When analyzing the author's diction, we need to build our vocabulary and look at ways in which to describe the language.
Consider the level of formality
FORMAL: elevated, learned, pretentious, ornate, flowery, archaic, scholarly, pedantic, elegant, dignified, impersonal, elaborate, sophisticated, formal, cultured, poetic, abstract, esoteric (hard to understand), colorful, eloquent, euphonious
INFORMAL: candid, detached, plain, simple, straightforward, informal, conversational, concrete, unadorned
CASUAL/SLANG: abrupt, terse, laconic, simple, rustic, vulgar, slang, jargon, dialect, simple, colloquial
Consider the type of language used
Denotative language: authentic, actual, apparent, literal, journalistic, straightforward, concrete, precise
Connotative language: poetic, lyrical, symbolic, metaphoric, sensuous, grotesque, picturesque, abstract, whimsical, euphemistic, figurative, obscure, allegorical, suggestive, idyllic, emotive
Consider the tone
POSITIVE TONES: cheerful, eager, lighthearted, hopeful, exuberant, enthusiastic, complimentary, confident, cheery, trusting, optimistic, loving, passionate, amused, elated, sympathetic, compassionate, proud, wistful, longing, romantic, humorous
NEGATIVE TONES: bitter, angry, outraged, accusing, incensed, turbulent, furious, wrathful, inflammatory, irritated, disgusted, indignant, irate, caustic, condescending, cynical, pompous, satiric, critical, grotesque, melancholic, mournful, apprehensive
NEUTRAL TONES: objective, nostalgic, candid, restrained, detached, instructive, learned, factual, informative, authoritative, disinterested, judicial, impartial, frank, aloof, calm, imploring
In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte writes in a connotative, elevated style using figurative and sensuous language in order to evoke an emotional response or pathos from the reader of Jane’s plight at Gateshead.
In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad writes in a connotative, high style. His use of abstract, poetic, and ornate language establishes existential themes of fate and meaninglessness.
In Malgudi Days, R.K. Narayan writes in a denotative, plain style using simple, but sometimes ironic language to depict ordinary life in South India and to suggest that things do not always worked out as hoped.
In In Cold Blood, Truman Capote writes with colorful, figurative prose using symbolic and metaphoric language in order to develop the emotional complexities of the killers.
Loaded language: words or phrases that carry a strong emotional connotation to appeal emotionally to the audience or reader e.g. "America's first invasion"; "terrorist," "freedom," "assault," etc.
Sentence starter: The author utilizes loaded language such as "______" and "_____" in order to appeal emotionally to the reader so that ____.
Name-calling: labeling an opponent with a term that the audience would find negative e.g. liar, crook, etc.
Sentence starter: The writer relies on name-calling in order to evoke negative emotions about ________ because _______.
Dysphemisms: words with unpleasant connotations that are used to evoke negative feelings about someone or something e.g. referring someone as a dog or a cockroach.
Sentence starter: The author uses dysphemistic language such as "_____" and "_____" in order to evoke negative feelings about _____ because ____.
Generalities: broad or vague statements that are used to evoke a positive emotion e.g. we must do what is in the best interest of society; I stand for freedom for this wonderful nation.
Sentence starter: The author relies on glittering generalities in his language such as "___" and "____" in order to ____.
Euphemisms: words used to avoid unpleasant or offensive terms, using less harsh language: "the man passed this evening" instead of "died" OR "ethnic cleansing" instead of "genocide."
Sentence starter: The author uses euphemistic language such as "_______" and "______" in order to ______.