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Language Analysis: The Basics

Analysing language

Analysis refers to how the writer conveys meaning through language techniques, such as figures of speech, sentence structure, tone and word choice. When analysing language you must show that you are aware of how it is written. This means identifying the language features used and explaining their effect.

For example, in persuasive speaking or writing what you are primarily examining is the art of rhetoric. This means more than the identification of persuasive techniques used by writers; it means that you must identify how writers use these techniques to persuade. If you only identify the technique being used you are only halfway there. Although it is a necessary step in the analytical process, of itself, it is not sufficient.

Language Analysis Tips

The Author

The T.E.E. rule

  • Technique: what persuasive technique is used?
  • Example: which text that shows it?
  • Effect: what is the intended impact on readers’ attitudes?

The ultimate goal is to demonstrate your understanding of how the author attempts to persuade the reader to agree with his or her contention.

Break up the essential parts of analysing language so you can pinpoint exactly the part that is most problematic and also how you can finally get a strong grasp on how to be successful in this area.

To find out more, read How the author intends to persuade their readers 

Tone

10 questions to ask when analysing a text's tone:

1. What are 2-3 words that describe the tone of the text?

2. Are there shifts in tone? (From ____ to ____)

3. At what point(s) do(es) shift(s) in tone occur?

4. What is the function of the shift(s) in tone?

5. What is the effect of the tone at the beginning of the text?

6. What is the effect of the tone at the middle of the text?

7. What is the effect of the tone at the end of the text?

8. How does the tone impact the author’s credibility?

9. How does the tone impact the audience’s reception of the message?

10. What is the overall effect of the tone?

Source

Style

14 questions to ask when analysing a text's style:

1. What is the point of view?

2. What patterns exist in the author’s word choice?

3. What patterns exist in the author’s sentence structure?

4. Does the text tend to be concise or verbose? How does this impact the conveyance of meaning?

5. Is the author’s approach to central idea objective or subjective?

6. How does the author use diction to emphasise information that supports the argument?

7. How does the author use diction to minimise information that detracts from the argument?

8. How does the author use syntax to emphasise information that supports the argument?

9. How does the author use syntax to minimise information that detracts from the argument?

10. What rhetorical devices are used? What is their effect?

11. Is the language formal or informal? How does this meet/not meet the audience’s needs?

12. Does the author use satire? What is its effect?

13. Does the author omit but imply key words, phrases, or ideas? What effect does this have on the meaning of the text?

14. Are the descriptions/images concrete or abstract? How does this contribute to the argument?

Source

Metalanguage