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ANALYSING LANGUAGE IN NON-FICTION & MEDIA TEXTS
Don’t try to write about the whole text – locate the most obvious linguistic features and write about those. It is better to write a lot about a little!
Use the following checklist of linguistic techniques to help you.
- Look out for techniques you find in poetry – non-fiction writers use them too!
- Does the text contain: similes, metaphors, alliteration, onomatopoeia?
- Look out also for techniques you would use in your non-fiction writing.
- Does it use: opinions, alliteration, rhetorical questions, emotive language, irony, exaggeration, contrast, colloquial language, anecdote, facts and statistics, inference, humour, lists, quotations?
- Do any of the words used seem particularly striking or unusual? Why have they been used?
- Does the text use imperative verbs (giving orders) such as ‘follow’, ‘begin’? This might suggest instructions or advice is being given.
- Look at the use of connectives. Does it uses words such as ‘because’ or ‘since’ which suggest explanation is happening?
- Does it use words such as ‘however’, ‘nevertheless’ which suggest argument or persuasion is the purpose of the text?
- Does it use longer, complex words that suggest it is aimed at an intelligent reader?
- Does it use slang or colloquialisms which might be aimed at teenagers?
- Look for subject specific vocabulary, such as ICT terms, which suggest a text is aimed at a specialist audience.
SENTENCES & PARAGRAPHS
- Does the text use short sentences to suggest excitement, build up tension, make a point?
- Does it use long complex sentences to build to a climax or to provide a detailed account?
- Does it use very short paragraphs to attract attention to the contents?
- Does it use longer paragraphs containing more detail or analysis?
Remember, if it is a tabloid newspaper it is more likely to use short paragraphs and a broadsheet longer ones.
- Look out for unusual punctuation.
- Teenager ‘tortured to death’ – the use of inverted commas suggests someone’s opinion.
- Let’s focus on…improving your home – the use of ellipsis (…) suggests a surprise. It can also be used to suggest a fading away at the end of a sentence.
- Holly hits out! – an exclamation mark is used to attract attention to the statement and to suggest excitement or importance.
FINALLY, DON’T FORGET TO EXPLAIN WHY THESE TECHNIQUES HAVE BEEN USED. YOU CAN USE THE PEE METHOD EXACTLY AS YOU WOULD IN A POETRY ESSAY.