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Mode English Language

Within English language, we have different literary aspects such as mode, mood, form and genre. These are all ways of classifying texts according to different sets of characteristics. In this article, we're going to look at mode.

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Mode English Language

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Within English language, we have different literary aspects such as mode, mood, form and genre. These are all ways of classifying texts according to different sets of characteristics. In this article, we're going to look at mode.

Mode in the English language: definition

In the English language, a literary mode is the term given to a broad category of literary moods and methods that are not assigned to a specific form or genre. It should not be confused with literary moods (the emotional response to a story) or form and genre, as mode is a method used to convey text or meaning.

There are multiple types of modes in the English language that are found in everyday life, including written mode, narrative mode, and blended mode. Let's take a look at each of these in more detail!

Types of Mode in the English language

There are a few different modes in the English language - let's have a look at what they are!

Written mode

Written mode is used for fiction and non-fiction written texts. This mode uses formal grammar and punctuation as it is used when writing essays and instructions.

Narrative mode

Narrative mode is a specific type of written mode that is used to tell a story. This means that narrative mode refers to how a story is told in fiction.

Mixed mode English language

In the English language, modes can be mixed to create different effects within one text. A good example of mixed modes can be seen within the narrative mode. This can include:

  • Descriptive mode
  • Action mode
  • Dialogue mode
  • Thought and monologue mode
  • Exposure mode

We'll have a look at each of these now.

Descriptive mode

A descriptive mode in the English language provides information to the reader about the setting of a story, or the appearance of an object or character to create world-building in a story. The descriptive mode is useful for building the non-dialogue parts of a story. For example:

The narrow path had suddenly opened onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.

- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J. K. Rowling

Mode English language Image of Hogwarts at night StudySmarterFig. 1 - J. K. Rowling uses a lot of descriptive language to create world-building within the wider narrative.

We can see that Rowling uses lots of descriptive language for Hogwarts. Descriptive language, such as 'great black' and 'windows sparkling' is used to make the environment for the story fantastical to the reader.

Actions

The action mode in the English language refers to the events that happen in the story and is done through the creation of conflict resolution that introduces tension and pace.

For example, in Romeo and Juliet (1597), we see the conflict between the children of two warring families who fall in love. The resolution here is that the star crossed lovers kill themselves after a series of miscommunications. The conflict between the Capulets and Montagues is what motivates the character's actions throughout the play, and it is important to understand that without action there would be no plot for the characters to exist.

Dialogue mode

The dialogue mode is an aspect of the narrative mode which presents what the characters in the story say. Dialogue, or the absence of dialogue, is fundamentally important to how a story is told as it provides characterisation, exposition, and furthers the action of the narrative. This is especially noteworthy in plays, where most of the action is conducted through dialogue. Below is an extract from Waiting for Godot (1953).

TARRAGON:

(giving up again). Nothing to be done.

VLADIMIR:

(advancing with short, stiff strides, legs wide apart). I'm beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I've tried to put it from me, saying Vladimir, be reasonable, you haven't yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. (He broods, musing on the struggle. Turning to Tarragon.) So there you are again.

TARRAGON:

On the I?

VLADIMIR:

I'm glad to see you back. I thought you were gone forever.

TARRAGON:

Me too.

Dialogue is used in this extract to further the plot and story of the play, and we find out a lot about Tarragon and Vladimir as characters. From this extract, Tarragon comes across as pessimistic while Vladimir is more philosophical and tries to cheer up his companion. Their dialogue touches on the themes of the play; perseverance in the face of a purgatory-like environment.

Thought and monologue

Modes in the English language sometimes explore how the thoughts of the character are related through monologue or stream of consciousness. Character's thoughts and intentions are seen in the written mode (such as in novels or in epistolary fiction where characters confess their feelings in letters) or in the spoken mode (such as monologues in plays).

Below is an example of a famous soliloquy, a type of monologue where characters speak their thoughts while alone on the stage, from William Shakespeare's Hamlet (1601).

To be, or not to be, that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing ends them. To die - to sleep,

no more; and by a sleep to say we end

Mode English Language To be or not to be StudySmarterFig. 2 - Monologues can be presented in either written or spoken mode and were often used by Shakespeare.

Monologues are dramatic insights, and often foreshadow what characters plan to do later on in the narrative. Hamlet's musings over life and death hint at the tragic ending of the play, for Hamlet becomes resolved in his mission to avenge his father's death. His convictions then drive the plot forwards.

Exposure

Exposition within narrative mode refers to the information provided to the audience: such as a change in place, point of view background of the plot, character's backstory, and historical context (think of a large info dump). We see exposition at the beginning of Charles Dicken's Bleak House (1853):

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; Fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little 'prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in misty clouds.

That's a lot of information about fog! However, exposure signals to the reader that Bleak House is set in a very dirty London, and the fog allows Dicken's to visualize and explore different parts of the city and the people (such as the Greenwich Pensioners) who wander the streets. The collier-brigs also suggests the period the novel is set; early nineteenth-century Britain which is the height of the Industrial Revolution.

Mode characteristics compared to form

So how can we use mode in the English language? And how does this relate to literary modes? Literary form is the organisation or structure of how a piece of literature is presented, such as plays, sonnets or free verse poetry.

This is different to literary mode, which is a broad category of literary moods and methods that are not assigned to a specific form or genre.

ModeForm
Used to describe unassigned methods.Used to describe specific structures.
Can be found in spoken or written modes.Can only be found in the written mode.
Many different elements of it are used to create a narrative.Fewer ways it can be used to create a narrative.

Mode - key takeaways

  • Mode is the name given to a broad range of literary methods and devices that cannot be assigned to a specific form or genre.
  • Types of modes include spoken mode, written mode, and narrative mode.
  • Written mode is the name given to texts that are written down.
  • The narrative mode is a type of written mode to do with how a narrative is told in fiction.
  • Form and mode are different as one is used to describe specific structures and methods, whereas the latter is for anything that is left unassigned.

References

  1. Fig. 1. Kira Collins, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Frequently Asked Questions about Mode English Language

In the English language, mode means a broad category of literary moods and methods that are not assigned to a specific form or genre. It is the method used to convey meaning in a text.

The mode of a text is written mode. Written mode is when the ideas are written down onto paper, or typed onto the computer.

There are multiple different types of modes. Spoken mode when the ideas are spoken aloud. The written mode is when a piece is written down. When the two are mixed together this is called blended mode. A type of written mode is the narrative mode. The narrative mode is how a story is told.

There are two primary modes in the English language, these are written mode and spoken mode.

A transcript is a written form of the spoken mode. This means that it is written mode however it does still have language features of the spoken mode.

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

Which is not a type of mode?

True or False - a narrative mode is a form of spoken mode. 

How many key components of narrative mode are there?

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