Language Frameworks- Meaning

Everything needed for AQA A language frameworks about lexis, semantics, phonology, graphology, non-verbal communication, cohesion, pragmatics, register and mode


Phonetics and phonology

phonetics =the study of how speech sounds are made and recieved

  • it covers all possible sounds that the human vocal apparatus (vocal chords, tongue, lips, teeth etc) can make
  • it focuses on differences in articulation e.g. different accents

phonology= study of the sound systems of language in particular the patterns of sounds

  • it focuses on the units of sound called phonemes
  • in phonology you don't look at the differences of articulation
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=smallest units of sounds

there are only 44 phonemes in English which are then combined to make all the possible words and sounds in the language

study of phonemes is divided into vowel sounds and consonant sounds

vowel sounds:

  • about 20 vowel sounds even though there's only 5 vowels
  • a vowel has a different sound depending on where it is in the word e.g. ape and sat, both have the vowel a but it sounds diffferent
  • vowel sounds are usually at the centre of a syllable e.g. bag, coat
  • when a vowel is spoken the vocal tract is always open and the airway is clear, making the sound voiced. Vowel sounds are made by altering the shape of the mouth
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consonant sounds

  • number of consonant sounds is close to the number of consonants in the alphabet
  • consonants are mostly found at the edges of syllables e.g. boys, girls. sometimes they can appear in sequences of 3 or 4 consonants together e.g. string
  • some consonants are formed by vibration of the vocal chords e.g. /b/ and /n/ The amount of vibration depends on the position of the consonant within the word
  • at the end of the word, the consonant is less pronounced
  • other consonants don't use vocal chords at all e.g. /p/ and /s/
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Words and syllables

syllables are a word's individual units of pronunciation, they are normally combinations of consonants and vowels

  • the centre of a syllable is usually a vowel sound e.g. bun, tyke
  • syllables can have one or more consonants before the vowel e.g. be, slow
  • many syllables have 1 or more consonants following the vowel e.g. ant
  • they can also have consonants before and following the vowel e.g. play, read
  • monosyllabic words have 1 syllable e.g. palte, car
  • polysyllabic words have more than 1 syllable e.g. amazing
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Connecting words

words are often pronounced differently than ypu'd expect when you see them written down. This is because spoken language combines and runs sounds together

Elision is when sounds are left out

  • it happens especially in rapid speech, with words that have clusters of consonants or syllables
  • for example, library is usually pronounced libry, and everything can become evrythn

Assimilation is when sounds that are next to each other become more alike

  • this happens especially in rapid speech, because it makes the makes the words easier to say quickly
  • for example, in the word handbag, hand becomes ham to make it easier to pronounve with the syllable bag
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Connecting Words

Liaison is when a sound is inserted between words or syllables to help them run together more smoothly

  • for example - pronouncing /r/ at the end of the words. When a word ending with r is followed by a word that begins with a vowel, the /r/ is pronounced e.g. mother ate sounds like mother rate
  • this is to avoid a gap between the words, known as hiatus
  • sometimes it's easier to link words /r/ even if there's no r in the spelling - e.g. media(r) interest
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Phonological frameworks

-used to analyse sound patterns. Part of phonology involves looking at how sounds can convey meaning and association


  • is very clear in poetry
  • lines are often constructed so that the stress falls on important words emphaisising their meaning, e.g. but to go to school in a summer morn, / Oh! it drives all joy away.
  • Advertising often uses rhythm, particularly in slogans, to help the audience remember the product


  • is when words have similar endings
  • it's usually associated with poetry and songs, but it's also used in planned speeches and in advertising
  • the rhyme words in a speech or text always stand out, and their meanings are often linked 

Alliterationis where 2 or more words close to each other begin with the same sound e.g. six sizzling sausages

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Phonological frameworks


  • is when the vowel sounds in the middle of 2 or more words are similar e.g. spoke and hope
  • when vowel sounds clash with each other it's known dissonance

alliteration and assonance are used in creative writing to emphasise words and show that the meaning is linked in some wat, they are also used in persuasive writing to make phrases catchy and more memorable

onomatopoeia- this is when a word sounds like the noise it describes e.g. buzz

sometimes sounds can appear symbolic for other reasons e.g. closed vowels in words like chip and little can suggest smallness, while open vowels in words like vast and grand can suggest largeness

it's not always the case, but it's worth noting sound symbolism like this when you're analysing a text

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= words, the linguistic term for vocabulary

The English language is always changing:

  • words are borrowed from other languages, loan words, e.g. shampoo
  • words enter the language through advances in science and technology, which creates the need for new words e.g. email
  • once a word has entered the language it can be used in different ways:
    • adding affix- suffixes are put after the root or stem of word to change it's word class e.g -ness, -ish and -able, prefixes are put before the root or stem of a word to change its meaning often by reversing it e.g. multi- dis-, trans- and sub-
    • conversion-where the word classes of existing words are altered e.g. water can be a noun but can also be a verb
    • creating compound words- joining 2 words together e.g. rain bow joins to make rainbow, combines to make a word of new meaning
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Lexis and levels of formality

Informal lexis is relaxed, familiar and conversational

  • colloquial and often non-standard, so it will contain dialect words and slang
  • it tends to be smaller than formal lexis and contain more monosyllabic words
  • it contains lots of abbreviations
  • informal lexis for ordinary things often has old english roots

Formal lexis is more serious and impersonal

  • it tends to be made up of standard english words, so it's unlikely to contain dialect words or slang
  • it's bigger and more complex than informal lexis and uses more polysyllabic words
  • words are less likely to be abbreviated
  • often has latinate roots
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Lexis in written and spoken language

  • general rule is that written is more formal
  • more informal language is found in speech between friends and family, the most formal is found in writing between people who don't know each other
  • one of the main reasons for this is because speech tends to be spontaneous, so the lexis is smaller and there is more self-correction
  • speech also tends to contain lots of abbreviations, this is even the case with planned speech
  • there are situations when speech is more formal than writing especially when it is planned e.g. politicians speech
  • there are also situations when written language is informal e.g. an email between friends
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-meanings of words are constructed and interpreted

denotation- straightforward meaning or definition of a word

connotation- associations a word has, or emotions raised by a word

implication- meaning is suggested

ambiguity- phrase or argument can be understood or interpreted in more than one way

Semantic field are groups of words connected in meaning

synonyms= words that have similar meanings can vary in formality

antonym- words with the opposite meaning e.g. hot and cold

hypernym= word with general word e.g. fruit, hyponym= specific word with a meaning connected to the hypernym e.g. orange, grape, banana melon

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=specialist vocabulary associated with a particular occupation or activity

  • it tend to be more formal as it refers to specific things
  • it can be difficult for non-specialists to understand
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Rhetorical language used to persuade

Three part list/triad- where three elements are used in a list to give emphaisis and build to a climax

Repetition- when a word or phrase it repeated for emphasis

Hyperbole- exaggeration for effect, the media use this to make stories seem more important, interesting or entertaining

rhetorical questions- rhetorical question doesn't require an answer as it is phrased in a way that assumes the answer is obvious

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Non-Verbal communication (NVC)

used for many different reasons:

  • reinforce what is being said e.g. hand gestures
  • reveal feelings that don't come across in the words that are being spoken
  • to take the place of speech e.g. waving to say hello
  • as part of social rituals e.g. greeting someone by shaking hands
  • to present yourself to others in a particular way e.g. speaking in a certain accent
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Prosody is the Non-Verbal Aspects of speech

prosody is about how you say things, rather than what is said. these non-verbal aspects of speech help communicate attitudes and meaning

  • pitch- level of the voice- high or low- e.g. low pitch can show relaxed or depressed
  • volume- loudness can show excitement or anger, confident speakers often speak loudly
  • pace- speed of speaking- slow speech can be calm ad authoritative, rapid speech can suggest excitement or panic
  • pauses- can be awkward in conversations, can show speakers are thinking
  • intonation- same words can mean different things depending on how you say them, so variation in tone is important for getting meaning across
  • stress- each word or phrase has a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables called natural stress. changing the way words are stressed is called emphatic stress
  • rhythm- prepared speech often has a more strict rhythmic pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables
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cohesion links ideas in different parts of a text together

  • sometimes texts don't need to be cohesive because they rely on prior knowledge 
  • generally if a text isn't cohesive then it won't make sense
  • spoken language is also cohesive

5 main types of grammatical cohesion:

1. Reference

  • involves 3rd person pronouns and demonstrative pronouns
  • anaphoric reference refers back to something thats already been mentioned
  • references forward to something in the future called cataphoric reference
  • reference to something outside the text is an exophoric reference- demonstrative pronouns refer to something in the immediate, present context
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2. Identification

  • determiners like the,this and that, are used to show that a noun has already been mentioned
  • the indefinite article is used the first time something is mentioned then after that the definite article is used

3. Ellipsis

  • where words are left out of a sentence
  • its still cohesive if the earlier part of the text enables the reader to supply the missing information

4. conjunctions

  • conjunctions connect/link different words, phrases and clauses and show relationships

5. Adverbs- connect clauses by referencing time and space

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Lexical cohesion


  • using the same word more than once can link separate sentences
  • ideas can be linked using synonyms


  • words that commonly appear together in lexical units are called collocations
  • all native english speakers understand its collocations easily
  • some words produce predictable collocations e.g. neat and tidy
  • some collocations cannot be rearranged
  • collocations become well known phrases that are seen as normal and acceptable
  • aren't usually linked by meaning only by familiar association
  • are cohesive because they're recognisable patterns

graphological cohesion is making a text look cohesive e.g using same colour scheme 

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=the study of the part that language plays in social situations

  • meaning of what people say isn't always clear-cut
  • there are lots of unwritten social rules
  • there are also social conventions e.g. saying please and thank you
  • pragmatics look at how people get their meanings across within different social contexts

prosody can change the meaning

  • prosody is part of NVC and includes pitch, volume, pace, pauses, intonation and stress
  • the wat something is said can completely change its meaning
  • it can be difficult to convey prosodic features in writing, writers sometimes use bolding, underlining or italics to show where the emphasis should be
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Politeness strategies

there are lots of different ways to communicate an idea, it depends on the situation- you might need to be tactful and diplomatic or very forceful

there are lots of possible strategies for saying no to something:

  • definite with a negative word e.g. no, no way, not a chance
  • definite without a negative word e.g. are you serious? (humorous) effect)
  • excuse e.g. i'd love to but i'm busy
  • evasive e.g. can we talk about this later
  • apologetic e.g. sorry...
  • inarticulate e.g. erm, ah, hmm

people often use more than one politeness strategy in their response

politeness strategies also act as conventions, the UK uses many many more than other countries

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Layout and presentation can emphasise meaning

  • text and images can be placed next to each other in effective ways called juxtaposition
  • if the text is broken up with borders or boxes then it's designed to draw the reader's attention, colour and graphics can have the same effect
  • it's good to mention whether the layout fits in with the form

typeface is often called font, things to look out for:

  • ascenders and descenders, ascenders= bits extending upwards, descenders= bits extending downwards
  • leading- amount of vertical space between lines of type
  • serif- small strokes on the ends of letters

typeface is used to create different effects

  • can tell you about the tone of a text and show emphasis on certain parts
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Graphemes are the smallest unit that can create contrasts in meaning

graphics can convey meaning:

  • can be cartoons, illustrations, tables, photographs and diagrams
  • can break up the layout of dense text making it more accessible and less formal
  • usually visual representations of the text which help to illustrate and develop its meaning
  • they might have the simple function of making the meaning clearer
  • they can also be used to set the tone of a piece
  • sometimes a graphic will be a deliberate contrast to the text
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registers are the varieties of language used in different situations depends on several factors:

  • audience- relationship between speaker or writer and the audience e.g. if the audience is known personal will be more informal
  • purpose- e.g. a report will use a formal register as its purpose is to convey information accurately, when the purpose is more persuasive the register will often be more informal
  • field- this is the subject being talked about- some fields have a larger specialist lexicon
  • form- e.g business letters will be written in a formal register because of the professional context

whether the register is appropriate depends on the context it's used un

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Registers vary in terms of lexis, grammar and phon


  • a conversation between 2 specialists would contain technical vocabulary that they would both understand
  • for example, the lexis in the registers used by mechanical and medical specialists would be very different


  • register can affect syntax- the structure of clauses and complexity of sentences
  • some registers have grammatical constructions that are specific to them like the legal register which uses lots of clauses and mainly passive sentences


  • to do with how words are said, informal register people drop letters, in formal situations people are more likely to modify their accent
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Written modes

  • includes letters, essays, novels, recipes and reports
  • written modes tend to be the most formal
  • words have to make the meaning clear because there's no opportunity for non-verbal communication
  • sometimes writers try to convey prosodic features like tone, intonation and pitch to make the meaning clearer using features like italicising, underlining, capitalisation and punctuation like exclamation marks
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spoken modes

  • spoken modes are things like interviews, broadcasts and presentation 
  • spontaneous speech is normally the least formal mode
  • in spoken modes speakers can rely on non-verbal communication like gestures and prosodic features to get their point across
  • the grammar of informal speech is often disjointed- it contains lots of interruptions and incomplete sentences
  • it also contains non-fluency features like self-correction, pauses, repetition, fillers and false starts
  • speech also tends to contain phatic expressions
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Classification of modes

continuum classification

  • positions on a scale that places written standard english at one end and spoken informal speech at the other, in the middle are things like telephone conversations and email
  • typology- grouping together types of language that have characteristics or traits in common
  • the dimensions approach- looking at different aspects of mode e.g. lexis, grammar and structure to analyse the level of formality in a certain text
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Multi-modal texts

lots of texts are a mixture of spoken and written modes, especially electronic texts like emails and text messages

  • there are written modes that contain elements of spoken language e.g. phatic communication like hello
  • very informal emails or messages between friends contain phonetic spellings
  • formal business emails tend to be less formal than letters- they tend not to use conventions like writing the sender's address at the top. paragraphs and sentences tend to be shorter
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Card 14- Figurative language

Similies- comparisons that use the words 'like' or 'as' e.g. she can swim like a fish

Metaphor- comparisons that don't use 'like' or 'as' they describe a person, object or situation as if it actually were something else e.g. there was a blanket of snow

personification- type of metaphor where an object or situation is given human qualities

Metonymy- using part of something to describe a whole thing e.g. using crown to describe the monarchy

Oxymoron- brings 2 conflicting ideas together e.g. living death

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Nicola Christian Graham


this is very good although I think more examples next to the meanings would give more clarity.

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