Introduction to language


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Introduction to language

  1. 1. Introduction to <br />English Language Studies<br />Bridges to Higher Education<br />Resource No 1<br />
  2. 2. This resource covers the following topics:<br />What is Stylistics? (slides 4 -6)<br />Context, Audience and Purpose (slides 7-13)<br />Tone (slides 14- 21)<br />Register and levels of formality (slides 22-30) <br />Approaching a language analysis (slides 31-32)<br />Topic summary (slides 33-34)<br />
  3. 3. What is Stylistics?<br />Here at Blackpool and the Fylde college we use a popular method of language analysis calledStylistics.<br />But what on earth is it?<br />
  4. 4. What is Stylistics<br />Well yes, but that’s not quite the same as the Stylistics we’re going to be looking at<br />Everything you see on this page is a result of choices made by the person who put it together – the colours, the typeface, the use of images to support the words, the way the sentences are written, the tone of the writing - Stylistics is a method of investigating these choices<br />A great pop band from the 1970s?<br />At its most basic level, Stylistics is the study of style, meaning and language choices in texts, and how these choices are understood by readers<br />
  5. 5. How meaning is made is the primary concern of Stylistics.<br />However, unlike some methods of language analysis, Stylistics doesn’t just look at how language is put together, but also what, where, when, why and who put it together. All these factors have a significant bearing on the writer’s choices and style of the language. <br />Meaning<br />
  6. 6. Under the umbrella of stylistics, we find many different language concepts and theories. These theories are used together to carry out a close analysis of a book, a play, a newspaper article, an advertisement....The choice or combination of theories applied will depend on what is being analysed. <br />Stylistics<br />
  7. 7. Context, Audience and Purpose<br />Firstly, the term text is a general term used to refer to any written, visual or spoken material. Therefore, a text may be a piece of writing taken from a book, a TV Programme or even a conversation between two people. However, it is fair to say that in English studies the word is most commonly used in reference to written materials. <br />TEXT<br />TEXT<br />TEXT<br />TEXT<br />TEXT<br />
  8. 8. Whenwe analyse texts, we usually start by considering the context, audience and purpose of the thing we are looking at . <br />Broadly speaking, context refers to the situation or circumstances where a text is found or produced. This could mean the historical context, or era in which it was written.<br />
  9. 9. For example, Charles Dickens wrote his books in a ‘Victorian context’, when there was a great divide between rich and poor, as well as lots of wars whilst Britain colonised many other countries.<br />
  10. 10. Alternatively, the context could be the immediate circumstances where a text is found and/or produced; for example, a poem found in a children’s poetry book, a conversation in a canteen, a documentary about the environment on Channel 4, or in the case of this particular text, a set of educational materials produced for a college website.<br />Think of it this way – have you ever said something that was taken out of context?<br />
  11. 11. We usually associate the term audience with a visual text, such as a film or a play, but in language analysis audience also refers to readers of written texts.<br />The ‘target audience’ of a text is simply the people the text is aimed at – who has it been produced for? This could be expressed in broad terms such as, ‘children’, or more specifically; ‘girls aged between the ages 8-12’. <br />As you can imagine, the content and style of a text is heavily influenced by its target audience.<br />
  12. 12. The purpose of a text is simply what it is meant for:<br />Task 1: Purpose<br /> Can you identify the purpose(s) of the following texts?<br /> -A poem found in a children’s poetry book<br /> -A documentary about the environment <br /> -Electronic English Language resources<br />Compare your findings on the following slide.<br />
  13. 13. Task 1 findings : Purpose<br />A poem found in a children’s poetry book<br />Toentertain and educate<br />A documentary about the environment <br />Toinform, educate and persuade<br /> Electronic English Language resources<br />Toeducate and support learning<br />
  14. 14. Tone<br />Just like we change our tone of voice to add meaning to what we are saying, writers adopt a tone to suit the context, audience and purpose of a text. It is unlikely the author of book for young children would adopt a morose or serious tone, nor would an article in a medical journal be likely to adopt a comedic tone. <br />Writers create the mood or tone of a text by the language choices they make – choice of words, use of grammar and punctuation (!), even the font a text is written in can contribute towards the tone.<br />
  15. 15. The tone of a text could range anywhere from humorous, to melancholy, to nostalgic, to scathing... The tone of a text could even be described as a blend – <br />‘angry and sarcastic’<br />Task 2: Tone<br />See if you can identify the tone of the excerpts on the following slides. Consider how you came to your conclusions, also decide whether you think the text is formal or informal.<br />
  16. 16. Excerpt 1<br />Our national approach to the detention of asylum seekers is a disgrace. Campsfield's mixing of foreign criminals awaiting deportation with failed asylum seekers who have committed no crime is indicative of the Government's callous attitude to refugees. Increasingly, those who flee to Britain are seen as having committed some sort of crime. <br />The Independent 7/8/2007<br />Compare your findings on the next slide<br />
  17. 17. Findings: Excerpt 1<br />The inclusion of harsh, emotive adjectives such as ‘disgrace’ and ‘callous’, would suggest Excerpt 1 has an angry tone. The excerpt is fairly formal with its use of polysyllabic (many syllables) words, such as ‘indicative’, and complex sentence structures – both common features of formal texts, such as those often found in broadsheet newspapers like the independent.<br />
  18. 18. Excerpt 2<br />The fact that you are reading this tells me all I really need to know about you. You're a cyclist. I'm a cyclist. We therefore both know what's really important in life (riding). We see the world as it truly is (a place to ride our bikes). If we were each to answer the question, "What would you do with a million dollars?" our answers would vary perhaps in what equipment we'd buy and where we'd go to ride, but in little else.<br /><br />Compare your findings on the next slide<br />
  19. 19. Findings: Excerpt 2<br />This excerpt contains rather a lot of hyperbole (exaggeration) and as such adopts a humorous tone.As you might expect with a humorous text, it is informal . This is supported by the fact that the writer uses lots of contractions (you’re, we’d) and short simple sentences, - both common features of informal texts. <br />
  20. 20. Excerpt 3<br />Well she’s always fancied herself as a sect’s symbol.<br /> And party girl Paris Hilton looks as if she’s been overdoing the spirits – as she bizarrely hits the town with a bearded mystic…<br /> Paris is on a desperate drive to be taken seriously after her jail term last year for a road offence. <br /> But pretending to dabble with spiritualism? No chants…<br />Mirror, 8/3/2008<br />Compare your findings on the next slide<br />
  21. 21. Findings: Excerpt 3<br />This excerpt adopts a seemingly humorous tone with its play on words, ‘sect’s symbol’ and ‘no chants’, but the tone is better described as sarcastic. There are lot’s of negative words and phrases, particularly in the choice of adjectives ‘desperate’ and ‘bizarrely’, and the content of the excerpt gets rather personal in relation to its subject. As such the text is informal with language choices we might expect from articles concerned with celebrity gossip. <br />
  22. 22. Register<br />Register is closely related to tone in that it is concerned with the level of formality a text adopts, and the appropriateness of the language used. Registers can be spoken or written; therefore, it also depends on the context – where a text is found.<br />
  23. 23. These resources, for example, are written in a fairly light-hearted manner, that is to say, the language is not overly formal. However, if the tone was sarcastic or angry, or the language was overly casual, using lots of slang etc., we would say the register was inappropriate for educational resources. Likewise, if The Times suddenlystarted running front page articles about Jordan and Peter, the register would be inappropriate because that is not what we expect from a broadsheet newspaper.<br />Think of it this way – have you ever hear the expression <br />‘Does it register?’ – does it make sense - appear normal?<br />
  24. 24. So, a text might take on a formal or an informal register.<br />Something like a legal document would have a very formal register – this is no accident. It is to encourage us to respect the law!<br />A note scribbled to a friend would have an informal register<br />Hey You!<br />Watcha up to?<br />
  25. 25. Task 3: Register<br /> Taking into consideration the register of the following, rate the level of formality you think each text should adopt:<br />Very Formal; Formal; Informal; Very Informal<br />A letter from the bank about a late mortgage payment <br />An e-mail to your boss <br />A Facebook message <br />An academic essay <br />Compare your findings on the following slides<br />
  26. 26. Task 3 Findings: Register<br />A letter from the bank about a late payment<br />Very Formal; Formal; Informal; Very Informal<br /> Usually, a bit like a legal documents, anything related to owed money adopts a very formal register. It is a means of getting you to take it seriously. On the other hand, a letter from the bank enticing you to take out a credit card may be fairly informal so it doesn’t seem like such a big deal – tricky!<br />
  27. 27. An e-mail to your boss<br />Very Formal; Formal; Informal; Very Informal<br /> Well, the formality really depends on the context – where you work, how well you know your boss, what the e-mail is about, but one of the problems with e-mail is that it is hard to gauge exactly how formal to be – have you ever had a text message or e-mail misinterpreted? Usually though, correspondence with a superior at work adopts a formal register.<br />
  28. 28. A Facebook message<br />Very Formal; Formal; Informal; Very Informal<br /> The whole point of a social networking site is exactly that – to socialise! Being overly formal can seem unfriendly. You may be a little more formal with some friends than others of course, but in general this kind of text would adopt an informal/very informal register.<br />
  29. 29. An academic essay<br />Very Formal; Formal; Informal; Very Informal<br /> Academic essays are not as formal as they used to be but the appropriate level of formality can depend on the requirements of the tutor/institution. However, generally they are still quite formal. For example, often they are written in the third person rather than the first person, and they do not usually use language choices associated with informal language, such as contractions (is not - isn’t). <br />
  30. 30. Detecting Levels of Formality<br />The level of formality in a text depends on choices made by the writer. Different features of language are associated with different levels of formality. For example, formal texts often use complex and compound sentence structures and are written with a serious and impersonal tone - ‘It has been brought to the bank’s attention...’<br />Informal texts, on the other hand, have more of a conversational feel to them – they may use colloquial language, contractions and adopt a humorous or light-hearted tone. <br />
  31. 31. Approaching Analysis<br />When approaching an analysis of a text , start by asking yourself the following questions:<br />Where is the text from and what kind of text is it?<br /> Who wrote it, or on whose behalf was it written?<br /> What tone and register does the text adopt?<br /> Who is the target audience of the text?<br /> What is the main purpose of the text?<br />Also, before closely analysing the text briefly describe your first impressions– what effect does it have on you? <br />
  32. 32. During a textual analysis, it is really important to remember the golden rule: <br />Identify the language feature:<br /> ‘...a series of complex sentence structures...’ <br />Describe the language feature:<br /> ‘... with two or more subordinate clauses...’<br />Explain the effect the language feature has on the text:<br /> ‘...this alongside the use of an extended vocabulary, contributes to the somewhat impersonal and formal tone of the text.’ <br />Identify, Describe an Explain<br />
  33. 33. Topic Summary<br />So, within ‘Introduction to Language’, we have discovered Stylistics is the study of the choices made by writers in terms of language style and meaning. We have learnt that in a stylistic analysis we use a combination of language concepts and theories to explore texts.We have also examined context, audience and purpose and how this effects the style and content of texts. We have looked at tone and now know that the register of a text is related to the appropriateness of the language and the level of formality.<br />
  34. 34. Topic summary continued...<br />In addition to this, we have looked at some of the questions we ask ourselves when first approaching a text and considered the golden rule of text analysis: <br />Identify, Describe and Explain. <br />Before moving through the rest of the resources in this series, it is strongly recommended that you start with the presentation relating to, The Sea, a poem by the contemporary Northern poet, John Siddique. This text is referred to throughout the series and will be used to demonstrate the relevant methods of analysis .<br />