Identifying language techniques Composers use various language techniques or features to make their texts more interesting and engaging to the responder.
Some language techniques used by Stephen Herrick in The Simple Gift are: • simile: comparing one thing with another using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ • metaphor: a comparison where one thing is said to be another • colloquial language: everyday speech characterised by informal language and shortened words (g’day, can’t) • direct speech: quotation marks (“) are used to indicate direct speech, that is, the exact words that are spoken • slang: words which are fashionable within a small group for a short period of time • literary allusion: makingreference to other well known books, films, etc • first person: using the pronouns I, me, my, us, we • comparatives and superlatives: adjectives for comparing, e. g. |Adjective |Comparative |Superlative | |long |longer |longest | |small |smaller |smallest | |bright |brighter |brightest | • ellipsis: three dots to provide a pause, to show that something has been left out • modality: gives information about the degree of certainty involved in an action, e. g. |Low modality |Medium modality |High modality | |possibly |probably |definitely | |could |should |must | |never |sometimes |always | • juxtaposition: the close positioning of words or images to create an effect • imagery: to create a set of strong mental images in the responder’s mind • repetition: a word or phrase used many times to add emphasis • rhetorical question: a question that is asked but which does not expect or need an answer. Activity: Language techniques Find examples of these language techniques in The Simple Gift. Give page numbers. Explain the effect of this technique on the responder. Language technique |Example from the text (quote) |Page |Effect of this technique | |Simile |Men in suits, like tired penguins | 28 | I makes you think they all seem tired and | | | | |they all look the same as one another. Doing | | | | |the same sort of thing day in and day out. | |Metaphor | I dreamt of myself as an old man in a pub | 54 | It makes you think that he is a bit | | | | |depressed about getting old, from what he has| | | | |seen it is a bad thing. |Colloquial language | I wished I Hadn’t | 80 | It is simply regretting whatever they have | | | | |done | |Direct speech | “$109, but let’s make it $100 cash. It’s a | 83 |Well Billy is looking to buy a ring, and the | | |good ring son. ” | |man is being very generous towards him. | |Slang | | | | |Literary allusion | He kept talking about the book, his | 118 | It is talking about the book that he loves | | |favourite, The Grapes Of Wrath and the honour | |and the characteristics of the book. | | of poverty | | | |First person | I hate Cooking | 121 |Well the first one she is saying she does not| | |I love Eating | |like cooking, | | | | |The second shows that she loves to eat. | |Comparatives/ superlatives | Quieter, | 129 | It is more silent than quiet but louder | | | | |than quietest. |Ellipsis | A house seems so… so… | 176 | It looks like they are struggling to find | | | | |words to describe what they are trying to | | | | |say. | |Modality | Nothing, something, | 96 |It is like building it up to something big. | |Juxtaposition | In the quiet sunshine |94 |It creates the affect of a most peaceful day,| | | | |that everyone is happy. |Imagery | A sip of beer, a slice of cheese, some | 94 |It creates pictures in your head of the food | | |roast, and slowly one biscuit after another | |they are eating and how nice it is. | |Repetition | | | | |Rhetorical question | What should I say? |135 |He is asking himself what he should say to | | | | |make it perfect but he knows it comes from | | | | |the heart anyway. |