Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment
CCEA Curriculum Monitoring Programme 2018-19

Key Terms and Devices

A-E

Accent

The pronunciation and speech sounds (pitch, rhythm, stresses) associated with a particular part of the country.

Address

How a speaker or writer talks to another individual: listeners are addressed to make them feel involved: ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears’ (see www.youtube.com). This includes the way people speak to each other, formally and informally. It can reflect status, age, gender and social class.

Alliteration

Using the same sound at the beginning of several words to emphasise your point. This can be in a phrase or to highlight key ideas during a piece of talk. For example, the wizard in The Wizard of Oz: ‘Step forward, Tin Man. You dare to come to me for a heart, do you? You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk. And you, Scarecrow, have the effrontery to ask for a brain! You billowing bale of bovine fodder!’

Ambiguity

Using words that could have more than one meaning, for example Abbott and Costello, Who’s on first. Words with different meanings allow the speaker to pun. Puns deliberately play on ambiguity to introduce humour.

Coercion

Persuading using threatening or forceful language. For example, Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech ‘to enact legislation of the kind before Parliament at this moment is to risk throwing a match onto gunpowder’.

Dialect

The speech patterns, vocabulary and grammatical features associated with a particular part of the country.

Digression

Moving away from the subject.

Discourse

A speech about a particular, usually serious subject.

Emotive vocabulary

These are words that are designed to provoke an emotional response. The aim is to appeal to the emotions of the listener and encourage them to agree with what is said, or to act in a particular way. This can include using a negative outcome, or bribes or threats to influence the listener and persuade them to accept your point of view, for example Schindler’s List ‘I know you have received orders from our commandant, which he has received from his superiors, to dispose of the population of this camp. Now would be the time to do it … Or, you could leave, and return to your families as men instead of murderers.’

There Will Be Blood – Daniel persuading Little Boston to allow him to drill for oil: ‘If we do find oil here … this community of yours will not only survive, it will flourish’.

Lean on Me Principal motivating students: ‘They say you’re inferior!’

Euphemism

The use of a pleasing or inoffensive term to represent something that is considered unpleasant, distasteful, or distressing.

F-P

Feedback

Responding so that the speaker knows you are listening and encouraging them to continue. Such sounds include ‘mmm’, words such as ‘yes?’ ‘really’, and ‘interesting’.

Fillers

Phrases or items used in speech to allow the speaker time to think, such as ‘um,’ ‘you know, ’ ‘right,’ to slow down the delivery of a word, for example ‘o-k-ay.’

Hedges

Words and phrases which soften what is being said to make a statement less direct, such as ‘sometimes,’ ‘probably,’ ‘if that is okay with you,’ ‘perhaps,’ ‘I can see why you might think that.’

Idiolect

The language you use as an individual: personal talk.

Imagery

Using metaphors and similes to make a speech or talk vivid and memorable. Barack Obama, Inauguration Address: ‘The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.’ Jesse Jackson: ‘America is not a blanket woven from one thread, one colour, one cloth.’

Interruptions

One speaker starting to talk before another speaker has finished their statement (see The Apprentice, series 2010 at www.bbc.co.uk and 2009 series at www.bbc.co.uk)

Intonation

The rise and fall of the tone of voice; how flat or animated the talk is.

Irony

When the opposite meaning to what is said is intended to be understood by the listener, for example ‘beautiful day’ when talking about a day of heavy rain.

Legitimation

Self-justification, positive self-representation.

Overlaps

One speaker talking at the same time as another speaker. This can be in support of the original speaker.

Parallelism

Similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses. For example ‘We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets’.

Pauses/hesitations

Short gaps that show a break in someone’s talk. These can be moments of silence in talk, or can be through the use of a filler ‘hmmm’.

Presupposition

Is when something is tacitly assumed beforehand. For example, in the sentence ‘Did you continue to threaten my client?’ there is a presupposition that you once threatened the client.

Pronouns

Compare the impact of addressing your listeners using ‘Friends, we are here…’ instead of ‘You are here to…’ How effective would Churchill’s ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ speech have been if he had said ‘You shall go on to the end, you shall fight in France, you shall fight on the seas and oceans…’? Look at Elmo’s use of language in Sesame Street.

Pronunciation

The way words are pronounced, often to make an impact on or to create a mood. Sports commentators are often good examples. Other examples include Braveheart (Mel Gibson) and Nixon (Antony Hopkins).

Q-Z

Register

The style of language, grammar and words used for particular situations, for example, people chatting at a party will talk in an informal register.

Repetition

A key word or phrase is repeated during the piece of talk. This can also involve using a synonym to repeat the concept without repeating the same word. This can be for emphasis or to give the speaker time to think before their next point, for example Barack Obama ‘Yes, we can. Yes, we can change. Yes, we can…’

The Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion: ‘Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage!’

Wall Street, Gordon Gekko: ‘Greed is good. Greed is right…’

Ali, Muhammad Ali: ‘I ain't draft-dodgin. I ain't burnin' no flag … You my opposer…’

Rhetorical questions

These are questions that don’t expect an answer or that have the answer built into them. For example, while giving an anti-war speech in the House of Commons, Tony Benn asked the rhetorical question: ‘Are we such fools that we think that if we bomb other people they will crumble, whereas when they bomb us it will stiffen our resolve?’

Ronald Reagan: ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’

RP (Received Pronunciation)

The English accent associated with the highest social class, with powerful individuals and prestigious institutions.

Slang

Informal language, non-standard words and phrases. (See Catherine Tate meets Tony Blair)

Sociolect

The language used by a particular social group, for example age group, common interests.

Turn-taking

In conversation, responding to cues that a speaker is finished before saying something.