2DictionWord choiceDiction can refer to specific word choices or the general character of language chosen by the authorThree areas to considerAppearanceSoundMeaning
3SemanticsThe branch of linguistics that studies the meaning of words, their historical and psychological development, their connotations, and their relation to one another.
4Single Liberty Summer Monday A Quick Activity… Draw the first thing you think of when I say…SingleLibertySummerMonday
5Denotation vs. Connotation The strict, literal, dictionary definition of a word, devoid of any emotion, attitude, or color.Monday:–noun the second day of the week, following Sunday.The non-literal, associative meaning of a word; the implied, suggested meaning.Connotations may involve ideas, emotions, or attitudes.Monday: the beginning of the work week or school week, often negatively associated with stress, lack of sleep, overwhelming responsibilities, a loss of freedom, etc.
6More on connotations: The room was so small, everyone felt ________. The _________ entered the city quickly and without incident.She excitedly showed us around her _________.crampedcozyliberatorsinvadersdwellinghome
7Sound of Words Pleasant sounding words Harsh sounding words EuphoniousCacophonousPleasant sounding wordsLong vowels are better than short vowels“Liquid” consonants: l, m, n, rSoft consonants: v, f, th, wh, sh, w, yHarsh sounding wordsShort vowels rather than long vowels“Plosive” consonants: b, d, g, k, p, tMore challenging to sayFlow is broken up by harsher sounding letters
8Sound of WordsEuphoniousCacophonousUpon Julia’s Voice Robert Herrick So smooth, so sweet, so silvery is thy voice, As, could they hear, the Damned would make no noise, But listen to thee (walking in thy chamber) Melting melodious words to Lutes of Amber.From Dulce et Decorum Est Wilfred Owen Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
9Monosyllabic vs. Polysyllabic Words are one syllable in lengthOften creates a sense of urgency or simplicityWords are more than one syllable in lengthOften creates a sense of complexity or a more erudite effect
10Monosyllabic vs. Polysyllabic “I did not want to see the bank. There were shots when I ran and shots when I came up the first time. I heard them when I was almost above water. There were no shots now” (Hemingway 225).“All about stretched drying cornfields, of the pale-gold colour, I remembered so well… Along the cattle-paths the plumes of goldenrod were already fading into sun- warmed velvet, grey with gold threads in it. I had escaped from the curious depression that hangs over little towns, and my mind was full of pleasant things” (Cather 287).
11Informal vs. Formal Professional, educated, and academic language Dignified, elevated, and perhaps impersonal.Elaborate, or sophisticated vocabulary. Polysyllabic“I just need to gather my belongings.”Conversational; often appropriate for conversations but not professional or academic documents.Plain language of everyday use, including slang, jargon, vulgarity, and dialect. Monosyllabic.“I just gotta get my stuff.”
12Informal vs. FormalInformalFormal“But a great book, rich in ideas and beauty, a book that raises and tries to answer great fundamental questions, demands the most active reading of which you are capable” (Adler).“It's funny how people and bookstores sell used books on Alibris.com and Amazon.com” (Peter).
13ColloquialismThe use of slang or informalities in speech or writing. Not generally acceptable for formal writing, colloquialisms give a work a conversational, familiar tone.Colloquial expressions in writing include local or regional dialects.Often considered a subset of informal diction“Ain’t everybody’s daddy the deadest shot in Maycomb County” (Lee 112).
14Dialect Language spoken by people in a region or group “I’d made up my mine ‘bout what I’s a-gwyne to do… So I says, a raff is what I’s arter; it doan’ make no track” (Twain 44).Language spoken by people in a region or group
15Jargon The special language of a profession or group. Often has pejorative associationsevasive, tedious, and unintelligible to outsiders.Ex: Lawyers, doctors, literary critics
16Objective vs. Subjective Impersonal and unemotional“The pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence as a right of all Americans, as well as on the self-improvement shelves of every American bookstore. Yet the scientific evidence makes it seem unlikely that you can change your level of happiness in any sustainable way” (Seligman xi-xii).Personal and emotional language“I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy… At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great” (Cather 21).
17Concrete vs. Abstract Tangible and specific language Conceptual and philosophical language“Abstract words such a glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the umbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and dates” (Hemingway 185).
18Literal vs. Figurative From Dulce et Decorum Est Wilfred Owen Straight-forward language without embellishmentFrom The Man He KilledThomas HardyBut ranged as infantryAnd staring face to face,I shot at him and he at me,And killed him in his place.Features literary devices, like hyperboles or metaphorsFrom Dulce et Decorum EstWilfred OwenBent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags…
19Words to describe diction… PedanticCulturedLearnedPretentiousArchaicScholarlyOrnateElegantFloweryDidacticElevatedPedestrianUnadornedPlainDetachedSimpleHomespunColloquialInvectivePejorativeMetaphoricPoeticLyricalSymbolicObscureSensuousGrotesquePicturesqueClichéAbruptTerseLaconicVulgarSlangJargonExactJournalisticStraightforward