English Language and Literature features



Accent means the way that words are pronounced. Below are examples of accent and dialect which is the vocabulary associated with the use of a language.

  • Cockney - originates from East London e.g. certain words are pronounced with a more forward consonant e.g. 'dis' replaces 'this' and 'muvah' replaces 'mother'
  • Southwest British - comes from South of England, starting from London to Wales e.g. letter r is pronounced after vowels 'mutherrr' instead of 'mother'
  • Northern England English - Accents/dialects spoken in the north of midlands, in cities like Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool. Words are lengthened so 'kite' would be pronounced as 'kaaaait'. The word 'mother' is usually replaced by 'mam'.
  • Geordie - Refers to people/dialect of Newcastle. Letters 'au' can be said strongly e.g. 'bought' can sound like 'boot'
  • Scottish - Originates from scotland where words such as 'aye' and 'wee' are spoken
  • Welsh - This involves replacing syllable 'y' and placing stress on 'r' e.g. 'bright' is said as 'brrrright'
  • Midlands - The two common accents are brummie and black country. Brummie usually consists of words like, 'pop', 'kid' and 'bab'. Whereas black country involves words such as 'baby' being replaced by 'babby' and 'awlright' is said instead of 'alright'
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Non-fluency features

These are normal characteristics of spoken language that interrupt the flow of talk. Examples are:

  • Hesitations - the length of a pause
  • False starts - when we begin to formulate our utterances but then stop to think
  • Fillers - when we think what to say next midway through out utterance e.g. 'erm', 'like', 'sorta'
  • Overlaps - when two speakers speak at once to break down the fluency of the conversation
  • Backtracking - interrupting the current topic of the conversation to introduce further info
  • Ellipsis - refers to missing words
  • Pauses - indicate a gap in something said which may exist to allow the speaker to consider his/her next utterance
  • Voiced pause - Pauses of sounds that allow the speaker time to consider their next utterance e.g. 'erm', 'um', 'ah' and 'er'
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An utterance is the manner of speaking.

There are four types of utterances which make us understand a character and their role:

  • Interrogative: (question) "What did she say?"


  • Declarative: (statement) "I can't stand people who agree with you all the time."


  • Imperative: (command) "Well, say something."
  • Exclamative: (exclamation) "That man!"
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Purpose of talk in life

Expressive - revealing feelings and emotions e.g. "I'm really annoyed"

Phatic - to oil the wheels of interaction, being polite, showing interest e.g. "How's it going?"

Transactional - language used to obtain goods, services or ideas

Evaluative - e.g. "What a great song" or "The mini performs better than the Peugeot"

Expository - explaining theories or ideas

Instructive - giving clear instructions

Persuasive - fairly obvious

Collaborative - agreeing and showing co-operation and solidarity

Performative - the performance of an act e.g. "I'm sorry I ate it all" (should be performed)

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Purpose of talk in literature

There are two purposes of the literature text: authorial purpose and the overall purpose of the text

The overall purpose of crafted talk is to entertain (be amused, saddened, puzzled etc)

Depending on the extract, purposes can include:

  • creating or revealing character
  • advancing the plot or narrative
  • describing a place or situation
  • conveying mood/emotion or creating atmosphere
  • expression opinions/beliefs
  • addressing the audience and inviting empathy/sympathy and some involvement
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Context of talk in life

Context refers to where the talk occurs and who it involves. The context is hugely significant in influencing the way someone speaks.

If it is a formal setting, you may be nervous. This would affect your lexical choices and fluency.

If it was an informal situation, the register would be relaxed, the lexis may include more slang and colloquialisms, social dialect and interactional features of the conversation would be more clear.

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Context of talk in literature

There may be more than one context in literature pieces.

1. The immediate fictional setting e.g. the park, dining room etc

2. The context when it was produced e.g. victorian novel

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Adjacency pairs

This is a two part exchange in the conversation in which the second utterance is functionally dependent on the first

  • Greeting - greeting
  • Question - answer
  • Offer - accept/decline


1. 'Hello', 'hi'

2. 'Do you know what time it is?', 'Four o' clock'

3. 'Would you like a cup of coffee?', 'No thanks'

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Back-channel behaviour

These are words, phrases and non-verbal utterances used by a listener to give feedback to a speaker that the message is being followed and has been understood.

  • Continuers e.g. mmhm, uh, huh
  • Acknowledgements which show agreement/understanding e.g. yeah
  • Assessments which show appreciation e.g. how awful, wonderful
  • Newsmarkers marks the speaks turn on news e.g. really, is it
  • Questions either to indicate interest or to correct misunderstanding
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Shortening words

  • Contraction: a reduced form often marked by an apostrophe in writing e.g. can't = cannot
  • Elision: the omission or slurring of one or more sounds                                                       e.g. gonna = going to, wassup = what is up
  • Abbreviation: a shortened form of words used to represent the whole e.g. 'Dr' from 'Doctor'
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A word or phrase (such as this, that, these, those, now, then) that points to the time, place, or situation in which the speaker is speaking.

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Discourse markers

Words and phrases which are used to signal the relationship and connections between utterances and to signpost that what is said can be followed by the listener/reader e.g. 'first', 'on the other hand', 'now', 'what's more', 'so anyway'

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Grice's maxims

Grice proposed 4 basic conversational rules as criteria for successful conversation:

  • Quantity: don't say too much or little
  • Relevance: keep to the point
  • Manner: speak in a clear, coherent and orderly way
  • Quality: be truthful

However if speakers do not abide by the maxims:

  • Grice uses the term flout for the deliberate departure from a maxim e.g. if a person avoids answering a question and makes an irrelevant comment, the listener looks for a reason for this
  • Grice uses the term violate for an apparently unintentional departure from the maxim e.g. if a person gives too much information, or seems to be rambling on in an irrelevant way, the listener might infer that the speaker is lonely or needs to talk
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Polite words

Hedge - words and phrases which soften or weaken the force with which something is said e.g. perhaps, maybe, sort of, possibly, I think

Modal verbs - soften commands e.g. would, should, could etc

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Paralinguistic features

This relates to body language - the use of gestures, facial expressions and other non-verbal elements such as, laughter to add meaning to the speakers message beyond the words being spoken

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Phatic talk

Conversational utterances that have no purpose other than to establish or maintain personal relationships.

It's related to small talk and follows traditional patterns, with small responses and expressions:         'How are you?' / 'Fine; Cold isn't it?' / 'Freezing'

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Interactional talk

Language in conversation used for interpersonal reasons and/or socialising

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  • Pragmatics - implied meaning
  • Semantics - actual meaning

Its not what sentences mean but what the speaker means



'I'm sorry'

This means that the individual is sorry for whatever reason. However, the speaker's meaning behind it may be just to have said it for the sake of it.

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Prosodic features

This includes features such as, stress, rhythm, pitch, tempo and intonation - which are used by speakers to mark out key meanings in a message. Essentially, how something is said.

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An alteration that is suggested or made by a speaker, the addressee, or audience in order to correct or clarify a previous conversational contribution.


Cordelia Chase: I just don't see why everyone's always picking on Marie-Antoinette. I can so relate to her. She worked really hard to look that good, and people just don't appreciate that kind of effort. And I know the peasants were all depressed.
Xander Harris: I think you mean "oppressed."

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Tag question

Strings of words normally added to a declarative sentence to turn the statement into a question e.g. "It's a bit expensive round here, isn't it?"

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A turn is a time during which a single participant speaks, within a typical, orderly arrangement in which participants speak with minimal overlap and gap between them.

When talking about this in the exam:

  • Who takes the most turns? What does this imply?
  • Who takes less turns? What does this imply?
  • Length of turns/distribution of turns
  • Topic and agenda setting
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Topic setting

When talking about this in the exam:

  • Look at how establishes the topic - known as agenda setting
  • See whether the conversations swing from one to another
  • See who swaps the topics
  • Look for framing moves such as, "by the way" and "that reminds me"
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Vague language

Statements that sound imprecise and unassertive.

Examples are:

  • 'and so on'
  • 'or whatever'
  • 'thingummy'
  • 'whatsit'


It could also mean the speaker isn't using vague language. So if the speaker says 'I walked across the road' this is vague. Being precise is 'I sprinted/ran/jogged across the road'

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This is an individual's distinctive style of speaking.

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This is a variety of language associated with a particular social group of people from a certain age group, social class or ethnic background.

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