For Students

The Ultimate Guide to Metalanguage

Boost your literary analysis skills with our "Ultimate Guide to Metalanguage." Featuring over 200 techniques across 40+ pages, this guide offers clear definitions, detailed explanations, and practical examples.

Max Milstein
Manager Apex Tuition Australia
July 4, 2024
min read

If you are a student studying in Australia, understanding metalanguage will be critical to your success in school.

Metalanguage is the specialised vocabulary used to describe and analyse the structure, function, and features of language itself.

As English is a compulsory unit for all students in Australia, you will need to us metalanguage.

In essence, metalanguage provides the vocabulary and tools necessary to articulate how language works. Whether you are analyzing a literary text, writing an essay, or studying the intricacies of a new language, a strong grasp of metalanguage equips you with the analytical skills needed to excel in these tasks. It enables you to identify and discuss the various components of language systematically, making your analysis more structured and insightful.

We have created the ultimate guide to metalanguage, featuring over 40 pages of detailed definitions, explanations of the impact and function of the metalanguage, as well as examples. This guide has been instrumental for over 1,000 students in significantly improving their English scores across VCE, HSC, QCE, SACE, WACE and the IB.

Moreover, we have also created an Ultimate Guide to Literary and Poetic Devices that is perfect for English and Literature students

Metalanguage Terms

Download the guide to have it on hand quickly, or read below as we go over all the terms.

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  • Definition: A word class that may modify a verb (e.g., 'beautifully' in 'She sings beautifully'), an adjective (e.g., 'really' in 'He is really interesting'), or another adverb (e.g., 'very' in 'She walks very slowly'). In English, many adverbs have an –ly ending.
  • Function and Impact: Adverbs provide additional detail and context to actions, qualities, or other adverbs, enhancing the descriptive quality of sentences. They can indicate how, when, where, and to what extent something happens.
  • Example: 'She sings beautifully.'


  • Definition: A word formed by using the initial letter of other words, e.g. 'ANZAC'.
  • Function and Impact: Acronyms streamline communication by shortening lengthy phrases, making speech and writing more concise. They can also create a sense of familiarity and belonging among those who understand the term. 
  • Example: 'NASA' (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) simplifies references to the organization.

Active Voice

  • Definition: The grammatical structure in which the subject is the 'actor' of the sentence, e.g. 'the cat chased the mouse'.
  • Function and Impact: Active voice makes sentences clearer and more direct, emphasizing the subject's action. This can make texts more engaging and easier to understand. 
  • Example: 'The teacher explained the lesson' focuses on the teacher's action.

Adjacency Pairs

  • Definition: Adjacent turns in spoken discourse which relate to each other, such as questions and answers or greetings and responses.
  • Function and Impact: Adjacency pairs create coherence in conversations, making interactions predictable and structured. They help in analyzing how participants cooperate in dialogue.
  • Example: 'Hello!' followed by 'Hi there!'


  • Definition: An element of clause structure (along with subject, verb, and object). Adverbials perform several roles in a sentence: they can modify verbs (e.g. 'he spoke hesitantly') or link clauses together (e.g. 'however', 'moreover').
  • Function and Impact: Adverbials add detail and clarity to sentences, providing context and enhancing the meaning. They are essential for analyzing the completeness and fluency of texts. 
  • Example: 'She left early' provides information on when she left.


  • Definition: Relates to a sense of beauty or an appreciation of artistic expression. The selection of texts recognized as having aesthetic or artistic value is an important focus of the literature strand.
  • Function and Impact: Aesthetic language contributes to the emotional and sensory appeal of texts, allowing readers to appreciate artistic qualities and evoke emotional responses.
  • Example: The intricate details of a well-crafted poem.


  • Definition: There are three types of affixes (a type of 'bound' morpheme): prefix, suffix, and infix.
  • Function and Impact: Affixation helps in word formation, allowing for the creation of new words and altering meanings. This is key in understanding the morphological complexity of a language. 
  • Example: 'Unhappiness' includes the prefix 'un-' and the suffix '-ness'.


  • Definition: The use of the same initial sounds in consecutive words, e.g. 'wonderful water'.
  • Function and Impact: Alliteration creates rhythm and musicality in language, which can emphasize certain ideas and enhance the aesthetic quality of texts. 
  • Example: 'She sells seashells by the seashore'.

Anaphoric Reference

  • Definition: The use of pronouns to refer back to something already mentioned in a sentence, e.g. 'The cake was delicious and everybody ate it'.
  • Function and Impact: Anaphoric references maintain cohesion in texts, linking ideas and avoiding repetition. This is vital in analyzing the flow and clarity of narratives. 
  • Example: 'John arrived late because he missed the bus.'


  • Definition: The process of giving animate (living) qualities to something.
  • Function and Impact: Animation makes descriptions more vivid and engaging by attributing life-like qualities to inanimate objects. It can create empathy and deeper connections in analysis. 
  • Example: 'The wind whispered through the trees.'


  • Definition: The juxtaposition of contrasting words/ideas (antonyms), e.g. 'big on comfort, small on price'.
  • Function and Impact: Antithesis highlights contrasts, emphasizing differences and creating a balanced argument or description. It enhances the persuasive power of texts. 
  • Example: 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.'


  • Definition: The use of words that are opposite in meaning, e.g. 'hot' and 'cold'.
  • Function and Impact: Antonymy clarifies meaning through contrast and can emphasize the spectrum of qualities or states. It's useful in analyzing the depth of descriptions and arguments. 
  • Example: 'She felt both happiness and sadness.'


  • Definition: When one noun group immediately follows another with the same reference, they are said to be in apposition, e.g., 'our neighbour, Mr. Grasso,' 'Canberra, the capital of Australia'.
  • Function and Impact: Apposition provides clarity and additional information about a noun, enhancing understanding and specificity in descriptions.
  • Example: 'Our neighbour, Mr. Grasso, is very kind.'


  • Definition: An old-fashioned word or expression which is no longer in common use.
  • Function and Impact: Archaic words can give texts a historical or formal tone, evoking past times and settings. They can also contribute to the atmosphere and authenticity in literary analysis.
  • Example: 'Thou art' instead of 'you are'.


  • Definition: The process of altering a sound so that it is closer to a neighboring sound, e.g. pronouncing 'sandwich' as 'samwich'.
  • Function and Impact: Assimilation makes speech more fluid and easier to pronounce. Understanding this process aids in phonetic and phonological analysis. 
  • Example: 'Handbag' often pronounced as 'hambag'.


  • Definition: The use of identical vowel sounds within words, e.g. 'get' and 'better'.
  • Function and Impact: Assonance contributes to the musicality and mood of a text, often enhancing its aesthetic appeal. It's significant in poetry analysis. 
  • Example: 'The light of the fire is a sight to admire.'


  • Definition: The intended group of readers, listeners, or viewers that the writer, designer, filmmaker, or speaker is addressing.
  • Function and Impact: Identifying the audience helps tailor the language, tone, and content of a text to ensure it resonates and communicates effectively with the intended recipients.
  • Example: A children’s book aimed at young readers.

Auxiliary Verb

  • Definition: A verb that precedes the main verb, such as the verb 'to be' or 'to have' or 'to do'. It is sometimes known as a 'helping verb'.
  • Function and Impact: Auxiliary verbs modify the main verb to convey different times, moods, or voices, which are crucial for analyzing tense, aspect, and modality in texts. 
  • Example: 'She is going to the store.'

Back-channelling/Minimal Responses

  • Definition: Indicates support, encouragement, or acknowledgment in conversation, e.g. 'mm', 'yes', 'right'.
  • Function and Impact: Back-channelling maintains conversational flow and shows active listening, which is important in analyzing interactive and cooperative discourse. 
  • Example: 'Uh-huh, I see.'


  • Definition: A word composed of elements of other words, e.g. 'ginormous' (gigantic/enormous).
  • Function and Impact: Blends create new terms that are often expressive and concise, reflecting creativity in language use. This is relevant in lexical innovation analysis. 
  • Example: 'Brunch' (breakfast + lunch).


  • Definition: The process of acquiring words from another language.
  • Function and Impact: Borrowing enriches a language's vocabulary and reflects cultural exchange and influence, which is significant in sociolinguistic studies. 
  • Example: 'Café' borrowed from French.

Broad Australian Accent

  • Definition: The accent identified with the 'Australian twang'.
  • Function and Impact: The Broad Australian Accent can convey social identity and regional affiliation. Analyzing accents reveals insights into social and cultural dynamics. 
  • Example: The pronunciation of 'mate' as 'maite'.

Camera angle

  • Definition: The angle at which the camera is pointed at the subject. Vertical angle can be low, level, or high. Horizontal angle can be oblique (side-on) or frontal.
  • Function and Impact: Camera angles influence how viewers perceive a subject, conveying power, vulnerability, or neutrality, and contributing to the overall narrative and emotional impact.
  • Example: A low angle shot of a character to make them appear powerful.

Cataphoric Reference

  • Definition: A pronoun that refers to something yet to be mentioned, e.g. 'It was beautiful - a holiday to remember'.
  • Function and Impact: Cataphoric references create suspense and cohesion in texts, guiding readers to subsequent information. This technique is crucial in narrative structure analysis. 
  • Example: 'If you must know, I did it.'


  • Definition: A grammatical unit larger than a phrase and which usually contains a verb, e.g. 'I hate Mondays'.
  • Function and Impact: Clauses are fundamental in constructing sentences, and their analysis helps in understanding syntactic complexity and variation in texts. 
  • Example: 'When she arrived, we started the meeting.'


  • Definition: Splitting a single clause into two clauses, each with its own verb, e.g. 'Jenny ate the ice-cream' becomes 'It was Jenny who ate the ice-cream'.
  • Function and Impact: Clefting emphasizes specific elements in a sentence, enhancing focus and clarity. It is useful in analyzing emphasis and syntactic structure. 
  • Example: 'It was John who fixed the car.'


  • Definition: The practice of alternating between two or more languages or dialects in a conversation.
  • Function and Impact: Code-switching reflects linguistic diversity and social identity, providing insights into bilingualism and cultural interactions. 
  • Example: 'She said, "Vamos!" and then continued in English.'


  • Definition: Logical development and integration within speech or writing. Coherence makes a text understandable.
  • Function and Impact: Coherence ensures that texts are logically organized and easy to follow, which is essential for effective communication and analysis. 
  • Example: A well-structured essay with clear arguments.


  • Definition: Grammatical and lexical linking within a text or sentence. Cohesion holds a text together and gives it meaning. Related to the broader concept of coherence. Cohesive ties include pronouns, conjunctions, ellipses, substitution, synonyms, and antonyms.
  • Function and Impact: Cohesion ensures the flow and connectivity of ideas, making texts comprehensible and engaging. Analyzing cohesive devices helps in understanding text structure. 
  • Example: 'However, he didn't agree.'


  • Definition: A pairing or group of words that frequently go together, e.g. 'tropical paradise'.
  • Function and Impact: Collocations create natural and predictable language patterns, aiding in fluency and comprehension. This is crucial in lexical and semantic analysis. 
  • Example: 'Fast food' instead of 'quick food'.


  • Definition: An informal phrase or word.
  • Function and Impact: Colloquialisms make language more relatable and reflect social and cultural contexts, which are significant in sociolinguistic studies. 
  • Example: 'Gonna' instead of 'going to'.


  • Definition: The process whereby a proper noun or brand name becomes a common noun.
  • Function and Impact: Commonisation shows how language evolves and how certain terms become integrated into everyday use. It reflects social and cultural trends. 
  • Example: 'Google' as a verb meaning to search online.


  • Definition: A word or words that give extra information about another clause element, such as the subject or object.
  • Function and Impact: Complements provide necessary details, enhancing meaning and clarity in sentences. Analyzing complements helps in understanding sentence structure. 
  • Example: 'She is a teacher' (complement: 'a teacher').

Complex Sentence

  • Definition: A sentence made up of one main and at least one subordinate clause.
  • Function and Impact: Complex sentences add depth and detail to writing, showing relationships between ideas. They are essential in syntactic analysis. 
  • Example: 'Although it was raining, we went for a walk.'

Compound Sentence

  • Definition: A sentence made up of at least two main clauses joined together by a coordinating conjunction.
  • Function and Impact: Compound sentences show coordination between ideas, making writing more fluid and dynamic. They are important for analyzing sentence variety. 
  • Example: 'I wanted to go, but I had to work.'


  • Definition: The combining of two or more free morphemes to make a new word, e.g. armchair.
  • Function and Impact: Compounding expands vocabulary and creates new terms, reflecting linguistic creativity and evolution. This is relevant in morphological analysis. 
  • Example: 'Notebook' (note + book).

Compound-complex Sentence

  • Definition: A sentence that contains both coordination and subordination.
  • Function and Impact: Compound-complex sentences add sophistication to writing, showing intricate relationships between ideas. They are crucial for advanced syntactic analysis. 
  • Example: 'While I was cooking, he was cleaning, and the kids were playing outside.'


  • Definition: A word that joins phrases, clauses, or words. Coordinating conjunctions are 'and', 'or', and 'but'; subordinating conjunctions include 'however', 'although', and 'because'.
  • Function and Impact: Conjunctions connect ideas and create coherence in texts, making them essential for sentence structure and clarity. 
  • Example: 'She wanted to go, but it was too late.'


  • Definition: Non-literal meaning.
  • Function and Impact: Connotations add layers of meaning and emotional nuance to words, enriching texts and influencing interpretation. 
  • Example: 'Home' connotes warmth and comfort.


  • Definition: Repetition of consonant sounds in words, e.g. 'whiTe gaTe'.
  • Function and Impact: Consonance adds rhythm and emphasis, enhancing the aesthetic quality of texts. It is significant in poetic and literary analysis. 
  • Example: 'The lumpy, bumpy road.'

Content Words

  • Definition: Words that carry the main meaning in a sentence: verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs.
  • Function and Impact: Content words are central to understanding the main ideas in a text, providing the core meaning. 
  • Example: In 'She runs quickly,' 'runs' and 'quickly' are content words.


  • Definition: The circumstances in which speech and writing take place.
  • Function and Impact: Context influences meaning and interpretation, making it essential for analyzing language use and understanding texts fully. 
  • Example: Understanding the historical context of a novel.


  • Definition: An accepted language practice that has developed over time and is generally used and understood, e.g., use of punctuation.
  • Function and Impact: Conventions provide a standardized framework for writing, ensuring clarity and consistency in communication.
  • Example: Using a period at the end of a sentence.

Coordinating Conjunctions

  • Definition: Words that link phrases and clauses in such a way that the elements have equal status in meaning. They include conjunctions like ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘either/neither’, ‘but’, ‘so’, and ‘then’.
  • Function and Impact: Coordinating conjunctions create compound sentences, linking ideas of equal importance and enhancing sentence variety and complexity.
  • Example: 'We went to the park, and we had a picnic.'


  • Definition: The linking of two language units that have the same status.
  • Function and Impact: Coordination shows the equality of ideas, making writing balanced and coherent. It is important in syntactic analysis. 
  • Example: 'She sang and danced.'

Covert Norms

  • Definition: Language varieties that are associated with non-Standard English and which have prestige within the social groups that use them. Covert prestige is acquired by speakers wishing to belong to a certain community.
  • Function and Impact: Covert norms reflect social identity and group membership, providing insights into language variation and sociolinguistic dynamics. 
  • Example: Using slang specific to a particular community.

Cultivated Australian Accent

  • Definition: An accent used by around ten percent of the Australian population. It is more rounded in its articulation of vowels than General or Broad accents.
  • Function and Impact: The Cultivated Australian Accent can indicate higher social status or education, influencing perceptions and social interactions. 
  • Example: The more formal pronunciation of vowels in speech.

Cultural Context

  • Definition: How the values, attitudes, and beliefs held by participants and the wider community contribute to language choices.
  • Function and Impact: Cultural context shapes language use and interpretation, reflecting societal norms and influencing meaning. 
  • Example: The use of honorifics in different cultures.
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Declarative Sentences

  • Definition: Sentences that are statements, e.g. 'The sun was shining'.
  • Function and Impact: Declarative sentences convey information or make assertions, forming the basis of clear communication. 
  • Example: 'She loves music.'


  • Definition: The process of working out the meaning of words in a text.
  • Function and Impact: Decoding enables readers to understand and interpret text, drawing on contextual, vocabulary, grammatical, and phonic knowledge.
  • Example: Sounding out letters to read a new word.

Deixis/Deictic Expressions

  • Definition: Terms which refer to the personal, temporal, or locational characteristics of a situation, and whose meanings only make sense in that context or situation. For example, 'here' and 'there, 'this' and 'that' only make sense when taken in context.
  • Function and Impact: Deictic expressions anchor discourse in context, aiding in situational understanding and analysis. 
  • Example: 'I'll meet you there.'


  • Definition: The dictionary definition of a word.
  • Function and Impact: Denotation provides the basic, literal meaning of words, essential for clear and precise communication. 
  • Example: 'Rose' as a type of flower.

Dependent Clause

  • Definition: A clause that cannot make complete sense on its own and needs to be combined with an independent clause to form a complete sentence.
  • Function and Impact: Dependent clauses add additional information and detail to main clauses, contributing to sentence complexity and depth.
  • Example: 'When the sun goes down.'

Derivational Morphemes

  • Definition: Affixes that can change the meaning or class of a word, e.g. un- (as in 'unsatisfactory') and -al (as in 'national').
  • Function and Impact: Derivational morphemes create new words and modify meanings, contributing to vocabulary expansion and morphological analysis. 
  • Example: 'Happiness' from 'happy' + '-ness'.


  • Definition: A linguistic approach that focuses on language as it is, rather than how it should be.
  • Function and Impact: Descriptivism embraces language diversity and change, providing a realistic view of language use and evolution. 
  • Example: Describing the use of 'gonna' instead of 'going to'.


  • Definition: A word that expresses the grammatical categories of definiteness, number, and possession, e.g. 'the', 'a', 'some'.
  • Function and Impact: Determiners specify nouns, providing clarity and detail in sentences, essential for syntactic analysis. 
  • Example: 'The book' vs. 'a book'.


  • Definition: The language variety of a regional or social group.
  • Function and Impact: Dialects reflect regional and social identities, offering insights into linguistic diversity and cultural heritage. 
  • Example: The Southern American English dialect.


  • Definition: Two letters that represent a single sound. Vowel digraphs are two vowels (‘oo’, ‘ea’). Consonant digraphs have two consonants (‘sh’, ‘th’). Vowel/consonant digraphs have one vowel and one consonant (‘er’, ‘ow’).
  • Function and Impact: Digraphs help readers understand the relationship between letters and sounds, aiding in decoding and spelling.
  • Example: The 'sh' in 'ship'.


  • Definition: The overall patterns and structures of a spoken or written text, which enable it to communicate meaning.
  • Function and Impact: Discourse analysis reveals how texts achieve coherence and convey messages, crucial for understanding communication dynamics. 
  • Example: Analyzing the structure of a political speech.

Discourse Particles

  • Definition: Short expressions or words that have an important function in speech, such as packaging information, structuring turn-taking, expressing attitudes/opinions, and orienting topics, e.g. 'anyway', 'well', 'yeah-no', 'ok', 'like', 'OMG'.
  • Function and Impact: Discourse particles manage the flow of conversation and convey subtle meanings, important in pragmatic analysis. Example: 'Like, I was just saying...'


  • Definition: Language that is deliberately used to confuse, mislead or obscure, e.g. 'downsizing operations' for 'sacking'.
  • Function and Impact: Doublespeak manipulates perception and hides true meanings, highlighting the power dynamics in language use. Example: 'Collateral damage' instead of 'civilian casualties'.


  • Definition: A harsh or offensive word or expression in place of a more neutral one, e.g. 'he carked it' rather than 'he died'.
  • Function and Impact: Dysphemisms express strong negative emotions or attitudes, often reflecting social taboos or disdain. 
  • Example: 'Pig' for a police officer.


  • Definition: The deletion of sounds in connected speech, e.g. 'fish 'n' chips'.
  • Function and Impact: Elision makes speech more efficient and fluid, important in phonetic and phonological analysis. 
  • Example: 'Gonna' instead of 'going to'.


  • Definition: The omission of words or phrases in a sentence because meaning can be gauged from context, e.g. Coming? instead of 'Are you coming?'.
  • Function and Impact: Ellipsis makes communication concise and relies on shared understanding, important for analyzing conversational efficiency. 
  • Example: 'Need help?'


  • Definition: A combination of keyboard characters to represent an emotion or paralinguistic cue.
  • Function and Impact: Emoticons convey emotions and tone in written communication, enhancing clarity and emotional expressiveness. 
  • Example: :) for a smile.

End Focus/End Weight

  • Definition: Given or familiar information followed by new information. This gives prominence to the final part of the sentence and can enable suspense to build.
  • Function and Impact: End focus emphasizes key points and enhances the dramatic effect, important for rhetorical and structural analysis. 
  • Example: 'The winner is... Jane!'


  • Definition: The addition of sounds in the middle of a word, e.g. pronouncing 'known' as 'knowan'.
  • Function and Impact: Epenthesis aids in pronunciation and fluency, relevant in phonological analysis. 
  • Example: 'Athlete' pronounced as 'ath-e-lete'.


  • Definition: A variety of language spoken by a particular ethnic group. Migrant Englishes, for instance, are referred to as ethnolects.
  • Function and Impact: Ethnolects reflect cultural identity and linguistic diversity, offering insights into social and cultural influences on language. 
  • Example: Chicano English in the United States.

Etymological Knowledge

  • Definition: Knowledge of the origins and development of the form and meanings of words and how the meanings and forms have changed over time.
  • Function and Impact: Etymological knowledge enriches understanding of language history and word origins, enhancing vocabulary and comprehension.
  • Example: Knowing that 'television' comes from Greek 'tele' (distant) and Latin 'visio' (sight).


  • Definition: A mild or polite word or expression in place of a potentially upsetting one, e.g. 'he passed away' rather than 'he died'. The opposite of dysphemism.
  • Function and Impact: Euphemisms soften harsh realities and maintain social decorum, significant in sociolinguistic and pragmatic analysis. 
  • Example: 'Restroom' instead of 'toilet'.

Evaluative Language

  • Definition: Positive or negative language that judges the worth of something. It includes language to express feelings and opinions, make judgments about people’s behavior, and assess the quality of objects such as literary works.
  • Function and Impact: Evaluative language allows for expressing subjective opinions and judgments, adding depth to analysis and reviews.
  • Example: 'She’s a brilliant student.'

Exclamative Sentence

  • Definition: A sentence that expresses an emotion; often beginning with 'what' or 'how', e.g. 'What big teeth you have!'.
  • Function and Impact: Exclamative sentences convey strong feelings and reactions, adding expressiveness to communication. 
  • Example: 'How wonderful!'

Expository Essay

  • Definition: An essay that explains, explores, or comments on a particular statement or quote.
  • Function and Impact: Expository essays inform and clarify, essential for academic and analytical writing. 
  • Example: An essay explaining the causes of climate change.

False Start

  • Definition: A hesitation or change of mind once a speaker starts talking, very common in spontaneous discourse.
  • Function and Impact: False starts reflect natural speech patterns and spontaneity, important for analyzing conversational dynamics. 
  • Example: 'I was going to... well, actually, I think...'


  • Definition: Another term for 'domain' or subject/topic.
  • Function and Impact: The field determines the vocabulary and style of discourse, essential for contextual and genre analysis. 
  • Example: The medical field uses terms like 'diagnosis' and 'treatment'.

Figurative Language

  • Definition: Expressive use of language where words are used in a non-literal way, e.g. idioms, metaphors, puns, personification.
  • Function and Impact: Figurative language enhances creativity and expressiveness, adding depth and vividness to texts. 
  • Example: 'Time is a thief.'


  • Definition: The 'd' sound often heard in place of 't' in words like 'butter' ('budder').
  • Function and Impact: Flapping reflects phonological variation and regional accents, important in sociolinguistic and phonetic analysis. 
  • Example: 'Water' pronounced as 'wadder'.

Floor-holding Strategies

  • Definition: Techniques used by speakers to maintain their turn in conversation.
  • Function and Impact: Floor-holding strategies ensure smooth interaction and control in dialogue, relevant in discourse analysis. 
  • Example: 'Let me finish...'

Formulaic Expressions

  • Definition: Language that follows a set pattern. Openings and closings of conversation usually contain formulaic expressions, e.g. 'Pleased to meet you' or 'See you later'.
  • Function and Impact: Formulaic expressions facilitate predictable and smooth social interactions, important for pragmatic analysis. 
  • Example: 'How are you?'


  • Definition: The way in which elements in a still or moving image are arranged to create a specific interpretation of the whole.
  • Function and Impact: Framing directs the viewer’s attention, shaping their interpretation and emotional response to visual elements.
  • Example: A close-up shot in a film to focus on a character's emotions.

Front Focus

  • Definition: Placing at the start (front) of a sentence information that would normally occur later in the sentence, to give it extra prominence.
  • Function and Impact: Front focus emphasizes specific information, enhancing clarity and impact, crucial for rhetorical and syntactic analysis. 
  • Example: 'What I need is more time.'


  • Definition: The purpose or role of language use, e.g. to inform, to persuade, to instruct.
  • Function and Impact: Understanding function helps in analyzing the intention and effectiveness of communication.
  • Example: A speech to persuade voters.

Function Words

  • Definition: Words (such as conjunctions, prepositions, auxiliary verbs, and determiners) that convey grammatical meaning.
  • Function and Impact: Function words structure sentences and convey relationships between content words, essential for syntactic analysis. 
  • Example: 'And', 'but', 'the'.

General Australian Accent

  • Definition: The accent used by the great majority of the Australian population.
  • Function and Impact: The General Australian Accent reflects a neutral social identity and regional affiliation, important in sociolinguistic studies. 
  • Example: The pronunciation of 'dance' as 'dah-nce'.


  • Definition: The categories into which texts are grouped. The term distinguishes texts based on subject matter (e.g., detective fiction, romance), form, and structure.
  • Function and Impact: Genre classification helps set expectations and provides a framework for analyzing texts, understanding their conventions and purposes.
  • Example: Science fiction novels.

Graphophonic Knowledge

  • Definition: The knowledge of how letters in printed English relate to the sounds of the language.
  • Function and Impact: Graphophonic knowledge aids in decoding, reading, and spelling by understanding the relationship between letters and sounds.
  • Example: Recognizing that 'ph' sounds like 'f' in 'phone'.

High Frequency Sight Words

  • Definition: The most common words used in written English text that often do not follow regular sound-letter correspondence and need to be learned by sight.
  • Function and Impact: Recognizing high-frequency sight words aids in fluent reading and comprehension.
  • Example: Words like 'come', 'was', 'one'.


  • Definition: A word identical in pronunciation with another but different in meaning.
  • Function and Impact: Understanding homophones helps avoid confusion in writing and comprehension, enriching vocabulary and word knowledge.
  • Example: 'Bare' and 'bear'.

HRT (High Rising Terminal)

  • Definition: The use of a high-rising or questioning intonation at the end of a statement. Typical in young speakers, it has a range of discourse functions, such as seeking empathy or keeping the other interlocutor involved in the conversation.
  • Function and Impact: HRT can signal uncertainty, invite feedback, or keep the listener engaged, relevant for prosodic and pragmatic analysis. 
  • Example: 'I'm going to the store?'


  • Definition: The relationship between general and specific lexical items. For example, 'dog' is a hyponym of 'animal'.
  • Function and Impact: Hyponymy shows hierarchical relationships between words, aiding in semantic and lexical analysis. 
  • Example: 'Rose' as a hyponym of 'flower'.


  • Definition: A person's individual style of speech. Idiolects are marked by idiosyncratic (highly individual) features such as pronunciation or word choice.
  • Function and Impact: Idiolects reflect personal identity and linguistic creativity, offering insights into individual language use. 
  • Example: Unique catchphrases or word choices.


  • Definition: An idiomatic expression is a non-literal one, e.g. 'to kick the bucket'.
  • Function and Impact: Idioms enrich language by adding expressiveness and cultural flavor, important in figurative language analysis. 
  • Example: 'Break the ice' means to initiate conversation.

Idiomatic Expressions

  • Definition: A group of (more or less) fixed words having a meaning not deducible from the individual words.
  • Function and Impact: Idiomatic expressions add color and cultural context to language, often making communication more vivid and engaging.
  • Example: 'Kick the bucket' meaning 'to die'.


  • Definition: A command, directive, or warning. Imperatives do not contain a subject and the verb is always in the infinitive form, e.g. 'Add the eggs', or 'Be careful'.
  • Function and Impact: Imperatives direct behavior and convey urgency or necessity, crucial for analyzing instructional and directive language. 
  • Example: 'Stop!' or 'Listen.'

Independent Clause

  • Definition: A clause that makes sense on its own.
  • Function and Impact: Independent clauses form complete sentences, conveying clear and complete thoughts.
  • Example: 'She went to the store.'


  • Definition: Something that has been deduced by using implicit information (such as cultural knowledge).
  • Function and Impact: Inference relies on context and background knowledge, essential for understanding implied meanings and reading between the lines. 
  • Example: Assuming someone is tired from their drooping eyes.


  • Definition: An affix placed in the middle of a word, e.g. 'un-bloody-likely'.
  • Function and Impact: Infixes add emphasis or modify meanings creatively, significant in morphological analysis. 
  • Example: 'Absobloodylutely'.


  • Definition: A morphological term in word formation. Inflectional affixes signal grammatical relationships, such as plural, past tense, and possession, e.g. talk, talked.
  • Function and Impact: Inflection conveys grammatical information, aiding in syntactic and morphological analysis. 
  • Example: 'Dogs' (plural) and 'walked' (past tense).

Information Flow

  • Definition: Strategies for presenting information within a sentence, such as front focus, end focus, and clefting.
  • Function and Impact: Information flow techniques enhance clarity and emphasis, important for rhetorical and syntactic analysis. 
  • Example: 'What we need is a plan' (clefting).


  • Definition: A set of initials formed from the first letter of each word in a name or phrase, e.g. RSVP. Unlike acronyms, initialisms cannot be pronounced as words. Some textbooks refer to them as 'abbreviations'.
  • Function and Impact: Initialisms provide concise references and are often used in formal or technical contexts, relevant for lexical analysis. 
  • Example: 'FYI' (For Your Information).


  • Definition: A phonological term referring to the additional sounds in speech which ease articulation, e.g. pronouncing 'drawing' as 'draw-ring', instead of 'draw-ing'.
  • Function and Impact: Insertion aids in fluency and ease of pronunciation, important for phonological analysis. 
  • Example: 'Warsh' instead of 'wash'.


  • Definition: A participant in a conversation or dialogue.
  • Function and Impact: Interlocutors shape the dynamics of interaction, essential for analyzing dialogue and communication patterns. 
  • Example: In a conversation, both speaker and listener are interlocutors.


  • Definition: Emotional noises such as 'oh!', 'yuck', 'shhh!'.
  • Function and Impact: Interjections convey emotions and reactions, adding expressiveness to speech, important in pragmatic analysis. 
  • Example: 'Wow!' or 'Oops!'


  • Definition: A question, such as 'What are you doing?'.
  • Function and Impact: Interrogatives seek information or clarification, crucial for analyzing questioning techniques and interaction. 
  • Example: 'Where is the library?'

Interrogative Tag

  • Definition: Little expressions, such as 'isn't it?' and 'will she?', which turn statements into questions.
  • Function and Impact: Interrogative tags engage the listener and invite confirmation, relevant for pragmatic and interactional analysis. 
  • Example: 'It's cold today, isn't it?'


  • Definition: The associations or connections between one text and other texts.
  • Function and Impact: Intertextual references enrich a text by adding layers of meaning and connecting it to broader literary and cultural contexts.
  • Example: A novel that references Shakespeare’s plays.


  • Definition: The International Phonetic Alphabet.
  • Function and Impact: The IPA provides a standardized system for transcribing speech sounds, essential for phonetic analysis and pronunciation. 
  • Example: /kæt/ for 'cat'.


  • Definition: A form of figurative language in which the implication is the opposite of what is stated. It is often used for humorous effect.
  • Function and Impact: Irony adds layers of meaning and humor, creating contrast between expectations and reality, significant in literary and rhetorical analysis. 
  • Example: Saying 'Great weather!' during a storm.
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  • Definition: The language of a particular social group or occupation. For instance, the jargon of law contains such terms as 'affidavit' and 'defendant'.
  • Function and Impact: Jargon provides precise and specialized communication within a group, reflecting expertise and identity, important in sociolinguistic analysis. 
  • Example: Medical jargon like 'BP' for blood pressure.


  • Definition: The placement of two or more ideas, characters, actions, settings, phrases, or words side-by-side for a particular purpose.
  • Function and Impact: Juxtaposition highlights contrasts and comparisons, enhancing thematic and rhetorical effects.
  • Example: A wealthy character and a poor character placed side-by-side to highlight social inequality.

Lexeme/Lexical Item

  • Definition: A unit of vocabulary; a word.
  • Function and Impact: Lexemes are the building blocks of language, crucial for lexical and semantic analysis. 
  • Example: 'Run' and 'running' are forms of the same lexeme.

Lexical Ambiguity

  • Definition: Ambiguity that arises due to the alternative meanings of a word.
  • Function and Impact: Lexical ambiguity can create multiple interpretations, adding complexity and richness to texts, important for semantic analysis. 
  • Example: 'Bank' (financial institution or riverbank).

Lexical Cohesion

  • Definition: The use of word associations to create links in texts.
  • Function and Impact: Lexical cohesion creates unity and coherence in a text, making it easier to understand and follow.
  • Example: Repetition of the word 'happy' to maintain thematic consistency.


  • Definition: Another word for 'vocabulary'. Dictionaries contain the entire 'lexicon' of a language, and certain fields (e.g. the law, or cooking) have their own lexicon or specialist vocabulary.
  • Function and Impact: The lexicon represents the total vocabulary of a language or field, essential for understanding word choice and usage. 
  • Example: The legal lexicon includes terms like 'plaintiff' and 'defendant'.


  • Definition: The study of a lexicon of a language.
  • Function and Impact: Lexicology examines word formation, usage, and meaning, providing insights into the structure and evolution of vocabulary. 
  • Example: Analyzing the development of new slang terms.


  • Definition: A form of syntactic patterning; the repetition of grammatical structures to form a list.
  • Function and Impact: Listing organizes information clearly and emphatically, enhancing readability and emphasis, important for syntactic and rhetorical analysis. 
  • Example: 'She bought apples, oranges, bananas, and grapes.'


  • Definition: The linguistic terminology required to discuss and analyze the language.
  • Function and Impact: Metalanguage provides the tools for analyzing and discussing language features and functions, essential for linguistic studies. 
  • Example: Terms like 'noun', 'verb', and 'syntax'.


  • Definition: A type of figurative language that uses non-literal language to express a concept or idea, e.g. 'The playground was a jungle'.
  • Function and Impact: Metaphors create vivid imagery and convey complex ideas succinctly, enriching texts and aiding in literary analysis. 
  • Example: 'Time is a thief.'


  • Definition: The use of the name of one thing or attribute of something to represent something larger or related.
  • Function and Impact: Metonymy adds depth and associative meaning to language, enhancing rhetorical and poetic effects.
  • Example: Using 'the crown' to represent monarchy.

Minimal Responses

  • Definition: The cooperative responses or back-channelling made by speakers to encourage their interlocutors to keep talking.
  • Function and Impact: Minimal responses maintain conversational flow and show active listening, important for analyzing interaction and cooperation. 
  • Example: 'Uh-huh', 'I see', 'Right'.

Modal/Auxiliary Verb

  • Definition: Verbs that convey necessity, possibility, obligation, or probability, e.g. must, may, might, can, could, should, would, will, shall.
  • Function and Impact: Modals express various degrees of certainty and obligation, crucial for analyzing mood, modality, and speaker's attitude. 
  • Example: 'You must finish your homework.'


  • Definition: The form language takes: spoken; written; or signed.
  • Function and Impact: The mode influences language use and structure, important for analyzing the differences in communication styles. 
  • Example: Spoken mode involves more informal and interactive language.


  • Definition: The smallest possible unit of meaning in composing words - 'free' morphemes can stand alone as words in their own right (e.g. 'play', 'mouse'), whereas 'bound' morphemes are prefixes and suffixes (e.g. 'un', 'ing') which must be attached to another morpheme to make sense.
  • Function and Impact: Morphemes are the building blocks of words, crucial for morphological analysis and understanding word formation. 
  • Example: 'Unhappiness' has three morphemes: 'un-', 'happy', '-ness'.


  • Definition: The study of the structure or composition of words.
  • Function and Impact: Morphology examines how words are formed and structured, revealing the relationships between words and their components. This analysis aids in understanding language complexity and word formation processes. 
  • Example: Analyzing the word 'unhappiness' shows the prefix 'un-', the root 'happy', and the suffix '-ness'.


  • Definition: A story of events or experiences, real or imagined.
  • Function and Impact: Narratives convey experiences and ideas, providing structure and context to storytelling.
  • Example: A short story or novel.

Narrative Point-of-View

  • Definition: The ways a narrator may be related to the story (e.g., first person, third person, omniscient).
  • Function and Impact: Point-of-view shapes the reader’s perspective and understanding of the story, influencing their connection with characters and events.
  • Example: First-person narration in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Negative Face

  • Definition: The need to be autonomous and act without imposition from others. Negative face refers to one's freedom to act, and it is threatened when someone is forced to submit to the will of their interlocutor. Threats and warnings are examples of violating negative face needs.
  • Function and Impact: Understanding negative face helps analyze interactions where autonomy is a concern, highlighting power dynamics and politeness strategies. 
  • Example: 'You must attend the meeting' imposes on the listener's negative face.


  • Definition: A new word or phrase in a language, e.g. 'treechange' - trading in a fast-paced city lifestyle for a more relaxed, country one.
  • Function and Impact: Neologisms reflect linguistic innovation and societal changes, expanding the lexicon and providing fresh ways to express new concepts. 
  • Example: 'Selfie' is a neologism that emerged with the rise of social media.


  • Definition: The conversion of verbs into nouns, e.g. 'the failure' from 'fail'.
  • Function and Impact: Nominalisation can make texts more formal and abstract by shifting the focus from actions to concepts or entities. 
  • Example: 'The implementation of the plan' instead of 'We implemented the plan'.

Non-discriminatory Language

  • Definition: Language that avoids reference to a person's religion, gender, status, race, disability, physical characteristics, age, etc.
  • Function and Impact: Using non-discriminatory language promotes inclusivity and respect, reducing bias and fostering positive communication. 
  • Example: Using 'firefighter' instead of 'fireman'.

Non-fluency Features

  • Definition: Features of speech that are typical in spontaneous discourse: hesitations, pauses, false starts, repairs, repetition, and filled pauses (e.g. 'um', 'er').
  • Function and Impact: Non-fluency features reflect natural speech patterns and can indicate a speaker's thought process or nervousness, important for conversational analysis. 
  • Example: 'I, um, think we should, er, go now.'

Non-Standard English

  • Definition: Language varieties that do not conform to the Standard or prestige variety, e.g. Aboriginal Englishes and ethnolects.
  • Function and Impact: Non-Standard English reflects linguistic diversity and social identity, providing insights into cultural and regional language variations. 
  • Example: 'Y'all' in Southern American English.

Onset and Rime

  • Definition: The separate sounds in a syllable or in a one-syllable word. The onset is the initial consonant sound, and the rime is the vowel and any following consonants.
  • Function and Impact: Understanding onset and rime aids in teaching spelling and phonological awareness.
  • Example: In 'cat', the onset is /c/ and the rime is /at/.


  • Definition: To confuse or obscure meaning.
  • Function and Impact: Obfuscation can be used to deliberately make communication unclear or complex, often to mislead or complicate understanding. 
  • Example: Using jargon or overly complex language to obscure the true meaning.


  • Definition: A clause element. Objects identify who or what is affected by the action of the verb, e.g. I eat strawberries.
  • Function and Impact: Understanding objects in sentences helps in analyzing sentence structure and the relationships between actions and participants. 
  • Example: 'She kicked the ball' (object: 'the ball').


  • Definition: The formation of a word, or a word formed by, the imitation of a sound, e.g. 'splash', or 'meow'.
  • Function and Impact: Onomatopoeia adds vividness and auditory imagery to texts, making descriptions more engaging and realistic. 
  • Example: 'The bees buzzed around the garden.'

Openings and Closings

  • Definition: The beginnings and endings of dialogues, which often contain formulaic expressions.
  • Function and Impact: Openings and closings help structure interactions, signaling the start and end of conversations, which is important for discourse analysis. 
  • Example: 'Hello, how are you?' and 'Goodbye, see you later.'

Opinionative Essay

  • Definition: An essay that requires you to give your opinion on a particular statement or quote and to say to what extent you agree or disagree with the topic.
  • Function and Impact: Opinionative essays develop critical thinking and argumentation skills, allowing for personal expression and evaluation of different perspectives. 
  • Example: An essay discussing the benefits and drawbacks of remote learning.

Overlapping Speech

  • Definition: Two or more speakers talking simultaneously.
  • Function and Impact: Overlapping speech can indicate high engagement or interruptions in conversation, important for analyzing turn-taking and interaction dynamics. 
  • Example: Two friends excitedly talking over each other about a recent event.


  • Definition: A form of exaggeration, also known as 'hyperbole', e.g. 'the most exciting holiday destination in the world'.
  • Function and Impact: Overstatement emphasizes certain points for effect, adding intensity or humor to descriptions, significant in rhetorical and literary analysis. 
  • Example: 'I've told you a million times.'

Overt Norms

  • Definition: Language choices associated with Standard English. Overt prestige is acquired by those speakers who have command of a standard dialect.
  • Function and Impact: Overt norms reflect social status and acceptance within mainstream society, important for sociolinguistic studies of language and power. 
  • Example: Using formal language in a job interview.


  • Definition: The use of contradictory words in a phrase to create a particular effect, e.g. 'deafening silence'.
  • Function and Impact: Oxymorons create intriguing contrasts and highlight complex or paradoxical ideas, enriching literary and rhetorical analysis. 
  • Example: 'Bittersweet memories.'
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  • Definition: A form of assimilation due to interference from neighboring palatal sounds, e.g. pronouncing 'did you' as 'diju', or 'want you' as 'wanchu'.
  • Function and Impact: Palatalisation affects pronunciation and reflects natural speech patterns, important for phonological analysis. 
  • Example: 'Did you' pronounced as 'diju'.

Paralinguistic Features

  • Definition: Facial expressions, gaze, gestures, body language. Some linguists also regard a variety of 'vocal effects' such as laughter, sighs, and whispering as paralinguistic features of speech.
  • Function and Impact: Paralinguistic features convey emotions and attitudes, adding depth to communication beyond words, important for nonverbal communication analysis. 
  • Example: Smiling while speaking to indicate friendliness.


  • Definition: The repetition of syntactic structures, e.g. 'he came, he saw, he conquered'.
  • Function and Impact: Parallelism creates rhythm and balance in writing, enhancing readability and emphasizing key points, crucial for rhetorical and stylistic analysis. 
  • Example: 'She loves singing, dancing, and acting.'

Passing the Floor

  • Definition: The technique of handing over one's turn to another interlocutor.
  • Function and Impact: Passing the floor ensures smooth conversational flow and respectful interaction, important for analyzing turn-taking strategies. 
  • Example: 'What do you think about this?'

Passive Voice

  • Definition: The grammatical structure in which the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb, e.g., 'The mouse was chased by the cat.'
  • Function and Impact: Passive voice shifts the focus from the 'doer' of the action to the recipient of the action. It can be used to emphasize the action itself or the receiver of the action, rather than who performed the action. Passive voice is often employed in formal writing and scientific reports to create an objective tone and to omit the subject when it is unknown or irrelevant.
  • Example: 'The cake was eaten by the children.'


  • Definition: Figurative language in which non-human things are given human qualities.
  • Function and Impact: Personification creates vivid imagery and emotional connections in texts, enriching literary analysis. 
  • Example: 'The wind whispered through the trees.'

Phatic Communication

  • Definition: Social 'chit-chat' such as talking about the weather or enquiring about someone's health; the sort of language used to maintain social relationships.
  • Function and Impact: Phatic communication builds social bonds and maintains relationships, important for sociolinguistic analysis of social interactions. 
  • Example: 'How are you doing today?'


  • Definition: The study of the characteristics of human sound production - the manner and places of articulation necessary to make vowels and consonants.
  • Function and Impact: Phonetics provides detailed analysis of speech sounds, essential for understanding pronunciation and accent variations. 
  • Example: Studying how the sound /t/ is produced in different words.


  • Definition: The ability to identify the relationships between letters and sounds when reading and spelling.
  • Function and Impact: Phonics instruction improves decoding and spelling abilities, making reading more accessible.
  • Example: Recognizing that 'ch' makes the /ch/ sound in 'chip'.


  • Definition: The study of sound systems in any one language - the distinctive sound patterns found in a language.
  • Function and Impact: Phonology examines how sounds function and interact within a language, crucial for analyzing phonemic structures and patterns. 
  • Example: Analyzing the phonemic contrasts between /p/ and /b/.


  • Definition: A group of words that has no finite verb, e.g. 'red balloon' (noun phrase), 'very beautiful' (adjectival phrase), 'extremely quickly' (adverb phrase), 'in the box' (prepositional phrase).
  • Function and Impact: Phrases add detail and modify meaning within sentences, essential for syntactic analysis. 
  • Example: 'The old man' (noun phrase) adds specificity.

Politically Correct (PC) Language

  • Definition: Terminology arising out of society's desire for language that reflects and encourages attitudes of tolerance and acceptance, particularly with regard to gender, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, etc.
  • Function and Impact: PC language promotes respect and inclusivity, reducing prejudice and fostering positive social interactions. 
  • Example: Using 'firefighter' instead of 'fireman'.

Positive Face

  • Definition: The need to be liked, respected, and made to feel good. Positive face refers to one's self-esteem. Accommodating one's language to make someone else comfortable is an example of meeting positive face needs.
  • Function and Impact: Positive face helps build rapport and social harmony, important for analyzing politeness and social interactions. 
  • Example: Complimenting someone to make them feel appreciated.


  • Definition: An affix that precedes the root, e.g. dis-, un-.
  • Function and Impact: Prefixes modify meanings and create new words, expanding the lexicon and aiding in morphological analysis. 
  • Example: 'Unhappy' (prefix 'un-' + root 'happy').


  • Definition: A linguistic approach that aims to impose or preserve historically narrow standards or usage norms.
  • Function and Impact: Prescriptivism advocates for language purity and correctness, often resisting linguistic change, important for historical and sociolinguistic studies. 
  • Example: Insisting on the use of 'whom' in formal writing.

Prestige Language Variety

  • Definition: The language or dialect that holds the most social power or esteem in a certain community.
  • Function and Impact: Prestige varieties influence social mobility and identity, reflecting power dynamics in language use. 
  • Example: Standard British English in the UK.


  • Definition: Words that replace nouns or noun phrases, e.g. him, them, we, it.
  • Function and Impact: Pronouns simplify sentences and avoid repetition, essential for cohesion and syntactic analysis. 
  • Example: 'She' instead of 'Maria'.

Prosodic Features/Prosody

  • Definition: The collective term to refer to stress, pitch, intonation, volume, tempo, etc.
  • Function and Impact: Prosodic features convey emotions, emphasis, and attitudes, adding nuance to spoken language, important for phonological and pragmatic analysis. 
  • Example: Rising intonation in questions.

Public Language

  • Definition: Language in the public domain, e.g. in politics, the media, business, bureaucracy, and education.
  • Function and Impact: Public language shapes public opinion and societal norms, significant for discourse analysis and sociolinguistic studies. 
  • Example: Political speeches and news reports.


  • Definition: A play on words - the humorous use of words to suggest different meanings.
  • Function and Impact: Puns add humor and wit to language, enhancing literary creativity and engaging the audience. 
  • Example: 'I used to be a baker, but I couldn't make enough dough.'


  • Definition: Harmonious relationship.
  • Function and Impact: Building rapport fosters trust and effective communication, important for social and interpersonal analysis. 
  • Example: Establishing rapport through active listening and empathy.


  • Definition: A term that refers to degrees of formality within a discourse, e.g. speech and writing can be in an informal or formal register.
  • Function and Impact: Register reflects social context and relationships, influencing tone and style, crucial for analyzing language appropriateness. 
  • Example: Using formal language in a business meeting versus casual language with friends.


  • Definition: A form of correction, typical in spontaneous speech.
  • Function and Impact: Repairs indicate self-monitoring and conversational dynamics, important for analyzing speech errors and interaction. 
  • Example: 'I went to the, uh, the store yesterday.'


  • Definition: In spoken discourse this refers to words being repeated due to hesitancy or a false start. In writing, it refers to a stylistic device that uses reiteration to emphasize an idea.
  • Function and Impact: Repetition can indicate uncertainty or emphasize important points, significant for rhetorical and conversational analysis. 
  • Example: 'He was very, very tired.'


  • Definition: Persuasive language in the public domain.
  • Function and Impact: Rhetoric shapes opinions and influences audiences, crucial for analyzing speeches, advertisements, and other persuasive texts. 
  • Example: Using emotional appeals in a political speech.

Rhetorical Question

  • Definition: A question asked to provoke thought rather than require an answer.
  • Function and Impact: Rhetorical questions engage the audience, prompting reflection and emphasizing points in persuasive and rhetorical contexts.
  • Example: 'Isn’t it time for a change?'


  • Definition: The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in speech.
  • Function and Impact: Rhythm enhances the musicality and flow of language, important for poetic and phonological analysis. 
  • Example: The rhythmic pattern in a poem.


  • Definition: A strategy of emphasis highlighting what is important in a text.
  • Function and Impact: Salience guides the reader’s attention to key elements, enhancing understanding and interpretation of the text.
  • Example: Using bold text to emphasize important information.

Semantic Fields

  • Definition: Topics or subjects that use their own vocabulary.
  • Function and Impact: Semantic fields categorize and structure vocabulary, aiding in thematic and lexical analysis. 
  • Example: The semantic field of medicine includes words like 'diagnosis', 'treatment', and 'symptoms'.


  • Definition: The study of meaning in language.
  • Function and Impact: Semantics explores how meaning is constructed and interpreted, essential for understanding language comprehension and use. 
  • Example: Analyzing the different meanings of the word 'bank'.

Sentence Fragment

  • Definition: Also known as a 'minor sentence', as it lacks some of the usual clause elements. Examples include formulae (e.g. 'hello'), interjections (e.g. 'huh?'), and abbreviated forms (e.g. 'no such luck!').
  • Function and Impact: Sentence fragments convey meaning concisely and informally, important for analyzing conversational and stylistic variations. 
  • Example: 'Just a moment.'

Sentence Structure

  • Definition: Refers to the syntactic structure of sentences: simple, compound, complex, compound-complex.
  • Function and Impact: Sentence structure affects clarity, complexity, and style, crucial for syntactic and rhetorical analysis. 
  • Example: 'She ate dinner' (simple), 'She ate dinner and watched TV' (compound).

Sentence Type

  • Definition: The four types are interrogative, exclamative, imperative, and declarative.
  • Function and Impact: Sentence types indicate the purpose and tone of statements, essential for analyzing communicative intent. 
  • Example: 'Are you coming?' (interrogative), 'Wow!' (exclamative).


  • Definition: A morphological term referring to the shortened version of a longer word, e.g. 'gym' for 'gymnasium'.
  • Function and Impact: Shortening creates more casual and efficient language use, relevant for morphological and lexical analysis. 
  • Example: 'Exam' instead of 'examination'.


  • Definition: A figure of speech that makes a comparison between things (often using 'like' or 'as'), e.g. 'He is as strong as an ox'.
  • Function and Impact: Similes create vivid comparisons and imagery, enriching descriptive and figurative language analysis. 
  • Example: 'Her smile was like sunshine.'

Simple Sentence

  • Definition: A sentence containing just one clause and one finite verb, e.g. 'She ate her food noisily'.
  • Function and Impact: Simple sentences convey ideas clearly and directly, important for analyzing sentence variety and complexity. 
  • Example: 'The dog barked.'

Situational Context

  • Definition: How the function, field, mode, setting, and relationships between participants contribute to language choices.
  • Function and Impact: Situational context shapes language use and meaning, essential for pragmatic and sociolinguistic analysis. 
  • Example: Using formal language in a courtroom.


  • Definition: Colloquial or informal language, often peculiar to distinctive social or age groups.
  • Function and Impact: Slang reflects social identity and group membership, important for sociolinguistic and lexical studies. 
  • Example: 'Cool' meaning good or excellent.

Social Purpose

  • Definition: The functions of language concerning relationships and power structures, e.g. encouraging solidarity or reinforcing social distance.
  • Function and Impact: Social purpose shapes how language is used to achieve social goals, crucial for understanding communicative strategies and societal norms. 
  • Example: Using formal titles to show respect.


  • Definition: A variety of language used by a particular social group (age group, socio-economic status, occupation, etc.).
  • Function and Impact: Sociolects reflect social identity and stratification, offering insights into linguistic diversity and social dynamics. 
  • Example: The language used by medical professionals.

Standard English (SE)

  • Definition: The dominant, prestige variety of English used for official or public purposes. It has a uniform grammar and lexicon but may be spoken in a variety of accents/pronunciations.
  • Function and Impact: Standard English serves as a model for formal communication and education, reflecting societal norms and prestige. 
  • Example: Using SE in academic writing.


  • Definition: When a person or thing is judged to be the same as all others of its type, often oversimplified.
  • Function and Impact: Stereotypes can reinforce biases and limit understanding, making it important to recognize and challenge them in texts.
  • Example: The stereotype of the 'dumb blonde.'


  • Definition: The person/thing 'doing' the verb in a sentence, e.g. 'Students usually hate exams'.
  • Function and Impact: Understanding the subject helps analyze sentence structure and the relationships between elements in a sentence. 
  • Example: 'The cat slept' (subject: 'The cat').


  • Definition: When one clause is subordinate to/dependent on another in a sentence. Subordination is usually signalled by a linking word ('subordinate conjunction'), e.g. although, when, if, because.
  • Function and Impact: Subordination creates complex sentences and shows relationships between ideas, important for syntactic and rhetorical analysis. 
  • Example: 'Although it was raining, we went out.'


  • Definition: A cohesive device whereby a word is substituted for another.
  • Function and Impact: Substitution maintains cohesion and avoids repetition, aiding in textual analysis. 
  • Example: 'I need a pen. Do you have one?'


  • Definition: The areas of phonology/phonetics, lexis, morphology, semantics, syntax, and discourse, all of which interconnect to give us language.
  • Function and Impact: Analyzing subsystems provides a comprehensive understanding of language structure and use, essential for linguistic studies. 
  • Example: Studying how phonetics and morphology interact in word formation.


  • Definition: An affix that follows the root, e.g. -ness (kindness).
  • Function and Impact: Suffixes modify meanings and create new words, expanding the lexicon and aiding in morphological analysis. 
  • Example: 'Happiness' (suffix '-ness' + root 'happy').


  • Definition: The process of dividing words into syllables.
  • Function and Impact: Syllabification aids in pronunciation, spelling, and understanding the structure of words.
  • Example: Breaking 'syllabification' into syllables: syl-la-bi-fi-ca-tion.


  • Definition: The use of words which are the same or similar in meaning such as 'peaceful' and 'tranquil'.
  • Function and Impact: Synonymy enriches vocabulary and allows for variation in expression, important for lexical and semantic analysis. 
  • Example: 'Happy' and 'joyful'.


  • Definition: The rules governing how words are combined to make sentences in language.
  • Function and Impact: Syntax determines sentence structure and clarity, crucial for syntactic analysis and understanding grammatical relationships. 
  • Example: 'She reads books' follows the subject-verb-object syntax.
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  • Definition: Language and topics that are considered by society to be unacceptable in polite situations, e.g. sexual terms, or bodily functions.
  • Function and Impact: Taboo language reflects societal norms and boundaries, important for sociolinguistic and cultural analysis. 
  • Example: Avoiding curse words in formal settings.


  • Definition: A variety of language spoken by teenagers. It consists of many jargon and slang terms, such as 'hardcore' and 'full on'.
  • Function and Impact: Teenspeak reflects youth identity and social trends, offering insights into language innovation and social dynamics. 
  • Example: 'Lit' meaning exciting or excellent.


  • Definition: A verb form that locates the event described by the verb in time.
  • Function and Impact: Tense provides temporal context to actions and events, crucial for understanding the timing and sequence of actions.
  • Example: 'She is reading' (present tense) vs. 'She read' (past tense).


  • Definition: The main idea or message of a text.
  • Function and Impact: Themes provide the central concepts around which a text is developed, offering insights into its deeper meanings and messages.
  • Example: The theme of friendship in a novel.

Topic Management

  • Definition: Conversational strategies for controlling the topic.
  • Function and Impact: Effective topic management ensures coherent and focused interactions, important for discourse and pragmatic analysis. 
  • Example: Steering a conversation back to the main point.

Turn-taking Strategies

  • Definition: Strategies for holding or passing the floor to another speaker during a conversation/dialogue.
  • Function and Impact: Turn-taking strategies ensure smooth and respectful interactions, crucial for conversational and interactional analysis. 
  • Example: Pausing to signal the end of a turn.


  • Definition: Language differences between individuals or groups. Variation can be social or geographical.
  • Function and Impact: Variation reflects linguistic diversity and adaptability, important for sociolinguistic and dialectal studies. 
  • Example: Different dialects within the same language.


  • Definition: In English Language, the many different versions of English spoken in Australia: Standard Australian English, ethnolects, Aboriginal Englishes, and other non-Standard varieties (such as teenspeak).
  • Function and Impact: Varieties highlight linguistic diversity and cultural influences, offering insights into language evolution and social identity. 
  • Example: Aboriginal English.

Vocal Effects

  • Definition: Noises during speech such as coughing, laughter, or inhaling/exhaling.
  • Function and Impact: Vocal effects convey emotions and reactions, adding depth to spoken communication, important for pragmatic and paralinguistic analysis. 
  • Example: Laughing to indicate amusement.

Vowel Reduction

  • Definition: The omission of unstressed vowels in everyday speech, e.g. pronouncing 'literary' as 'litery'.
  • Function and Impact: Vowel reduction reflects natural speech patterns and efficiency, relevant for phonological analysis. 
  • Example: 'Camera' pronounced as 'camra'.

Word Classes

  • Definition: The terminology for classifying words: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, auxiliary verbs, modal verbs, prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions, determiners, interjections. (N.B. Some textbooks refer to them as 'parts of speech').
  • Function and Impact: Understanding word classes aids in syntactic analysis and sentence construction, essential for grammar studies. 
  • Example: Identifying 'run' as a verb and 'quickly' as an adverb.

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What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

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  2. Ssss
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How to customize formatting for each rich text

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.