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Ready for Anything: The 5 Language Types you need to master for Leaving Cert English



Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

We break down the crucial language you need to know to for Leaving Cert English.

The Language of Information

The language of information aims to communicate information clearly and concisely to the reader. Facts are presented in an uncomplicated manner without an agenda. The tone is objective and impartial, like a journalist reporting the news. It's also the main style of language used for giving instructions or orders.

Examples can be found in reports, newspaper articles and editorials, instructions, formal letters, forms and questionnaires, travel guides, obituaries and Wikipedia.

The main features of the language of information include: the clear organisation of language, relevant content (stick to the point!), a simple, clear style - short sentences and factual rather than emotive words the absence of slang or jargon and an objective tone.

The Language of Argument

Argument is the process of trying to convince other people of your point of view using either evidence or facts. The tone is logical and calm, without emotion. When using the language of argument, you appeal to someone's brain rather than their heart in your attempt to sway them. Good argumentative writing is clear and concise and features verified facts

Examples can be found in political speeches, editorials, legal documents and scientific and medical journals. The main features include a logical step-by-step approach, the use of supporting facts or statistics to back up points, evidence of research from reliable sources like the OECD, WHO, UN, ESRI etc, the refutation of counter arguments, the use of emphatic words and repetition of key phrases.

The Language of Persuasion

Persuasion is the process of trying to convince other people of your point of view using manipulation or appealing to the emotions; appealing to the heart rather than the head.

Examples can be found in advertising, political speeches, reviews and marketing journals. The main stylistic features include: an attention-grabbing opening, an appeal to the emotions - you want to make your audience feel something, the use of the personal 'I' or 'We' to include the audience, repetition: used to emphasise a point or create drama. Eg 'I have a dream' 'Yes we can', imagery: can help the audience visualise what you are describing. Eg children joining hands in 'I have a dream speech', humour which can help win an audience over, rhetorical questions which grab attention and emphasise a point. 'How can we do this to our children?'

Narrative Language

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To narrate simply means to tell a story. It can be fiction or non-fiction. There is always at least one option to write a short story in the Leaving Cert English composing section. Good storytelling brings the setting, characters and events to life in the imagination of the reader

Examples can be found in autobiographies/biographies, travel writing, diaries, novels/short stories, plays and film scripts. The main stylistic features include: narratives generally have a beginning, middle and end, most are set in the past tense, setting, character and action are prioritised and descriptive detail. There are lots of classic short stories available to read for free online if you want to focus on this language style. I highly recommend the classics section of https://www.shortstoryproject.com/.

The Aesthetic Use of Language

The word 'aesthetic' comes from the Greek, meaning 'concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty' and on the LC course it means writing that focuses on style as well as substance. Poetry is the ultimate expression of an aesthetic use of language but you can find examples of it in prose writing also.

'Language can be an artistic medium. Words, like colour and shape in art and sound in music, can be used to create artefacts whose primary purpose is to give aesthetic pleasure, enrich imaginative perception and feeling and reveal insights.'

(Draft Guidelines for Teachers of English, Dept of Education and Science)

Examples can be found in poetry, narrative writing and descriptive writing. Stylistic features include imagery which can appeal to any of our five senses, figurative language eg similes, metaphors and personification and poetic techniques like: alliteration: repetition of consonant sounds. Examples include: 'creeping cracks' 'glad grace', 'sing a song of sunlight' and 'gravelly ground', assonance: repetition of vowel sounds. Examples: roll over and over, 'Among the clouds above' 'Over his shoulder going down and down' and onomatopoeia: words that sound like what they describe: Examples: Bang! Crash! Hiss, sizzle, fizz, splash, tinkle.

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