Accent A regional accent refers to the features of pronunciation that convey information about a person’s geographical origin.

Alliteration A phrase in which adjacent or fairly closely connected words in a phrase or sentence begin with the same phoneme. It is often used by writers to help to create moods.

Aside A speech made by a character in a play that dramatic convention pretends cannot be heard by the other characters on the stage. It may be addressed to the audience and therefore create an atmosphere of personal involvement, or it may be addressed to nobody in particular and be intended simply to explain the speaker’s thoughts, feelings, reactions or motivation.

Association Words often mean more than they say because they carry with them whole suitcases of attached meaning created by the contexts in which we have often found them in our language experience. A skillful writer chooses words carefully to take full advantage of these associations or – as Keats put it – to load every rift with ore.

Assonance The repetition of the same vowel sounds in a section of text. This is sometimes referred to as ‘verse music’.

Cohesion This is a term with a variety of meanings. Which one is applicable depends on the circumstances. In all cases, though, its general meaning is that of sustained consistency. Cohesion in a story is the linking and the consistency of time and place and characters. Cohesion in a section of text is the linking of paragraphs both in content and in grammatical interdependence. Cohesion in a paragraph refers to the way that sentences interrelate. A good way of seeing this cohesion is to look at the opening words of each sentence to see how the thought has been joined to the thought before. Cohesion in a sentence is achieved through such grammatical matters as consistency of noun/verb match, noun/pronoun match and verb tense.

Dialect A regional dialect refers to the features of grammar and vocabulary that convey information about a person’s geographical origin.

Dialogue Dialogue can take place between any number of people in a story or play and in the dramatic context refers to the words on the page provided by a dramatist for characters to say.

Digraph A written representation of a sound using two letters. Consonant digraphs represent consonant sounds (/ch/ in cheese). Vowel digraphs represent vowel sounds but may use letters we usually call consonants (/ae/ in pain, station, say).

Fiction Fiction means something that is not true. In Primary English Knowledge and Understanding, the word ‘stories’ has largely been preferred – though stories are not always fiction. Stories can be told in a number of ways – including through pictures, poetry, drama and prose – or any combinations of these. The stories chapter concentrates mainly on prose versions of stories.

Figurative language Figurative language is sometimes simply defined as ‘the use of metaphor or simile to create a particular impression or mood’. In fact, metaphor and simile are only two examples of an enormous range of rhetorical devices or ways of using language in order to create deliberate effects. English is rich in such devices and poets are not averse to using them for particular effects when the need arises. Amongst those most familiar are antithesis, the balance of words or lines for effect, hyperbole or overstatement, and litotes, or understatement.

Fronted adverbial An adverb, or adverbial phrase or clause, which occurs at the beginning of a sentence, before the verb it modifies. It may be immediately followed by a comma.

Genre A collection of linguistic practices and narrative conventions that govern the way particular texts are written for particular purposes.

Grapheme The smallest unit in the writing system of a language – a, e, f – are all graphemes. The term can also be used to mean the way a sound is written down. So /a/ is represented by different graphemes in these words: day, neigh, paid. The sound /ch/ is always represented by two letters – cherry, cheese – so we call this a digraph in phonics teaching. However, it is important to remember that ch can also represent other sounds, as in machine.

Imagery A simile or a metaphor.

Language register The term used by linguists to indicate the different ways in which people speak to different audiences for different purposes, which may include such issues as language feel, tenor and mode.

Literal and inferential comprehension Literal comprehension indicates the understanding of a text at surface level. Inferential comprehension indicates the understanding of a text at a rather deeper level by being able to pick up nuances implied but not actually stated by the text. When a politician promises that their party will not increase direct taxation, a person comprehending literally will be grateful that they will have to pay no more in income tax. Another person, understanding inferentially, will be grateful for that too, but realise that they will probably have to pay more in indirect taxation!

Metaphor A compressed comparison in which the signal words ‘like’ and ‘as’ are taken away.

Morphemes The smallest unit of meaning in a word.

Onomatopoeia A word or phrase that echoes the sound of its meaning. A good example is Tennyson’s magical murmuring of innumerable bees.

Onset The consonant(s) that precede the nucleus of a syllable: Sun. Some syllables have no onset: eel.

Orthographic-motor integration The ability to call to mind and write letter shapes, groups of letters and words efficiently and effectively. The development of skill in writing requires the automatization of orthographic-motor integration so that they use less of available working-memory resources, which are more easily devoted to composition

Personification Personification is ‘a form of metaphor in which language relating to human action, motivation and emotion is used to refer to non-human agents or objects or abstract concepts’. A rough translation is ‘pretending that things that are not human, are’.

Phoneme The smallest contrastive unit of sound in a word.

Phonemic awareness Ability to segment words into phonemes and know that spoken words are made up of phonemes.

Phonetics The study of the way humans make, transmit and receive sounds, including all the possible sounds made by humans.

Phonics A method of teaching children to read by teaching them to recognise and use sound-symbol correspondences. Phonics does include some aspects of the phonology of English but it is not the same as phonetics or phonology.

Phonological awareness Awareness of units of sound in speech.

Phonology The study of sound systems of languages, including only those sound contrasts (phonemes) that make a difference to the meaning within language.

Prosody The patterns of rhythm and sound used in poetry. In linguistics, prosodic analysis of a language is based on its patterns of stress and intonation in different contexts. In systemic grammar, it is a foundation for the analysis of syntax and meaning.

Rhyme A rhyme is heard when two words share the same or very similar sound in their final syllable.

Rime The part of a syllable that contains the syllable nucleus (usually a vowel) and final consonants, if any – bin. Some words consist of rime only – eel.

Semantics The branch of linguistics concerned with meaning. The two main areas are logical semantics (relating to matters such as sense, reference and presupposition) and lexical semantics (relating to the analysis of word meanings and the relationships between words).

Simile A straightforward comparison between one object, emotion or experience and another using the signal words ‘like’ or ‘as’.

Soliloquy A dramatist’s device of having a character, either alone or with other characters present, speak thoughts aloud. If there are other characters present, the audience must accept that they cannot hear the soliloquy speech because it is all taking place inside the soliloquist’s head! The soliloquy is a theatrical device invented by Shakespeare and actually used very little since. The best known example is of course Hamlet’s great ‘To be or not to be?’ soliloquy from Act 3, Scene i of Hamlet. Laurence Olivier did this soliloquy in his own film of the play as a voice-over.

Stage directions The sections of a drama script in which the writer explains to the play’s director and actors how sections of the play are to be presented. These directions may give instructions for set layout, ways in which lines should be said, particular lighting and sound effects, and so on. Stage directions in a text may be long or short. George Bernard Shaw is noted for the length and detail of his directions. He certainly did not want any misunderstanding of his own view of the way in which his plays should be performed! When working with play scripts, primary children often do not at first understand that stage directions do not form part of the play itself and insist on reading them out!

Stanza A verse of poetry. The two words, stanza and verse, are quite often interchangeable.

Style An author’s individual and characteristic way of selecting, organising and presenting language.

Subjunctive A verb mood expressing what is imagined or wished or possible. I wish he were here. Compare with the indicative mood which expresses reality. Yesterday he was here.

Syllable An element of speech that acts as a unit of rhythm. A ‘beat’ in the rhythm of speech. A syllable usually contains a vowel.

Syllable nucleus A vowel or vowel-like sound at the heart of a syllable.

Syntax The arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language.

Trigraph A written representation of a sound using three letters. See also digraph.

Voice-over A disembodied voice (generally recorded) that speaks over the action on the stage to fill in narrative details or to explain characters’ thoughts, feelings, reactions or motivation. The voice may be the voice of one of the characters in the play or the voice of an omniscient narrator – the playwright’s voice in fact.