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English

English Language is the in-depth study of written and verbal communication in English. It explores the building blocks of the language, covering aspects such as phonetics, semantics and pragmatics. If you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of the language, this just might be the subject for you!

On StudySmarter, you will find English Language revision notes along with flashcards, to help you whatever your level of study.

How can studying English Language help me in real life?

Studying English Language can boost your employability while helping you to become a more effective communicator. By understanding the English language on a deeper level, you will find that you can articulate points more easily in speech, as well as in e-mails and letters; strong English Language skills will help you in both your career, and in your personal life.

English Language topics

English Language covers pretty much anything you can think of that involves the use of words, whether written or spoken. Whatever level you’re studying at, we aim to cover as many bases as possible here at StudySmarter. Here is an overview of the English Language topics that we cover:

Phonetics, phonology, and prosodics

This area of study concerns the auditory side of speech in the English language; in other words, what does it sound like? Phonetics is all about speech sounds, whereas Phonology focuses on the patterns of these sounds in speech. Finally, Prosodics are the variabilities of speech, involving rhythm, pitch, loudness, tempo, and voice quality.

Lexis and semantics

Lexis refers to the words of a language – have you ever heard the term lexicon, meaning vocabulary, or dictionary? Think of a lexis as being a large vault full of words.

Semantics refers to the meanings of words. Words on their own are just sounds, or a collection of letters, until we interpret meaning from them; Semantics explores this concept in detail.

This section also covers figurative language, which includes metaphor, simile, and hyperbole – these are all figures of speech, which are creative, non-literal ways of using language.

English Grammar

Grammar is the system, or rules, that language follows. It allows us to structure words and sentences so that other people can understand them. English grammar is what has helped us to form the words, sentences and paragraphs that you are reading right now!

The first known guide to English grammar, Pamphlet for Grammar, was written by WIlliam Bullokar and published in 1586. There is currently no official regulating body when it comes to English grammar (unlike other Germanic languages such as French and Dutch, which have language academies to set the rules). However, for the most part there is a general consensus when it comes to English grammar – in this section we’ll be covering all of the essentials.

Pragmatics

Pragmatics considers the meaning of language within the social context and refers to how we use words in a practical sense. It helps us to understand how the same word or phrase can have different meanings in different settings and contexts; it is all about the real-world application of language.

The term “Pragamics” was coined in the 1930s by philosopher and psychologist Charles W. Morris. In his 1946 book, Signs, Language and Behavior, Morris stated that pragmatics “deals with the origins, uses, and effects of signs within the total behaviour of the interpreters of signs.” In other words, pragmatics considers the use of “signs” (such as tone of voice, gestures and body language) as well as how others interpret what somebody is saying within the social context.

Discourse

Discourse is all about how we use language to share ideas, debate, or discuss topics. Michel Foucalt, the French philosopher, writer and literary critic, developed and popularised the concept of discourse, and his theories remain highly influential to this day. Discourse is an important part of everyday conversation, and it is ever-present in the media we regularly consume.

Graphology

Graphology is the visual appearance of language. This includes elements such as the layout, font and use of colour.

Language and Social Groups

Language and Social Groups examines sociolinguistics, or the study of language in society. This topic looks at how language varies between different social groups, which could be based on age, class, gender, religion, or shared interests, to name but a few factors. Key theorists in the area of sociolinguists include Howard Giles, WIlliam Labov, and Lesley and James Milroy.

International English

International English explores the many variations of the English language; this includes accent, dialect and vernacular. English is a language that is spoken in many different countries, from the UK and Ireland to the USA and Australia. This topic is an opportunity to explore how the language has changed and adapted across continents and cultures.

Language Acquisition

Language Acquisition is the way in which we learn and develop our understanding and production of language. This includes child language acquisition (the way in which children learn language), first-language acquisition (your native language), bilingual language acquisition (having two native languages), and second-language acquisition (learning a foreign language).

This topic delves into scientific theories on learning, such as behavioural theory, nativistic theory and cognitive theory; for each of these, we will look at how they specifically relate to the learning of language. Influential figures whose work we will discuss in this section include Jerome Bruner, B.F. Skinner and Noam Chomsky.

Language Analysis

Language Analysis explores the elements of writing, such as audience, genre, story, and narrative. Many of these will help to unpick creative works, such as novels, movies, and poetry.

From ancient Greek tragedy to Marvel movies, we will take a look at the techniques writers have used to construct stories through the ages, using ideas developed by theorists such as Jacques Derrida, Norman Fairclough and Gérard Genette.

How can StudySmarter help me with my English Language studies?

The myriad topics within English Language can be quite intimidating. Thankfully, StudySmarter has separated these topics into manageable sections to allow you to focus on one aspect at a time. If you have English Language coursework, or are revising for exams, we’re here to help; delve into any topic, or subtopic, and you’ll find articles, revision guides, revision notes and flashcards to help you on your way. On top of this, you can personalise your learning experience by adding your own resources, ensuring that all of your revision material is in one place.

Final English Quiz

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What are the four main families of genre?

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Comedy, romance, tragedy, satire.

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Why are genres used?


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To help readers’ expectations of a text, and to help authors write within (or out) of genre conventions.

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What do genres do?


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 Genres organise information to help the reader and critics make sense of what they are about to read.

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How do you analyse genres?


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Genres can be analysed by the language, tone, setting, plot, and themes used.

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What is the aim of genre analysis?


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Genre analysis examines the style of writing to understand the writer’s intentions, target audience, theme, and reader expectations.

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How do different genres form?

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Genres form over time and according to what literary conventions are deemed popular by society.

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Name five types of genre. 


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Historical fiction, romance, crime, mystery, bildungsroman, horror, science fiction, fantasy.

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How many genres are there in English Literature? 


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There are numerous genres. However, the main four are romance, satire, comedy, and tragedy.

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True or false - genre criteria is assessed only by how language is used.


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False.

Genre criteria is assessed by their overall look and imagery, how language is used, the literary techniques used, and the overall purpose of the work. 

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Which of the following does not apply to a crime genre? 


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The plot centres on a major or minor historical event. 


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True or false - Aristotle posited that genres should be a fixed classification system.


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True!

Aristotle in Poetics (335 BC) defined several specific genres of epic, tragedy, comedy, and satire.

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Which of the following applies to a historical fiction genre? 


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Exploration of a type of crime, and/or focus on victims and their suffering.

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 Is a genre a theme? 


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No. Genres are used to categorise literature. Themes are what a specific story is about.

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What does a genre not do? 


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Group only novels.

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Which of these is an example of a sub genre of short fiction? 


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Microfiction 

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What are oxymorons used for?

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They are used to show contrast and/or a deeper meaning.


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What is an example of an oxymoron from everyday life?

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Good grief

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What type of language device is an oxymoron?


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A figure of speech/figurative language

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What types of literature most commonly have oxymorons?

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Fiction and poetry.

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What types of literature can include oxymorons?

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All types of literature

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How can you identify an oxymoron?

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It uses two words that contrast with each other.

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What other language devices can be confused with oxymorons?


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Paradox and juxtaposition.

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Which famous Shakespeare play contains the oxymoron sweet sorrow?


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Romeo and Juliet.

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What could be paired with the word ‘deafening’ to make it an oxymoron?


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Silence.

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​Define the words in this oxymoron: Melancholy merriment.

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melancholy = a depression, a gloomy state of mind

    Merriment = light fun, an enjoyable time

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How is an oxymoron different from juxtaposition?

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An oxymoron uses two words, whereas juxtaposition is not limited by the number of words.

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How is an oxymoron different from a paradox?

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An oxymoron uses two words, a paradox is a phrase that contradicts itself.

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What is the definition of an oxymoron?

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Two words next to each other that have very different meanings that end up making sense in a strange way.

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What can oxymorons help writers to do?

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Oxymorons are a useful tool for showing contrast and for exploring a deeper or secondary meaning.

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Is this an example of an oxymoron? Bad hair day.

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No.

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What is the definition of a paradox?

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A statement that contradicts itself

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What are the two types of paradoxes?


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Logical and literary

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Is the following a paradox or an oxymoron?


Cold fire.

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Oxymoron

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What is a paradox a type of?

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​ A figure of speech

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Is this a paradox: I close my eyes so I can see?

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Yes.

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What is the difference between situational irony and paradox?

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Situational irony is an event or circumstance that defies our expectations but isn’t necessarily illogical or self-contradictory.

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What real-life example of a paradox has this article explored?

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No one goes to a bar, because it is too crowded.

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What play by Shakespeare contains the paradox "I must be cruel only to be kind"?


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Hamlet

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Why is a dilemma sometimes confused with paradox?

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Because it is a difficult decision that can be tricky to decide on, and which can sometimes be confused with an illogical paradox.

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How can you spot a paradox in a text?

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When you first read over a paradox, it will seem confusing. Before identifying it as a paradox, make sure you check it isn’t a similar language device.

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Which of the following is not a type of language device?


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Dilemma

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What is the difference between logical and literary paradoxes?

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Logical paradox follows the strict rules of paradox, literary paradox has a looser definition.

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Why are paradoxes quite often confusing?

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Because they are illogical and can be very tricky to understand.

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Why are paradoxes considered absurd and self-contradictory?

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Because one part of the paradox often makes the other part false (and vice versa).

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True or false?


The literary paradox is a term referring to paradoxes found in literature.

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Answer

False

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What is a pun?

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Answer

A wordplay using words with more than one meaning.

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What is the effect of a pun?

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It creates humour and/or shows double meaning.

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Which of the following is a type of pun?

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Answer

Homographic

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Which of the following is a type of pun?

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Homophonic

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What is the name for a sentence containing multiple puns?


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A compound pun.

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