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English Language
Essay Writing Tips Context in Literature Coursework
GCSE & A-Level
Middle English (1150 Early Modern English
Language and Power Language Change
c - 1500) (c 1450 – 1750)
Modern English (c. Archaic texts
Analysis Breakdown Language Change
1700 to present) linguistic features
Beginnings of
Sample Questions & Child Language
Groupings Language
Answers Acquisition
Phonological Pragmatic Grammatical
Development Development Development
Development (Davis & Language Acquisition Child Directed Speech Learning to Read
Gender: Conversation
Learning to Write Grammar Language and Gender
Analysis Framework
Gender: Written
Language and Gender Language and
Textual Analysis Telephones
Sample Question Technology
How to Analyse a How to Analyse an E- How to Analyse a Text
Radio and Television
Webpage Mail Message
Sample Question & English Language A- AQA A-Level English
Answer Level Past Papers Language Past Papers
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Essay Writing Tips
There are many key writing techniques required to achieve the best grades.
The video and text below look at some of the best technigues to help you achieve top marks

What are these techniques?

 Planning
 Introduction
 Remain focused on the question
 Clear conclusion
 Organisation/ paragraphing
 Accuracy

Good essay practice should include:-


 Make sure you write a brief plan for your answer. In your plan you should identify very
clearly around six distinct points you intend to make and the specific parts of the text
that you intend to examine in some detail.
 Spend about 5 or 10 minutes planning as this will help you make sure you have chosen
the right question (because then you know you have lots of material to cover).


 This should be brief; you could include what your main view is and what other ideas
you have.
 Don't list the poems or ideas you are going to include in the rest of your essay as you
will be repeating yourself.
 Don't begin with ‘In this essay I am going to ...' and then list ideas.
 Try to begin by addressing the question straight away.


 Make sure you use them as it makes your writing clearer for you and the examiner.
 When writing your essay you should devote one or two paragraphs to each idea from
your plan. Try to make smooth links between paragraphs.


 When you make a point - you must give evidence to prove it. When you make a point,
refer to the text and give an example to back up what you say. The best way to do this is
to use a quotation from the text.


 Remember to include quotations, but not too many and don't make them too long. A
good quotation can be a line or two long or just a few words from a line.
 Do not copy out whole long sections from texts as this is wasting time.


 Don't retell the plot of the story. The important thing is to be selective in the way you
use the text. Only refer to those parts of the book/poem that help you to answer the

Answer the question

 It sounds obvious, but it's so easy to forget the question and write the essay you did in
the mock. When you have finished a paragraph read it through and ask yourself. "Am I
still answering the question?" If you think you are not then you need to change it, so
that you are still focussed.


 At the end, try to draw all the strands of your various points together. This should be
the part of your essay that answers the question most directly and forcefully. Keep
checking the question.


 Keep it formal. Try to avoid making it chatty, so avoid using abbreviations e.g. ‘don't',
‘won't' and do not call writers by their surnames so for William Golding you should call
him Golding rather than William, which is too informal.
Be creative

 Remember you do not have to agree with other people's points of view about literature.
If your ideas are original or different, so long as you develop them clearly, use evidence
intelligently and argue persuasively, your point of view will be respected. We want
literature to touch you personally and it will often affect different people in different
ways. Be creative.
 There is no one correct answer to questions on English Literature, just well explored
and explained ones.


Have you:

 Written a plan and stuck to it?

 Written in clear paragraphs?
 Produced evidence to prove all your points?
 Used quotations from your chosen text(s)?
 Answered the question?

Generally speaking to get good marks you have to do the following:

To get an A* you need to be insightful, sensitive, convincing and evaluative.
For an A you need to be analytical and exploratory.
For a B you need to sustain your answer linking details to what the writer is trying to say and
thoughtfully consider the meanings of the texts.
For a C you need to structure your answer to the question, use details effectively to back up
your ideas and make some appropriate comment on the meaning of the texts.
For a D you need to answer the question and explain your ideas with some supporting
quotations from the text.
Context in Literature
Many of you will have to refer to context in your answers to questions on the examination.
So what is context?

 When the text was written

 What the society was like at the time the text was written
 What or who influenced the writer
 What political or social influences there would have been
 What influences there may have been in the genre that may have affected the writer
 When the text was written and when it was set may also have an important part to play
in what is written.
 The context hinted at by the examination question.

Themes come from experiences that writers have gone through or things that are going on in
their lives.
Why did Churchill write Top Girls?
Why did Williams write Streetcar?
One of my favourite examples is Miller's The Crucible. How has the context the play was
written in affected the text's meaning?
Context can be seen on three levels:

 The context of the characters in the play

 The context of those watching when the play was first produced
 The context of us today seeing the play for the first time

Whatever the text you are studying, these are key questions to ask.

Coursework is a requirement for most specifications, although different boards require slightly
different assignments as part of the coursework folder.
Coursework gives you the chance to spend more time making sure your assignments are the
best you can produce but in order to achieve this you should:

 make sure you understand what the assignment asks you to do and make sure
your response fulfils this
 be aware of the assessment objectives that your assignment covers
 plan your work carefully and structure your ideas effectively
 make sure your work is focused in terms of the purpose and audience it is aimed at
 if you are given word limits or guidelines, stick to the general length indicated for the
 do a first draft and then work through this correcting, altering or adding to your ideas in
order to improve your work
 produce a final draft that represents the best work you can produce – this should be as
error-free as you can make it

Remember that, although your teacher can’t do your coursework for you, he or she will be able
to offer you advice.

English Language GCSE & A-Level

The Revision World English Language GCSE and A-Level revision section. Click the links below to view
the resources.
Language and Power
You could be asked to analyse either a spoken or written text. The framework below can be
applied to a spoken or written text.
In preparing for this topic area candidates should study the way power is represented in
spoken and written discourses, for example in official documents, media texts, advice leaflets
etc. Candidates should also study the way participants in interactions position themselves and
others, for example in interviews, debates, consultations, speeches etc.
Comment on language features by relating them methodically to an appropriate language
level or framework. Here are some things you might want to consider:
What type of power is it?

 Instrumental or Influential
 Political/Personal/Social group

Formal, informal, colloquial, slang, jargon, archaic or dialect? Prestige / covert prestige? Lists?
Repetition? Latinate? – semantic fields can be very influential. Mood and tone can be very
persuasive. Metaphors, puns, irony and other types of figurativelanguage used… are all highly
persuasive as is ‘emotive’ language. emotive lexis, clichés, hyperbole, lexis with positive or
negative connotations, simple of complex, humour, repetition, Are any words frequently used?
Why? What is the effect of this? Naming – first name? Last name? Formal title? Insults? Jargon?
Polysyllabic? Latinate? French? Standard English?
Standard or non-standard? Both can be powerful and persuasive in different contexts. Sentence
construction? Short sentencescan be very powerful. Imperatives and directives? ‘I think we
need to sort this out’ means – pragmatically – ‘Sort it!’ Modals: ‘Chocolate is bad for your
health…’ or ‘Chocolate might be bad for your health…’; ‘Would you mind keeping quiet?’ or
‘Shut up!’. Interrogatives? Can be an exhibition of power and very persuasive,
e.g. rhetorical questions. Pronouns? ‘I’, ‘you’ and the oddly ‘all-inclusive’ or ‘all-
exclusive’ we each have. Persuasive effects. Parallel grammatical structures? Rules of three?
There are so many rhetorical devices that can add influence to language and help reinforce and
create power differentials. consider use of different sentence functions (imperative,
declarative, interrogative, exclamanative), sentence length, use of nouns (e.g. abstract nouns),
use of pronouns (is the reader directly addressed using second person pronoun ‘you’, use of
inclusive pronoun ‘we’), conjunctions, adjectives, verbs, ellipsis, non-standard grammar,
Sound can add impact and persuasive effects: harsh or soft consonants, onomatopoeia,
alliteration, sibilance, prestige, Received Punctuation, accents; covertly prestigious local
accents or stigmatized accents?
Presentation can add to content in important and potentially powerful ways. Use of logos and
other pictorial devices can suggest instrumental power; layout can dress a text ‘instrumentally’
and mimic a powerful text with persuasive results. Many genres have particular graphological
conventions that can be highly persuasive.
Conversational Features

 Who leads the talk?

 Who chooses/changes the topic?
 Who interrupts/backs down?
 Who comments on what is said?
 Who uses politeness strategies?
 Who uses ‘face-threatening acts’?
 Who uses tags, fillers and hedges?
 Who talks most?
 Who uses directives and what kind?

The Dominant participant will...

 Initiate the conversation

 Set the agenda
 Control the topics
 Reinforce the required behaviour through positive feedback
 Interrupt
 Overlap

The submissive participant will…

 Respond rather than initiate

 Say very much less, even be largely silent
 Follow the set agenda of the conversation
 Use respectful, form of address, avoid familiarity
 Avoid assertiveness by not interrupting
 Use fillers and vague language

There are not many theorists that you can apply – so that makes it easier to remember them
all! Always try to consider relevant theoretical insights and standpoints in your response:

 IRVING GOFFMAN as well as Penelope Brown, Steven Levinson and Geoffrey Leech all
show how politeness and impoliteness can show or create influence and persuasion.
‘Face Saving / Threatening Acts’ are particularly important.
 PAUL GRICE shows that co-operation is the norm in conversations but that
‘conversational maxims’ can be flouted or otherwise not followed to suggest
influence and power.
 Remember that Grice can be applied to any text that is ‘conversational’ in
style: ads are often written to ‘speak to us’, for example; many texts imply one
half of a ‘conversation’: Grice has very wide application indeed.
 NORMAN FAIRCLOUGH shows that many interactions are ‘unequal encounters’; that
language choice is created and constrained by certain social ‘power’
situations or ‘power type’ discourse of kinds accepted as ‘normal’ for that kind of
encounter, e.g. a manager/worker or doctor/patient conversation (or, in a text, the
use of stereotypes or other ideological ideas).
 Fairclough also shows how texts are persuasive because of the ideologies they
rely upon for their effect, i.e. when the text makes ‘natural’ assumptions about
its reader’s values and beliefs, about what is ‘normal’ or ‘common sense’.
 Remember SYNTHETIC PERSONALISATION (only in advertising)

Language and Power Sample Answer

How is power evident in the text below?
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you for that very gracious and warm Cincinnati
welcome. I’m honoured to be here tonight; I appreciate you all coming.
Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America’s
determination to lead the world in confronting that threat.
The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime’s own actions -- its history
of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. Eleven years ago, as a condition for
ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass
destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist
groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces
chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and
support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has
witnessed Iraq’s eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.
Student’s Response
This speech is a public address by the president of America to a group of Americans in
Cincinnati although it would be given in the knowledge that it would receive far wider
circulation through the mass media. The occasion is just prior to the war against Iraq.
The president opens with lexical choices chosen from the field of politeness such as “very
gracious”, “honoured” and “appreciate”. These are not only typical of this genre but are
important to this context because they work to develop a tenor in which the speaker is at one
with his audience and to garner a sympathetic response. The largely Latinate nature of the
lexis is well-suited to a serious and formal occasion and has the added useful effect of boosting
the audience’s sense of self-esteem.
To create a sense of importance for the occasion, a structural device is used to create an early
sense of emotion and fear through the use of what has become a near cliché, “a grave threat to
peace”. The speaker also tries to develop a sense of common ground through an emotional
appeal, reminding the audience that they are a part of an important nation able to “lead the
A more general aspect of the speech is the use of a metonymic mode, for example, the speaker
uses synecdoche with the hypernyms “America” and “Iraq” creating a sense of inclusiveness
that, crucially, is difficult to question.
Structurally, the speech is developed in a powerful way through an early amplification of the
nature of the threat. Grammatically, this is done by the choice of a crisply short simple
sentence: “The threat comes from Iraq”. This is immediately followed up by another direct
assertion: “It arises directly from...”. Such grammatical choices allow no room for question but
support for the statements is given nonetheless in order to create further emotion and fear
through such lexical choices such as “aggression”, “arsenal”, and “terror”.

Examiner’s Comments
A reasonably good answer but somewhat short. More detail on features of planned
speech, lexical choice, grammar, audience, purpose and context would give the student a
higher mark.
Grade D

Language Change
Click on the sections below for more detail.
Old English – 400 – 1150

 Anglo-Saxon and Norse

 Interchangeable letters left over from Old English – (y + i) (u + v) (long f + s)
 Norman Invasion 1066 – French added to Old English

Middle English – 1150 – 1450

 Old English with French added

 Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Early Modern English – 1450 – 1700

Printing Press – William Caxton – 1476 – standardisation, punctuation, extra letters on end for
money and justified lines as well as pronunciation before G.V.S
Great Vowel Shift – 1400 – 1600 (15th to 17th Century)

 Latinate added after renaissance - 14th to 17th Century

 Shakespeare

Late Modern English – 1700 – Present

 Dictionary – Dr Samuel Johnson – 1755 – standardisation of spelling and literacy

 Education – compulsory in 1870
 National Curriculum - 1984

Middle English (1150 c - 1500)

 Old English is said to have finished after 100 years of French/Norman occupation
 Around 1150 Anglo-Norman became the standard literary language as well as language
of court and politics

The effect of Anglo-Norman

 Had dramatic influence on language, even though commoners remained speaking Old
 They had little contact with the higher class French Invaders speaking Anglo-Norman

Middle English spelling

 When Normans arrived English was in peculiar state, sound system had undergone
dramatic changes but the spelling had barely changed
 French scribes updated the spelling of many English sounds.
 English gained around 10,000 new words, three quarters still in modern common usage
 Because of the upper classes speaking French, most of the vocabulary referred to
aspects of high society and stays with us as formal polysyllabic language

Words of Anglo-Saxon origin

 Builder, shoemaker, clothes, sheep, cow, pig, underwear, meet, worker, drunk, house,
 Mainly common words describing lesser tasks

Words of Anglo-Norman origin

 Mason, tailor, fashion, mutton, beef, bacon, pork, lingerie, encounter, employee,
intoxicated, residence, converse, felony, sentence, judge, jury, court, condemn, gaol
 Mainly words from law & order, Religion, Food & fashion

New grammatical constructions

 New words were now available with the merging of Old English and Old French
 Unreasonable – Old English prefix ‘un’ and Old French ‘rasionable’

Middle English Grammar

 The Norman conquest encouraged the removal of inflected ending

 In English the 1st syllable carries the most stress, e.g. Table, breakfast, cabbage
 Unstressed endings become less important and vowels degrade into indeterminate
 E.g. the last vowel of ‘letter’ and ‘mutton’
 Because of this all inflectional endings in Old English lost emphasis and definition, then
eventually faded from the language

English as standard

 In the 13th and 14th centuries English began to re-emerge as an accepted standard
 In 1204 the Anglo-Norman ruler, King John, lost Normandy to France, this detaching the
Norman-English ruling classes further from their homeland
 They began to be seen and consider themselves as more English than French
 This was only intensified by the inter-marriages between Normans and English
 After the country was swept by the Black Death in 1348-50 over 30% of the population
was killed
 The remaining working class now became of greater importance and therefore their
language also
 Anglo-Norman now became less used and English regained status
 By the 14th Century Oxford University had decreed that all students must speak English
as well as French
 In October 1362 Parliament was opened in English for the 1st time and all court
proceedings must now be ruled in English
 By the end of the 14th century important literature was now published in English,
e.g The Canterbury tales by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1370

Standard English

 By the end of the 15th Century English was once again the 1st language of England
 However, upon re-emerging as standard the language took on 4 very different dialects
 Northern, East midland, West Midland and Southern (a small sub-dialect of Kentish
 There is no way of telling how different the dialects sounded from one another,
however, it is recorded that they were far removed in written
 The London and East midland dialect became the norm and the other dialects all but
died out

Why did the East Midland dialect prevail?

 Geography – it was spoken in the region between the North South divide and had
elements from both dialects, therefore was seen as a compromise between them
 Economic influence – the region had the largest and most affluent population, and was
the biggest and agriculturally richest of the 4 regions
 Academic influence – by the 14th century Oxford and Cambridge universities were
gaining intellectual influence as monasteries lost influence over literacy and education
 The Capital – London was commercial, political, legal and social capital of the country
and was influential throughout the regions. By the 15th century the language spoken in
London had moved from Southern to East Midland dialect, perhaps because of the
greater trading between London and the affluent East Midlands. As London’s influence
spread so did its language.

Early Modern English (c 1450 – 1750)

Also known as the Renaissance

 1476 – William Caxton introduces England’s first printing press in Westminster, London
 Printing began in Gutenberg Germany, 1435
 Standardised the English language, choosing the East Midland dialect as the common
 East Midlands included London, Oxford and Cambridge
 Printing spread fast, by the end of early modern over 20,000 titles printed in England
 Hand written books (manuscripts) were now obsolete, meaning the end of several
spellings of the same word


 As books became more available, literacy increased

 By the end of early modern half population of London could read
 In 17th and 18th centuries new middle class traders had time and money to educate
themselves and children
 Amount schools grew, novels and newspapers became more popular


 Advances in travel and trade brought foreign thinking, techniques and inventions to
 With these came foreign lexis

From Latin and Greek

 Adapt, appropriate, catastrophe, chaos, emancipation, explain, impersonal,


From Spanish and Portuguese

 Alligator, banana, cannibal, hammock, mosquito, negro, potato, tobacco

From Italian

 Balcony, ballot, concerto, design, lottery, opera, solo. Sonata, violin, volcano

From French

 Alloy, anatomy, chocolate, duel, explore, invite, muscle, passport, shock,

tomato, vase

Later with world-wide exploration other words started to enter the language,

 Ketchup and bamboo from Malay. Coffee, kiosk and yogurt from Turkish.
Curry from Tamil

New words were also being created by adding prefixes and suffixes, Disrobe, Nonsense,
and Uncomfortable
Language standardisation
 The spread of printing and education helped standardise spelling and
meanings as multiple copies of books were printed with identical spellings
 As books were printed in London this helped spread the London/East
Midland dialect as the common tongue and the written standard

Language change

 The influx of foreign words was encouraging writers to be inventive with vocabulary
and create new words
 Thomas Elyot used foreign and new words to ‘Augment’ and ‘Enrich’ the language


 Many believed that language should be written clean and pure, without the borrowings
from other languages
 Supporters of this view wrote using old grammar and vocabulary, avoiding the use of
foreign loan words or new constructions
 Others, like Shakespeare (1564-1616) deliberately added outlandish and exciting new
vocabulary to their works
 An enormous amount of common phrases and terms in use today were introduced by
 ‘in the minds eye’, ‘a foregone conclusion’, and ‘a tower of strength’
 He also popularised a huge number of words, ‘obscene’, ‘accommodation’, ‘laughable’
 Academics argued over the subject of ‘Inkhorn’ words as they became known
 It was and is still believed today be many that foreign words are a detriment to the

Modern English (c. 1700 to present)

 Most important development during this time was the growing interest in the English
 By the 18th century England was at the centre of a large and expanding Empire, London
English was the global language
 Social boundaries were now open to change, people could improve their standing in
society through education, a large part being their understanding of improving their
 Academics became increasingly interested in looking at language from an intellectual

Early evidence of interest in language can be seen in the form of dictionaries

 1604, Robert Cawdrey, schoolteacher, published ‘Table Alphabeticall’, containing 3000

definitions for ‘usual English words’
 Many more dictionaries followed due to the success, each new version having a greater
vocabulary than the last
 By 1736 in the 3rd edition of Bailey’s Universal Etymological English Dictionary the
count had reached 60,000 words
Dr Samuel Johnson

 In 1755 Johnson’s dictionary had a wider ranging and more practical she also et of
words, around 40,000
 Having more common everyday words and definitions were more complete and
 Johnson used literary sources to support his definitions, from Shakespeare, Dryden,
Milton, Addison, Bacon, Pope and the Bible
 Johnsons thought these to be works of undefiled English, believing that “tongues like
governments have a natural tendency to degeneration”
 Johnson stated that his aim was simply to register the language, however, his attitude
was prescriptive


 The study of language with the intention of controlling it in some way, by dictating
or prescribing how it should be used
 This grew from the paranoia that the language was degrading and being corrupted by
all the changes happening in the Early Modern period

The Prescriptive Grammarians

 A group of 18th century academics who decided they knew best and published guides on
 Over 200 were published between 1750 and 1800, the most influential being ‘A short
introduction to English Grammar’ by Bishop Robert Lowth, published in 1762
 It had 200 pages of arbitrary idiosyncratic rules on which grammatical forms should e
avoided and encouraged
 He illustrated his rules with Shakespeare, Milton, Pope and others including Johnson
 Many of his grammatical rules became widely accepted and many still so today

“two negatives in English destroy one another, or are equivalent to an affirmative”

This came from the widely held judgement that language should be logical, any construction
not logical doesn’t make sense
“Never put a preposition at the end of a sentence”
This comes from the popular idea that English should follow the same grammatical rules as
Latin and Greek
Why follow Latin

 Was the historical language of the Bible, the law and courts, the classics and of educated
 It was seen as pure and authoritative as unlike English it was an unchanging language
following strict rules for usage
 This was mainly because it was a dead language and was no longer being used for
common communication
 Some grammarians wrote there English grammar books in Latin

Throughout history many people have attempted to stop language change, however, for a
language to survive it must be adaptable to change as it is continuous and inevitable.
Archaic texts linguistic features
Archaic lexis – could show archaic views on gender compared to modern day (e.g. taboo)

 Words no longer used

 E.g. – ‘bacchanalia’

Archaic syntax –

 Archaic word order or sentence structure

 E.g. ‘a beast that wants discourse of reason’

Archaic inflections –

 Archaic affixation at beginning or end of word

 E.g. ‘seemeth’ and ‘whilest’

Interchangeable letters –

 Usually vowels replaced by similar sounding consonants in archaic texts

 E.g. U and V in ‘Vnkle’
 E.g. I and Y in ‘Yce’
 E.g. Long F and S in ‘Diftrefs’

Latinate lexis –

 Words borrowed from Latin

 E.g. – ‘Opera’ and ‘Coliseum’

French Origin –

 Words borrowed from French

 E.g. – ‘Judge’ and ‘Court’

Non-standard spelling – Irregular capitalisation (usually common nouns)

 Vowel omission and irregular spelling compared to modern

 E.g. ‘fixt’ or ‘Cattell’ and ‘Ballads’

Inconsistent spelling –

 Words spelled differently in same text

 E.g. ‘Moneth’ and ‘Month’
Pronunciation before Great Vowel Shift –

 Usually extra ‘e’ on end or doubling of vowels- E.g. ‘Presse’ and ’breake’ or ‘shooes’
 Represents spelling before standardisation
 Reminiscent of speech before Great Vowel Shift
 Extra letters for printers to gain more money and justify lines

Analysis Breakdown

 Formality
 Informal – Monosyllabic, colloquial, elision, fronted cons, simple lexis, non-standard
 Formal – Polysyllabic, Standard English

Emotive Lexis – Connotations, positive & negative – pejoratives

Semantic field - & field specific lexis
Figurative imagery

 Metaphors – Comparing one thing to another – E.g. ‘man of steel’

 Hyperbole – over-exaggeration – E.g. ‘I’ve walked a 1000 miles’
 Simile – comparison with ‘like’ or ‘as’ – E.g. ‘eyes like diamonds’
 Personification – giving human characteristics – E.g. ‘the sea waved’
 Oxymoron – contradiction in terms – E.g. ‘Bitter sweet’ – ‘cold sweat’

Repetition – helps cohesion – including tripling and anaphora

Humour – Puns, taboo
Reported Speech – quote from 3rd party
Coinage – creation of new words
Listing – helps speed text along
Archaism –

 Archaic inflections – ‘Whilest’

 Interchangeable letters – (I and Y) – (U and V) – (long F and S)
 Archaic syntax – word order – ‘Repent and thou shall be saved’
 Archaic Lexis – ‘Bacchanalia’ – ‘tempest’
 Latinate – after renaissance 14th to 17th Centuries
 French – After 1066 and Norman Invasion
 Neologisms- borrowings, compounding, blending, acronym, initialism
 Semantic change – amelioration, pejoration, broadening, narrowing
 Non standard spelling – reminiscent of speech before GVS of 15th to 17th centuries
 Non-consistent spelling –words spelled differently within same text – idiosyncratic
 Irregular capitalisation – showing lack of education before 1870 Education act made

Word classes

 Nouns, adjectives, pronouns, verbs, adverbs

 Intensifiers – give extra emphasis to words
 Sentence types – simple, compound and complex
 Sentence functions – interrogative, declarative, exclamatory, imperative
 Parenthesis – giving extra information


 Alliteration – speeds up and gives extra emphasis – ‘crunchy cornflakes’

 Harsh consonants – give extra emphasis – ‘Dark’ , ‘Dirty’
 Rhythm – gives cohesion and flow to text
 Rhyme – makes memorable
 Assonance – internal rhyme – ‘Fakes mates’
 Sibilance – Alliteration with S sound – ‘the Snakes slithered’

Spontaneous speech

 Ellipsis – words omitted from utterance – ‘going out?’

 Phatic expression – unnecessary lexis used for politeness– ‘how are you?’
 Diexis – context dependant utterance – ‘tonight’
 Clipping – abbreviation – ‘goin’
 Discourse marker – shows about to begin speaking – ‘so’, ‘Right’, ‘OK’
 False starts, elision, pause, fillers, unintentional repetition, Question tags

Language Change
Reason for language change

 Individuals – Chaucer and Shakespeare

 Technology – Internet etc needing new lexis
 Society – Cultural changes and shifts in attitudes requiring new lexis E.g. Political
 Foreign Influence – E.g. America through film or trade
 Science – new inventions requiring new lexis
 Travel, trade and colonisation – require new lexis and shared lexis to barter and trade
 Globalisation – English becoming language of trade and business – new forms created

Political Correctness

 Refrain from causing emotional harm

 Fit into society free of isolation
 However – gone to far - ‘vertically challenged’

Attitudes towards language change

 Prescriptivism – dictate how language should be used

 Want language to remain same and refrain from change
 Descriptivism – accept language change is inevitable and accept change
 David Crystal – 3rd way – results in more creative and expressive form of language


 Used for comedic effect

 Convergence or divergence – conform to more dialectical lexis to fit in or show separate
from others
 Used as filler or to show pain and displeasure
 Negative views towards taboo
 Too much on TV
 However, shows reality to modern language in Britain

Lexical change – neologisms

Words from other languages
Borrowings –

 Loans taken from foreign languages

 E.g. ‘Judge’ from French and ‘Opera’ from Latin

Words formed from existing words -

Affixation –

 Adding affix (prefix or suffix) to an existing word - E.g. ‘Racism’ and ‘sexism’

Compounding –

 Two words are combined in their entirety to make a new word

 E.g. ‘Lap-top’ and ‘Happy-hour’

Blending –

 Two words parts are moulded together to form a new word, usually by adding the start
of one word and the end of another
 E.g. ‘Smog’ – smoke and fog and ‘Motel’ – motor and hotel

Conversion –

 Changing of word class - E.g. Noun to verb – ‘Text’ was noun now verb of ‘to text’
Words formed by shortening –
Shortening or abbreviation –

 Clipping part of a word

 E.g. Omnibus to ‘bus’ and Public house to ‘pub’

Acronym –

 Taking initial letters of words and making them into a combination of pronounceable as
a new word

Initialism –

 Words abbreviated to initial letter - E.g. B.B.C, F.B.I, U.S.A.

Words from proper names –

 Derived from names or places synonymous with the product

 Denim – place in France
 Sandwich – after Earl of Sandwich

Semantic change
Broadening or generalisation –

 Meaning of a word broadens so as it retains old meaning but takes on new meanings as
 E.g. ‘Mouse’ – was animal now computer equipment also

Narrowing or specialisation –

 Is the opposite of broadening

 Applies when word becomes more specific in its meaning, but again can retain the
original meaning as well
 E.g. ‘Meat’ – meant all food now flesh of animals
 ‘Girl’ – middle ages meant all young people

Amelioration –

 Word has taken on a more pleasant or positive meaning than originally held
 E.g. ‘Wicked’ – still means evil now modern slang of good
 ‘Pretty’ – middle ages meant sly or cunning now beautiful

Pejoration –

 Opposite to amelioration
 words original meaning becomes less favourable
 E.g. ‘awful’ – originally 'worthy of awe' now 'exceedingly bad'

Metaphor –

 Words take on new meanings when begin to be used metaphorically

 E.g. ‘Cow’ – bitchy female and ‘Catty’ – female

Idioms –

 Formed from existing words but assume new meanings often as fixed frame forms
 Can only be properly interpreted by learning what the whole frame means
 E.g. ‘In the dog house’ and ‘Over the moon’

Euphemisms –

 Polite way of describing something unpleasant, embarrassing or socially undesirable

 More politically correct
 E.g. ‘Friendly fire’ and ‘Passed away’

Sample Questions & Answers

QUESTION: Referring to both texts in detail, explore how language has changed over time?
Comparing the texts helps show the changing English language in a short period of time, with
the main reason being technological and educational advances. Text E is a written letter from
1854, while Text F is a present day email. This difference in time will indicate many advances of
the English Language.
The register of the texts varies greatly. In text E we see an overall formal register adopted, this
could simply be the manner in which the author speaks to his father and could adopt more
informality if the letter was to a friend. For example we see the formal address of ‘Dear father’
and ‘glad to find you are all in the enjoyment of good health’. Text F shows far more informality
as this email is addressing friends where informal address would be common. For example we
see the informal opening address of ‘hola people’, this helping lighten the mood of the readers
as the email comes from a military environment. Both texts show informality through the use
of ellipsis and elision, for example text E uses ‘Sept’ and text F uses ‘what’s going with things’.
This helps keep the reader at ease as these aspects are more commonly seen in spoken
utterance. Text E uses some formal polysyllabic lexis which would indicate the author is of a
relatively high intelligence, even though his writing is non-standard. The use of ‘addition’ and
‘encampment’ show the formality. Text F shows a greater use of monosyllabic lexis mainly for
the speed of typing and ease of reading. The formal use of ‘orifice’ is seen, however, I believe
this is for comedic effect and helps show the authors own idiosyncratic lexis. The use of
modern colloquialisms of ‘redders’ and ‘honking’ help give text F further informality and
We see the archaism and incorrect spelling of ‘bivouaking’ in text E, which helps indicate the
changing English language as this is simply called an army camp today and the word has
become obsolete. Both texts show forms of non-standard spelling, however, I believe these are
for very different reasons. Text E also shows many forms of non-standard spelling from present
day, for example we see the extra vowel in ‘Blewe’ and the double consonant in ‘att’. As the text
is from 1854, only 100 years after the introduction of the first widely received dictionary by Dr
Samuel Johnson, it is possible that the author was writing in his own idiosyncratic style
through lack of standardisation. However, since standardisation had begun after the first
printing press was introduced to England by William Caxton in 1476; it is far more likely that
the author is using non-standard spelling through a lack of formal education as the first
Education Act was not introduced in England until 1870. Text F uses forms of non-standard
spelling which help indicate the role that technology has played in the changing of the English
Language. For example the clipping of ‘Blo’, the number homophone of ‘2day’ and the
characterisation of ‘+’ are commonly seen in present day communication through email and
text. This is because letters which can be deleted while the text still remains understandable
are removed for reasons of speed and cost.
Technological changes to the language are also evident in the opening address of both letters.
Text E opens with ‘Dear father’ showing that the letter is intended for one recipient, with the
text later stating ‘a copy of this to sisters and brothers’ indicating the need for the father to
copy the letter for his siblings. Text F shows technology through opening with ‘hola people’,
which shows emails can be sent to many recipients at once without the need to reproduce
Both texts show the sociolect lexis of the armed forces. In text E we see the author using field
specific lexis such as ‘encampment’, ‘bivouaking’ and ‘operations’, which would be commonly
heard by soldiers of the time. However, text F shows an evolved form of sociolect lexis as we
see present day terms such as ‘stay bendy’, indicating the language used by soldiers which is
difficult to decipher for non-military personnel. We see the use of the semantic field of military
used by both texts, which helps give continuity and reliability to the text. For example in text E
we see ‘artillery’ and ‘operations’, while in text F we see ‘camp’ and ‘standby’.
The use of some figurative imagery is evident in both texts. In text F we see the use of
hyperbole throughout for comedic effect, for example ‘sand in every orifice’ and ‘millions of
fans’. In text E we see hyperbole through ‘will kill half of us’, which helps show the dire
situation and the falling morale of the troops. The use of metaphors is also evident in both
texts, for example in text E we see ‘bit of a damper’ indicating the low morale once again, while
in text F we see ‘did have beer but now dry’ once again used for humour.
In grammar the texts also differ. The punctuation of both pieces shows many non-standard
forms. In text E we see very little punctuation as the text uses long complex sentences which
stretch into long paragraphs. This could be simply the author’s lack of literacy through being
poorly educated. Text F shows short simple sentences which are punctuated using commas
into short paragraphs. This could be because the author can send regular instant messages
through email and so needs to convey less information. However, the constant capitalisation
shows the speed in which the text was written and the author failing to check his work before
sending. This once again shows the affect technology has had on the language, as speed takes
importance over the use of Standard English. The use of inconsistent capitalisation is also seen
in text E, we seethe pronoun of ‘i’ and ‘I’ showing once again the authors lack of education
through their inconsistency. However, some proper nouns are capitalised such as ‘Russians’
and ‘John Macklin’ showing the author does have some recognition of grammatical rules.
The use of adjectives also shows differences between the two texts. In text E we see more
informative adjectives used to help show the authors feelings and the grim situation which the
y are in, for example we see ‘severe’ and ‘heavy rain’. In text F we see far more simplistic
adjectives used giving less information but adding extra emphasis to the humour of the text, for
example we see ‘mega’ and ‘honking’. In text E we also see the intensifier of ‘very severe’ added
which gives extra emphasis to the feelings of the author. The use of the modal verb ‘would’ in
text E shows the polite formal manner the author uses when addressing his father, while text F
uses ‘could’ which further indicates the lack of information conveyed in the email.
QUESTION: Linguistic analysis of Text A (Evelyn) and Text C (Jones)
The two texts I am analysing are both exerts from diaries. However while text A is from John
Evelyn’s personal diary in 1684, text C is a fictional entry from Bridget Jones’ Diary in 1996.
This would create a difference in the intended audiences as text A is private and written to be
viewed by the author alone, while text C is written to be viewed by a large audience of mainly
females. The subject of text A is the freezing of the River Thames in 1684 and the ensuing
festival which was held on the ice. The subject of text B is Jones getting prepared for a night out.
Text A has a single purpose of being the author’s means of recounting events. However, Text C
needs to appear as though describing events whilst attaining its primary purpose of
entertaining its audience. Text A is written in the early modern period and shows
distinguishing features of the time. Text C shows a clear progression of the English written
language to a modern combination of spoken and written features, or the third way as David
Crystal has labelled the mixture.
The structure of both texts clearly shows the change in the English language between the twp
pieces. Text A is written in a linear manner as the author describes events from start to finish in
a structured and chronological manner. Text C uses tines to help the reader differentiate
between the events and show the progression of the fictional author’s day. Text A is written
using one large paragraph, with a heavy use of punctuation. The use of colons and semi-colons
would help identify the age of the text as modern texts mainly use them very little if at all, this
is shown in text C as they do not appear. Text A also uses many commas which create long
complex sentences. Text C although using many commas uses far smaller sentences as the
author tries to keep the audience entertained.
The lexis also helps show the changing English language. In text A we see a relatively formal
manner used throughout, for example we see ‘ladys’, ‘vessels’ and ‘printing presse’ used which
indicate the author although writing a private account of events is still using a register which
shows them to be educated and is indicative of the time compared to modern day. The mere
fact that the author can read and write when the text comes from 200 years before education
was compulsory would indicate that the author is probably of wealth and writes as they speak
using Standard English. In text C we see a far more informal register being used, for example
we see ellipsis in ‘Am going to get weighed’ and abbreviation in ‘approx’. This helps show the
third way being used as the author brings in features of spoken English to add informality and
shows a more modern form of writing informally. Semantic fields are used in both texts to add
continuity. In text A we see a semantic field of religion with ‘judgement’ and ‘perishing’ which
would be indicative of the time. In text C we see a semantic field of farming being used as an
attempt at humour as the author links women’s daily rituals to the rigours of farming, for
example we see ‘harvesting’ and crop spraying’. We see emotive lexis used in both texts. In text
A we see lexis which indicates the severity of the freeze with negative connotations in the lexis
such as ‘perishing’ and ‘lightning-strock’. In text C we see negative connotations through
emotive lexis aimed at creating humour as the fictional author attempts to show her distress at
being alone, for example we see ‘panic’ and ‘ruin’. We see far more figurative imagery used in
text C than in text A. However, in text A we do see the simile of ‘as if lighting-strock’, which
helps give imagery to the text to describe the scene. In text C we see simile also with ‘blind as a
bat’ as an attempt at humour. We also see the metaphor of ‘like harvesting and crop-spraying’
as another attempt at humour by likening women’s rituals to farming. The use of hyperbole is
also see to help and unite the fictional author with the intended female audience with ‘is it any
wonder girls have no confidence’. In text A we see euphemism being used to help the author
bring a more appropriate register to the text with ‘lewder places’. In text C we also see the use
of reported speech as an attempt at gaining the support of the reader for the main character as
she is stood up by a seemingly arrogant man, for example ‘Look Jones’ appears condescending
from a man using a surname towards a female. We also see listing used in both texts to help
speed the text along and add emphasis, for example in text A we see ‘Bull-baiting, Horse and
Coach races, Pupet-plays and interludes’ while in text C we see ‘legs to be waxed, underarms
shaved, eyebrows plucked, feet pumiced, skin exfoliated and moisturised’. In text C we see the
use of field specific lexis showing the changing English Language as we see the use of corporate
speak with ‘presentation’ and ‘spreadsheets’. This also shows lexical change in the form of
compounding as two existing words have been placed together to form a new meaning with
We see many features of archaisms in text A which help indicate the text to be far older than
text C. We see archaic elision with ‘twas’ and ‘seem’d’. This may show the author writing in the
manner of how the words were spoken at the time as although the author is educated they may
not have been taught how to spell. We see other features which could indicate the spelling is
reminiscent of speech, for example ‘onely’, ‘skeetes’ and ‘strock’. We also see an extra letters
added to the end of many words such ‘printing-presse’. As the text is written after the
introduction of the printing press in 1476 and the great vowel shift of the 13th to 15th centuries
it is possible that the extra letters show the authors own idiosyncratic style of writing as the
standardisation of spelling had already begun. The irregular capitalisation of common nouns
would indicate that the author had little knowledge of the grammatical rules of the English
language and simply capitalised all important nouns, for example ‘Cattell’ and ‘Ballads’ can be
seen. We see the archaic inflection in ‘whilest’ which would further indicate spelling
reminiscent of speech. The interchanging of Y and I is common in archaic texts and can be seen
in text A with ‘yce’. This is a common feature left over from Middle English showing through
this text that the feature had not yet been lost to the English Language over 500 years after it
ended. We also see archaic lexis in the text with ‘bacchanalia’ which further shows the author
to be learned as they use Latinate lexis to describe what kind of fair they had attended. This
may be because of the time of writing being towards the end of the Renaissance and the
reinvigoration of Latin culture and language. The use of archaic social views is also evident as
the author refers to women as though second class and beneath men with ‘where the people
and ladys took a fansy’. The mild taboo used in text C shows the difference in social beliefs as
modern women are thought of as equal and able to use language such as ‘bloody’ without being
discriminated against.
In grammar we see some similarities between the two texts. In both texts we see the use of
abstract nouns which help give the text emotion and help give visual images to the author’s
words, for example in text A we see ‘humour’ and in text C we see ‘confidence’. We see both text
using proper nouns, in text A we see ‘London’ and ‘Thames’ indicating where the events are
taking place and in text C we see ‘Daniel Cleaver’ used where the surname takes on its own
meaning showing the characters nature of being a cold and inanimate object. However, we see
far more uses of descriptive adjectives used in text C to help give visual images to the reader of
the characters feelings, for example we see ‘flabby’ and ‘curly’. Text A has no adjectives which
could help indicate that adjectives are used in text C to help keep the reader interested as it is a
fictional piece. We see the use of dynamic verbs in both texts to indicate the amount of action
taking place, for example in text A we see ‘sliding’ and in text C we see ‘plucked’. We see
intensifiers used in both text to add extra emphasis and emotion to the texts, for example in
text A we see ‘very seas’ and in text C we see ‘even worse’. In text A we see no pronouns as the
piece is written for the author’s eyes only and they feel no need to seek any form of solidarity
with the reader. However, in text C we see the use of many first person singular pronouns as
the character appears to be distance themselves from the reader and attempt to gain feelings of
contempt towards Daniel Cleaver as they seem to be lonely, for example ‘I’ is used throughout.
Text C also uses the hyper-formal first person pronoun of ‘one’ when regarding the fictional
author, this would help the reader gain the knowledge of the characters social status. In text A
we see many forms of long complex sentences as is seen in the opening lines, this could indicate
the author’s intellect. However, it could also indicate the author’s lack of knowledge regarding
grammar and the use of punctuation. In text C we see the use of far more simple sentences,
such as ‘he might have bloody well rung again’. These are seen more often in text C to break up
the longer sentences forms and to keep the text entertaining. In sentence functions we see the
use of declaratives used in both texts to help convey information, for example in text A we see
‘no vessels could stir out, or come in’ and in text C ‘he is on top-level job’. Declaratives are the
only forms used in text A which is typical for a diary as the author simply states what has
happened. However, in text C we see interrogatives through the use of rhetorical questions
with ‘what’s wrong with me?’ These are used to help involve the reader in the story. In text C
we also see imperatives in ‘must be complete in oneself as a woman of substance’. This helps
give depth to the character as they attempt gaining an emotional link with character and
How to Get an A grade in 'Groupings'

 Learn the framework.

 Do all the practice exam papers you can to help with timing
 Do the groupings answer after you have done the Power/Gender/Technology question
 Go through each text, noting which possible groups the text will fit in to and what
linguistic features related to the groups are present.

Plan your answer in a table

Texts Groups Similar Linguistic Features Differences

A&B Formal Speech complex sentences, audience B is a conversation A is
a monologue
Use the following three recommended groups and sub groups
Purpose - inform, persuade, entertain/audience
Spoken - planned/unplanned speech
Levels of formality - formal and informal
Use graphology and/or semantic fields as a final group once you have fully analysed the above
three in detail
Use the following key phrases:
My first grouping will be purpose. Text A and B can be grouped because they both aim to
persuade. They can be grouped because they both…
However, the texts are different because .....
Text E, F and D can be grouped because they both aim to inform. They can be grouped because
they both…
However, the texts are different because…
My second grouping will be Speech. Texts C and D can be grouped because they both contain
features of spontaneous speech...... However, text D is different to text C because it is a dialogue
as opposed to a monologue and as such contains many structural and interactional features
associated with conversations…
Features of speech to include:
Text J is different from Texts B and H because it is a conversation (OPENING SEQUENCE, TURN-
My final grouping will be levels of formality.
Texts C and E can be grouped as they are informal. They contain many informal linguistic
However, Text C is more informal than E because the audience is…
Texts A and F can be grouped as they are formal. They contain…However, they are different in
In your answer you must:

 Use at least the above three groupings (sub-groups will gain higher grades)
 Use linguistic terminology in an ordered way (Remember the framework)
 Explain the effect of the linguistic devices used
 Refer to context (e.g.. setting, audience, relationship between participants)

Groupings: Model answer – based on Jan 09 paper

My first grouping is purpose. Texts B, E and G all aim to inform their target audience, however,
the audience are all different and the information given is for different purposes. Text B is
informing its audience of the limitations of the ticket. Text B uses formal declaratives to help
the reader understand the importance of the information being given. The text uses ‘tickets
cannot be exchanged or refunded’ for example. The information is listed in numerical order for
ease of read. The sentences are kept short and direct using unambiguous language, for example
‘this ticket is valid for one admission only’. The text is for a wide audience of different ages so
the lexis is kept simple to help the information be easily understood, for example ‘the V&A shall
not be responsible for loos or damage’. Text E also aims to inform but for different reasons
from text B. This text is from a teacher passing over information to her class. The text also uses
declaratives to inform the reader, for example ‘I’m off sick today’. The text uses dates and
detailed reference to pass over information, for example ‘read on to p228’. Parenthesis is used
to give further information to the reader. Modal verbs are also used to help convey information
in a polite manner, for example ‘you can feed back to me’. Text G aims to inform the reader,
however, this text is taken from spoken language. This text also uses declaratives to help give
information, for example ‘we’ve just been to a festival’. The text uses reported speech from the
band members to pass over information to their fans, for example ‘it’s always good to come
Texts C and F can also be grouped through purpose, however, these are both aiming to
persuade their audience. Text C uses many forms of persuasive techniques to appeal to their
young audience and try to persuade them to visit. Alliteration is used for example ‘four-star
surfing school’. Rhyme and listing are also evident, for example ‘sneezy, breezy, freezy’.
Specifically selected reported speech is used to help persuade the audience to visit, for example
‘the waves are better’. Inclusive pronouns are used to help involve the reader, for example the
second person pronoun of ‘you’. Humour is used to help involve the reader, for example ‘bug-
eating not compulsory, unless you really want to’. A positive lexis is also used to help persuade
the audience, for example positive emotive adjectives like ‘warmer’ and ‘better’ are used. Text F
uses persuasive techniques to try and make its audience visit a website. The use of reported
speech through a famous well known song helps grab the reader’s attention immediately, for
example ‘I see trees of green’. The blanking out of words helps persuade the audience of the
purpose of the article to show that singing helps learning. Friendly imperatives are used to
persuade the audience to visit the website, for example ‘log on’. Inclusive pronouns are also
evident throughout to help involve the reader, for example the second person pronoun of ‘you’
is seen. Positive adjectives are also seen in the lyrics if the song to help create an emotive visual
image, for example ‘bright’.
My next grouping is levels of formality. Texts B, C and F are all formal. Text D could appear to
be informal as it is aimed at children, however, the text actually is written in a formal manner.
Text B uses formal complete sentences to convey the information in a serious manner, for
example ‘The V&A reserves the right to amend or make alterations to the published details’.
The text also uses many polysyllabic to keep the text in a formal manner, for example
‘responsible’. The text is kept to impersonal lexis to keep strict formality by not becoming
friendly, for example ‘the ticket is valid for one admission only’. The use of field specific lexis of
sales also adds formality, for example ‘admission’ and ‘reserves’. The formality helps certify the
relationship between the museum and its audience, keeping a strict business relationship
between the two. Text C stays mainly formal. The use of polysyllabic lexis is evident, for
example ‘peninsula’. Latinate lexis is also evident, for example ‘compulsory’. Complete
sentences are evident throughout, for example ‘discover your inner Ray Mears’. However,
unlike text B this text tries to stay friendly towards the reader as they try to persuade them to
visit Wales using persuasive techniques. Text F also uses polysyllabic lexis, for example
‘inspiration’. Complete sentences re also evident such as ‘have you noticed how easy it is to
learn things when you sing them?’ This text also tries to stay in a friendly manner as they
appeal to the audience. Text D although appearing child like does stay formal throughout. Some
polysyllabic lexis is still used, for example ‘innocently’. Complete sentences are also seen, for
example ‘Gordon was resting in a siding’. The fact that the book was written in 1953 explains
why the text stays formal.
Texts A and G can be grouped together as they are both informal. Text A is a conversation
between two associates. As the two participants appear to know each other the lexis used stays
informal, personal and friendly. The use of colloquialisms for example adds informality, such as
‘yeah’. Ellipsis is also seen, for example ‘there’s a Hargrove on’. Elision is also evident, for
example ‘it’s’. Phatic expressions are also used adding informality to the text, for example ‘how
are you?’ Deixical expression can also be seen, such as ‘in half and hour’. Text G uses colloquial
language to keep the piece friendly, for example ‘dead’. Fronted conjunctions are also evident,
for example ‘and’. We see northern dialect being used by the band members, for example ‘yeah’.
Simple sentences structures are also used throughout to keep the relationship friendly, for
example ‘a lot of British. These texts both use informality as a means of politeness strategy as
they attempt to appear friendly to the other participants. Text G also uses the informality to
relate to the target audience of the bands fans. Text E could be grouped separately as semi-
formal; it begins with informality buts ends in a formal manner. The text begins in a friendly
informal manner to appeal to the audience of the teachers students. For example we see the
Americanisation of ‘guys’ and elision in ‘I’m’ in the opening sentence. The text becomes more
formal towards the end as the teacher attempts to instruct her pupils on the work necessary
and the importance of completion. For example we see polysyllabic lexis with ‘significance’ and
long complex sentences such as ‘I suggest you split this section up between you...’
My next grouping is going to be texts with features of spontaneous speech. Texts A and G both
show many signs of spoken language. The text is structured in adjacency pairs and triplets
which help the conversation flow, for example ‘what’s on today?...there’s a Hargrove on’. We
see phatic expression such as ‘how are you’ and deixis with ‘today’ which are both common
features of spontaneous speech. Elision and ellipsis are also evident, for example ‘it’s’ and
‘twelve in for chicken curry’. Text G also has features of spontaneous speech. We see fronted
conjunctions, such as ‘And’. We also see colloquial language and northern dialect evident in the
text with ‘yeah’ and ‘dead’. This would indicate the speakers own idiosyncratic style of
language evident through his speech. Text D can also be added to the group although it is a
written text. This text uses features of spontaneous speech to make the text appear to be from
spoken language. For example we see elision with ‘aren’t’ and ellipsis with ‘is is right?’ the text
also uses non-standard spelling with ‘hullo’ to represent the characters idiosyncratic style of
speech. The use of elongated vowels is also evident for effect, for example ‘me e e e e!’
My next grouping is semantic fields. Texts A, C, D, E, F and G all use semantic fields, however,
they all use different text to help appeal to the target audience and to help with cohesion. Text
A uses the semantic field of food, we see words such as ‘chicken’ and toffee’ this helps link the
text and help it flow. Text C uses the semantic field of holidays, for example ‘beaches’ and
‘waves’. This helps sell the text to the target audience. Text D uses the semantic field of trains,
for example ‘engine’ and ‘rails’, this helps with cohesion by linking the text with the image. Text
E uses the semantic field of learning, for example ‘annotation’ and ‘school’, this helps link the
text to the audience of pupils. Text F uses the semantic field of weather, for example ‘bright’
and ‘clouds’, this helps link the text to the audience through the use of reported speech. Text G
uses the semantic field of festivals, for example ‘song’ and ‘applaud’, this helping link the text to
the target audience.
My next grouping is graphology. Text C, D and F all use many features if graphology to help
make the piece visually attractive to the target audience. Text C uses a large image of surfers to
grab the attention immediately of the target audience. The text takes second place to the image
as this is obviously considered the most important part of the text. Text D uses a large image
which links in with the story being told helping give the reader a visual image of the unfolding
story. The text is also written in an attractive font to appeal to the young audience. Text F also
uses attractive fonts to grab the reader’s attention. Texts B and E can also be added to the
group. However, they use graphological features to draw attention to certain areas of
importance. Text B uses bold type to draw the reader attention to the text. Text E also uses bold
font to draw the reader’s attention to the class and date the message is written for.

Examiner’s comment
Excellent use of groupings. There are comparisons and also contrasts which pushes the
grade up. Excellent use of textual references and linguistic terminology.
Grade A

Child Language Acquisition

Click on the resources below
Beginnings of Language Development
Children all around the world seem to acquire language by passing through a similar set of
stages; although the time it takes to move from one stage to the next can differ from child to
child. The same pattern of development occurs regardless of the language, but children do not
develop at the same pace.
Stages of Development
Before birth
It is possible that even before birth a child has acclimatised to the sounds of its native
language. Research suggests that whilst in the womb, babies become used to the rhythms and
intonation of the language being spoken around them.
During the first few weeks of a child’s life, the child can express itself vocally. Different kinds of
‘cry’ can be identified – from one signalling hunger or distress for example. This suggests that
cries are distinctive noises and as such, cannot really be described as ‘language’.
Cooing, also known as gurgling or mewing, is another universal stage of development and
generally occurs when babies are around 6-8 weeks old. It is thought that during this stage the
child is discovering its vocal chords and sounds like ‘coo’ ‘goo’ and ‘ga-ga’ are made.
This is the most important stage during the first year of a child’s life. It usually begins when the
child is between 6 and 9 months. At the onset of babbling, the baby begins to make sounds that
more closely resemble adult language.
Combinations of sounds are produced such as ‘ma’ ‘ga’ and ‘da’. Sometimes these sounds are
repeated producing what is known as reduplicated monosyllables eg: ‘mama’, ‘dada’, ‘baba’.
Such sounds still have no meaning, but parents are often eager to believe their child is speaking
its first words. As well as babbling, the baby is likely to blow bubbles and splutter.
This is where the number of different phonemes produced by the child increases initially.
Phonemic expansion and contraction
During the babbling phase, the number of different phonemes (units of sound) produced are
increased, known as phonemic expansion. Later at about 9 or 10 months the number of
phonemes occurs (phonemic contraction). In other words, the child retains the sounds of its
native language but discards the ones it knows aren’t needed. We know this happens because
research has shown that at this age, the sounds made by babies from different nationalities are
Intonation and gesture
Another development during the babbling stage is the patterns of intonation begin to resemble
speech. For example, there might be a rising tone at the end of an utterance, adding emphasis
and rhythm. Another method of communicating without speech is for a child to point at
something with a facial expression that seems to say ‘I want that’ or ‘what’s that?’ These
gestures show a desire to communicate.
Although the child may not yet have begun to speak properly, it doesn’t meant they don’t
understand the meaning of certain words. The comprehension of phonological patterns and the
meanings that they represent develop more quickly than the child’s ability to reproduce
them. Words that are recognised are likely to include family members, responses to questions
such as ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and basic expressions like ’bye-bye’.
The first word stage
A child is usually about a year when it speaks its first recognisable word.
Phonological Development
Phonological Development - how children develop the ability to use and understand the sounds
of language
Trends in Phonological Development
It is difficult to be precise about later phonological development and the way in which vowels
and consonants are acquired varies from child to child. When a sound has been mastered, it
maybe used only in the pronunciation of certain words and may be missing or pronounced
incorrectly in others. Researchers have identified certain trends in phonological development
and these are listed below:

 Command of all the vowels is achieved before all of the consonants

 By the age of two and a half the average child has mastered all of the vowels and
around two thirds of the consonants
 At four the child is likely to be having difficulty with only a few consonants
 The child may be six or seven before confidence in using all vowels and
consonants has been acquired
 Consonants are first used correctly at the beginning of words but consonants at
the end of words are more difficult for example ‘p’ and ‘b’’ sounds in ‘push’ and
‘bush’ will be easier to pronounce than ‘rip’ and ‘rib’.
 In general, sounds that occur frequently in a large number of words will be
acquired before sounds that occur less frequently
 To make words easier to say children simplify their pronunciation in certain

Ways of Simplification
Children will often simplify pronunciation by deleting certain sounds:

 Final consonants maybe dropped eg) the ‘t’ sound in ‘hat’ and ‘cat’
 Unstressed syllables are often deleted eg) ‘banana’ becomes ‘nana’
 Consonant clusters are reduced eg) ‘snake’ becomes ‘nake’ , ‘sleep’ becomes

Another form of simplification involves substituting harder sounds with easier ones.
 R (as in rock or story) becomes w
 Th (as in there, that or thumb) becomes d, n or f
 T (as in toe) becomes d
 P (as in pig) becomes b

Reduplication of sounds is another common phenomenon. This occurs when different sounds in
a word are pronounced the same way such as ‘dog’ becoming ‘gog
Berko and Brown (1960) describe how a child referred to a plastic fish as his ‘fis’. When an
adult asked ‘is that your fis?’ he replied ‘no, my fis.’ When he was told ‘that is your fish’ he
replied ‘yes, my fis.’ Another child confused card/cart and jug/duck in his speech, but when
shown pictures of the items, could correctly identify them. This proves that understanding may
develop faster than the ability to pronounce things.
Pragmatic Development
Pragmatic Development - What do words do?
Language functions
Michael Halliday’s ‘Learning how to mean’ proposed seven main ‘functions’ that spurred a child
to want to use language.


Directly concerned with
Language used to fulfil a
obtaining food, drink comfort
INSTRUMENTAL speaker’s need
etc . eg ‘I want’
Persuading / commanding /
Used to influence the requesting other people do
REGULATORY behaviour of others as you want ‘daddy push’
(child on swing)
Used to develop social
The Phatic dimension of talk
relationships and ease

Sometimes referred to the

Used to express personal
‘here I am!’ function –
preferences / the speaker’s
PERSONAL conveys attitudes, expresses

Relaying or requesting
Used to communicate
INFORMATIVE information eg ‘I got a new
Using language to learn – this
Used to learn and explore the
may be questions or answers
HEURISTIC environment
or the kind of running
commentary that
accompanies child’s play
May also accompany play as
children create imaginary
used to explore the
worlds / may arise from
IMAGINATIVE imagination
story telling. Also jokes,
songs etc
This can be a complex system which is difficult to apply to data, therefore, John Dore’s ‘Infant
Language Functions’ is a lot simpler to learn.

Naming or identifying a person, object or
Echoing something spoken by an adult
Giving a direct response to an utterance
from another speaker
REQUESTING ACTION Demanding food, drink, toy, assistance etc
CALLING Attracting attention by shouting
GREETING Pretty self explanatory
PROTESTING Objecting to requests etc
Using and repeating language when no adult
is present

Grammatical Development
One word stage / Holophrastic stage
The average child is about a year old when it speaks its first words. Roughly between 12 and 18
months is begins to speak in single word utterances such as ‘milk’ mummy’ and so on. This is
known as the ONE WORD STAGE. Occasionally more than one work may appear to be involved
but this is because the child has learned the group of words as a single unit and thinks it is all
one word. For example: ‘Allgone’.
In many situations the words simply serve a naming function, however, sometimes they convey
more complex messages. These words are called HOLOPHRASES. For example, the word ‘juice’
might mean ‘I’ve finished my juice’ or ‘I want more juice’, therefore the single word is taking
the place of a more complex grammatical construction that the child hasn’t learned yet.
Two word stage
Two word sentences usually appear when the child is around 18 months old. Usually, the two
words are in a grammatically correct sequence such as:

 Subject + verb - Jenny sleep (Jenny is sleeping)

 Verb + object Suzy juice (Suzy is drinking juices)
 Subject + complement Daddy busy (daddy is busy)
Also, when a child tries to repeat what an adult has said, it will miss out part of the sentence,
but what is retained is usually grammatically correct:
ADULT: Look Charlie, Ben’s playing in the garden
CHILD: Play garden
This example shows how children in this stage focus on key words. Words that convey less
information such as ‘in’ or ‘the’ for example, are missed out.
Confusion as to what a child actually means during the two-word stage can arise because
children don’t know tenses or plurals yet. Also, depending on the CONTEXT of the utterance it
might have more than one meaning. Take the following example from Bloom (1973):


Mummy sock Child picks up sock This is mummy’s sock
Mummy sock Mother puts sock on child Mummy’s putting my sock on
The Telegraphic Stage
From the age of about 2, children begin producing three and four word utterances. Some will
be grammatically complete such as ‘Amy likes tea’ or ‘Mummy sleeps upstairs’ but others will
have essential grammatical elements missing such as ‘Daddy home now’ or ‘Laura broke plate’.
These utterances are similar to some of those used in the two-word stage – they can often make
sense, but key elements are missing such as:

 Articles – ‘a’ ‘the’

 Auxiliary verbs – ‘is’ ‘has’
 Prepositions- ‘to’ ‘on’ ‘for’
 Conjunctions – ‘but’ ‘because’

Progress during this stage is rapid, and by the age of 5, children have usually mastered
sentences containing more than one clause, conjunctions and ‘ing’ ‘ed’ or ‘s’ endings to words
and verbs. These are known as inflectional affixes.
Acquistion of Inflections
Research indicates there is a predictable pattern in the acquisition of inflectional affixes. These
are word endings such as –ed and –ing. Functional words such as articles like ‘a’ and ‘the’ and
also auxiliary verbs seem to be acquired in a regular order.
Brown (1973) studied children’s language development between the ages of 20 months and 36
months and found the sequence shown below occurred regularly. The features are also listed in
the order in which they were acquired:
1) –ing
2) plural ‘-s’
3) possessive ‘-s’
4) the, a
5) past tense –ed
6) third person singular verb ending – s (eg): he sings
7) auxiliary verb ‘be’ (eg): I am dancing
Cruttenden (1979) divided the acquisition of inflections into the following three stages:
1) In the first stage, children memorise words on an individual basis
2) In the second stage they show an awareness of the general rules of inflections. They
observe that past tense forms usually end in –ed so instead of ‘ran’ they say ‘runned’.
This kind of error is known as Overgeneralisation.
3) In the third stage, correct inflections are used
Understanding Grammatical Rules
Children produce accurate grammatical constructions from an early age, and researchers have
tried to determine if they have learned this themselves or have copied adult speech. A famous
experiment was carried out by Jean Berko (1958) who showed children pictures of fictitious
creatures he called ‘Wugs’. At first, the child was shown a picture of one creature and told ‘this
is a Wug’. Then, they were shown a picture of two Wugs, and the children were asked to
complete the sentence ‘Now there are two…’. Children aged 3 and 4 replied ‘Wugs’. As they
could never have heard this word before, it because clear that they were applying the rule that
plural end in ‘-s’/ However, children between the ages of 2 and a half and 5
often OVERGENERALISE’ with plurals, so we hear things like ’sheeps’ and mouses’.
Asking Questions
Research suggests this happens in three stages:
1) Relying on intonation in the two-word stage eg: daddy home? Said with a rising
2) During their second year children acquire question words such as ‘what’ and
‘where’ resulting in questions such as ‘where daddy gone?’ They can’t yet use auxiliary
verbs such as ‘has’
3) In their third year, children can use auxiliary verbs and learn to say ‘is Joe here?’
however, they can’t always use wh-words correctly yet and might say things like ‘why
Joe isn’t here?’
This also happens in three stages:
1) Words ‘no’ and ‘not’ are used in front of other expressions eg) no want
2) During the third year ‘don’t’ and ‘can’t are used eg) I don’t want it
3) In the third stage more negative forms are acquired such as ‘didn’t’ and ‘isn’t’ and
negative constructions are used more accurately.
In Los Angeles in 1970 a social worker made a routine visit to the home of a partially blind
woman who had made an appeal for public assistance. The social worker discovered that the
woman and her husband had kept their 13 year old daughter Genie locked away in almost total
isolation during her childhood.
Genie could not speak or stand upright. She had spent every day bound naked to a child’s potty
seat and could move only her hands and feet. At night she was placed in a kind of straightjacket
and caged in a crib with wire mesh sides and a cover. Whenever Genie made a noise her father
beat her. He never communicated with her in words; instead he growled at her and barked at
her instead.
After she was rescued she spent a number of years in excessive rehabilitation programs
including speech and physical therapy. She eventually learned to walk and to use the toilet. She
also eventually learned to recognise many words and speak in basic sentences. Eventually she
was able to string together two word combinations like ‘big teeth’ then three word ‘small two
cup’. She didn’t however, learn to ask questions and didn’t develop a language system that
allowed her to understand English grammar.
Four years after she began stringing word together, she is still unable to speak fluently. A san
adult she speak in short, mangled sentences like ‘father hit leg’ ‘big wood’ and ‘Genie hurt’
which when pieced together can be understood.
This shows that children like Genie who are abandoned and abused and not exposed to
language for many years, rarely speak normally. Some language experts have argued that cases
such as these suggest the existence of a critical period for language development; but other
issues can cloud these case
Is there a critical period for language learning?
Most babies learn a language by a certain age if they are to learn to speak at all. A critical
period is a fixed time period on which certain experiences can have a long lasting effect on
development. It is a time of readiness for learning, after which, learning is difficult or
impossible. Almost all children learn one or more languages during their early years, so it is
difficult to determine whether there is a critical period for language development.
In1967 Lenneberg proposed that language depends on maturation and that there is a critical
period between about 18 months and puberty during which time a first language must be
acquired. Lenneberg especially thought that the pre-school years were an important time
frame as thisis whe language develops rapidly and with ease.
Although much language learning takes place during pre-school years, it continues into
adulthood. Therefore, young children’s proficiency in language does not seem to involve a
biologically critical period.
Language Development (Davis & Brown)
David Crystal (1996)

Cries, Burps and Burbles In the first two or three months of life an
infant makes lots of noises of pain,
hunger and discomfort, to which parents
learn to respond, but it is difficult to
attribute specific meanings to these
Most children add a new variety of
sounds to their repertoire before they
Cooing and going gaga are six months old – the ‘cooing’ which
may resemble some of the first sounds of
This evolves into babbling – the first
extended repetitions by children of some
Babbling on
basic phonemic combinations such as
‘babababa’ etc.
From out of these streams of sounds
eventually emerge a small repertoire of
utterances that sound something like a
First Words
word. However, these single words may
appear to serve a multitude of functions
or to have more than one meaning.

Mean Length of Utterance (MLU), Roger Brown (1969)

MLU is used to define stages of Child Language Acquisition. MLU is calculated by dividing the
total number of words (morphemes – smallest meaningful part of a word) spoken by the
number of utterances a child makes. So if a baby used two words in two utterances the MLU
would be one. Brown has related MLU scores to stages of CLA:

MLU Score Stage

1.1 – 2.0 1
2.0 – 2.5 2
2.5 – 3.0 3
3.0 – 3.5 4
3.5 – 4.0 5

Language Acquisition

Function The states, events and
What children are relationships about
trying to do with their which children talk
Stag language (e.g., make Meaning here refers to The way in which the language is
e requests, ask meaning shown put together – its grammar
questions, make in performance.
Children may
have competence which
they have no occasion to
Children begin by
naming the thing
referred to (the “naming
Children’s first Soon they move beyond
utterances usually this to relating objects to
serve three purposes: other things, places and
- to get someone’s people (Daddy car; There Many of the remarks at this age are
attention Mummy) as well as to single words, either the names of
events (Bird gone). They things, or words such as there, look,
- to direct are concerned with want, more, allgone. They are often
attention to an articulating the present referred to as operatorsbecause
object or event state of things, describing here (as opposed to their function
- to get something or relating things and in adult speech) they serve to
they want events in their world. convey the whole of the child’s
meaning or intention.
1 - Next, they begin
to: Other remarks consist of object
Because of the limited
name and operator in a two-word
- make language forms which
combination: Look Mummy, Daddy
rudimentary they can control, children
gone, There dog.
statements (Bird convey information by
gone) intonation, by non-verbal
means, or by the
- make requests listener’s shared
awareness of the
situation. (It gone – the
listener has seen
what it is.)
Children become Children’s questions at this stage
concerned with naming often begin with interrogative
and classifying things pronouns (what, where) followed
At this stage children (frequently by a noun (the object being asked
begin to ask asking wassat?). about) or verb (denoting some
questions; action): where ball? where gone?
They may begin to talk
usually where questio
2 about locations changing Articles (a/an or the) appear
ns come first. before nouns. Basic
people coming or going o [subject]+[verb] structure
r getting down or up). emerges: It gone, Man run, or
[subject]+[verb]+[object]: Teddy
They talk simply about sweeties (=Teddy wants some
the attributes of things sweets).
(e.g. things
being hot/cold,
big/small, nice; naughty
doggy; it cold, Mummy).
Children now begin to
talk about actions which
change the object acted
upon (You dry hands).
By now children ask
lots of different
like listen and know appe The basic sentence structure has
questions, but often expanded: [subject]+[verb]
ar as children start to
signalling that
refer to people’s mental +[object] +[adverb or other
they are questions by element] appears: You dry hands; A
intonation alone man dig down there.
(Sally play in garden,
Children refer to events
Mummy?). in the past and (less
often) the future. Children begin to use auxiliary
They express more
complex wants in Children talk about verbs (I am going) and phrases
grammatically continuing actions (He like in the
complex sentences: I doing it; She still in bed) basket[preposition]+[article]+[no
want daddy [to] take and enquire about the un].
it [to] work. state of actions (whether
something is finished).
They begin to articulate
the changing nature of

Stages of early language acquisition

Function Meaning Structure
What children are The states, events and The way in which the language is
Stage trying to do with their relationships about put together – its syntax or
language which children talk grammar
Children by this stage use question
As children begin to use Because children are forms (Can I have one?) and
increasingly complex now able to use
negation (He doesn’t want one)
sentence structures, complex sentence
easily, no longer relying on
they also begin to: structures, they have
intonation to signal their intent.
4 flexible language tools
They are now able to use auxiliary
for conveying a wide verbs: do is the first to appear,
range of meanings. followed by can and will. Children
- make a wide range
may duplicate modal verbs (Please
of requests Perhaps the most
may can I...?): this may reflect
(e.g. Shall I cut it? striking development
understanding that may is required
Can I do it?) is their grasp
for courtesy, while can indicates the
- explain fact of being able to do something.
competence) and use
- ask for (language Children use one part of a sentence
explanations performance) of to refer to another part – they use
(Why questions abstract verbs (often implied) relative clauses: I
appear) like know to express know you’re
mental operations. there (implied that after know); I
want the pen Mummy gave
Children in this stage
me (implied thatafter pen). Now
begin to express
they can do this, language is a very
meaning indirectly,
flexible means of communication for
replacing imperatives
(Give me...) with
questions (Can I
have?) when these
suit their purposes
As well as saying
what they mean, they
now have pragmatic
understanding, and
suit their utterances
to the context or
By now children Children are now able By this stage, children are quite at
frequently use language to talk about things home with all question structures
to do all the things they hypothetically or including those beginning with
need it for: conditionally: If you words like What?and When? Where
do that, it’ll... the subject and verb are inverted
(transposed): What does it mean?
They are able to When is Mummy coming?
- giving information
explain the conditions
- asking and required for
answering questions something to
Children use sentences made up of
5 of various kinds happen: You’ve got to
several clauses, whether multiple
switch that on
- requesting (using co-ordinate clauses) or
first... Often they talk
(directly and complex (using subordinate or
about things which
indirectly) relative clauses, and parentheses).
are always so – that is,
- suggesting about general states Up to now grammatical
of affairs. development has mostly added to
- offering
the length of sentences. Now
As well as general
- stating intentions/ children use structures which allow
references to past and
asking about those more economy (this is known
future, children now
of others as cohesion).
talk about particular
- expressing times: after tea;
feelings and before bedtime; when
attitudes and asking Daddy comes home...
about those of
They are able to
estimate the nature of
actions or events, e.g.,
that things are
habitual, repetitive or
just beginning.

This model explains the sequence of language acquisition. Children will vary individually
in when (relative to their peers) they reach each stage, but there is little variation in the
sequence of language learning. By the end of Stage 5, a child’s language is in place and he
or she has a basic lexicon (personal vocabulary) of several thousand words. From now on
what is learned increasingly depends upon experience and environment – on
opportunities to use language and to hear it used, for a wide range of purposes and a wide
range of audiences in a wide range of contexts. The model does not show the acquisition of
literacy, which is more subject to environment and cultural expectations.

Child Directed Speech


 Separate phrases more distinctly, leaving longer pauses between them.

 Speak more s-l-o-w-l-y.
 Use exaggerated ‘singsong’ intonation, which helps to emphasise key words. Also to
exaggerate the difference between questions, statements and commands.
 Use a higher and wider pitch range.

Lexis and semantics

 Use of concrete nouns (cat, train) and dynamic verbs (give, put).
 Adopt child’s own words for things (doggie, wickle babbit).
 Frequent use of child’s name and an absence of pronouns.


 Simpler constructions
 Frequent use of imperatives
 High degree of repetition
 Use of personal names instead of pronouns (e.g. ‘Mummy’ not ‘I’)
 Fewer verbs, modifiers and adjectives

Large number of one-word utterances

 Deixis used to point child’s attention to objects or people

 Repeated sentence frames eg. “that’s a ……”
 Use more simple sentences and fewer complex and passives.
 Omission of past tenses, inflections (plurals and possessives).
 Use more commands, questions and tag questions.
 Use of EXPANSIONS – where the adult fills out the child’s utterance.
 Use of RE-CASTINGS – where the child’s vocabulary is put into a new utterance.


 Lots of gesture and warm body language.

 Fewer utterances per turn – stopping frequently for child to respond.
 Supportive language (expansions and re-castings).

Are there are variations due to the gender of the caregiver?

Research has suggested that fathers are more demanding than mothers, using more direct
questions and a wider range of vocabulary.
What effects do you think this kind of speech has on children?
Some claim that it retains the attention of the child, others that it makes language more
accessible. Some claim that children learn by repetition – can this explain the fact that children
can produce sentences which they have never heard before?
Others claim that ‘babytalk’ actually interferes with language development because children
learn babyish words and sentences instead of the real language.
Not every culture uses such forms of child-directed speech. In Samoa and Papua New Guinea,
adults speak to children as they speak to adults, and children acquire language at the same pace
as elsewhere.
Features and purposes of Child Directed Speech
CDS aims to:

 Attract and hold the baby’s attention.

 Help the process of braking down language into understandable chunks.
 Make the conversation more predictable by referring to the here-and-now.

Clarke-Stewart (1973)
Found that children whose mothers talk more have larger vocabularies.
Katherine Nelson (1973)
Found that children at the holophrastic stage whose mothers corrected them on word choice
and pronunciation actually advanced more slowly than those with mothers who were generally
(Brown, Cazden and Bellugi 1969)
Found that parents often respond to the TRUTH value of what their baby is saying, rather than
its grammatical correctness. For example, a parent is more likely to respond to “there doggie”
with “Yes, it’s a dog!” than “No, it’s there is a dog.”
Berko and Brown (1960)
Brown spoke to a child who referred to a “fis” meaning “fish”. Brown replied using “fis” and the
child corrected him again but saying “fis”. Finally Brown reverted to “fish” to which the child
responded “Yes, fis.” This shows that babies do not hear themselves in the same way that they
hear others and no amount of correction will change this.
Child Directed Speech – some conclusions

 Recent research argues the CDS doesn’t directly help babies learn language,
instead it helps parents communicate with children = its purpose is social rather
than educational.
 In some cultures (non-western) babies are expected to blend in with adult
interaction and no special accommodation is made in speech addressed to
them. These children still go through the same developmental stages at roughly
the same time as long as there is EXPOSURE to language. However Clark &
Clark’s research suggests that children who are only exposed to adult speech do
not acquire the same standard of language as those whose parents speak to
them directly in a modified manner.
 The older argument that baby-talk is ‘harmful’ to a child learning a new language
is being replaced. People now think it’s beneficial to the child.
 A child’s language improves when in contact with an adult who speaks to them

Learning to Read
Historics of learning to read
Frank Smith said that as children learn to talk by talking they learn to read by reading. He said
that reading should not be broken down into component parts and children should not be
presented with contrived or over simplified texts.
The reader has 2 basic needs:

 The availability of interesting material that makes sense to the reader.

 An understanding and more experienced reader as a guide.
Psycholinguists explained that readers draw upon the following cue systems when making
sense of texts:

 Semantic cues – using knowledge and experience of stories to predict events, phrases
and words.
 Syntactic cues – drawing on knowledge and experience of patterns in oral and written
language to predict text.
 Grapho-phonic cues – using knowledge and experience of relationships between sounds
and symbols to read particular words.

Growing emphasis on home-school links, children’s knowledge of literacy before schooling and
contributions made by all parents.Ÿ
A research programme in Bristol found clear evidence that listening to stories was one of the
most significant pre-school experiences associated with children’s development as readers and
When an adult reads to a child it is normal for the child to ask questions and make comments
about the pictures, the print and the nature of the text itself. Through this talk children come to
know more about what is involved in becoming a reader.
Popular texts tend to share:

 a strong story
 a lively, rhythmical text
 powerful, imaginative content
 memorable language
 interesting illustrations that complement the text
 humour
 language that is not contrived or unnatural
 As well as published texts children’s own texts play a powerful role in developing
reading ability. These texts are often made into books and become a valuable part
of the classroom’s reading resources.

Reading aloud
A child who is read to frequently builds up a repertoire of known texts which will be returned
to again and again. On each occasion the child plays a more active role in the reading,
predicting and re-enacting of the text. This familiarisation helps the child develop a growing
awareness of what is involved in becoming a reader.
Silent reading
Usually during the infant stage the child moves from reading aloud to reading silently. In the
initial stages the child sub-vocalises the words, reading at the same pace as if s/he were
reading aloud. With experience the words become ‘thoughts in the head’ and the rate of
reading increases.
The phonics approach to learning to read is now very popular. It involves teaching children the
relationship between letters and sounds, so that they can learn the sounds for individual letters
and then blend the sounds together to make the word they see on the page.
We already know that there is more to reading than this straightforward activity. Nevertheless,
it is interesting to look in more detail at what is taught in phonics programmes, as letter-sound
correspondences are not always as simple as c-a-t in English.
Using the Internet, research the complexities of phonics and create a revision mind map or
poster. You could include some explanation of:

 Initial, middle and final sounds.

 Consonant clusters.
 Digraphs.
 Long and short vowel phonemes, schwa and other vowel phonemes.
 Rhymes and how these can be used to teach the variations in letter-sound
 Anything else you found out...

Other Literary Techniques that help young readers

Fiction for young writers will often use tried and tested techniques such as alliteration to
interest a new reader and help them remember the sounds associated with certain letters.
These include:

 Alliteration.
 Pre-modification.
 Repeated grammatical structures.
 Assonance.
 Moral lines.
 Rhythm.
 ŸFamiliar discourse patterns.

Methods- actually learning how to read

Although you've never seen the word before, most of all you will be able to guess a
pronunciation for smidge. How? There are two principal methods by which a child learns to
read. One is the Whole Word approach where a child is taught to recognise the total shape of
the word. This method might make use of pictures and labels. The other is the phonic method
where a child learns the sound of individual letters and runs them together to form a word,
such as m-a-t. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of both?
One important aspect of studying children's literature, and for writing for children yourselves,
is the concept of readability. Readability is how easy it is to read. The frameworks allow us to
be a bit more specific. What might you consider when looking at children's writing? Complete
the table.
A framework for analysing children's reading books

 Page layout.
 Lineation.
Graphology  Pictures.
 font(s) and size of letters.

 Length of words and number of syllables.

 Types of words and semantic fields.
 Sounds of words e.g. onomatopoeia, rhyme.
 Concrete/abstract nouns.
Lexis and Semantics
 Repetition.
 Ease of recognition (sound-spelling match).
 How context could help with more difficult words.

 Sentence type (simple, compound, complex.

 Sentence length.
 Position of subject and verb in sentence.
 Use of active or passive voice.
 Verb tense.
Grammar / Syntax
 Modification e.g. adjectives, adverbs.
 Pronouns used after subject (or object) has been
clearly established.
 Lineation in relation to grammatical units.

 Careful structuring of sentences to make the text

Cohesion  Repetition (of words and parts of sentences).
 Pronouns used after referent well established.

 Face to face interactions.

 Familiar scenarios.
Influences from  Use of direct speech.
everyday speech  Informal register.
 Repetition.

 Alliteration (big, bad wolf).

Features borrowed  Repeated epithet (Little Red Riding Hood).
from the oral tradition  Parallel sentence structures.
of story-telling  Rhythmic language.

Learning to Write
Stages of Childrens Writing
In the early stages of learning to write and read, young children compose before they know
much about the conventions of writing and reading or have the skill to control a pencil or
crayon or form letters.
Children in preschool often write and read in unconventional forms: scribblings, drawings,
letter-like marks. These are not mistakes. Young children are encouraged to ‘write’ without
worrying about the mechanics of writing.
Dr Kathy Barclay has identified seven stages of children’s writing. (1996).

 1. The first stage is SCRIBBLING.

These are random marks on a page. To encourage children at this stage, adults can offer blank
paper and writing tools and talk with children about their writing.

 2. The second stage is MOCK HANDWRITING.

This often appears with drawings. Children produce lines of wavy scribbles. This stage
resembles cursive writing and may be revisited at a later time.

 3. The third stage is MOCK LETTERS.

Children make letter-like shapes that resemble conventional alphabet letters.

 4. The next stage is CONVENTIONAL LETTERS.

The first word to appear is usually the child’s first name. Adults will often see a string of letters
across a page that a child reads as a sentence.

 5. This is known as the INVENTED SPELLING stage.

As the child writes conventional letters, they begin to cluster letters to make words. Although
the words may not appear conventional, children will often ask an adult, “What did I write?”

 6. Stage six is the APPROXIMATED OR PHONETIC SPELLING stage.

Children begin to associate sounds with the letters.

 7. The last stage of writing is the CONVENTIONAL SPELLING stage.

This occurs as the child’s approximated spellings become more and more conventional.
Functions of Writing
Writing has the following FIVE FUNCTIONS; Children have to learn the functions of writing.
1. Practical
Most of us make lists, jot down reminders, write notes and instructions.
2. Job related
Professional and white collar workers write frequently.
3. Stimulating
Writing helps to provoke thoughts and organise them logically and concisely.
4. Social
Most of us write thank-you notes, invitations and letters to friends occasionally.
5. Therapeutic
It can be helpful to express feelings in writing that cannot be expressed so easily by
Stages of Writing DevelopmentŸ
Learning to write is much more than a motor skill. It can be studied in conjunction with
children’s emerging cognitive, social and linguistic abilities.
Being able to write enables children to formulate thoughts and reflect on meaning – it is part of
the PROCESS of learning.Ÿ
In addition to motor ability and functional awareness, children need to develop the structures
of language appropriately.
Kroll (1981) – recognised 4 stages of development:
Preparatory stage (approx. 4-7)

 Basic motor skills develop and principles of the spelling system acquired.

Consolidation stage (approx. 7-9)

 Children begin to use writing to express what they can already say in
speech. Writing closely reflects the patterns of spoken language. There may be
colloquialisms, strings of clauses linked by “and”, unfinished sentences.

Differentiation stage (9+)

 Writing begins to diverge from speech and develops its own patterns and
organisation. Errors are common at first, as children learn new standards and
experiment with new structures found in their reading. Their written work
becomes fuller and more diverse as they encounter the need to produce different
kinds of writing for different audiences and purposes.
 At this point children need guidance about the structures and functions of written
 They realise that writing is a medium where there is time to reflect, re-think and to
use language as a way of shaping thought. They therefore begin to
Integration stage (14+)

 Writers have such a good command of language that they can vary their stylistic
choices at will and develop a personal ‘voice’. This continues to develop
throughout adult life.

Features of the English Writing System

 Holding and controlling the pen.

 Direction of writing – writing goes from left to right.
 Alignment of writing – writing goes along a straight line.
 Using upper and lower case.
 Spacing words appropriately on the line/page.
 Understanding and applying principles of sentence construction.
 Understanding and applying the conventions of punctuation.
 Letter direction – many letters face in a particular direction, e.g. ‘b’ and ‘d’ as well as
 Selecting appropriate words and using appropriate graphemic combinations to spell
 Later, learning to produce cursive (joined-up) script.
 Learning and using forms and conventions for genres of writing e.g. letters, stories.
 Using the skills of reassessing to monitor and correct the writing as necessary.

Children's Writing


· Children often
experiment with a kind of
sign writing which they
The first breakthrough comes when
regard as being different
children learn to recognise that there is
from drawing.
a difference
· Beginning to understand between drawing and writing - between
1. Drawing & that we use marks on the shapes & signs. They grasp that writing
sign writing page to pass on ideas from (in English) is distributed along
writers to readers. straight lines and that direction (from
left to right) mattes. They learn that
· Signs show some
the distribution of blank space is also
characteristics of writing on
the page, such as a
succession of characters in a
· Individual signs Children start to recognise the
2. Letter-like
produced have some letter- different shapes for the alphabet & copy
like features. these. This is a difficult task Q of
3. Copied the number of different upper & lower
letters case letters & importance of minute
distinctions relating to their relative
· Child is able to overwrite, size, orientation & position in relation to
underwrite or copy letters the line. They learn to associate these
sufficiently accurately for with different sounds or names. A
them to be recognised. second difficulty arises from the fact
that the same letters in English can
represent different sounds in different
Children start to recognise that groups
of letterstend to occur together. Many
first learn this in connection with their
4. Child’s · Child independently own name. Usually, they learn it as a
name & writes strings of letters, sight-word without at first being able to
strings of usually including their own analyse it into letter components. They
letters name. also begin to recognise that other words
they come across frequently have the
same strings of letters at the beginning
and at the end.


Breakthrough to literacy comes
when the child learns to associate
· Children learn that the sounds the sounds linked to groups of
associated with groups of letters letters with spoken words they
represent familiar spoken words. know. They have understood
5. Words the alphabetic principle - that we
· Understanding of the can approximately represent the
principles underlying the use of sounds of words using
the alphabet. letters. When children reach stage
5, the threshold to literacy has
been crossed.
· Children have learnt to write Children have to learn the
confidently. conventions we use to show
· Can begin to express ideas in how groups of words are linked
writing that link several concepts. together into sentences; but the
systematic use of grammatical
6. Sentences · Need to use clause or sentence punctuation, including full stops &
to do this. a capital letter to start a sentence
· Do this without using capital is something that almost always
letters and full stops occurs after children have begun
systematically. to write texts fluently.
Children learn to combine clauses
& sentences into texts to convey
a sequence of related ideas. Texts
· Writing texts involves
are defined as writing involving a
7. Text combining clauses or sentences to
series of related sentences. Texts
express related ideas.
are coherent in meaning
and cohesive in structure - not just
a list of unconnected sentences.

Developmental Stages of Spelling

There are several different but parallel systems that break down the developmental stages of
spelling into understandable categories. This one uses four stages although there are perfectly
good systems divided into six and eight categories.
Stage One: Exploration

 Pre-letter writing.
 Random writing on page -letters, symbols, numbers.
 May use repetition of familiar letters such as the letters in child's name.
 Uses left-to-right directionality.
 Uses random sight words.

Stage Two: Semiphonetic

 Leaves random spaces in writing.

 Uses a few known words in correct place - i.e. names.
 Shows letter-sound correspondence.
o uses initial consonants.
o uses partial mapping of word (2 or 3 letters).

Stage Three: Phonetic

 Total mapping of letter-sound correspondence.

 Vowels are omitted when not heard.
 Writes quickly.
 Spaces words correctly.
 Letters are assigned strictly on the basis of sound br=bar or prt=party.

Stage Four: Transitional

 Vowels appear in every syllable.

 Silent "e" pattern becomes fixed.
 Inflectional endings like "s", "ing" are used.
 Common letter sequences are used (ay, ee, ow).
 Child moves toward visual spelling.
 May include all, but reverse some, letters (from=form).
A Framework for Talking about Children’s Writing

In your introduction you should describe the text overall, paying attention
to pragmatics and discourse:

 Pragmatics – what is the context of the text – how much can you
work out and how much cannot be known? Who is the child writing
for? Is the text determined by a teacher, and does it show evidence
of being guided?
 Decide on the genre of the text, e.g. narrative, report.
 Discourse – look at the overall structure of the text, if it’s a narrative
or a report, how are the ideas organised? How cohesive is the text
(how well ‘stuck together’ is it)? Are discourse markers used?

Consider the lexis of the text:

 How appropriate is the register?

 Is any of the text similar to speech?
 Is any of the lexis field-specific? Perhaps the child has prepared for
this topic by reading about it.
 Are conjunctions used?
 Is there description? What kind? E.g. adjectives, adverbs,
explanatory clauses etc.

Consider the grammar of the text:

 What sentence types are there?

 Are sentence boundaries appropriate?
 How well is punctuation used?
 What tenses are used in the text? Are they used correctly or does the
child change tense at the wrong time?
 Is speech reproduced correctly?
 Are passives used as well as actives?

Consider the graphological features of the text:

 Directionality of writing (left-right, top-bottom).

 Overall spatial organisation e.g. are there images included with the
text? Are there headings if this is an information text, or a title?
Consider how closely this matches the appearance of standard texts
in the chosen genre.
 Size of letters – is it consistent?
 Use of upper and lower case letters.
 Reversal of letters – d and b, for example.
 Joined up letters.

Consider the spelling of the text:

 Use the terminology you have learned to describe the spelling

choices made by the writer – in particular, you need to consider how
phonetic the spellings are (missing out the schwa, deleting the less
stressed syllables), how much whole-word knowledge the writer
has and how the ‘virtuous errors’ reveal basic understanding of
spelling rules.
 Remember to take into account the type of words which the child is
trying to spell: are they high frequency words or are they more


Look at the following two pieces of children’s writing. For each piece write a commentary
using the frameworks to guide you. When you have finished, read the commentaries that
Sample 1

Sample 2
Sample 1
Nathan's work shows that he can recall ideas from a story that has been read aloud to him. For
example, he is able to write appropriate captions for the Norse legend, using the planned
structure and pictures to help him.Ÿ
Although each caption makes sense on its own, there is no sequential link between the
statements; even the work 'Next' as the introduction to one sentence does not full clarify which
picture follows which. While there is some integration of words and pictures, Nathan's writing
does not yet show the use of a narrative form, nor an awareness that the person reading the
story needs to have some introduction to the characters, and a sense of why the events are
taking place.
Nathan's work reveals some understanding of the need to use full stops at the end of sentences,
and of the link between capital letters and sentence punctuation.
Many words are correctly spelt, most letters are correctly formed and spacing between words
is good.
Sample 2
The picture caption format invites succinct writing, and Annie shows an ability to select the
main elements of the tale while also giving the reader enough detail to follow the story. The
picture frames help to structure the writing into coherent paragraphs.
Annie captures the interaction of the characters by using direct speech. The narrative
commentary indicates feeling and motives ('Loki had a Good Idea', 'By this time Thor was
geting angry').
She applies her knowledge of the language of time to structure events and move the story
forward ('The first thing... Next you've got to... By this time... The next morning').
Some imaginative phrases are used which create a lively sense of the action and sustain
interest ('ran out of breath', 'enormous cat', 'all he could do was to lift up one paw', 'wrestle',
'sneek out').
Punctuation is accurate and Annie occasionally uses an apostrophe, although this is sometimes
confused with plurals (giant/giant's). Dialogue is punctuated to identify speakers and the
captions provide interest for the reader. Although her handwriting is not joined, it is clear and
Syntax is the study of how words are arranged in a sentence. A sentence is a group of words
that make sense and most sentences consist of a subject and a verb. Most consist of one
complete action or clause.
Clauses consist of:

 A subject: the person or thing performing the action, e.g. Fran threw the ball.
 A verb: can describe actions (a lexical verb) or describe states (e.g., be, have, do,
are auxiliaries and can work as main verbs or they help other verbs create tenses).
 Objects: this is the thing being acted upon by the subject. E.g. Fran threw the ball.

Direct Objects and Indirect Objects

Fran threw Olivia the ball. The direct object is ‘the ball’ – the thing directly done (or acted
upon) by the subject, Fran. ‘Olivia’ is the indirect object – Fran did not throw Olivia, she threw
the ball. We tend to say the indirect object ‘receives’ the object of the sentence.
E.g. Sophia got the biscuits for me. (Here the indirect object is ………………..)
Rahina sent all her work to college. (This time the indirect object is ………………...)
I lent Michelle the book. (Here it is ………..)
You can also have indirect objects introduced by the prepositions ‘to’ and ‘for’ e.g. ‘I lent a book
to Emily’, or ‘I gave a speech for the college’.
What about the structure of clauses? Well, as with any study of language, being able to ‘feature
spot’ (i.e. label the name or structure of a piece of language) is no use unless you are going to
write/say something useful about its purpose/how it is used in that context/the pragmatic
relevance of it. It is handy however, to be able to use the technical terms to help you identify
the structure you want to comment on.
With that in mind, clauses are of 7 types:
Simeon shouted.
Sophie smiled at the joke.
He listened carefully.
Laura is a scholar.
She gave me a book.
Pauline dropped her book on the floor.
She got her book stained.
A is the adverbial – a word, phrase or clause that tells us more about the way in which an action
happened. They can refer to time, place, frequency or the manner in which something
occurred. Eg. Neil wrote his letter rapidly. The bus arrived on time. After a long delay the train
got here.
C is the complement – this gives more information about the subject or object of the clause. Eg.
Nick is a student. He made his teacher mad!
The main thing to understand is how clauses are used within a sentence eg. Which is the main
clause and which the subordinate clause. Most of our work in language acquisition will not
involve children making complex utterances; so do not worry about this! For your information
a main clause makes sense on its own and usually carries the main bit of
information. The subordinate clause is related to the main one but gives us extra information
or completes the main clause in some way. It cannot stand on its own and make sense.
Eg. A Parent might say: ‘Whatever you do, don’t play on the road.’
Underderline the main idea and the part that gives more detail relating to the main information
(can you see why it is easier if you use the correct technical terms?!) Here, ‘whatever’
functions as a subordinating conjunction because it connects the subordinating clause to the
main one (other such words are if, so that, because, before, while etc.).
A simple sentence has only one clause eg. ‘I want a biscuit’.
A compound sentence has two or more clauses joined together by conjunctions (such as and,
but, then etc).
A complex sentence has a main clause and at least one subordinating clause eg. ‘Please don’t hit
your brother, although I know he is annoying.’
That is all you need! This is the sort of information that is hard to retain if you do not use it
frequently. You do not need to label everything in your data in the exam – the most important
thing is to comment on how language is functioning and for what purpose a particular feature
was used. Having the technical ‘know-how’ should improve your confidence and help you to
refer to language accurately.
Language and Gender
You could be asked to analyse a written or a spoken text.
In preparing for this topic candidates should study how gender is represented and reproduced
in the everyday texts that surround us, for example in advertising, fiction and non-fiction texts
etc. Candidates should also study how gender is performed by language users in interactions,
for example in single-sex and mixed-sex encounters.
Gender: Conversation Analysis Framework
How important is context? You need to consider the relationship of the speakers. Is there a
power hierarchy are the participants related, are they friends etc? Consider the location of the
exchange. Is it a stereotypical female or male environment for example?
Stereotypes / Representation
Are any gender stereotypes evident? How is gender represented through the speech of the
participants? Do semantic fields reinforce gender stereotypes?
Subject / Topic
Is the subject / topic of the conversation stereotypical?
Male Topics (work, sport)
Female Topics (Friends, emotions, shopping!)
Coates (1996)
Men concrete and women abstract?
Spontaneous Speech
Which features of spontaneous speech are present (e.g. fillers, pauses, unintentional repetition,
false starts)? How can they be related to gender? For example, if used by females they may
reflect Lakoff’s view that women are more tentative in their speech than men. It may reflect
uncertainty, weakness etc. Men may use these features if they are the male minority for
example or they may use them if they are not confident about the topic, particularly if it is a
‘female’ topic.
Relate the above to Deficit / Dominant / Different models.
Male / Female Speech Styles
Women use more tag questions (Lakoff)
Have a special lexis e.g. to describe colours (Lakoff)
Women use empty adjective (Lakoff)
Women use wh-imperatives (Lakoff)
Women hedge more than women (Lakoff)
Can’t tell jokes (Lakoff)
More likely to personalise – using personal pronouns (Lakoff)
Use weak expletives eg ‘oh dear’ (Lakoff)
Avoid making threats and using aggressive language and insults (Lakoff)
Women apologise more (Lakoff)
Women avoid slang / taboo language (Lakoff)
Women use more standard forms than men (Trudgill)
Women use hypercorrect grammar (Lakoff)
Women use indirect requests - eg ‘It is very noisy in here’ (as opposed to ‘turn the noise down!’
Women use apologetic reqeuests eg – ‘I’m sorry but would you mind closing the door?’
Men use more imperatives then women (Tannen)
Women use more prestigious forms than men – Why? (Insecure in terms of social status?
Inferior position in society so use more prestigious language to overcome it? Society has higher
expectations than women so women are conforming to this through language? Men already
have a higher social status so they don’t need to use prestigious forms to imrove it. Instead they
use covert prestige to overcome it. Men might use non-standard language to illustrate they
have traditionally masculine qualities like being ‘tough’ and ‘down-to-earth’.
Relate the above to Deficit / Dominant / Different models.
Conversational Structure / Interaction
Who controls the conversation?
Politeness (women more polite than men – Lakoff)
Women more likely to pursue topics initiated by others
Men compete (Pilkington, Coates) – frequent disagreement, interruptions, mock insults etc.
Women cooperate (Pilkington, Coates) – more likely to use positive feedback, build on and
develop each other’s points and agree.
Men interrupt women more in mixed sex conversations (Zimmerman & West)
Women are more polite (Lakoff)
Women show they are listening by using minimal responses (Lakoff)
Women undertake cooperative overlapping (Tannen)
Women speak less than men in mixed sex conversations (Lakoff)
Women use questions more to encourage participation (Coates)
Men are more likely to violate the maxim of relevance.
Women are more likely to repair the conversation after a silence.
Relate the above to Deficit / Dominant / Different models

 Deficit – proposes (perhaps unintentionally) that women have a different speech

style, which is lacking in some way
 Dominance – proposes that men dominate in conversation rather like they do in
 Difference – proposes that men and women have different speech styles, but that
neither should be seen as better or worse

Gender: Written Textual Analysis Framework

Key questions: how are men and women represented? How does the text conform to gender
stereotypes? Does the text reflect the period it was written? You must revise the gender
stereotypes table.
Lexis / Semantics
You need to explain how men and / or are presented through the lexis of the text. You need to
consider how the lexis reinforces gender stereotypes or does it subvert them? Things to

 Archaic language to name females / males and female / male social roles (e.g.
‘maid’, ‘bachelor girl’)
 Lexical Asymmetry

o Male words and female equivalents are often unequal (asymmetrical) e.g.
bachelor - spinster

 Marked and unmarked terms

o Terms for females are often marked by the addition of a suffix to the male
term, which is unmarked e.g. ‘host’ – unmarked – ‘hostess’ – marked; this
suggests that the male experience is the norm and the female experience is a
variant or deviant form

 Insulting Usage
o There are many negative words for females, often with no equivalents for
males e.g. ‘slag’ for women ‘stud’ for male; this highlights society’s different
expectations of male and female sexual behaviour. Insulting usage could also be
a means of control.

 Patronizing Usage

o Comparing women to food – e.g. ‘honey’ ‘sweetie’ – suggesting women’s

primary function is to provide men with pleasure
o Female pronoun for inanimate objects – e.g. ships referred to as ‘she’

 Man / Mankind

o ‘Man’ may be used to refer to the entire human race

 How formal is the lexis? What might this suggest about the genders involved?
For example if a male writer uses a lot of colloquialisms and taboo language this
confirms Lakoff’s research and it may be present to appear ‘blokey’ and ‘one of
the lads’ – a means of covert prestige.
 What are the connotations of the lexis? Positive or negative lexis? What does this
suggest about the genders involved?
 How is the lexis gendered? For example does the male writer appear
knowledgeable and technical? Is he arrogant? Is he therefore conforming to and
reinforcing research into gender or is he reinforcing and confirming
 How are men and women positioned in the text? For example is the man
 Stereotypes – in terms of topics, lexical choice, representation etc. Is the topic a
stereotypical ‘male topic’ or a stereotypical ‘ ‘female topic’? Women poor at
telling jokes (Lakoff) etc.
 Does the lexis of the female writer or the reported speech of the female
character etc reflect Lakoff’s view that women are tentative in their speech? For
example, fillers, hedging etc.
 Does the female writer / character have a special lexis (Lakoff), for example
more terms than men for colours?


 Generic ‘he’

o Used to refer to both men and women

 Order of precedence

o Placing the male word first in a phrase (Mr and Mrs) suggests male
 Adjectives. Does the female writer use ‘empty adjectives’ thus confirming
 Look at the adjectives used to describe men and women.
 Men are more likely to be described in terms of what they do whereas women
are frequently described in terms of how they look and their family. There is a
tendency to depict women as existing primarily in relation to their families.
 Information given by modification in noun phrases and adjectival description
may cast women in a limited series of roles. For example , mothers – ‘mum
Sarah’; in relation to men – ‘his Camilla’; how they look; ‘sexy Maxine’
 Verbs. Do women perform any action at all in the text or is it the males who are
performing the actions? e.g. ‘Prince Charles buys his mistress Camilla a horse.’
This reinforces male dominance. When women do act positively it is often
against their own bodies and emotions.
 Women are often depicted as weaker – they are victims, they are on the
receiving end of an action rather than performers of it.
 Sentence functions. Imperatives? Men use more according to Lakoff. But it could
be an indication of a powerful woman or a stereotypical ‘nagging’ woman?
 Pronouns. To engage the reader? To relate to the reader? Etc.
 Women are more likely than men to use standard grammar. Is this reflected in
the text?
 Proper nouns. Look at how men and women are named. In media texts, for
example, men are less likely than women to be referred to by their first name.
Compare ‘Mr Blair’ to ‘Maggie’ (Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher) and ‘Mr
Obama’ to ‘Hillary’. More respect for the men – is this indicative of social
 The naming strategies adopted sometimes serve to make the woman
anonymous other than her role in relation to her situation, her family or her
husband. For example, ‘a stalker’s victim’, ‘Spencer’s sad wife’, ‘the wife of the

Do the images reinforce stereotypes? For example women placed in a lower position than men,
pink for females etc.
Language and Gender Sample Question
QUESTION: What is the significance of gender in the text below?
Student’s Response
Despite the fact that this text does not directly address females, it centres on the ideas of social
conditioning, identity and a stereotypical representation of gender. The introduction sets the
scene. The discursive font, in particular the opening ‘F’ consonant, is reminiscent of fairy tales,
a stereotypically female interest. The verb choices “admired”, “adored”, “cherished” and
“loved” immediately add to the feeling of warmth and friendship that is so often associated
with the female temperament.
Playing with dolls is seen by society as a feminine pastime and links with a mothering or
maternal instinct which women should stereotypically have. In this text, the Barbie dolls (on
the whole) represent traditional feminine roles. This is shown, for example, by the names
given to the dolls.
The ‘Swan Lake’ Barbie refers explicitly to the stereotypical hobby of ballet. Ballet is seen as a
feminine and elegant pastime rather than the more masculine, rough and active hobbies boys
are expected to take part in. The ‘Rapunzel’ doll displays a representation of females as being
subordinate and helpless young women who need a dominant man “to climb the tower and
save her”. This doll is exploiting and reinforcing these outdated stereotypes of both sexes (the
only doll to refer to men) with today’s younger generation. However, in contrast, the ‘Gone
Platinum’ doll does represent, in some ways, a more modern role model to young women. It
reflects the aspirations of perhaps older girls to become rich and famous pop stars – the name
of this doll therefore acts as a role model to girls and is in some ways a reflection of the
changing role of females in today’s society. The term ‘Diva’ is used which implies control and
dominance – a female with a strong mind and individuality. However, it could be argued that
the term has negative connotations. Divas are sometimes regarded as difficult and awkward,
demanding materialistic items due to their elevated status. However, in this context it does
appear that the doll is trying to represent individuality and assertion of power by women with
an implication that women can succeed in male dominated areas such as music. The reference
to ‘Gone Platinum’ has a clear link to this as the reference to platinum could be linked to selling
a significant amount of CDs – a platinum disc is the highest award for music sales. Furthermore
the imperative sentence which begins the description and the exclamatory sentence which
ends it both have connotations of power.
This Barbie doll is, however, the only one which does not conform to a stereotypical
representation of female gender. In the descriptions of the dolls there is a clear focus on
appearance, beauty and fashion via a range of semantic links. The French lexis ‘appliqué’ and
‘faux’ have connotations of sophistication and elegance linked to fashion. A variety of concrete
nouns within the semantic field of fashion are also used; ‘gown’, ‘skirt’ and ‘dress’ all present a
stereotypical image of femininity. Within the ‘Peter Rabbit’ description, the writer attempts to
imitate the language used in fashion shows and on catwalks: ‘Barbie wears a delightful
ensemble featuring a light blue jacket…’. There is also an assumption that the audience, despite
their young age, will have knowledge of fashion particular in relation to ballet – ‘appliqué’,
‘tulle skirt’ and ‘marabou armlets’. There is in this description a greater focus on how a ballet
dancer should look rather than the more technical aspect of this hobby. This is reinforced by
the declarative ‘Doll cannot dance or stand alone’.
With regard to appearance, the range of pre-modifying adjectives and adjectival phrases used
to describe the clothes reinforces an obsession with looks (‘shimmering white’, ‘rippled
platinum’ and ‘extravagant feathery’), whilst the additional description of ‘slim bodice’ and
‘delicate’ reinforces an image perpetuated by males and the media today with regard to
gender. That is to say, women should conform to a standard image (slim) to appear attractive
to men. As for beauty, the text uses descriptions of ‘long wavy platinum blond hair’ and
‘endlessly flowing hair’ to reinforce a stereotypical image of attractive women and femininity.
The colours used within the text in some ways reinforce a typical representation of
gender. The use of feminine purples helps perpetuate this stereotype although the more
stereotypical pink is largely absent. However, it is evident in the description of Rapunzel
Barbie’s clothes: ‘pink gown’, ‘pink flowers’, ‘purple underskirt’.
Overall, this text appeals to young girls through clear references to their aspirations, hobbies
and hopes. It perpetuates stereotypical views of females being obsessed with appearance,
fashion and beauty and, with particular reference to the ‘Rapunzel’ doll, as the inferior, weaker

Examiner’s Comments
Very well written with excellent awareness of gender issues. Good use of terminology and
well structured.
Grade A

Language and Technology

In preparing for this topic area candidates should study how varieties of language are shaped
by the medium of communication, for example telephone, radio, television, computer.
Candidates should also study the social practices that surround these forms of communication,
for example conventions for using mobile phones, aspects of etiquette, conventions of radio
and television programmes etc.
Telephone conversations by landline and mobile
How the medium affects the message:
When people speak on the telephone, they normally cannot see each other. This means that
much of the non-verbal communication is lost.
In studying telephone conversations, consider whether a pragmatic analysis suggests that
speakers do things differently from their practice in face to face conversations - do they
observe the conversational maxims listed by Paul Grice, or do they employ face and politeness
strategies to a greater degree than when the parties can see each other?
Do speakers have shared knowledge, and does one assume the other shares his or her
knowledge, so that they refer to things elliptically? Do specific conversations allude to other
conversations or events or the common culture of the speakers?
In exploring how the technology may influence language as it mediates conversation, then
pragmatic analysis is likely to be a fruitful area of study. In commenting on texts you are seeing
for the first time, you will need to make use of some pragmatic concepts, as in this example:
"We know from the question that Text F is a sales script. The pragmatic consideration of this
text makes us look for features, which are designed to reassure the potential customer rather
than to inform them. Particularly, in this case, where the script is for a telephone conversation
and one of the objects from the sales-person's viewpoint is to keep the other person talking.
This means that the text will try to close off as many potential exits as possible and therefore be
similar to some of the normal co-operative principles of spoken language."
Do people generally vary their grammatical usage in spoken English, when they speak on the
telephone, as compared to face-to-face speaking? It is possible that use of the technology might
alter one's sense of formality, and attentiveness to supposed "correct" forms.
For most people there is considerable difference between the grammar of their writing and
their speaking. Are there further differences within speech used in different contexts?
Discourse features
Voice telephony has produced some conventions that help us construct a discourse, in terms of
beginning, middle and end. These often give information that is redundant for users of newer
forms of telephony (such as answering a call by stating your phone number). But they may
survive as a kind of traditional courtesy.
You might consider questions such as the following:

 Does the person who receives the call speak first?

 How does the person who receives a call reply? Does he or she give a number, utter a
greeting, or do something else?
 Does the person making the call explain in summary form the reason for calling?
 While one person is speaking, does the other listen silently or give positive feedback
and supportive overlapping (things like "mmm" and "yes")?
 Does the person who made the call or the one who receives it usually bring the
conversation to an end?
 What conventional expressions do we use to close the conversation?
 How long is the series of interactions that marks the ending of the talk, before one or
other puts down the telephone?

Consider also Schegloff’s ideas about usual telephone talk patterns:

Summons-answer: the caller summons the called person, and the called person picks up the
Identification-recognition: each person identifies him/herself and recognises the other.
Greetings-greetings: people exchange mutual greetings.
Initial (how are you?) enquiries and move to first topic: there’s a certain amount of phatic
language while people enquire in very general terms about each other’s health etc., before the
caller initiates the first topic.
Do we use different speech sounds when we use certain technologies? Can we account for what
we find in answering this question? (For example, does the general tendency towards
accommodation become stronger when we use a telephone?)

 Are we more or less comfortable with pauses and silence than in face-to-face
 Do we try to fill silences or even ask the other person questions about them? ("Are you
still there/all right?")

Radio and Television

Commentaries on live events
How the medium affects the message
Sports commentaries are a well-established form of broadcast. They are necessarily
spontaneous or instantaneous in some respects. The challenge for the commentator is to tell
the audience what is happening for all periods of live action, to invite the summarizer to make
further comments and judgements during breaks in play and briefly during the play and to
bring in reports and score flashes from other grounds.
 Often constructed partly as a conversation between the commentator
and summarizer, separated by the (often longer) passages of
 The commentator may not address the audience directly after an
introductory ‘Welcome’
 Commentary may need continuous adjustment, as the action changes, so
comments must be modified
 The commentator assumes shared knowledge with listeners, so will use
specific lexis, and phrases which imply meaning rather than explain it.
 Register will be stylised, specialised, professional, colloquial

 A commentary will use the special lexis and jargon of the sport/event in question.
 Simple and undemanding vocabulary, typical of speech
 Commentaries also make extensive use of the names of the participants, especially in
team games, usually by last name only (Dyer, Shearer, Van Meir, Philips) - the
commentator may have given the full name at the start, but the audience is expected to
know them well enough anyway.
 Sometimes, historical facts are given, perhaps as a mark of respect and.
 The use of the names also has relevance to pragmatics since the audience knows not
only that, say, Philips is Kevin Philips but that in this match he is playing at his club
ground (he was a Sunderland player in 1999) and also that he is a forward, so that
mention of his name suggests where the action is happening on the pitch.


 May use elliptical forms and minor sentences - where the audience is expected to take
some things as read. So "free kick given against Shearer" omits any articles ("a free
kick") and auxiliaries ("is" or "has been" before "given"). A typical ellipsis occurs with
"It's Philips" - we do not know from this what Kevin Philips is doing. "It's Philips"
indicates either that this player has possession of the ball, or that he is running into a
space where the commentator expects him to receive the ball imminently. This ellipsis
is used for speed and pace.
 The commentator slips between present and past tense verb forms to create a
distinction between what is happening now, and what has just happened.
 Adverbs may add detail to action

Discourse structure

 Where some kinds of discourse can vary in length, according to the authors' wishes, a
sports commentary is quite clearly constrained by the event it shows to the audience.
 The relevance of this to the extract is that the commentator cannot determine exactly
when to start and finish - he or she describes the live and recent action, while being
ready for the arrival of half time and full time, as indicated by the timing of the match
and the addition of extra time at the end of each half.
 Simple connectives may be used to connect action: ‘and’
 Often, cohesion between clauses is lexical, rather than grammatical, with no connectives
 Pauses separate clauses, rather than connectives.


 Transcripts often give an indication of the pace of the commentary, and the frequency
and length of pauses.
 In this respect radio and TV broadcasts differ - in the latter case it is acceptable to let
the pictures tell parts of the story, where the radio commentator cannot allow such long

Live phone-in programmes

How the medium affects the message
A live phone-in programme happens in real time, and can create an impression of spontaneity
and risk - one never knows what the caller is going to say. With the BBC's national networks,
there is an unseen selection process for many broadcasts. Callers contact a producer ahead of
the programme, which leads to the creation of a list of contributors whom the broadcaster calls
back at the point where they are to speak.
In the case of a phone-in programme, this is likely to be a most important area of language
theory - since the object of the host or presenter, broadly speaking, is to help people who have
little or no experience of broadcasting to make a contribution to the programme, in conjunction
with the other callers. In looking at transcripts, try to focus on the areas of pragmatics that are
covered by:

 taking and keeping turns;

 conversational maxims and the cooperative principle;
 politeness theory;
 phatic tokens.


 In spontaneous speech it is not always easy for a speaker to sustain an even style, so
you may find a mixture of the common register or "simple and undemanding
vocabulary, typical of speech" with more learned or special lexis. The two transcripts in
this guide challenge the suggestions that
 Look for simple or sophisticated lexis, or a combination of these
 Look out for accommodation - where a caller or presenter reflects the other's lexical


 Simple / complex structures

 Elliptical forms
 Pronouns
 Consider all grammar areas and think whether the speaker’s grammar may differ when
spoken and written.

Discourse features

 For the presenter there is a sense of the whole broadcast into which the various callers'
contributions fit. They may have a notional upper and lower time limit, which will allow
them to vary the length of time for which each caller speaks. This may affect the
structure of the call
 Question and answer formats
 Who leads the talk
 Overlapping


 Pauses.
 Stresses (if given)
 Elision, contraction, hesitation indicators

How to Analyse a Webpage

 GASP (target audiences are very important for WebPages, as it may be hard to attract
and keep people on your site due to the millions of others)
 Look carefully for interesting features, grouping your ideas under the
frameworks. There are likely to be a lot of interesting discourse and graphology
features. Pragmatics are interesting in terms of the expectations the web designer and
authors have of the reader. Lexis, semantics, grammar and phonology will depend upon
the content as to how much there is to say about these.
 Look for norms and variations

Common features of WebPages, organised according to the dreaded frameworks.

If faced with a webpage to analyse, you might start by identifying key features, such as the ones
in the table, organise your observations under the frameworks, then MOST IMPORTANTLY,
discuss what these observations reveal about the context of the text

Framework Feature Possible reason for feature

 Text is separated into Sections may allow access to
sections which are other pages.
 Text may be read in either
linear or non-linear
Many discourse features allow
the text to be scannable.
Discourse - Organisation of text is
Structure determined by the size
and shape of the screen
and the scrolling function
Since people tend to scan
 Structure of text, although WebPages, rather than read
varied, follows several them, these need to be central.
established norms of
webpage construction.
 In the centre / at the top Because users can access extra
of webpage, the reader information via hyperlinks,
may be directly there is no need for lengthy
addressed. paragraphs.
 Text may work in an
inverted pyramid style,
with the conclusion at the
 One idea per paragraph
 Hypertext links allow
access to other sections /

 Bulleted lists, with Lists are scannable.

varying structures
Varied sentence structures add
 Variety of sentence
clarity which is essential to a
Grammar text with an international
 May be frequent use of
interrogatives and
imperatives Must involve the reader and
encourage them to use the site
- Entirely dependent on
genre, but will be
audience and/or subject-
directed. So some kind of Cater for very wide audience.
Lexis specific lexis is likely.
- Lexis in many sites may
be educated but
- May be interesting,
Semantics depending on the content
of the webpage…
- Users are aware of how
to navigate the structure
of websites, so websites
often assume knowledge
of how to access
information. Assumption of shared
- Register will vary
depending on subject,
genre and audience and is
likely to vary within the
- Style of English should
be accessible to wide
Enhance the organisation of the
- variation in font style text, so support the discourse
and size structure.

- upper and lower case

letters There will be lots of
- headings graphological items because
the text itself depends on these
Graphology - colour for navigation.
- underlining
- horizontal and vertical High quality graphics add
lists authenticity to the webpage
- dropdown menus and make it seem reliable.

- images
Need for credibility
- May be interesting
Phonology depending on individual
WebPages often give concise bits of information about many
issues on a single page. This fits in with Grice’s maxims of
conversation: the webpage has information / entertainment to
Ideas from
communicate, but because of the nature of technology, the
information can be passed in different ways. A user can easily see
the relevant heading / paragraph and access the exact area
sought for. So, many websites are constructed to meet Grice’s
maxims of relevance and quantity.

How to Analyse an E-Mail

 How are the style and tone appropriate to audience/participants, purpose and
 How are the linguistic choices appropriate to audience / participants, purpose and
 What do these features reveal about sender / recipient / social or technological

Graphological features

 Parenthesis (brackets)
 Voice accentuation – caps, asterisks etc
 Trailers (…….)
 Emoticons :-)
 Exclamations
 Punctuation (both standard and non-standard use)

Spelling variation

 Salient (prominent) sounds (people – ppl)

 Grapheme/phoneme omission (all – al; going – goin)
 Colloquial phonetics (with – wiv)
 Phonetic spelling (should – shud)

Lexis / Semantics

 New compounds/blends (Are you alright - yalrite)

 Clipping/shortening (soz – sorry)
 Acronyms/initialisms (oh my god – omg)
 Alpha-numeric combinations / Homophones (great – gr8)
 Specialised language
 Formal/informal language
 Semantic fields, coinage
 Taboo
 Irony, euphemism, ambiguity, humour


 Ellipsis
 Compounds/ sentence complexity
 Use of modals
 Use of adverbials/adjectives
 Verb/noun types
 Tenses


 Including relationship to other texts (i.e. the fact that this is an email influences
the discourse because…)
 Openings & closings
 Modes of address
 Topic change
 Dyadic (between 2 people) or group postings


 Context
 Relationship between participants
 Shared understanding/values


 Contractions
 Elision
 Prosody
 Influence of spoken language features (hesitation indicators, stress)

Electronic / technological dimensions

 Constraints of text entry/speed of composition

 Electronic advantages (affordances)
 Editing options
 Expectations of time delays
 Intended and unintended consequences
 Conventions of the genre.

How to Analyse a Text Message

Purpose(s) and audience of message

 (e.g. transactional – to make a transaction – or interactional – to create/maintain

relationship – or both!). Why this medium (i.e. text messaging) has been chosen.

Lexis / Semantics

 Non-standard spelling due to speed/predictive texting accident! – but also use of

texting conventions (use the word!): vowel deletion (e.g. ‘lv’ for ‘love’); phonetic
spelling (e.g. ‘ur’ for ‘you’re’ or ‘your’); homophones (e.g. ‘r’ for ‘are’, or ‘u’ for ‘you’);
replacement of words with numerals which sound the same, i.e. are homophones (e.g.
‘2’ for ‘to’, or ‘4’ instead of ‘for’); rebus-like constructions (e.g. l8r); symbols (e.g. @ for
‘at’ – used to seem ‘cool’?).
 Idiolect (the particular way an individual uses ‘text language’/abbreviates, etc);
sociolect (eg youth sociolect); any aspects of non-standard dialect if relevant. Also why
used: to reflect group identity/create sense of belonging? Influence of society/other text
 Texting collocations – e.g. lol (for ‘laugh out loud’), or TB (text back) – popularly used
among people who text a lot (and also age-related? Youth sociolect?). NOTE: ‘lol’ is also
an example of an acronym (if pronounced ‘loll’) or initialism (if pronounced as
individual letter sounds – L-O-L). ‘TB’ is a popularly used initialism.

Sentence types (simple/compound/complex) and why used / effect. Also sentence functions –
i.e. whether a sentence is an imperative/interrogative/declarative, exclamation.
 Ellipsis (e.g. of subject pronoun in ‘Hope you’re OK’ rather than ‘I hope you’re OK’), and
contractions, which are also more commonly found in speech (e.g. ‘you’re’, not ‘you
 Any other grammatical points. Include word class (e.g. you may well find lots of
personal pronouns due to the personal/social nature of text messaging); word class
types (e.g. dynamic verbs, modal verbs [primary or auxiliary, deontic or epistemic!],
proper nouns); tense/aspect/finite/non-finite verbs (e.g. ‘am coming’ is present
progressive; ‘am’ in this verb phrase is a primary auxiliary and a finite verb; ‘coming’ is
non-finite.......). Try very hard to link your identification of grammatical terms to the
reason why such words have been used.
 Average length of sentences (short? why?) and average number of syllables in words.

Discourse Structure:

 Opening and closing sequences, and use of convention (e.g. Hi; TB; luv ....; Cu sn)
 Speech-like features: what Tim Shortis calls pseudo-prosodic features – i.e. symbols and
letters used to convey paralinguistic information (e.g. capitals for SHOUTING!;
emoticons to indicate humour/irony/facial expression – but link to Crystal, who thinks
emoticons are crude/basic, and John Humphrey, who thinks they’re ‘futile’ – do you
agree, in the context of this text message? Perhaps lead to a brief discussion of what a
prescriptivist/descriptivist would think – attitudes towards texting.....)
 Any discourse structure (opening/main body/closure)
 Any indication of adjacency pairs (e.g. if you get a ‘thread’ of text messages – a group of
text messages on the same topic, with the same people discussing the same issue) – and
turn-taking and length of turns / how this is different to ‘normal’ spoken conversation.
 Politeness features (e.g. ‘please’ and ‘thank you’; mitigated directives, such as ‘wd u
mind’ rather than issuing imperatives); accommodation, if relevant

Any relevant comments with regard to speech/writing – the extent to which text messages are
planned, compared to everyday speech and letter-writing; the ephemeral nature of text
messages (i.e. they’re not usually stored for long- they’re not permanent), unlike more
traditional forms of writing, but they’re more permanent than speech.... How might these things
be relevant in the context of the text message you are analysing?
Limitations of text messaging: confusion; brevity (the ‘briefness’ of the message – you can’t say
much!), as well as advantages (speed; cheapness)
Gender issues (more ‘empty’ adjectives, such as ‘lovely’ or ‘divine’ for women? More phatic
talk? More ‘grooming’ talk? More tag questions to denote their social insecurity?! More
intensifiers, such as ‘really kind’ or ‘so easy’)? (Note: these intensifiers are adverbs, too!)
How has the text been influenced by technology?
Sample Question & Answer
QUESTION: This transcript is an extract from a radio phone-in. The presenter (P) is speaking to a
caller, Mark (C). How has the language of the text been influenced by technology?

 P: Mark’s the Spurs fan on the line to kick us off (.) hi Mark
 C: hello er Mark down in Bexley mate I’ve just got back from that erm (.) you know
what they’ve got this Spurs team now (.) they’ve got the bottle to fight er as good as
Arsenal are (.) erm it it’s something special that j.) er really really something special
(.) they had all the all the rubbish thrown at them that we’ve taken erm [sighs] I
really do think we can win the cup this year (.) you know we can beat Chelsea I
 P: pick out a few players for us who have er really stood out tonight
 C: well that man (.) er Berbatov sensational (.) still think we need a goalkeeper but
perhaps that’s a little bit unkind (.) he’s Robinson going to get back I think (.) Keane
magic (.) but he he he’s got them playing together hasn’t he and the big lad up front
erm sens absolutely sensational (.) I wouldn’t have thought at the beginning of the
year er the beginning of October we’d be struggling but er it’s fantastic
 P. I just think Berbatov starts to look the (.) he’s got that swagger about him and the
the //third goal and the turns the (.) maybe Jol was right maybe he
 C: //yeah
 P. will be the man for Spurs this year
 C: yeah well well Ramos you know again he’s had his critics hasn’t he but er perhaps
Jenas bless him (.) erm the pace he he’s like a rabbit a rabbit down that wing but
erm (1) but er (2) fan fantastic game honestly and I er think they will really
challenge for the top four next year I think it (.) with due respect to to Liverpool and
Everton and Villa erm (.) But Arsenal (.) they’ve got the league and a two horse race
do you agree (.) don’t you agree
 P. who cares what I think (.) thanks Mark (.) Ron’s an Arsenal (.) Ron good evening

Student’s Response

As this is a radio phone-in, the programme is happening in real

time, although it is likely that the caller has already spoken to an
editor and questioned about what he is going to say. This is a Nicola’s comments
key feature of the phone-in and gives both the presenter and immediately address the
caller an understanding of how the interaction will proceed. context and medium of
Despite this, there are still many examples of naturally the transcript (A03).
occurring spoken discourse and many language features are
influenced by the medium of the radio phone-in.

The presenter’s role is to maintain the interaction and allow the

caller to express his view. The presenter begins with a
metaphorical play on words ‘kick us off which is in keeping with
a range of lexical items from the field of football that give the There are some clear
interaction cohesion. The greeting sequence ‘Hi Mark’ is a signal comments on lexis and
that the caller can begin to speak and he further initiates discourse structure here
another exchange with his question on Spurs players who have with evidence of
played well. linguistic approaches to
the analysis of spoken
discourse (A02).
The caller speaks to the presenter using informal terms such as
‘hello’ and ‘down in Bexley mate’. He shows his position as a
Spurs fan by using the first-person plural pronoun ‘we’ and
addresses the presenter directly using the pronoun ‘you’. He
assumes shared knowledge on the part of the presenter by
referring to the (again metaphorical) ‘rubbish’ that Spurs fans
and players have had to take, which I assume means criticism Nicola makes a good
from others. point about informality
here in the context of
what the show is
attempting to portray. In
The presenter’s second turn, as well as initiating another
addition she continues
exchange structure could also be seen as speaker support,
with her close focus on
encouraging the caller, whose pauses and fillers suggest he may
lexical items and makes
be a little nervous at speaking live on air, to develop his
some valid comments on
opinions. The caller, because of the medium of communication
shared knowledge in
is not constrained by the need to use standard grammatical
this context (A03).
constructions. Instead, he uses elliptical sentences, omitting
verbs, ‘Berbatov sensational’ and again assumes shared There are references to
knowledge on the part of the presenter and other listeners by typical features of
referring to the Spurs player as ‘the big lad up front’ (‘lad’ is spoken discourse here
often used by footballers and fans to refer to a player). His with some attempt to
comments on Berbatov are taken up by the presenter, again as a explain why they may be
sign of speaker support. In this instance, the caller also uses evident (A02). Nicola
back channelling ‘yeah’ to maintain the interaction with the also draws attention to
presenter. non-standard grammar
and the referencing to
the Spurs forward as the
The presenter initiates a further question by referring to Jol big lad up front, again
(who was the previous manager), again expecting a degree of with some insight as to
shared knowledge with caller and listeners, that further allows why the lexical item ‘lad’
the caller to express some more views, particularly his opinion is chosen. She continues
that Spurs could challenge for the league this year. He even uses to comment on the way
a tag question at the end of his turn ‘don’t you agree’ to get a that the speakers
reaction from the presenter. Interestingly, the presenter’s cooperate to maintain
response ‘who cares what I think’, which would normally break the interaction (A03).
the conversational maxim of manner and threaten positive face
The ending of this
probably doesn’t do in this context as the caller is almost
answer considers some
certainly aware that his contribution to the show will come to
aspects of politeness
an end. Instead, the presenter finishes with an abrupt politeness
(A02) and maintains a
marker ‘thanks Mark’ before moving on to his next caller. This
strong focus on context
may well be because of time constraints because in a short
by considering the need
show, the production team would want to get the views of as
for the presenter to
many fans as possible. Overall then, the discourse of a radio
move quickly on to his
phone-in is clearly evident in a greeting-question-farewell
structure and the abundance of features of spoken discourse as next guest (A03).
well as the presenter and caller cooperating to ensure a Nicola’s response
worthwhile contribution has been made. concludes with a
summary of the
discourse pattern
commonly found in
radio phone-ins

Examiner’s comments
Nicola maintains a good focus on this text, considering how the medium of the radio phone-in
influences the language choices that speakers make. She is aware of contextual factors (A03)
and clearly and soundly analyses a number of language features. She makes insightful and
relevant comments, with some valid references to ideas from language study (for example
conversational exchanges, maxims and politeness strategies). These qualities would place her
work clearly in the 11-14 band for A02 and in the 22-29 band for A03. Again some further
attention to lexical and grammatical features in addition to those mentioned in paragraph four,
would have made this a more secure answer.
Grade B
English Language A-Level Past Papers
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