Text varieties workbook answers

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Text varieties


English Language (B)

Unit 1 Categorising Texts

The following consists of suggestions for some of the possible answers that might be given for the questions asked in the workbook. They are not exhaustive and other answers may be acceptable, but they are intended as a guide to give teachers and students feedback. The student responses for the longer essay-style questions are intended to give some idea about how the exam questions might be answered and are based on actual student responses in previous exams. The examiner comments (underlined text) have been added to give you some sense of what is rewarded in the exam and which areas can be developed. Again, these are not the only ways to answer such questions but can be treated as one way of approaching questions of these types.

Section A Text varieties

Stimulus texts

Stimulus text A

1 The main purpose would appear to be to inform people about the problems caused by chaining bicycles to the fence, but information is not really the primary purpose here. The key purpose seems to be to warn cyclists that their bikes will be removed (and possibly damaged during the removal).

2 There is little obvious consideration for design here, but it is black and white, so the no-frills design might be used to match the simple, direct nature of the information.

3 The register is formal and quite distant in tone. The relationship between text producer and audience is not a friendly one. The register might have been used to convey a sense of authority. There is no attempt to use pronouns to address the audience.

4 The use of three declarative sentences on the sign presents simple ideas in a straightforward and matter-of-fact way. The lack of modality in the first sentence presents the proposition as a simple fact. The use of a modal auxiliary (will be removed) suggests a degree of certainty.

Stimulus text B

5 The leaflet seems designed to address people affected by the strike rather than the strikers themselves. The use of pronouns (‘we’ and ‘us’) suggests an attempt to bridge the gap between strikers and the rest of the public. The use of the polite imperative ‘please support…’ helps with this too.

6 The graphology is clear and uncluttered, being used to structure a simple, clear message. The union’s logo confers a degree of official status on the leaflet. The web address suggests that more information can be found on the union’s website.

7 The semantics of conflict and struggle are used in the leaflet, e.g. ‘defend’, ‘under attack’, ‘campaign’.

8 The sentences are mainly declarative (statements) which lay out a clear message in a straightforward way. The repeated imperative ‘Stop the great pensions robbery’ sounds urgent and serious. The breadth of the groups affected is represented through the list of noun phrases in the first bullet point (e.g. three million teachers and school leaders).

Grouping stimulus texts A and B

9 Both texts have clear purposes. A degree of pressure is exerted by the UCU leaflet, which attempts both to encourage support for the strike and to explain the reasons for it. The pressure is exerted via imperative sentences and, more subtly, by showing the range of people affected.

The text for the warning sign could not be much clearer in its message. It uses declaratives to explain the problem and a modal verb (will) to express certainty that bicycles will definitely be removed, and it suggests that there is a risk to the bicycle when the bicycle is taken away.

10 The simplicity of each text is designed to make the messages clear. The graphology is uncluttered and text based. Little attempt has been made to distract from the key message.

Stimulus text C

11 These are interrogatives. They are rhetorical and designed to make the audience consider the question Clegg has just asked.

12 These are first person plural pronouns. Clegg is probably using them to refer to both himself and his party members as a collective group.

13 By using antonyms (terms for opposites) which are often associated with the two main political parties (Labour and Conservative) Clegg positions his party between the two and characterises the others as criticising from each side. On a wider rhetorical note, it could be argued that by positioning his party as victims of inconsistent and perhaps unfair criticism, his audience (party members too) will see the difficulty of the decisions he has had to make on their behalf.

Stimulus text D

14 The pronoun ‘you’ and the possessive determiner (or pronoun) ‘your’ are part of the same technique of direct address. The book is designed to put you in the shoes of the hero and involve you in the action (like a first person console/PC game), so the direct address helps to achieve this.

15 The present tense is used for most of this. It is used to involve you in the action as it unfolds and make the experience more engaging. Elsewhere verbs used to express future time (e.g. ‘will’) help to establish choices for your character to make.

16 These are interrogatives and are designed to offer you the choice of what to do. They are closed questions, which means that you can only give a yes or no answer and choose between the two options offered.

17 The descriptive language fits with the text’s literary genre and the text producer’s intention to describe the imaginary world around you. Adjectives are used frequently as part of noun phrases (e.g. ‘huge’ in ‘several huge craters’) and there is also a sense of description of locations and where things are, using prepositional phrases such as ‘in an area towards the north pole of the planet’ and ‘habitation’ and ‘oceans’.

Stimulus text E

18 The highlighted words are all concrete nouns. The text is focused primarily on physical objects such as rooms, furniture and fittings, so it is to be expected that nouns such as this will be frequent.

19 The text is designed to inform potential buyers about the property and to offer a description of it in such a way as to make it look desirable. It is unlikely to be doing much overt persuasion, but there are occasional evaluative adjectives (e.g. ample).

Stimulus text F

20 These words are all related to the context that the boys are playing within. They are all deictic terms: words referring to places and directions that only the players would be able to make sense of.

21 These are all imperatives. The nature of the interaction is such that one boy is giving the other instructions and commands, so these imperatives convey clear instructions quickly.

Stimulus text G

22 These are all imperative verbs designed to provide instructions to the viewer. The key purpose of this extract is to instruct viewers how to make their meal, so imperatives do that job effectively.

23 These are discourse markers. We tend to find them in spoken language when speakers are drawing attention to something new they are about to say, or when they wish to signal that we should be listening. Perhaps here, they help to confer a degree of spontaneity on the language.

24 These are all personal pronouns and might suggest that while the key purpose is to instruct, a personal dimension between speaker and viewer is also desirable. The chef wants to convey a degree of her personality and to address the listeners too.

Stimulus text H

25 These are all forms of non-standard English, ranging from abbreviations (clippings like ‘def’ instead of ‘definitely’) to non-standard capitalisation — a common feature of computer-mediated communication (CMC).

26 Not all the turns offer interaction here and it is an easy mistake to assume that just because people are all communicating in the same space (the online forum) they are actually engaging with each other. Most of the participants seem to make some reference to what has been typed before, but they do not engage directly at all times. Spoken conversation is in real time, so allows for simultaneous speech — interruptions and overlaps — but online chat like this is not quite synchronic (at the same time) so we get regular turn-taking here instead, and perhaps the interaction is not as fluid as a result.

Grouping the texts

27 A range of answers is possible. The sample student answer to question 29 below contains one way to group the texts.

28 (a) The second person pronoun you is used extensively throughout these texts, but if you are identifying its use, try to pick it out with some contextual detail. For example, look for an example where you can see how it is being used: ‘Some of you may have even wondered’ (from text C where Nick Clegg addresses his party followers).

28 (b) Given the nature of these texts, there are frequent uses of instructions, but look for different forms of them. For example:

  • In text F, imperatives and modals are used to instruct: ‘I told you (1) take cover (.) get prone (.) you must take cover’.

  • In text G, the presenter uses imperatives but also a less direct way of instructing. She explains what she is doing and by implication what her audience should also be doing, using the first person singular (‘I’) and plural (‘we’): ‘now while that’s lightly frying we can cut up the red chilli (1) slice it nice and thin (2) I leave the seeds in as I like a bit of extra heat’.

28 (c) There are frequent occurrences of interaction in both texts, but as with the question above about direct address it is important to look at a couple of these in context and see how the interaction works. For example, in text F there is turn-taking based around instructions and responses as adjacency pairs:

J: I’m out of ammo =

L: = B is reload (.) hit B (.) quick

Another example is in text H where one participant responds to another with a ‘thank you’, showing some appreciation that the topic s/he has introduced has now provoked a serious response:

User 5: It’s got some sublime moments on it. ‘Called Out in the Dark’ and ‘This Isn’t Everything You Are’ do it for me — beautiful songs

User 1: Thankyou, an intelligent response at last

Sample student answer to question 29

I would place texts A and G in a group as they are both designed to instruct the reader [a]. They both use different approaches to do this and it is also noticeable that they are in different modes [b] — one is spoken and one is written — so they will probably use different approaches because of this. Text A uses simple graphology [c] to support its clear purpose. It is basically just words on a clear background, making the message simple to understand. Text G has no graphology as it was originally spoken and is therefore a transcript. However, it does have a structure and this is shown in the way the speaker uses words [d] like so to move on from one part of what she is saying to the next.

[a] Identifies a group

[b] Sees differences within a group

[c] Refers to a language method

[d] A little imprecise: would be better to give so a proper label (discourse marker, connective or conjunction)

The content of the instructions is different too. In text G it is all about how to prepare a meal, while in text A it is all about what not to do [e]. So, while the texts are similar in some ways they are different in others. They would also have different audiences [f] as people who read text A would probably be people about to park their bikes and the people listening to text G would be hoping to find out more about cooking.

[e] Sees differences in type of instruction

[f] Aware of different audiences

Texts F and H are examples of interactional language [g], and therefore they are my second group. But again, there are differences between them. Text F is a spoken interaction and text H is an online interaction, so this makes them different. Both texts use turn-taking [h], and this is a common feature of interaction, but it is different because of the modes they are in. As text H is online it is not really carried out face to face and this makes the turn-taking a bit more delayed. Text F is actually being spoken and the boys in the transcript are playing a game together, so the turn-taking reflects this. You can see for example in the first two lines, speakers L and J interact. L gives instructions (imperatives [i] like ‘go left’) and J responds. The fact that there is also instruction here means that you could group text F in with A and G above [j].

[g] Another group

[h] A language feature of that group

[i] An accurately identified and exemplified language feature

[j] Yes, links back to previous group. However, it might have been better to have mentioned this before as it sounds a bit like it has only just been noticed

Texts C, D and G are also part of a group because they all use language to address [k] the audience. Text C is a political speech and in this Nick Clegg refers to his supporters using the pronoun [l] ‘you’ and he also tries to unite his party by using inclusive pronouns like ‘we’ and ‘us’. Text D uses address in a different way as it is aimed at a reader and the book is like a game in which the reader has to make choices. The address in this book is therefore directly at the reader (again, ‘you’ is used). Text G addresses the listener by using pronouns too [m].

[k] Another group

[l] Accurate identification of a language feature as part of group

[m] This is true but it is not supported by examples or analysis

I have also placed texts B and E in a group together because they both use language to inform [n]. They are designed to tell the reader more about a particular topic and therefore use language in an informative way using lots of imperatives [o]. Text B is aimed at informing the public about why people are on strike so it tries to be informative, and text E is giving details of a house that is for sale. You could say that both of these texts are trying to persuade the reader too [p].

[n] Another group (another grouping by purpose)

[o] Again, this may be true but it sounds vague. Where are the examples? It is also rather unlikely that imperatives are being used to inform. Does the student mean declaratives?

[p] You could say that, but where is the evidence?

Another grouping that I would like to discuss is those texts using formal register [q]. Text A is a good example of this because it has a serious tone to it with words like ‘will’ suggesting certainty [r]. Nick Clegg’s speech in text C uses a serious register too, because he says ‘But above all I want to pay tribute to you. Your resilience. Your grace under fire. I have been genuinely moved by your spirit and your strength.’

[q] Another group (this time around a language feature)

[r] This is partly true, but what is missing is a precise focus on what kinds of words are used, their grammatical label and their function. ‘Will’ is a modal verb and if you have studied language and power you should be familiar with them.

In this example, his language is sophisticated and serious, for example the adjectives ‘resilience’ and ‘grace’ [s]. You can see that he is being serious because of the context he is in — speaking to his party supporters and possibly the rest of the viewing public, so he needs to sound serious and intelligent [t].

[s] Inaccurate labels. These are abstract nouns. The point about the serious tone of the language is not wrong, but it is still rather vague.

[t] Some awareness of context here — but it is also worth taking this further and thinking about exactly how he addresses his audiences and how he has to be aware of both audiences at the same time in his messages.

Overall examiner comment

The student has made a good start at grouping these texts, but it is a rather undeveloped answer that could have been taken in different directions to get a higher mark.

AO1: there is some accurate identification of some language features, but there is room for more detail. If you call something a ‘word’ you should always try to think what word class it is and try to label it appropriately (for example, abstract noun, adjective etc.). This AO would probably have been placed in the middle of the sound–good band on the mark scheme.

AO2: there are some reasonable groupings made here, including ones around purposes and language features. Some attempts are made to differentiate within those groups, but they are not always successful. It would have been better to plan this answer a little more and look for more subtle connections between the texts. There is a mix of description and analysis here, and some use of example (although not always consistently) so this would probably have been somewhere in the middle of sound–good again.

AO3: this is not as developed as the other two areas because the candidate has not always discussed in detail how the language works to create meaning. There are references to different audiences and purposes, but these need more development. On a couple of occasions, the candidate mentions a language feature without really explaining how it works in its context. This would probably have been a bit lower in the sound–good band.

Overall, this student would probably be looking at a mark total of about 25–30 out of 48, so over half marks but not heading into the territory needed for top grades.

Rewrite this answer, using the examiner’s formative and summative comments to guide you towards a stronger answer.

Further texts

01 There are many different groupings you could use for texts I–P, but some suggestions are:

  • spoken texts

  • texts using images to convey meaning

  • texts that represent music and opinions about it

  • texts that offer instructions

  • texts that tell stories

  • texts that feature descriptive language for different reasons

As you can see from the above, some of these groupings rely on language methods, some on purposes, some on the content of the material, some on the visual look of the texts and some on the mode (spoken).

It is a good idea to make sure that your groupings are not all based on just one of these areas and that you are able to pick texts that might appear in two or more groups.

Some possible areas to address:

While there are only two texts that use the spoken mode and they are quite different in their content and purpose, there are similarities. Text K is spoken but likely to have been scripted in advance, while text N is taken from a stand-up show, which would have been scripted, rehearsed and delivered again and again at different shows.

Text K deliberately uses some non-standard features of English such as dropped ‘H’ and ‘G’ sounds which reflect Vinnie Jones’ cockney accent. Text N seems to consist of non-fluency features such as repetition, pauses and reformulations, but is probably deliberately designed to sound like this in an attempt to accentuate the surreal situation being described. Neither are genuinely spontaneous texts.

Several of the texts offer instructions. Text K is designed to teach people the basics of a life-saving technique; text M gives readers clear guidance about recycling in a textual and visual form, while text O offers instruction in the event of a fire emergency. They share a number of language features — imperatives and modal verbs as you might expect — and this is often worth looking at if you’re feeling uncertain over which features to talk about.

Elsewhere, you can see that opinions are expressed in texts I and P. Text I is designed to be a review of Cher Lloyd’s album, but offers a wider perspective than just her music. There is a certain amount of supposition being made on the writer’s part that the references he uses are going to be familiar to his readership (presumably not the target demographic for Cher Lloyd’s album) and the same is true in text P which assumes a degree of knowledge on the part of the visitors to the website about certain genres and forms of music. Both texts use field-specific lexis and a range of proper nouns to describe performers, genres and song titles.

Two of the texts tell stories, again in different ways. Text K is part of a sketch telling the audience about a show, so you would expect a degree of narrative structure to it. Text L is a simple narrative, written by a child. The differences between these two ways of storytelling could be worth looking at in a bit more detail, especially as they are in different modes (one written, one spoken), and are for very different purposes.

As with the texts you get in the ENGB1 paper in the exam, there are many other potential groupings, so these are just a few suggestions.

Example answer extracts

The extracts here show some good points and some areas for improvement.

Extract 1

This extract has opted for a sensible grouping but one that still needs a bit more definition. Most language describes in some form or other, so it might have been better to focus in on particular types of description. An example might have been to look at how adjectives show the different writers’ views and how they represent different opinions. What is definitely missing from this answer are clear examples. The language labelling is strong, but we do not get any examples of where these features are, and we could also do with a bit more explanation of how they achieve particular effects.

Extract 2

This extract is effective. It gives examples and some texts that go together in a relevant group, and it contains some decent language analysis. Graphology is not the most demanding language method to apply but can offer some interesting comparisons, particularly when it is considered alongside the language that accompanies it. If all you are doing is describing a picture or how big letters are then you are not going to get much reward, but here the student makes reference to how the images work and what they represent, and ties them in to the purposes of the texts.

Section B Language and social contexts

Language and gender

First gender text (AA): interaction and gender

1 The context here is that we have three speakers who all have a fairly close relationship, so some of the features of their language will reflect this. Another factor is clearly related to where they are and the fact that they are in a relaxed social situation. Gender must be considered as a factor too (especially in a question focused on language and gender), but should not be treated as the only factor here. For example, the fact that they are male might influence some of their conversational choices, but there are many different ways to ‘perform’ male identity.

2 In a spoken interaction such as this, it is often a good idea to think of a range of different language methods before you start writing your answer. In this text, it might be important to think about aspects of interaction such as turn-taking and topic management, but equally you might find a lexical and grammatical approach useful. In terms of contextual factors, the situation and relationships may also influence some of the language, specifically the ways in which the discourse assumes a degree of prior knowledge on the part of each participant, i.e. they already know each other well and can refer to previous events and experiences.

Initially, it can be important to make a clear distinction between texts that involve gender and interaction and those that involve the representation of gender. On a basic level, it is valuable to be able to work out which theories and case studies are relevant and which do not need to be considered for a question. Examiners do not want to see responses that simply churn out everything you have learned, whether it is relevant or not. What they want to see is a student who can select what is appropriate to the question set.

However, with gender we cannot always neatly section off interaction and representation, because every time gender is involved in interaction some kind of representation also takes place (for example, a man might use language to interact and to represent his personality and gender to others) and often when we represent gender in a written or spoken text we do it through interaction (for example, in an advertisement aimed at parents looking for toys for their children, we might see language used to represent gender which also attempts to interact with an audience).

If you are alert to the subtleties of language and context, you might see some of these patterns in the texts here or in the examination paper.

The first of these two texts (text AA) is clearly primarily about interaction. The conversation is spontaneous and appears to be casual.

In terms of context, the following might be important areas to consider:

  • All the participants are male.

  • All the participants are about the same age.

  • They know each other well.

  • They are talking casually in a pub together.

You might decide that the transcript displays a degree of closeness to their relationships in that they are happy to abuse each other in a humorous way and make jokes about each other without taking it too seriously. This can be related to existing research by linguists into the patterns of communication found in all-male talk.

3 There is evidence throughout the transcript, but two good examples are when speaker B jokes about mistletoe and fairy lights to the evident discomfort of speaker A, and when he starts to sing a 50 Cent song, poking fun at his friend, to the amusement of them all.

4 Competition can take many different forms but here we can see at least one clear attempt to interrupt and take a turn away when speaker A tries to stop speaker B from continuing by starting his turn with [Oh man]. On a wider level, it appear that speakers A, B and C all jockey for position a little by talking about a topic that speaker A does not seem to want to talk about.

5 The speakers all have similar styles in that they talk about the same topic in a similarly humorous way, but it might be argued that speaker C takes fewer turns and is therefore a less vocal participant, while speaker A is perhaps taking a more leading role by initiating the topic in the first place. However, the turns that C does initiate are important, as they are the ones that put speaker A on the back foot.

Second gender text (AB): representation and gender

6 Unlike some old-fashioned children’s books, Princess Pearl is given an active role in many sentences. She is represented as the agent of many verbs (e.g. ‘Then Princess Pearl stepped forward, crying, “STOP, you silly chumps!”’) and is seen to mock the traditional roles of princesses (e.g. ‘prancing round the palace in a silly frilly dress’). She is shown to be liberated enough to choose her own career (e.g. ‘I want to be a doctor, and travel here and there’) even if it does still fall into a ‘caring’ profession.

Interestingly the representation of the knight challenges the powerful, independent image of many fairy tale heroes by showing him agreeing with the princess (signalling his cooperation with her independent choices) and choosing a caring profession too. The agency apparent in this sentence is also significant, because the power to do the verb ‘train’ is assigned to Princess Pearl while the grammatical object of the training is the knight, suggesting perhaps that the power in this relationship resides with the female character.

As with text AA, which includes an element of representation of gender within its interaction, text AB manages to include an element of interaction within its representation of gender roles. The knight hedges a little when he uses the adverb ‘perhaps’, hinting that he is not as forthright as the stereotype might suggest and is prepared to seek permission from the younger female in the story.

7 This text has more focus on representation, so it is perhaps more important to think about ways in which language is used to construct gender identities. This book has a target audience of children (and their parents who might read it to them) so it is interesting that stereotypical gender roles are deliberately challenged in the representations created here. While the primary purpose of the story might be to entertain, there are also potential messages about gender roles being given here. The approach is playful rather than didactic, however, and might appeal to parents as well as children.

8 In terms of theories and concepts, it is not always essential to name different theories and case studies, but you could consider referring to some of Norman Fairclough’s work on power (Language and Power and Critical Discourse Analysis are two key texts) and how language is used to construct gender and status identities here, as well as more general background about gender from the work of writers such as Deborah Cameron and Dale Spender.

Language and power

First power text (BA)

1 The classroom context means that there are certain expectations about how people should behave. The usual expectation is that the teacher would have a degree of control over what happens in the classroom and guide the learning of the students in the class. Different schools and classes obviously have different expectations and standards, but most would recognise the teacher as having some control. Therefore you would expect to see instrumental power used by the teacher, with sanctions that are supported by the school.

Instrumental power is the kind of power you expect from the state and its systems (the classroom being a good example of this) while influential power is that linked to the power of persuasion.

2 The teacher chooses topics and guides the direction of the interaction. He exerts control over students who do not cooperate with his approach, using influential power in the form of humour and directives. Control is exerted through the use of discourse markers to gather his students’ attention to what he is saying, emphatic stress to express his displeasure, and politeness markers such as please and thank you, which show a degree of respect.

3 One pattern that might be worth considering here is the use of Initiation — Response — Feedback (IRF), where the teacher asks a question, a student responds and the teacher offers feedback on this answer. In this IRF pattern, often credited to the linguists Sinclair and Coulthard, the teacher is the one who has the ‘right’ to offer feedback on what the student has said, because he or she is the one who presumably knows the answer to the question that was asked.

On a more general level, and beyond the texts used here, it is often a good idea to look at some of the following when thinking about how power is represented or reflected:

  • On a word level — features like the use of modal verbs to either pressure or offer options, or the use of field-specific lexis tied to a particular type of discourse. Sometimes using specific lexis can suggest a degree of expertise which might indicate knowledge and professionalism, both of which might help position an ‘expert’ in a higher position than the rest.

  • On a sentence or clause level — features such as declarative statements which appear to present clear facts, or imperatives which command and direct others. Interrogatives can also be used to soften directives.

  • On a discourse level — the use of face-threatening acts and how certain exchanges are constructed within a wider discourse of classroom behaviour can be worth considering.

  • On a pragmatic level — the implications created by particular statements. How are the people meant to respond to uses of humour and sarcasm?

Second power text (BB)

4 Text BB is a written text that uses a different set of language features. This text uses a mixture of influential and instrumental power, with a combination of warnings, threats and politeness strategies. While the target audience of text BA might be seen as the participants in the classroom themselves, the audience for BB is a little more select as it appears to be aimed at those who have received the e-mail and is designed to warn them about the ways in which they use the contents of the preceding e-mail.

5 For this text, many of the same methods as in text BA could be applied:

  • On a word level — many modal verbs are used — both deontic and epistemic — to suggest obligation, authority and possibility. Look for examples of ‘must’, ‘shall’ and ‘may’, for example.

  • On a sentence or clause level — many of the sentences feature high levels of grammatical complexity, often describing the consequences of making improper use of the e-mail’s contents. Others feature straightforward declaratives with no modality suggested. These sentences sound direct and to the point.

  • On a discourse level — the text is dense with legal lexis, probably meaning very little to many people.

  • On a pragmatic level — a degree of politeness is used in places, with politeness tokens such as ‘please’ being employed.

Language and technology

First technology text (CA)

1 Many of the posters communicate in response to the contributions of others, so some interaction is apparent. For example, the entire subject line of the thread is an open question to other forum users, so each participant is interacting with the initial question to some extent. Beyond that, posters sometimes make comments that relate to what others have posted, including, for example, user 4 who embeds a post from user 3 and reiterates a positive and a negative point to show his/her agreement.

2 There are frequent non-standard features, including abbreviation in the form of:

  • initialisms, e.g. FWIW = for what it’s worth

  • number homophones, e.g. ‘2’ for ‘too’

  • deviant spellings, e.g. ‘ova-hyped’

  • non-standard capitalisation: proper nouns such as band names, and sentence punctuation omitted

  • typos and misspellings, e.g. ‘your’ instead of ‘you're’

  • emphatic/phonetic spelling, e.g. ‘pleeeease’

Some of these might be related to the mode being used — unedited, spontaneous CMC — while others might have been errors that would have happened in other forms too (e.g. ‘too’ and ‘your’).

3 Some of the posters tend to use more standard than non-standard forms, so that is often a good area to look at for idiolect in CMC texts. Individual grammatical choices (such as poster 1 generally using standard grammar and punctuation) might also indicate a personal style or idiolect. You can check each poster’s contributions and see if there are discernible styles evident from their different posts.

4 There is sometimes a tendency online to assert yourself more bluntly and with less consideration for others’ face needs. That means perhaps that in this exchange there is a degree of confrontation apparent between posters 1 and 4 that might not have been evident in a face-to-face exchange where politeness and respect for the other person’s face needs might have mitigated some of the more extreme views.

5 While it is clearly not a face-to-face conversation, there are several elements of spoken interaction that might be seen in a message board exchange like this:

  • turn-taking

  • interaction between posters

  • spontaneous and unplanned features of language (e.g. typos, non-standard grammar)

  • attempts to emphasise emotion or viewpoint through punctuation and graphology (e.g. smilies)

However, there are also several factors that are unlike spoken conversation, such as the lack of genuine interaction and the ability to interrupt a turn of another participant. The turns are also not exactly in real time, which means that the turn-taking is not as fluid as might be seen in face-to-face talk.

Second technology text (CB)

6 A web page like this offers a degree of interactivity through hyperlinks, which may take the user to another page on the site or to external links. This page also has interactivity in the form of tabs for other areas of the site, links to downloads (such as pdfs) and clickable video links. The language used on the site sets up interaction in the form of second person pronouns and direct address (e.g. ‘you can now search’).

7 There is clearly a fairly specialist audience for this site in the sense that it is directly aimed at English teachers. There is subject-specific lexis in the form of the titles of set texts, names of authors and a range of educational jargon that will be familiar to most teachers (e.g. AQA, GCSE, TES). The site also assumes a degree of technological literacy from its users (e.g. pdf, DVD) but is not beyond most people.

In terms of purposes, there is a mixture of advertising in the form of positive comments from the TES, a respected educational newspaper, and straightforward shopping, with the use of a ‘basket’ to purchase products from the site.

8 In many ways, the language here is much like a standard written text, but when writing for an online audience, space is often at a premium and information has to be kept fairly concise. For example, the details of each publication need to be included in short sound bites and a clickable link offers you more information on a different page. A number of short phrases and sentence fragments are used instead of full, grammatically complete sentences for some of the headings (e.g. ‘new and forthcoming’).

Further texts

The following are some brief suggestions about areas to look at when answering the questions on further texts at the end of the workbook.

01 Suggested areas of discussion for text AC:

  • graphology: colour schemes linked to gender

  • semantic fields: how do the words chosen link to traditional/stereotypical gender roles?

  • audience: how would different audiences respond to the representations of gender shown here: children, parents?

  • concepts: gender-specific language; man-made language and assumptions about gender roles

02 Suggested areas of discussion for text AD:

  • graphology: striking image — use of stereotypes in different context?

  • purpose: aimed at supporters of women’s rights to support campaign — not just women

  • gender roles and perceived threats to women’s status in society

03 Suggested areas of discussion for text BC:

  • See sample student answer and examiner feedback on pages 16–18 of these answers for ideas on this text.

04 Suggested areas of discussion for text BD:

  • graphology: use of letter format and personal signature

  • instrumental and influential power?

  • power disguised by ‘pledges’ and requests?

  • What is the point of such a letter? Is the whole point to remind potential voters in London of the Mayor’s claims to be working on improving the transport infrastructure?

05 Suggested areas of discussion for text CC:

  • Technology influences this by making it a conversation that is not face to face, but conducted at a distance over the phone.

  • Certain frames are expected in telephone conversations generally (greetings and farewells), but also in customer service exchanges such as this one (a formulaic approach, often scripted, on the part of the CSR) and perhaps a more spontaneous response from the customer.

  • The technology of the automated system also leads to a closing down of options for the caller. Choices are limited and the customer is ‘guided’ in to specific options by the company.

  • Politeness markers and turn-taking are interesting to look at in exchanges like this.

06 Suggested areas of discussion for text CD:

Technology influences this in many ways:

  • Hyperlinks to other websites

  • Shortened, abbreviated and often non-standard language choices

  • Short, punchy tweets that often respond to others’ ideas or retweet others’ tweets

  • Promotional aspect of some tweets, being used as marketing technique by some companies and organisations

  • Graphology uses avatars with images of tweeters (or their choice of image to represent themselves), date and timestamp, Twitter-specific hashtags and usernames.

Sample student answer to question 03

The following is an example of a response to question 03 on text BC on language and power.

The Crisis charity advertisement persuades its readers in a number of different ways that I will discuss in more detail in this answer. One of the most noticeable features of the advert is its graphology, which is very striking [a]. It is clear that the text producers have intended the image of the lifebuoy to serve as a central theme to their campaign and its display on two separate pages helps make this stand out. The fact that the image raises questions for the reader (like ‘Why is there is a Christmas dinner inside a ring?’) helps to set up a degree of intrigue that might lead the audience to read on [b].

[a] Identifies a language method and its effect

[b] Talks about the effect of the graphology rather than just describing it

Elsewhere in the text, graphology is obviously important to support the example quoted of ‘John’ and the image is used to anchor his story and make his face familiar to the reader. Again, this is persuasive because it helps us to relate to a real person rather than just a made-up name [c]. Realistically, of course, perhaps ‘John’ is not a real person at all and the image is that of an actor, but it all helps to persuade, which is of course the primary purpose of such a campaign [d].

[c] Again, this is good because the student is looking at the effects of the image and tying it into the purpose of the text itself

[d] Aware of text’s primary purpose

While the graphology is clearly important, the main persuasion is carried out by the language choices. These are important both in terms of the lexical choices and the grammatical structures [e]. Lexically, we see a semantic field of family and bereavement intertwined [f]. John’s life is portrayed as a series of unfortunate and unpleasant experiences. The text producer uses an abstract noun, ‘tragedy’ to describe John’s brother’s death, and the adjective ‘alcoholic’ to describe his new step-father, whose attacks are described with the adverb ‘violently’ premodifying the verb ‘abuse’ to create an image of suffering and despair [g]. All of these persuade the reader that a man like John might be worth helping [h].

[e] This is a helpful link from one method to another and gives the answer structure

[f] A language method is applied here

[g] This is all very strong and detailed. Word choices are analysed linguistically and the effects of them noted

[h] Instead of just labelling a lot of words, the candidate has genuinely analysed them and considered what the overall effect is and why the language has been used in this way

Grammatically, a series of adverbials helps to map out John’s life. This begins with the clause ‘When John was four’ and then continues through his life with other adverbials (e.g. ‘At the age of 14’, ‘When he was 18’ and ‘Now retired’) helping to structure the discourse [i]. These all assist in showing the various sad experiences of John’s life and are a central part of the text producer’s persuasive approach. If we don’t believe that the people who the charity assists are worthy of our support or deserving of our sympathy, we are unlikely to give money. John is represented to us as a victim of aggression and bad luck, so deserving of our support [j].

[i] This is very detailed and offers a high level of grammatical detail. Again, it is more than just feature spotting because the candidate has explained how the features are used and how they fit together

[j] The candidate is good at explaining how a representation of John is created here, which is then linked back to the persuasive purpose of the text

The charity advert’s text producers use a range of persuasive devices in the form of modal verbs too. In the section of the advert where they talk about how supporters can help, they use the epistemic modal verb ‘can’ on a number of occasions, including in the simple, one clause sentence ‘It can offer a whole new beginning’ [k]. Here the modal suggests the possibilities that are open to those who have received help from Crisis and the simple sentence helps to make it appear a simple fact. Straight after this the modal ‘can’ is used again to help list a range of mundane, but obviously important areas of life that the charity can help with [l]. These may not seem much, but they obviously make a difference to people who are not used to having them.

[k] There is good detail again here, tying grammar to meaning and the text’s purpose. Modal verbs are often important, but here they are refined a little and linked to syntax. This is good analysis

[l] Again, the candidate sustains the analysis and makes a number of really good points about how language is used

Influential power [m] is apparent throughout the text in its use of persuasion on the reader, and this is shown, as I have said, through the lexis, grammar and discourse structure of the text. Norman Fairclough made a number
of points in his book Language and Power about the ability of text producers to address audiences as if they know them [n]. He called this synthetic personalisation and he likened it to an artificial relationship that could be created by a text producer to make it sound as if they know who you are as an individual when they have never actually met you. A technique like this is seen in the Crisis advert where direct address is used at the end in the imperative ‘Complete your form now’, which makes it sound as if they are talking directly at you. The imperative helps make this sound more blunt and forceful too [o].

[m] Refers to a key concept from language study

[n] The reference to Fairclough is not just thrown in to gain marks but seems linked to the overall point about persuasion and influence

[o] There are some accurate parts here, but is this really ‘synthetic personalisation’? That usually needs to be some kind of address to the audience where you are treated as if the text producer knows you and has a personal relationship. This seems to be just a form of direct address

Overall, the text uses a range of features, visual and linguistic, to persuade its readers that the charity is
worthy of their support and for the readers to give money
to them [p].

[p] The response is rounded off with some useful points about the overall aims of the text

Overall examiner comment

This student has answered the question well. There is a good mix of analysis, interpretation and understanding of linguistic concepts.

AO2: there is some good understanding of language concepts here, including address, influential power and representation. It is not perfect, and the references to synthetic personalisation might have been better explained, but this AO would probably have been placed in the very good band on the mark scheme.

AO3: there is some excellent analysis and exemplification in this response. The language methods are applied with some skill, depth and range, helping to reveal the techniques behind the advert. The student could have said a little more about the intended audience and where this advert might have appeared, but it is a strong answer.

Overall, this student would probably be looking at a mark total of somewhere around 42 marks or more. It is a really good response, but could be improved a little to give it a bit more range. What aspects would you improve of this response and how would you use a similar approach on other answers about power?

AQA AS English Language (B) Unit 1 Categorising Texts

Philip Allan, an imprint of Hodder Education © Dan Clayton

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