Language Techniques

Features of Lang #

Purpose: #

Approach: Subjective — emotive or Objective — informative

Attitude or Tone: Warm, ambient/ cold, Condescending/ suppliant, sad/ happy…

Audience: Broad, general,/ superior/ subordinate/ peer/ niche interest group.

Style: #

Word Choice — diction word play - puns.

• Connotative or denotative - clear or ambiguous

• Emotive, coloured, biased or demotive — technical terms, dispassionate

• Clichés, proverbs, idiomatic, expressive or flat.

• Jargon: commercialese, journalese, legalese, intellectualese, technolese (babble)

• Euphemisms, pejoratives, oxymorons,

• Gender biases: Use of masculine, feminine or neutral pronouns.

ex: Man needs to watch his language.

Non-sexist would be:

People should watch their language.

archaic belonging to an earlier period; archaism = an archaic word or expression.

e.g. thou art

currency the quality of being in vogue, prevalent – in vogue –buzz words.

dialect (al) a variety of speech differing from the standard language; a provincial method of speech.

e.g. “swag — Australian — bundle of personal belongings carried by a traveller in the bush, a tramp or miner” (O.E.D.)

obsolete that which is no longer used; out of date.

e.g. “sate” for “sat” (past simple tense)

Register: #

Levels of language - can range from elevated language, street or gutter language.

• Formal — stiff, regular, often abstruse – used by the elite – respectable or politically correct language

• Colloquial — relaxed, conversational inclusive friendly - belonging to common speech or ordinary conversation.

e.g. ‘‘I’ll’’ used for ‘‘I will’’

• Slang — very relaxed, colourful, intimate a special vocabulary below the level of standard educated speech. Sometimes low and vulgar, often colourful and full of impact, depending or its context and pertinence

e.g. technicolour yawn for vomit

• Vulgate • coarse, crude, blasphemous, profanities, obscenities.

Using the vulgate in formal expression is generally not accepted as it indicates a lack of articulation or a loss of control. Aristotle claimed that “the light utterance of shameful words leads to shameful actions”.

Shakespeare had a more grounded acceptance of the vernacular when he has Hotspur, the Rambo of the North advise his wife Kat,

“ you swear like a/comfit-maker’s wife…. And givest such sarcenet surety for thy oaths,…… Swear me, Kate, like a lady as thou art,/A good mouth-filling oath, and leave ‘in sooth,’ And such protest of pepper-gingerbread, To velvet-guards and Sunday-citizens.

In The Tempest**, Caliban is a slave and a subhuman brute. Taught to speak by Prospero, he glories only in the ability to curse.

Somehow the Victorian era constrained people making them much more circumspect in language and s*xual matters. Swearing was seen as bad breeding. Even Oscar Wilde declared that “The expletive is the refuge of the semi-literate”.

From the 1960’s public swearing became more prevalent, even at the highest levels as the 1970 Nixon tapes revealed. In private even our most respected role models reveal their true feelings.

According to Anthony Ackroyd, SMH 28/06/08, Lenny Bruce, an American comedian made the greatest contribution to breaking the taboo on accepting vulgar language.

The No. 1 ticket holder is the American Lenny Bruce, who pioneered the role of stand-up comedian as social revolutionary. His verbal attacks nearly half a century ago on institutions many held sacred - capitalism, religion, sexual mores, the US government - were incendiary to those claiming to represent American values. The civil libertarian and free speech advocate Harry Kalven jnr said of him: “In order to give value to his gestures of defiance, Lenny did need a lot of opposition. If you are going to break a taboo it has to be a taboo.”

Bruce’s taboo-breaking led him to a five-year legal odyssey that included six obscenity trials in four cities, 35 lawyers and 30 judges, and 3500 pages of transcript. In 1966, broken emotionally and financially by his legal battles, 40-year-old Bruce was found dead from a morphine overdose in the toilet of his Hollywood Hills home.

Breaking the taboo against “bad” language in the name of free speech was one choice that caused him serious problems. A Bruce performance in New York kept one policeman busy counting more than a hundred utterances later judged “obscene, indecent, immoral and impure”. Many, such as “ass”, are now in everyday speech. Within just a few years of Bruce’s death these obscenities were spoken with impunity at most comedy clubs. Once live performance language was liberated, attention turned to TV.

It soon became acceptable in narratives or dramatic situations to reveal character or create realistic situations as long it is not used gratuitously.

It is often used by people to “fit in”, assimilate or expressing solidarity with a sub-group. Sometimes even leaders use it to show us they are “one of us”. Bob Hawke, when Australia won the America’s Cup, stated on national television,

“any boss who sacks a worker for taking a sickie today is a “bum”.

Swearing can indicate extreme distress or frustration. A 2009 Neuro-Report found that “swearing helps to relieve pain”. It is often the only way to express deep personal truths or show extreme and profound anger or frustration.

Context is everything: if someone your equal swears at you it can be inclusive acceptance, however if a stranger or superior does it, it could be perceived as offensive and abusive.

Sentence Types: #

Simple. Compound, Complex, Balanced, loose, periodic

Paragraphing: #

• Short or long

• Topic sentence placement and structure

Figurative or literal language #

• Similes, metaphors, personification, analogy, fables,

• Allusions — religious, historical, mythological, literary, films

Images, symbols.

Sound effects: #

• Alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, verbal harmony, rhythm, blending, harsh, discordant, plosives, slow/fast, melody, voice, sibilance, sotto, allegro (brisk)

• Rhapsodic, lyrical, elegiac, upbeat, blue, staccato, dirge, ode,

Rhetorical devices (See Text Types: Lang. of Speeches) #

• Questions, exclamations, cumulation, crescendo, inversion, bathos, repetition, 3 cornered phrases….

Person: #

first, (I, me, mine) second,(you, your) third (They them, their)

Voice , passive, active #

Punctuation: #

colons, semi-colons, dashes, ellipsis….

Structure #

linear, circular, flash backs, episodic, climactic…

Titles and subtitles #

How do you transmute a cliche into a tautology?Janet Albrechtsen and the Reverend Spooner can show you how! The first sentence in her article “No place for ideological agendas in our classrooms” reads as follows: “In the gentle, uplit sunlands of Kevindom, our public schools will be places of particular virtue.” Uplit sunlands? Sounds like Kevindom might be a bit bright