Glossary of Linguistic Terms

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Glossary of Linguistic Terms

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Accelerando:

Accelerando is the term when speech speeds up, and is said at a quicker pace. Accelerando is only for spoken, not written speech however. This obviously speeds up narrative pace and makes the mood more intense and dramatic.

Acronym:

An acronym is where words are shortened to just the first letter. E.G. ‘U.N’ is an acronym as it is short for ‘United Nations’. The effect of acronyms is normally to add verisimilitude or realism to a text. It also makes a text harder to understand as the reader must know what the acronym stands for.

Adjective:

A class of word that describes the noun. E.g. the blue ball. Here the word blue is the adjective and serves to give the reader more information. The effect of adjectives can be very different, but in giving the reader more information, they usually allow the reader to make judgments about the text and make imagery more evocative.

Adverb:

A class of word that describe the verb rather than the noun. E.g. ‘She laughed loudly’. Here ‘loudly’ is the adverb and serves to give a sense of urgency and pitch to the language.

Alliteration:

Alliteration is a literary technique in which successive words begin with the same sound or letter. E.g. ‘Bugs Bunny’. The usual effect of alliteration is euphony-creating pleasant sounds on the ear. It can also serve to alter the tone of the text, often making it more lighthearted.

Ambiguity:

Where words or phrases are open to more than one interpretation. E..g. ‘Dogs must be carried on the escalator’ could either mean: to go up the escalator a dog must be carried, or if you have a dog you must pick them up when walking up the escalator. The effect of ambiguity is either to make the reader unsettled as they can’t pin down the meaning or to empower the reader, to create their own meaning from the text.

Ambivalence:

Ambivalence is where somebody (usually the reader) feels contradictory emotions to a character the narrative in general. E..G a sensitive reader may love and hate a character at the same time, creating an ambivalent attitude towards them.

Antagonist:

An antagonist is a character in a text who clashes with the protagonist(s) by fighting them or undermining them. This creates drama and brings suspense to any text. Most texts will need an antagonist, otherwise the text will be boring for the reader.

Antonym:

An antonym is the opposite of a certain word. For example, ‘white’ is the antonym of ‘black’. This is normally used to create a juxtaposition, or a conflict between two things in a text, creating a jarring mood.

Archaic Lexis:

Archaic lexis is language that sounds out of date or old. Examples of this would be: ‘Hear ye, hear ye!” The archaic lexis ‘ye’ has replaced the more modern ‘you’. This normally gives a more solemn tone and creates a sombre, serious mood.

Asyndetic Listing:

Asyndetic listing is where an author lists items without the use of a conjunction. E.g. ‘The field was dull, muddy, small’. This cam strike the reader as usual, having effects on tone and mood.

Bathos:

This occurs when you get a fall from the important and weighty to something not as important, or even ridiculous. An example is: ‘The good, the bad, and the ugly’. Here the lexis ‘ugly’ has no relation to the other words and this creates humor or irony.

Characterisation:

The term that describes how a character’s personality is revealed to the reader, e.g. through their speech and their actions.

Cacophony:

The opposite literary effect of euphony in which the phonology (word sounds) of certain words create a harsh, unpleasant sound on the ear. This can help to create a negative mood and rasping tone, e.g.: ‘The rats tore down the pipe and began to gnaw incessantly’. Here the ‘t’ ‘n’ and ‘cess’ sounds are used to create a harsh sound,...
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