Language and Gender Key Terms

All the following definitions have been taken out the textbook ‘AS AQA English Language B’. This is a textbook so I am sure it is ok to use this information however if you are stating these definitions anywhere other than an exam remember to source it – it is not your information! That is only some definitions – many are made by me.


Actor: the individual or entity responsible for the action of a verb process.

Affected: the person or entity affected by a material action process.


Boosting device: a linguistic device used to intensify the force of an expression for added emphasis or power e.g. ‘really’


Covert marking: marking that is understood e.g. in the antonyms young and old which can be used to ask someone their age so e.g. ‘how old are you?’ ‘how young are you?’ young is the marked and old is the unmarked.

Covert prestige: a form of high status given to non-standard forms.


Deixis: Context-dependant word.


Ellipsis: missing out words in a sentence.


Folklinguistics: attitudes and assumptions about language that have no real evidence to support them e.g. the assumption that women are generally more ‘chatty’ or prone to gossiping than men.


Gender: the differences in behaviours and roles that are a result if societal expectations.


Hedging device: a linguistic device used to express uncertainty e.g. ‘kind of’


Intonational emphasis: This is where we emphasis on words with the tone of our voice e.g. by making it go high or low.


Jargon: specialised lexis


Known-answer question: this is when the person asking the question already knows the answer.


Labov: William Labov put together six narrative categories which people follow when they are telling an anecdote.


Marked form: that which stands out as different from a norm.


Negative face: this is our right not to be imposed upon.


Overt marking: marking that takes place through affixation or modification.


Positive face: this is our right to be accepted and approved.



Representation: the projection of a certain way of thinking about a particular individual, group or institution through the use of language.


Semantic derogation: the sense of negative meaning or connotation that some lexical items have attached to them e.g. Mistress. 

Semantic deterioration: the process by which negative connotations become attached to lexical items.

Sex: biological differences between males and females.

Socialisation process: a process by which individuals’ behaviours are conditioned and shapes.

Stereotyping: assigning a general set of characteristics to a group as a whole, often with negative connotations.


Tag questions: a group of words that turn a declarative into an interrogative e.g. ‘It’s cold’ becomes ‘It’s cold isn’t it?’


Unmarked form: the measured norm, against which marked lexical items can be compared.


Vocative: adress e.g. ‘you’ ‘Ben’





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