Language Frameworks

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Analysing Language or Discourse

1) Genre - what kind of language it is. Written discourses could be instruction booklets or adverts, and spoken discourses could be formal speeches to an audience or casual conversations between friends.

2) Audience - the listener or reader. When you're analysing language, think about how the audience is addressed. It might be formal or informal, direct or indirect. For example, in advertising the audience is often directly addressed as you.

3) Subject - what the discourse is about. This will be reflected in the lexical choices, e.g. a discussion about healthy eating may contain words like low-fat, diet and nutrition.

4) Purpose - what the speaker or writer is trying to achieve through language (persuade, instruct)

5) Mode - whether the language is written or spoken. You can also get mixed modes e.g. in text messages where language is written but contains informal features of spoken language.

6) Register - a type of language that's appropriate for a particular audience or situation, e.g. the language of a political party or the language of the justice system . Register also includes the level of formality in a discourse.

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Lexis and Semantics


  • Lexis means the vocabulary of a language - the total stock of words.
  • When you're analysing spoken and written language you'll notice word that share a similar topic or focus. For example, in an advert for mobile phones you'd find words such as SMS, text messaging, and battery life. Words that are linked together in this way are known as a lexical field.


  • Semantics is the study of how meaning is created through words and phrases. Sometimes this meaning is explicit, but sometimes it's implicit. A word will have a literal meaning but it can also be associated with other meanings.
  • For example, the word red refers to a colour, but it can also be associated with danger.
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Grammar and Phonology


  • Grammar is the system of rules that governs how words and sentences are constructed. There are three parts to this:

1) A system that groups words into classes according to their function (e.g nouns or verbs)       

2) A system of rules about how these types of words function in relation to each other (syntax)      

3) The individual units that make up whole words (morphology)


  • Phonology is the study of sounds in English - how they're produced and how they're combined to make words.
  • This framework includes Non-Verbal Aspects of Speech (NVAS) or prosody - features of spoken language such as pace, stress, rhythm and intonation.
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Pragmatics, Graphology and Discourse


  • Pragmatics is sometimes called language in use. It's about how social conventions, context, personality and relationships influence the choices people make about their language.


  • Graphology is the study of the appearance of the writing and the effect this has on a text.
  • When you discuss a text's graphology you describe and analyse features like the typeface, the positioning of text on a page and the relationships between text and images.


  • Discourse is an extended piece of spoken or written language, made up of more than one utterance (in spoken language), or more than one sentence (in written language).
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