English - Categorizing Texts

Flashcards by 08aliwin, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by 08aliwin almost 8 years ago


Flashcards on English - Categorizing Texts, created by 08aliwin on 05/01/2013.

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One of the basic distinctions we can make about texts is whether they belong to the spoken or written mode. However, such a broad differentiation can cause problems if data is not handled carefully and generalised comments about the differences between speech and writing are considered in a simplified manner. It is important to remember that prototypes are not fixed entities; rather they are subject to renewal and change through experience and interaction with others and are governed by social conventions as to what might be good, less good and bad examples of a particular group. Multimodality Many texts contain both features of speech and writing. In addition, multimodal texts can be considered those that contain multiple features: not just words and images but also sounds, symbols as a way of communicating.
Context & Audience Contextual factors may include all those external events and details and information about text producers and receivers that might influence the ways in which a text has been written, spoken, read or listened to. An important point that you should keep in mind is that context in the study of language relates as much to the context of reception as it does to the context of production. This means carefully considering the situations in which texts are received as well as those in which they are produced. Central to this concept is the idea that an actual reader’s beliefs, knowledge and commutative competence all lend themselves in some degree to establishing the meaning of a text in conjunction with those of the text producer and the wider social and historical contexts in which a text is produced and received. When a text is produced, it may have a target audience. Purpose A text’s purpose may not always be as obvious as it seems at first. A text may have a number of different purposes, depending on the context of its reception. Although it is important to consider what the original purpose may have been, in the real world and with real readers, a text’s purpose may vary drastically. A good way of thinking about this is to consider purpose as what a text gets used for in a given and defined context, or in other terms what the function is.
Individuals & Groups The importance of an individual’s language ‘make-up’ cannot be underestimated. The term idiolect is used to describe an individual’s distinct language features. Individuals may also form groups with a distinct language style: a socialist. This is the consequence of group membership of a discourse community, which uses language in distinctive ways. Discourse communities may be big (e.g. every secondary school head teacher in England) or small (e.g. a group of three friends). Each discourse community will have shared ways of using language, responding to texts and, of course, the use of a particular sociolect. Formality & Register The level of formal and informal features, or register, is closely related to a text’s context and purpose. For example, a text messaging conversation between two friends would show a lack of formality, as they know each other well; therefore the level of formality is dependent on the relationship between the producer and receiver. We can therefore distinguish and define the features of a register as being dependant on: The general purpose of communication – the field The relationship between the producer and the receiver – the tenor The medium of communication, for example written or spoken, the mode
Dialect Regardless of where you live, it is likely that you have some degree of dialect in both your written and spoken language. Although strictly speaking, this term refers to any set of variations in vocabulary and grammar, it is often used to describe regional variation. Dialectal differences, which are the differences in word choice and order, should not be confused with the term accent, which refers to the characteristic pronunciation of sounds by inhabitants of a region. Specialist Registers Register can also be considered as a variety of language choices, based on occupation. In this way, groups in individuals may use a specialist set of terms according to a defined and shared set of expectations and a shared knowledge base. Occupational variation can be difficult to understand for those with little or no specialist knowledge – think of the language of doctors, computer experts and car mechanics.
What is Discourse Structure? Throughout this unit we have used the word ‘text’ to refer to a stretch of written or spoken data. This word derives from the Latin verb ‘texere’, which means ‘to weave’, and was first used to describe something as ‘being woven’. We still tend to metaphorically think of writing as a kind of fabric, having a pattern and being crafted by a text producer, for example when we speak of a well- crafted novel, or some well- written material. Discourse Analysis Another key element of the discourse method looks at how texts present information in order to create identities for particular individuals or institutions, and the ideologies that are often inherent in these.
Spoken Discourse When a speaker talks for an extended period, we can say that he or she is narrating. Most of us would expect a written narrative to have a clear discourse structure. In the same way, we can apply a method to spoken narratives, which may involve quite detailed storytelling. More on Evaluations It is possible to divide evaluations into two types: external evaluations, which are often added by the narrator at the time of recounting and are not usually part of the sequence of events, for example: • ‘This is an incredible story’ • ‘Now I’m getting to the good part’ • ‘It makes me laugh when I think it now’ And internal evaluations, which have occurred at the same time as those detailed in the complicating action. Internal evaluations can be divided into a number of different types, including: • Intensifying evaluation – contributing vividness via gestures, repetitions or dramatic sounds: ‘Fred ran into a wall – ouch!’ • Explicative evaluation – providing reasons for narrative events: ‘Fred annoyed his mum, because he was always noisy’
The Analysis of Conversation Conversational analysis provides a method for looking at multi-speaker discourse. This is largely based on the concept of the conversational turn and the basic consequence of that turn, the adjacency pair, which forms an exchange structure. The exchange structure below is a simple example of an adjacency pair integrating an example of turn-taking. This question- answer structure is one of the most common examples of an adjacency pair. Taking Turns & Keeping Control Knowing when to take a turn is crucial and natural in conversation. There are often points when a speaker will know that he or she is expected to speak, for example when being asked a question.. Other transition relevance points can occur as a consequence of natural pauses or a complete break on the part of a speaker to allow another to speak. the decision as to what gets talked about is termed topic management and is often a result of powerful participants applying constraints on what gets said and who says it, including the use of interruptions.
What is Syntax? Strictly speaking, we can divide the methods of grammar into two sub-methods: morphology and syntax. Whereas morphology is concerned with how words or lexical items are formed from smaller units called morphemes, syntax looks at how lexical items are sequenced into larger units of language. The linguistic rank scale is a neat way of showing the relationship between these units. As we move along the scale from left to right, we can generally say that each unit is structured from those that precede it. So for example lexical items are formed from morphemes, phrases from lexical items and so on. syntax is the level of descriptive analysis that deals with phrases, clauses and sentences. Prescription or Description? Grammar is a complex and at times controversial area of language study. A prescriptive attitude to language often sees varieties of English other than Standard English as grammatically incorrect or bad, and is highly critical of uses of language that deviate from so-called established, grammatical rules. A descriptive approach to language study and grammar, on the other hand, has no such attitude. The aim of a descriptive study is to comment on actual usage and describe not whether rules are being adhered to, but how language operates in real examples and contexts.
Sentences In the same way that phrases make up the larger structure of a clause, clauses are the components of the larger grammatical structure of the sentence. A sentence contains one or more clauses and may be one of the following types: • Simple – contains one clause He kicked the ball • Compound – contains two or more clauses joined by coordinating conjunctions He kicked the ball and scored a goal Two clauses – note here that the subject of the second remains the same as the first. These clauses can both stand independently. • Complex – contains two or more clauses, where one is the main clause and the others(s) a subordinate clause(s). Linking is through subordinating conjunctions. A main clause can stand independently as a unit of meaning and will be a simple sentence in its own right. Although he was tired, he kicked the ball Two clauses – the first is dependent on the second to complete a full sense of meaning; the second is a simple sentence in its own right. • Compound- Complex – contains both coordination and subordination He kicked the ball and celebrated his goal even though he was tired. Three clauses with both coordination and subordination present. Sentence Mood & Function The three main sentence moods are: declarative, interrogative and imperative. Each type has a distinguishable grammatical form: sentences telling a fact have a basic subject + verb clause structure, whilst those asking questions tend to include a primary auxiliary verb before the subject and another verb following it; those inviting or demanding usually begin with a verb followed by a complement or an adverbial element. Sentence mood Feature Structure Example Declarative Telling S+V Before Easter, she had driven over to a development in Fife Interrogative Asking V+S Is it done yet Imperative Inviting, demanding V+C Look at the evidence
Reviewing Word Classes Noun Phrases Noun phrases are centred round a noun, which serves as the head word or head noun of the phrase: 1. Kerrang 2. The Times 3. A small island 4. The noisy party 5. The pretty cottage by the sea No. 2 contains a determiner ‘the’ whereas 3 + 4 contain not only a determiner but also an adjective, which comes before the head word. These are what represent pre-modification, where an adjective is used as a modifier before the head noun. 5 also contains a pre-modifying adjective ‘pretty’ and a head noun ‘cottage’, but also has a further constituent, in this case the qualifier ‘by the sea’ this use of a qualifier after the head noun is known as a post-modifier. Verb Phrases Verb phrases are larger structures built around a main verb. 1. Prime Minister takes big lead 2. Internet scam nets millions 3. Cement tipped into lake by vandals 4. GCSE coursework to become history 5. Banks have not signed required customer code Examples 1+2 contain a single verb in the present tense. This acts as a main verb. Example 3 contains a further constituent ‘into’ following the main verb in the past tense. This additional constituent is known as an extension. Example 4 features the infinite form ‘to become’, whilst example 5 contains both a main verb ‘signed’ together with an auxiliary verb ‘has’ and a negating particle ‘not’.
Types of Auxiliary Verbs Auxiliary verbs ‘help out’ main verbs in a verb phrase, to signal a shift in tense or to express modality. The primary auxiliaries ‘be’ ‘do’ and ‘have’ often help distinguish tense, for example ‘he was running’ ‘he has run’ whilst modal auxiliaries cover a number of verbs that show possibility or necessity such as ‘may’ ‘could’ ‘will’ ‘should’ and ‘can’. Semi-Auxiliaries & Catenatives These combine with other verbs to create verb phrase chains. Semi-Auxiliaries are: ‘supposed to’ Equally, catenative verbs such as ‘appear’ ‘seem’ and ‘get’ form similar chains but without the use of a primary auxiliary as in: ‘she speared to run away’, he got to play for the first time’, ‘you seemed to like it here’. Adjectival & Adverbial Phrases These perform similar roles to those of the word classes adjective and adverb. Adjectival phrases generally appear after the verb ‘to be’ , whilst adverbial phrases modify verb phrases or other adverbial phrases.
Shape The shape of a text often gives an indication of its genre and text producers may rely on a reader’s knowledge of genre convention to help them identify the purpose and meaning of a text Photographs & Artwork Photographs and artwork can also provide strong associative meanings and work to produce meanings for a reader. Typography Typographical features (such as font sizes and styles) are key graphological features and their use is clearly informed by a text’s purpose and implied readership. Space So far, in considering the graphological features of texts, we have looked at: • Layout & shape • Iconic & symbolic signs • Connotations drawn from images and logos • Typographical features such as fonts It is important to consider space as well as the verbal and non-verbal features listed above. The layout of a text is all important in maximizing its impact on a reader, as the amount of detail that a text contains. Cluttered and unhelpfully laid-out texts or those that contain insufficient detail are poor examples of writing. Empty Spaces We can also consider the use of empty spaces, which as Goddard (1998) suggests: ‘…are as meaningful as filled ones. Where we expect language to occur, its non-occurrence is in itself an attention-seeking device’
Graphology Graphology is concerned with the visual elements of a text, both verbal and non-verbal, for example shape, image, colour, space and typography. Some texts, for example media texts, may rely heavily on graphological features to help generate their intended effect. Others may rely on more subtle features as a way of contributing to meaning. Graphology is sometimes neglected by students as being an insignificant method. Whilst it is true that examiners are more likely to reward candidates that have a clear grasp of more complex methods such as grammar and pragmatics, many successful answers to examination texts show a precise and perceptive ability to consider and analyse the graphological features of a text in conjunction with other language-based analysis. That is to say, that you should always consider how a text’s use of graphology sits with other language-based features such as those of a lexical or grammatical nature. Images We can refer to language as a system in which individual elements or signs take their meaning from how they are combined with other elements. Broadly speaking, we can differentiate between two types of sign: those that are iconic and those that are symbolic. Iconic Signs: An iconic sign is a direct picture of the thing it represents, although this is often symbolised to provide a basic reference for the reader. Iconic signs tend to be simple ones offering a straightforward representation of what they stand for. Symbolic Signs: These draw on association or connotation and are usually defined by cultural models. Symbolic signs therefore provide meaning because society has placed certain values or qualities on them. For example, the rose has no likeness or casual association with the signified meaning of love or passion. The symbolic relationship that exists in our culture is based on a culturally agreed and socially accepted method of meaningful exchange. That is, the symbolic meaning is one of convention.
What are the Language Methods? The language methods provide us with a way of addressing some of the questions we have faced when trying to discuss formal textual features. What are the Language Methods? The language methods provide us with a way of addressing some of the questions we have faced when trying to discuss formal textual features. Why Use Them? So far, we have concentrated on how we might classify texts and some of the potential problems inherent in that process. At the moment, however, our comments have been in general terms around issues of formality, register, dialect, audience and purpose. In order for these observations and analyses to be more detailed, another layer of description is needed: language methods. Using the Language Methods for Descriptive Linguistic Analysis The language methods provide a useful tool to help you analyse texts and explore your ideas. Although you may be able to identify some general language features and comment on aspects of meaning, using the methods will provide a way of moving beyond intuitive comments into close and precise linguistic analysis. It is important to remember that you should always think of terminology as a means of enabling your comments to be rigorous and systematic.
Lexical Cohesion Lexical choices can often help to create cohesion within a text. These may be in the form of lexical items that provide structure within the body of a text or those that provide cohesion across smaller stretches such as phrases and sentences. Synonymy Synonyms are lexical items that have generally equivalent meanings, for example: 1. Cry, weep, howl, whimper 2. Man, bloke, guy, dude, hunk, chap, gentleman geezer 3. Lavatory, toilet, water closet, john, bog There are, however, differences within synonymous groups of words that mean we can never really say that two lexical items are the same. In the first example, you might say that ‘howl’ is a much stronger form of ‘cry’, whilst ‘whimper’ is less intense. In the second group, , the differences between the synonyms are both formality and dialect and sociolect. The third group contains euphemisms, a socially acceptable word or phrase used to avoid something potentially distasteful. This is the opposite of a dysphemism, a harsh, to the point and perhaps taboo term, sometimes used for a humorous effect.
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