

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The omission of part of a grammatical structure. Coveys a more casual tone. Example: You going out? Might be.

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Tag Question

Strings of words normally added to a declarative sentence to turn the statement into a question. Example: It's hot in here, isn't it?

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