Spoken Language Terminology

The way that words are pronounced by a person or a group. Accents can be regional or social.
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Address Term
What people call one another, e.g. you might call your friend 'mate', or your teacher 'Miss'.
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Blend Word
Words that are formed by combining parts of other words - e.g. jeans + leggings = jeggings.
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Talking differently (using different accents or dialects) in different situations.
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Covert Prestige
Gaining status in a non-obvious way by using non-standard dialect or accent, to seem more down-to-earth or rebellious.
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A variety of speech with specific vocabulary and grammar, and sometimes an associated accent. Dialects are usually specific to geographic regions.
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What happens when different dialects merge together and become more similar.
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The language routine that you follow in certain contexts, e.g. ordering food in a restaurant might involve phrases like 'Are you ready to order?', 'What are the specials?' etc.
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This is when certain sounds are slurred together - e.g. 'don't know' is pronounced 'dunno'.
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When words are missed out - e.g. 'can meet later if better' instead of 'I can meet you later if that's better'.
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Estuary English
A trendy accent that's emerged as features of Cockney and RP accents have blended together.
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The things that people do to show that they're listening to the speaker and they understand or agree with what's being said - e.g. saying 'yes', 'mm' or 'uh huh'.
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Words like 'erm' and 'um', which speakers use to fill in gaps while they're thinking about what to say next. Fillers are used to stop speakers from losing their turn in a conversation.
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How far speech fits in with accepted conventions (particularly Standard English) - e.g. a radio documentary is likely to contain more Standard English and therefore be more formal than a chat between friends.
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An individual speaker's unique way of speaking, influenced by their age and regional and social background.
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Phrases that have been shortened to the initial letters of the word, e.g. 'OMG' for 'Oh my God'. These are different from acronyms because each letter is pronounced separately.
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The amount of input from different people and how they act and react to each other, e.g. a chat between friends might involve lots of interaction, but a blog might involve only one person communicating (and therefore little interaction).
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Specialist words that relate to a particular job or activity - e.g. biologists might talk about 'antigens'.
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Multi-Modal Talk
Talk that contains features of both written and spoken language, e.g. text messages and emails.
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Non-Fluency Features
Things like fal-false starts, repetition, repetition and 'erm' fillers that all break up the flow of speech.
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Overt Prestige
Gaining status in an obvious way by using Standard English and Received Pronunciation to seem more important, intelligent or classy.
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Phatic Talk
'Small talk' expressions like 'hello' and 'alright, mate?' They serve a purpose in the conversation, but their actual meaning isn't really that important.
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The relative importance of the people involved in the talk - e.g. during a job interview the interviewer holds most of the power.
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The implied meaning behind what a speaker says (e.g. "Well, I'll leave you to it then..." means "I'm leaving"). They tend to make conversation more polite but also more difficult to interpret. There is potential for lying and irony.
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Public Talk
Language that's written to be spoken to others - e.g. political speeches or school assembly presentations.
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Received Pronunciation
Also referred to as 'RP', 'BBC English', 'Queen's English' or 'Oxford English'. The accent that is commonly associated with Standard English. RP sounds 'posh' and is seen as a high class social accent. Using it can give the speaker overt prestige.
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The different ways that a person talks in different contexts make up their repertoire, e.g. you might speak differently to a stranger in a shop than to an old friend.
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The informal, often rude, words that are used most in casual conversation and multi-modal talk (eg internet forums), e.g. 'cool','lairy','naff'. Slang words go in and out of use, so it changes all the time.
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The dialect of a particular group of speakers, often related by social grouping, age range or work. (e.g. a group of middle class friends, adolescents or firefighters).
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When a speaker changes the way they speak in order to fit in with the people around them.
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Sound Representation
How the noises or pronunciation that you'd use during speech are written down (e.g. during a chat room conversation) - e.g. 'YAAAAYYY','woop!!!'.
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Standard English
A social dialect of English, typically used in writing and formal speaking, that's associated with power, education and class. It's what many people think of as 'proper' and 'correct' English.
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The relative superiority or inferiority of one particular accent or dialect over another - e.g. accents associated with higher social classes are seen as higher status than more working-class accents and dialects.
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Spoken language that has been written down so it can be studied, showing features like pauses, fillers, repetition and false starts.
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Vague Language
Words or phrases that fill gaps in conversation rather than helping it make sense, e.g. 'sort of', 'like'. Also non-specific words like 'lots' or 'a few'.
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Adjacency Pair
A pattern and convention of speech where one utterance is follow by an appropriate linked response.
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Anaphoric reference
Referring back to something that has already been said in the conversation.
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Agenda Setting
Setting the topic/subject of discussion.
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Back-channel Features
Words, phrases and non-verbal utterances used by a listener to give feedback to a speaker that the message is being followed and understood. Very often used in phone conversation.
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Back Tracking
Self-correction by filling in a detail which should have occurred earlier in speech.
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A reduced form often marked by an apostrophe in writing. Similar to elision.
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Colloquial Expression
Words and phrases used in everyday speech but avoided in formal writing.
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Conversational markers
Phrases that draws the person in, or seeks their approval in a conversation.
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Expressions which depend on context for meaning. Suggests shared knowledge between speakers. Usually identifiable but heavy use of 'this', 'that' and other vague words.
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Discourse Markers
Words used to 'signpost' your speech, signalling you're starting, changing subject, or finishing.
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False Start
When the speaker begins an utterance, then stops and either repeats or reformulates it. Sometimes called self-correction.
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Where a speaker wants to avoid speaking or directly going straight to the point. It is used to soften the blow.
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Pauses + micropauses. Indicated by (2.0) and (.) in transcripts
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Mini exclamations, semi-interruptions, as somebody is speaking.
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Incomplete utterances
Spoken language often takes the form of incomplete, minor or ungrammatical sentences.
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The manner in which you speak, whether it be rudely, pleasantly, nervously...
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Minor Sentence
A sentence which is grammatically incomplete - lacking a verb-subject combination.
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Paralinguistic Features
Related to body language. It is the use of gestures, facial expressions + other non-verbal elements to add meaning to the speakers message beyond the words being spoken.
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Prosodic Features
Includes features such as stress, rhythm, pitch, tempo and intonation. These are used by speakers to mark out key meanings in a message.
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An alteration that is suggested or made by a speaker, the receiver, or audience in order to correct or clarify a previous conversational contribution.
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Tag Question
Strings of words normally added to a declarative sentence to turn the statement into a question. e.g. "Isn't it?" "Do you see?" "You reckon?"
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Turn Taking
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.
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Taboo Language
These are words and phrases that are considered inappropriate in some contexts.
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An utterance is a complete unit of talk, bounded by the speaker's silence.
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Where speakers continue discourse by linking their utterances.
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Co-operative signal
An uttarance that supports another speaker such as Uh-huh. See also Back-channel Features.
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Dominant speaker
The speaker leading the discussion, typically using more discourse markers and having more to say.
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Face Theory
The theory we attempt to 'save face' in discourse in order to keep status or achieve respect.
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A form of figurative language that is in common use.
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The modulation, or music, of the voice - pitch used to support meaning.
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High-frequency terms
Words used often e.g. but, and, the
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Low frequency terms
Words used less often.
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A pause of less than one second.
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When one speaker's utterance has not finished before the next one begins.
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Something added, a subordinate clause, indicated in text by brackets or em-dashes.
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The person being adressed in conversation/ exchange/discourse.
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Speech encounter
A conversation.
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Spontaneous Speech
Unscripted conversation.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


What people call one another, e.g. you might call your friend 'mate', or your teacher 'Miss'.


Address Term

Card 3


Words that are formed by combining parts of other words - e.g. jeans + leggings = jeggings.


Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4


Talking differently (using different accents or dialects) in different situations.


Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5


Gaining status in a non-obvious way by using non-standard dialect or accent, to seem more down-to-earth or rebellious.


Preview of the back of card 5
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