A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 87

A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers

A. What is dialect?

Dialect refers to the features of grammar and vocabulary, which convey information about a person’s geographical origin. Speakers of the same language spread across different locations may speak in ways that are slightly different to reflect their geographical setting. Dialects often result from historical and geographical dispersal or separation of members from the original speech community. For instance, English, which was originally located in the British Isles, has dialects spread across the world far away from its original community. So, English has the native dialect – dialects spoken by some people as their mother tongue in places such as Britain, America, Australia, Canada, and South Africa. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)     

B. What is accent?

The term accent is different from dialect in the sense that it refers mainly to the features of pronunciation, which indicate the regional or the social identity of a speaker. It is also a characteristic pronunciation determined by the phonetic habits of the speaker's native language carried over to his or her use of another language. Accent is only part of dialect variation.

C. What is sociolect?

A sociolect is the language spoken by a social group, social class or subculture. It is a portmanteau term combining the words "social" and “dialect”. However, dialects often have a particular social status, so that a given variant may be considered simultaneously a dialect and a sociolect. In every society, and regional dialects, these varieties emerge as a result of speakers’ education and social status of groups of people who relate often together, thereby, speaking the same way. It is this variety they speak that we refer to as sociolect. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)     

D. What is Idiolect?

Idiolect refers to the features of speech peculiar to individuals in the society. It ranges from phonological features, such as voice and intonation to discourse phenomena in naturally-occurring conversation. A person’s idiolect makes another person to recognize his voice when he is speaking in the next room to the person.

E. What is Register?

Register refers to a variety of language according to use. It is a subset of language used for a particular purpose in a particular social setting. The term register was first used by the linguist Thomas Reid in 1956. It was later brought into currency in the 1960s by linguists who wanted to differentiate between ‘variations of language according to ‘user’ and ‘variations of language according to use’ Each user of a language has a range of varieties from which he chooses to reflect the social reality (Halliday, et. al., 1964). Register, therefore refers to varieties used for different occasions characterized by specialized vocabulary and grammar. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)     

F. What is Style?

For us as language specialists style simply refers to how individuals use language to reflect their unique environment. People are always motivated either consciously or unconsciously on the choices they make within the linguistic system they operate in. These choices have a profound impact on the way a text is structured and interpreted.

G. What is Automatization and Foregrounding?

Two important notions in Stylistics are Automatization and Foregrounding. Automatization refers to the common use of linguistic devices. It does not attract particular attention by the language decoder. Automatization corresponds with the norm. Foregrounding on the other hand, are unexpected expressions in certain contexts. They are considered conspicuous; therefore, they catch the language decoder’s attention. Foregrounding deals with deviation from the norm. Another way of seeing foregrounding is as an indication of an episode or event in a narrative or drama that is yet to take place. This can be done by using a metaphor or subplot to bring to the fore a major development prior to its occurrence in the narration or play. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)     

H. What are Deviant Varieties?

Deviant varieties are varieties that deviate from the generally accepted norms of language use in a particular society. Deviant varieties are peculiar creations of an individual or a group of people who just choose to use language the way it suits them for some particular reasons.

I. What is Slang?

Slang can be described as informal, non-standard words or phrases, which tend to originate in sub-cultures within the society. They may also be old expressions, which are given new meanings or connotations in current usage. They may also be entirely new coinages or neologisms. Slang expressions are highly colloquial and they are also considered as below the level of educated standard speech. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)     

J. What is Graffiti?

Graffiti is a form of writing that originated from drawing or inscription scratched on an ancient wall. According to Crystal (1994), graffiti is used nowadays to refer to any spontaneous and unauthorized writing or drawing on walls, vehicles and other public places. It can sometimes be obscene, but usually underlying the humour and obscenity is a serious societal issue, which the writer is using the graffiti to highlight. Graffiti, especially when it is devoted to obscenity and dirty jokes is written on lavatory walls. It is almost the case that the more hidden the graffiti, the more obscene it is likely to be.

K. What is Jargon?

Jargon is the specialized or technical language of a trade, profession, or similar group. But the term has also come to mean inflated, vague, meaningless language of any kind. It is characterized by wordiness, abstractions galore, pretentious diction, and needlessly complicated word order. Whenever you meet a sentence that obviously could express its idea in fewer words and shorter ones, chances are that it is jargon. One important feature of a jargon is that it relates to a specific activity, profession, or group. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)     

 L. What is Technologically Mediated Discourse (TMD) or Computer mediated Communication (CMC)?

According to the Wikipedia Dictionary, Technologically Mediated Discourse (TMD) or Computer mediated Communication (CMC) is any form of communication between two or more individual people who interact and/or influence each other via separate computers through the Internet or a network connection - using social software. CMC does not include the methods by which two computers communicate, but rather how people communicate using computers.

M. What is Pidgin?

Pidgin is a new language, which develops in situations where speakers of different languages need to communicate but do not share a common language. One major characteristic of Pidgin is that it originally has no group of people who could call themselves its native speakers. A Pidgin develops for some practical purpose, such as trading among groups of people who had a lot of social contacts, but who did not understand each other’s languages. Pidgins lack complex morphology and they have very limited vocabulary. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)     

N. What is Creole?

A Creole, like a Pidgin, is a distinct language. But unlike it, it is the mother tongue of a community of speakers. It is not restricted in use and like any other language; it operates in its full range of functions, not restricted like a Pidgin. A Creole is an advanced or elaborated form of pidgin.

O. What is Agglutination?

Agglutination is the process of expanding the root through the addition of affixes, which modify both the meaning and form. It is common in Turkish. The English system also reflects agglutination in words like re– organ – ise – ation, where the root is organ and the affixes re- (aprefix) –ise, ation (suffixes) are added to the root. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)     

P. What is Flexion?

Flexion is common in Semitic languages, such as Arabic, where an affix is added to the root to the extent that they both become fused. English also reflects this in the verb were, which has the information – be + past+ plural. It is however impossible to separate these information because everything has become fused into one unit.

Q. What is Linguistic Anthropology?

The term Linguistic Anthropology is used to refer to the North American approach to linguistics, which according to Hymes (1964:xxiii) falls outside the active concern of Linguistics. It can be defined as the study of language within the context of Anthropology. Anthropological linguistics is the study of language through human genetics and human development. It is a branch of anthropology that studies humans through the languages that they use. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)     

R. What is Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?

The Sapir-Whorf theory, named after the American linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf, is a mould theory of language. Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf brought attention to the relationship between language, thought, and culture. Language and thought are inextricably bound together, so it is very clear that they influence one another. What we know, how we learn the language and our actual language performance are also connected with our thought. A major theory at the back of all these discussions is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

S. What is Bilingualism?

Bilingualism can be seen from two different perspectives: from the individual’s perspective and the societal perspective. In essence, we have individual bilingualism and societal bilingualism. When an individual in a community possesses two languages, he/she is described as a bilingual. Likewise, when in a society, two languages dominate others and most of the dwellers in that community speak or use those languages in communication, we can call that society bilingual. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)     

T.  What is Discourse Analysis?

The term Discourse Analysis refers to an attempt to study language above the sentence or above the clause. It is concerned with the study of linguistic units, such as conversational exchanges and written texts. It involves an investigation of rules governing the production and perception of discourse.

U. What is Code Switching?

Code switching refers to the use of two languages simultaneously or interchangeably in a communication. Code switching is an intersentential phenomenon specific to bilinguals. It involves the use of two or more language codes from one sentence to another. Code switching may be language switch or variety switch. Language switch is a switch from one language to another in one communication, while variety switch is a switch from one variety of language, e.g, a dialect (social, regional) or even a register to another. It is a deliberate act whose motivation is usually clear to the people involved in the discourse. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)     


V. 3000? BC:Cuneiform Writing Invented in Sumer

2900? BC: Cuneiform Writing Improves

2350? BC: Harappāns Invent Writing Method

W. 400? BC: Panini Writes Sanskrit Grammar

Indian grammarian Panini authors the earliest grammar in the world: an analysis of the Sanskrit language. His work represents a major step forward in discerning a rational structure to the chaos of language. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)     

X. 1889 – 1951: Wittgenstein’s Analytic and Linguistic Philosophy

Austrian-born British philosopher and mathematician Ludwig Wittgenstein is considered by some to be the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. He is preoccupied with questions of language, and becomes a major figure in analytic and linguistic philosophy. He writes Philosophical Investigations, which is published posthumously.

Y. 1916: Ferdinand de Saussure Founds Structuralism

Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure develops a theory of language that sees it as a structured system of elements, rules, and meanings socially conceived. His methodology establishes linguistics as a subject of scientific study with broad applications. His thoughts, published posthumously in his Course in General Linguistics, form the basis of the schools of thought known as Structuralism and Semiology.


Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert     

2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature


4. Baugh, A.C and Cable T (2001). A History of the English Language. 5th ed. London: Routledge

5. Alatis, J.E. (1985). Perspectives on bilingualism and bilingual education. Georgetown University Press.

 6. Wikipedia Dictionary