Language and Social Contexts Terminology.

Terminology specific to the Language and Social Contexts section of the exam.

  • Created by: Zoe Key
  • Created on: 02-04-12 16:18

Language and Power Key Terminology

Political Power - Held by politicians, police and courts.

Personal Power -  Held as a result of role or occupation e.g. teachers.

Social Power - Held as a result of social variable e.g. gender.

Instrumental Power - Used to maintain or enforce authority.

Influential Power - Used to influence or persuade others.

Power In Discourse - Spoken power. Power as a result of language use.

Power Behind Discourse - Power gained by a job. Organisations are behind you e.g. a teacher has power behind discourse as the school reinforces their power.

Ideology - Attitudes that an individual or group amy hold displayed through their language use. An individual or shared veiws of the world. An individual or group idea on something, influenced by language use e.g. in the media.

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Language and Gender Key Terminology 1

Sex - Biological differences between men and women.

Gender - Behavioural characteristics thats are a result of social and cultural influences.

Socialisation Process - A process by which the behaviour of individuals is shaped and conditioned.

Marked Terms - Terms that reveal a person's sex e.g. policeman, wife. Some terms are marked by a suffix e.g. actress.

Unmarked terms - Terms that don't reveal a person's sex  e.g. police officer, spouse.

Generic Terms - When a marked terms is used to refer to men and women. These are nearly always the male form e.g. man the desk. Although generic terms refer to everyone they ignore females, when this occurs women are said to be occupying negative semantic space.

Lexical Asymmetry - Pairs of words which have a similar meaning but have difference connotations e.g. bachelor and spinster.

Patronising terms - Terms which suggest superiority but usually depends on contextual factors.


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Language and Gender Key Terminology 2

Semantic Derogation - The sense of negative meaning or connotations that some lexical items have attatched to them.

Semantic Deterioration - The process by which negative connotations become attatched to lexical items.

Semantic Amelioration - The process by which positive connotations become attatched to lexical items.

Anatomical Differences - differences between male and female speech which are due to biology e.g. pitch of voice.

Folk Linguistics - Attitudes and assumptions about language that have no real eveidence to support them e.g. that women are more gossipy.

Genderlect - Shared features of language in a given gender.

Hedging Device - A linguistic device used to express uncertainty.

Boosting Device - A linguistic device used to intensify the foce of an expression.

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Language and Technology Key Terminology

Capitalisation - The escessive use of capital letters or spelling a whole word in capitals.

Omission - The removal of letters (usually vowels) or punctuation for effect.

Initialism - Using letters to abbreviate a phrase and pronouncing it as letters e.g. asap

Acronym - Using letters to abbreviate a phrase and pronouncing it as a word e.g. Lol

Emoticons - Using punctuation marks and letters to mimic an expression e.g. :)

Number and Letter Homphones - Using letters or numbers to mimic sounds in words e.g. b4 or 2night.

Phonetic Spelling - Spelling a word how it sounds e.g. luv, cya.

Diminutive Forms - Word which naturally or are adjusted to end in 'ie' or 'y' e.g. Mummy, doggie.

Graphaeme - A letter that has multiple meanings depending on the context e.g. x - kiss, signature e.t.c.

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Language and Gender Key Terminology 3

Covert Prestige - Where you adjust your language use to sound more regional.

Overt prestige- Where you adjust your language use to sound less regional.

 Syntax - The male gender-specific word is often placed before the female, can be referred to as the order of preference.

Over- reporting - Saying that you use/do something more than you actually do. Cheshire found that men tend to do this.

Under-reporting - Saying that you use/do something more than you actually do. Chesire found that women tend to do this.

Tag Question -  A group of words that turns a declarative into an interrogative e.g. "it's cold." becomes "it's cold isn't it?". Lakoff suggested that women use these more than men in conversational situations and this suggests an uncertainty and avoidance of comminting to their statement. 

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Matt Lanter's the best!! :)



Paul Dutton


A very handy and detailed guide to the relevant terminology needed.

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