Stereotypes are a general set of characteristics that are associated with a particular group of people. These characteristics usually have a negative connotation.

The following texts are taken from the AQA English Language B (AS) textbook.

Read texts A and B below.

Text A

The Mothers and Toddlers Group is a very welcoming and friendly meeting place for mums to chat while their children can play safely and in a fun environment. We welcome mums with children of all ages and would love to see you whenever you can make it.

Whilst the children play, the mums can relax and chat and enjoy tea or coffee with biscuits.Many of our members enjoy this time to talk about their families and share experiences of their children.

Text B

The Mother/Father/Grandparent/Nanny and Toddler Group

Please come and join us for a cup of tea or coffee whilst your children enjoy some play time, refreshment and a craft activity

Only £1.00 for your Toddler (Babies 50p)

We meet in the Pavilion every Tuesday from 9.45am – 11.45am

Everybody is welcome.

If you would like to borrow the tables and chair for a private party at home, they are available. 

To help raise funds a small donation (£2 to £5) would be appreciated


To what extent do you feel that Text A presents a stereotypical view of women (and excludes men) ?

Text A is a stereotypical text. Again and again it stereotypes its audience. 

Firstly, it has a very narrow audience because all the way through the written discourse it address the reader as ‘mums’ ‘mother’ etc. This neglects other relations a child might have e.g. grandma, sister etc. Also, characteristics are assigned to ‘mums’ e.g. ‘talk about their families and share experiences of their child’. This assumption can both work successfully and unsuccessfully because if this what somebody is like they will feel the invitation has connected with them whereas someone with a different personality may feel that this is not for them as that is not they are like.

What do you make of the alternate text B?

Text B has a wider audience because it does not stereotype its audience. Also it does not limit who it attract e.g. in text A it says ‘ we welcome mums’ whereas in text B it says ‘ Everybody is welcome’. Text A is too a certain extent more personal than text B because if that is what the reader is like then it is doing a good job at synthetic personalisation but if not it is loosing out on a wide range of readers. In text B has an unlimited audience but it doesn’t connect with the audience too well because its lack of stereotyping.

Specimen Paper: Text message analysis

Text message analysis

Lola’s Texts 

This data was taken out of the specimen paper. Read it and then we can answer some questions on it.

Language and Technology – Text I

The text messages below were copied from the mobile phone of Lola, aged thirteen, over a single day. Natalie and Sarah are school friends and Kate is Lola’s Aunt who works in a clothing store.

NATALIE (to Lola) Hi L, hw r u? Wat did u put in ur xmas card 2 ur French prson? I ant dne it yet :-/ oops! Sofa I av salut ca va n that is it how do u say mery xmas? Tb lv n

LOLA (to Natalie) Lol, thatís so weird, was jst thinking bout tht when u txtd!! I havnt done it either, u wanna go on msn n do it 2getha ther? ñ Lx ps. Merry xmas is joyeux noel!

NATALIE (to Lola) Kk, am like on already wel nearly!

KATE (to Lola) hav asked girls at work 2 look after you! Or Ö Iím back in wed ñ K x

LOLA (to Kate) Thank u! We r goin ther now! L x 🙂

SARAH (to Lola) Do u av maroon 5’s album? Luv s XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

LOLA (to Sarah) Sure do! Do u wanna watch jackass the movie n luv actually 2moz? Lx

SARAH (to Lola) Not lov act. But jackass ya! Cu 2moz! Can we watch stepford wives aswel?! Luv s xx

LOLA (to Sarah) Totally! Y not jst a quick pop in2 town 4 pizza or starbucks ñ i donít hav much money left! Then we can chil @ mine n watch movies 4 ages!! L x

SARAH (to Lola) I don’t av any money so shall we just eat at ur place? i’ll cum round at like 4.30pm luv s xx

Source: Private data

  1. What is the purpose of each exchange? Have the different purposes affected the way texters communicate?

The purpose of all three text strings differs. All three exchanges have a blend of transactional and interactional purposes. The second one between Lola and her aunty is the most transactional. It is clear, direct and has a specific purpose of informing. From the very first lexical item we can gather the purpose ‘hav asked’. The lack of phatic talk makes this clear too. The first one between Lola and Natalie, her school friend is the most interactional. Phatic talk is prominent e.g. ‘hw r u’. However, like the last exchange, the conversation is a hybrid containing transactional elements such as ‘ Wat did u put in…’. 

  1. In each exchange, Lola texts a different recipient. Does this difference affect the language and style of her texts?

The difference does affect the language and style of the way she responds. For instance, when she texts her aunty, whom I presume is older, the text seems more formal in terms of grammatical structure e.g. ‘Thank u!’. Conversely, when she texts her friends we see more alternative styles of language and grammar e.g. ‘Y not jst a pop in2 town 4 pizza…’.

  1. What politeness features are present?

 In all text exchanges we can see politeness employed. In some e.g. exchange two we see politeness markers being employed to do this job e.g. ‘Thank u!’. However, exchange one uses phatic token to denote this politeness e.g.  ‘Hi L, Hw r u?’. This phatic token protects Lola’s negative face when she immediately makes her request (xmas card), revealing the transactional nature of the message. Exchange three on the other hand utilizes positive politeness features as a way of saving face. For example, when Sara initially sends the text, she starts it with a question (revealing transactional nature of message) and then appeals to Lola’s positive face by showing her appreciation for her with a polite and personal sign off ‘Luv s XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx’.

  1. How do the text messages resemble (i) speech (ii) writing?
  1. The exchanges presented are very similar to spoken language. For example, Sarah uses fillers e.g. ‘at like 4.30pm’ which is a common feature of speech. She has done this to make her text sound more informal. It might be that she is just writing every word that come to her mind and as ‘like’ would have been a common feature of spoken language she wrote that down too. However, it could also be politeness strategy – a way of mitigating the transactional nature of the text and making it sound interactional.
  2. However, the exchanges seem to be punctuated correctly, making them similar to written language. For example, ‘Lol, that’s so weird,…’.These commas have been used to indicate a subordinate clause. In this particular text it helps create a particular voice or persona. For example, if it was not written Lola would come across as happy and excited. Text messaging technology use some written language devices to help create a particular voce and make the text distinctive.
  1. Do the texters establish a shared context, or do they assume one?

In the first two sets of messages the texts assume a shared space. We can see this because in the first one they are talking about some kind of French homework and in the second one they are talking discussing about confirming some sort of plan. They assume this shared context because there aren’t explicit details yet they seem to understand what each other are texting hence they are able to respond.

In the third one, the texter establish a shared context. Hence, why the exchange is longer. The shared context is established around the second text where Lola and Sarah begin making plans. The technology has helped make the shared context quickly established. A lot of information is crammed into one text. For example, in the third exchange from Sarah four separate points are expressed. 

  1. What typical features of textspeak occur here (other than those you have already mentioned)?

In all three exchanges, we can see a lot of textspeak being utilized. The most common is vowel omission e.g. ‘luv’, probably because as well as making texts faster, it can be understood by many more people than say initialism. Initialism requires previous knowledge/experience of textspeak. 

In exchange two when Lola talks to her aunty we chooses to use vowel omission as opposed to initialism e.g. ‘ther’. Homophonic representation is similar to vowel omission in that previous experience is not really required to work out what the person has written e.g. In Lola’s text to her aunty she says ‘r’ instead of ‘are’. Similarly variant spelling is present e.g. ‘wel’ (1st exchange) ‘goin’ (2nd exchange) and ‘cum’ (3rd exchange). 

Furthermore, phonetic spelling and homophonic spelling is used. Her aunty too uses this, demonstrating the universality of this textspeak e.g. ‘2’. It also shows that even a transactional conversation is affected by technology!

  1. How do Lola’s text messages help to establish her identity? (Does she express her personality in her texting?)

Lola’s persona and personality are revealed through texting. For example, we get the impression she is a poplar and sociable person because when she texts she signs off in a polite way by the use of symbols such as ‘x’ and acronyms like ‘ly’. Exclamation marks in the context she has used them in make her texts dynamic and come out to life. They represent prosodic features which help the recipient hear a “voice”. This helps her communicate her identity.

Linking Texts

When linking texts for an English exam: one must be aware of the 6 ways to do this.

1. Pragmatics – the context and time factor involved with each piece; which pieces are in the context and    which are different?

2. Lexis– the semantic fields, difficulty of vocabulary and types of word used the most – are they similar in that way or do the texts differ when it comes to words?

3. Grammar- Look at the grammatical cohesion of the pieces, do they have grammatical devices like antithetical parallelism or synonymous parallelism? Or maybe more sophisticated devices like Chiasmus. What are the sentence structure and why? What is the most popular word class and why? So for example if one text contain more abstract nouns and one contain more concrete nouns is it because one is aimed at a more intellectual audience?

4. Phonology– If you read the pieces aloud what kinds of sounds would you hear? Would one be more aggressive because it has more plosive consonants whereas the other may sound different because it is full of sibilance  and does this fit in with their contents?

5. Discourse structure – What is structure of the piece? Look at the paragraphs? Is it in chronological order? How are they similar and how do they differ?

6. Graphology– What is appearance of the text? Typography? Use of images? How is it suited to its audience?

Those are the 6 major linguistic frameworks!