Choices in Language, Structure and Form

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Choices in Language, Structure and Form

Most material we read is non-fiction, in your exam you may be asked to commenton how the writers of articles, leaflets or adverts use language to engage,influence or persuade the reader.

Remember: that just because it is non-fiction it does not mean that it is fact, the writer will have an opinion that they want to get across to the reader.

It is worth remembering that millions of pounds is spent each year on advertising. A specialist team will have carefully chosen every word or image in an advert,in order to have a specific effect on the audience.

Adverts, therefore, and all other non-fiction texts, should be read with the same care, as you would apply to reading a poem. You should always ask yourself what message the writer is trying to get across and why, before you make up your own mind.

Read the following newspaper article and think about what techniques the writer has used:

Choices in Language, Structure and Form

Click below to see what techniques the writer uses to make the article engaging:

Copyright S-cool

Now do the same for this advert - read it and think about what techniques the writer has used to make you want to buy the book, then try to answer the question that follows:

Choices in Language, Structure and Form

How does the advert above seek to persuade you to send off for their book?

You will have to think about different aspects of writing such as:

  • Vocabulary
  • Structure
  • Form

Have a look below and see how many of the following points you thought of:

Vocabulary
'World famous' gives a sense of authority and makes it appear to be something you can trust
The publishers are said to be 'educational'. This makes it sound as if they are publishing for your own good and not purely for profit.
Learning how to improve your English is made to sound very quick and easy, words such as;'simple', 'swift' are used. The word 'mastery' makes it sound like you can easily become an expert. 'Double your powers' sounds precise, like a statistic. 'Power' is an attractive attribute

Structure
Starts with a question to get you thinking.
The paragraphs are very short, making it easy to read.
The writer uses patterns of 3 in the second paragraph. This is a traditional persuasive device.
The important information is withheld: We do not find out who the expert is, nor do we discover what sort thing we would have to do to achieve mastery. The promises come first, playing on our insecurities and aspirations, and making us want to read on.

Form
It's set out like a newspaper article.
The layout and tone are that of a newspaper report. It is as if a journalist has discovered this 'fascinating' book
his form creates a sense of objectivity, as if no one is actually selling you anything. You expect to believe what you read in newspaper articles.

As you can see there is quite a lot you can analyse in a fairly short text.You may have noticed other devices used, such as the use of Upper Case type for 'world famous'. We will cover these Presentational Devices next.

Presentational devices include the form of the non-fiction text.

For instance, if the piece you are asked to analyse is a leaflet, you should consider how this has been designed. Why different information is on the front,in the middle and on the back, etc.

Presentational devices also include:

  • Use of photographs; headlines and subheadings.
  • Bullet points; illustrations; cartoons; diagrams, graphs and grids.
  • Boxes; bold, italic, large or small type, upper case or fancy fonts.

Basically anything about how the piece looks will come under presentation, and nothing should be ignored. Even the amount of blank space can be significant.

Remember: that you will not get marks for describing language, structure, form, or presentational devices.

You need to explain the purpose or effect of these.

For example:

If you were given an advert for a Range Rover car, you would get no marks for saying that the car is pictured on the edge of cliff with a storm breaking out to sea.

You would get marks though if, for instance, you said this setting was intended to flatter the potential driver by suggesting s/he is adventurous,someone who likes drama and danger, someone tough and exciting, like the car.

It is important too that you evaluate the effectiveness of Language and Presentation.

This doesn't mean saying whether something is good or bad. It means explaining why you think it is good or bad.

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