133 terms

IB English Lit - Language Terms

Words our IB teacher (who graduated from Oxford and has a PhD) suggested to us that we know - HL IB English Literature!
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Diction
word choice - especially with regard to connotation, correctness, clearness, or effectiveness. Combined with syntax, literary devices, etc. to create style.
Tone
The writer's attitude toward the subject or sometimes the audience.
Mood
The emotional response that a piece of literature stimulates in the reader.
Style
The manner in which an author uses words, shapes, ideas, forms, and sentences and creates a structure to convey ideas.
Voice
The real or assumed personality used by a writer or speaker.
Figure of Speech
Imaginative comparisons used for tone, purpose, effect.
Apostrophe
figure of speech that directly addresses an absent person, an object, or an abstraction
Euphemism
Greek for "good speech." More agreeable or less offensive substitute for a generally unpleasant word or concept.
Analogy
similarity or comparison between two things or the relationship between them. Can explain something by pointing out its similarity or associating it with something more familiar.
Aphorism
terse statement that expresses a general truth or moral principle
Hyperbole
Deliberate exaggeration or overstatement.
Imagery
sensory details used to described, arouse emotion, or repeat abstractions.
Extended Metaphor
Metaphor developed at great length, appearing frequently throughout a piece.
Metonymy
Greek meaning "changed label." Figure of speech in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it.
Oxymoron
Greek for "pointedly foolish." Author groups two apparently contradictory terms to suggest a paradox.
Paradox
Statement that appears self-contradictory or opposed to common sense but on closer inspection contains some degree of truth or validity. Enigma.
Personification
figure of speech that endows animal, concept, or inanimate object with human attributes.
Cliché
An overused or trite expression.
Epithet
An adjective or adjectival phrase used to define a characteristic quality or attribute of some person or thing. Ex: Rosy-fingered Dawn.
Idiom
A common expression that has acquired a meaning that differs from its literal meaning such as "It's raining cats and dogs."
Litotes
A form of understatement in which a statement is affirmed by negating its opposite. "He is not unfriendly."
Pun
A play on words that exploits the similarity in sound between two words with distinctly different meanings.
Synecdoche
A form of metonymy in which a part of an entity is used to refer to the whole.
Adage
A saying or proverb embodying a piece of common wisdom based on experience and often couched in metaphorical language.
Maxim
A saying or proverb expressing common wisdom or truth.
Double Entendre
French phrase for double meaning, denotes a pun in which a word or phrase has a second meaning which tends to be sexual.
Invective
emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language.
Pedantic
Adjective that describes words, phrases, or general tone that is overly scholarly, academic, or bookish. Extreme of didactic.
Didactic
from Greek, literally means "teaching." Works have primary aim of teaching or instructing, especially moral or ethical principles.
Sarcasm
Greek meaning "to tear flesh" Bitter, caustic language meant to hurt/ ridicule.
Wit
A form of wordplay that displays cleverness or ingenuity with language. Often, but not always, wit displays humour.
Sentiment
Refined and tender emotion in literature; sometimes used derisively to represent insincerity or mawkishness.
Verisimilitude
Similar to truth; the quality of realism in a work that persuades the reader that he/she is getting a vision of life as it is.
Colloquialism
slang or informality in speaking or writing. Includes local dialect
Connotation
non-literal, associative meanings of a word. What we think of when we hear a word.
Denotation
strict, literal, dictionary definition
Vernacular
Local language or dialect of common speech written in local language or dialect.
High Diction
A sophisticated or educated speaker who uses abstract nouns or complex figures of speech and demands greater intellectual effort from the audience.
Low Diction
A simpler, less cultivated speaker who uses literal nouns and less grammatical complexity than high diction.
Dialect
Distinct variety of language spoken by members of an identifiable regional group, nation or social class.
Bombast
Inflated language; the use of high-sounding language for a trivial subject.
Semantics
Branch of linguistics that studies meaning and development of words and their relationship.
Poetic Diction
The use of specific types of words, phrases, or literary structures that are not common in contemporary speech or prose.
Allusion
direct or indirect reference to something commonly known such as a book, event, myth, place, person or work of art to convey tone, purpose, or effect
Irony
Contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant.
Verbal Irony
A discrepancy between the true meaning of a situation and the literal meaning of the written or spoken words.
Situational Irony
A situation that is the opposite of what the reader expects.
Dramatic Irony
A technique in which the author lets the audience or reader in on a character's situation while the character himself remains in the dark. When used in a tragedy, dramatic irony is called tragic irony.
Cosmic Irony
The perception of fate or the universe as malicious or indifferent to human suffering, which creates a painful contrast between our purposeful activity and its ultimate meaninglessness.
Motif
A recurring structure, contrast, or other device that develops or informs a work's major themes.
Anecdote
The brief narration of a single event or incident.
Concrete
As opposed to abstract, concrete refers to something that actually exists and can be seen and known.
Aesthetic Distance
Refers to a total objectivity of a writer wherein his/her view
Anachronism
The incorporation of an event, scene, or person who does not correspond with the time period portrayed in the work.
Caricature
A grotesque likeness of striking characteristics in persons or things.
Point of View
Perspective from which a story is told.
Pathos
From the Greek word for "feeling." The quality in a work of literature that evokes high emotion, most commonly sorrow, pity or compassion.
Symbol
An object, character, figure, or color that is used to represent an abstract idea or concept.
Theme
A fundamental and universal idea explored in a literary work.
Atmosphere
The emotional mood created by the entirety of a literature work, established partly by the setting and partly by the author's choice of objects that are described.
Genre
Major category into which a literary work fits.
Homily
literally means sermon, but can include any serious talk involving moral or spiritual advice.
Narrative
Telling of a story or an account of an event.
Description
Writing intended to re-create, invent, or visually present a person, place, or event.
Elegy
Song or poem of mourning or lamentation.
Burlesque
A humorous imitation of a serious work of literature. The humour often arises from the incongruity between the limitation and the work being imitated.
Memoir
An autobiographical work. Rather than focusing on the author's life, it pays significant attention to the author's involvement in historical events and the characterisation of individuals other than the author.
Parody
A humorous and often satirical imitation of the style or particular work of another author.
Satire
A work that aims to ridicule the shortcomings of individuals, institutions, or society, often to make a political point.
Abstract
A very brief synopsis of longer work of scholarship or research. The abstract of an entire book may be reduced to a single page. Also something that does not exist in the real world.
Classic
A highly regarded work of literature or other art form that has withstood the test of time.
Exposé
A piece of writing, often journalistic, meant to reveal or expose weakness, faults, frailties, or other shortcomings.
Lampoon
A violent, satirical attack against a person or institution.
Allegory
device of using character and/or elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in addition to the literal meaning. Author may intend characters to personify an abstraction like hope or freedom. Usually deals with a moral truth or generalisation about human existence.
Coherence
clear connection among all parts of an essay. Achieved by organisational format and appropriate connecting devices (transition, parallel structures, bridging).
Exposition
Explaining and analysing information by presenting an idea, relevant evidence, and appropriate discussion.
Prose
Any language that is not poetry or drama.
Rhetoric
Greek for orator - principles governing art of writing effectively, eloquently, persuasively.
Rhetorical Modes
Variety, conventions, and purposes of major kinds of writing.
Thesis
The central argument that an author makes in a work. Although the term is primarily associated with nonfiction, it can apply to fiction.
Explication
A close reading of a text that identifies and explains the figurative language and forms found within the work.
Intertextuality
The various relationships a text may have with other texts, through allusions, borrowing of formal or thematic elements, or simply by reference to traditional literary forms. The term is important to structuralist and post-structuralist critics, who argue that texts relate primarily to one another and not to an external reality.
Poetic License
The liberty that authors sometimes take with ordinary rules of grammar and syntax, employing unusual vocabulary, metrical devices, or figures of speech or committing factual errors in order to strengthen a passage of writing.
Antithesis
The rhetorical opposition or contrast of words, clauses, or sentences (JFK: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.")
Anaphora
A rhetorical figure of repetition in which the same word or phrase is repeated in (and usually at the beginning of) successive lines, clauses or sentences.
Malapropism
A confused, comically inaccurate use of a long word or words. (Ex. Romeo and Juliet the nurse says "I desire some confidence with you sir")
Rhetorical Question
A question asked for the sake of persuasive effect rather than a genuine request for information. The writer implies the answer is too obvious to require a reply.
Asyndeton
A form of verbal compression which consists of the omission of connecting words (usually conjunctions) between clauses.
Cadence
The rising and falling rhythm of speech especially in free verse or prose.
Circumlocution
The roundabout manner of referring to something at length rather than naming it briefly and directly.
Digression
A temporary departure from one subject to another more or less distantly related topic before the discussion of the first subject is resumed
Ambiguity
multiple meanings - intentional or not - of a work, phrase, sentence, or passage
Repetition
Duplication of any element of language - sound, word, phrase, clause, pattern...
Aposiopesis
Rhetorical device in which the speaker suddenly breaks off in the middle of a sentence leaving the sentence unfinished.
Periphrasis
An elaborate and roundabout manner of speech that uses more words than necessary. ("I appear to be entirely without financial resources," instead of "I'm broke.")
Ellipsis
Three periods (...) indicating the omission of words.
Argument
an assertion based on fact, statistics, or logical reasoning
Assumption
an inference or conclusion
Assertion
"for" or "against" stance taken by an author in a persuasive essay
Deductive Reasoning
way of thinking, using general observations that lead to a specific conclusion (like Sherlock Holmes)
Evidence
Used to support writer's thesis - proof.
Infer
Draw a reasonable conclusion based on information presented.
Argumentation
Writing to prove validity of an idea or point of view.
Persuasion
Type of argumentation having additional aim of urging a particular form of action.
Ethos
Form of logical thinking used to analyse an author's credibility. Established by appealing to emotion, avoiding a hostile tone, and demonstrating knowledge of subject.
Propaganda
A work of didactic literature that aims to influence the reader on a specific social or political issue.
False Analogy
Error in assuming that because two things are alike in some ways, they are alike in all ways.
Hasty Generalisation
Unsound inductive inference based on insufficient, inadequate, unspecified evidence.
Non-sequitur
A statement or idea that fails to follow logically from the one before.
Post Hoc
because one thing follows another, it is held to cause the other.
Ad hominem
Instead of attacking an assertion, the argument attacks the person who made the assertion.
Syntax
Way an author chooses to join words into phrases, clauses, sentences.
Antecedent
word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun (Eg. The critique of Plato's Republic was written from a contemporary point of view. It was an in-depth analysis of Plato's opinions about possible governmental forms.)
Clause
grammatical unit containing subject and verb. Independent and dependent
Loose Sentence
Type of sentence in which main idea comes first, followed by dependent grammatical units (phrases and clauses).
Parallelism
Grammatical or rhetorical framing of words, sentences, or paragraphs to give structural similarity. Attracts the reader's attention, adds emphasis and organisation, or rhythm. (Ex. "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." -JFK)
Periodic Sentence
Sentence that presents central meaning in a main clause at the end. Ind. clause preceded by phrase or dependent clause. Adds emphasis and variety.
Predicate Adjective
Adjective that follows linking verb and compliments subject.
Predicate Nominative
Noun that follows linking verb and renames subject.
Subordinate Clause
Group of words with subject and verb that cannot stand alone.
Sentence Structure
The manner in which grammatical elements are arranged in a sentence. Although there are endless varieties of sentence, each is a variation on one of the three basic structures: simple, compound, or complex.
Simple Sentence
Contains a subject and a verb along with modifiers and perhaps an object.
Compound Sentence
It consists of two or more simple sentences liked by a coordinating conjunction such as and or but.
Complex Sentence
It is made up of an independent, or main, clause and any number of dependent or subordinate clauses.
Active Verb
The subject of the sentence is doing something (Ex. They carried the body out of the kitchen and laid it on the sofa.)
Passive Verb
Something is being done to the subject of the sentence. (Ex. The body was carried from the kitchen and placed on the sofa.)
Subject Compliment
The word (with any accompanying phrases) or clauses that follow a linking verb and complements, or completes, the subject of the sentence by either (1) remaining it or (2) describing it. The former is technically called a predicate nominative, the latter a predicate adjective.
Homonym
Word that is identical in form with another word either in sound or spelling but differs from it in meaning.
Homophone
A word that is pronounced in the same way as another word but differs in meaning and or spelling. Thus, a kind of homonym.
Elision
The omission of a letter or syllable
Aphaeresis
A type of elision in which a letter or syllable is omitted at the beginning of a word, as 'twas for it was.
Syncope
A type of elision in which a word is contracted by removing one or more letters or syllables from the middle
Apocope
A type of elision in which a letter or syllable is omitted at the end of a word, as in morn for morning