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Analysing Language | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC


Purpose.  This study used statistical text analysis to examine the features of crime narratives provided by psychopathic homicide offenders. Psychopathic speech was predicted to reflect an instrumental/predatory world view, unique socioemotional needs, and a poverty of affect.

Methods.  Two text analysis tools were used to examine the crime narratives of 14 psychopathic and 38 non-psychopathic homicide offenders. Psychopathy was determined using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). The Wmatrix linguistic analysis tool ( Rayson, 2008 ) was used to examine parts of speech and semantic content while the Dictionary of Affect and Language (DAL) tool ( Whissell & Dewson, 1986 ) was used to examine the emotional characteristics of the narratives.

Conclusions. These language differences, presumably beyond conscious control, support the notion that psychopaths operate on a primitive but rational level.

This video is a short introduction to the task of language analysis. What is it? Where do you start? Is it important? I’m going to give you the basic outline, and then outline a few strategies to start improving your marks in language analysis by being proactive.

Firstly, language analysis is important for you to get your head around. It is one-third of the end of year exam and usually one-third of your SACs over the year. On top of that, it’s the only section of the English exam where every student in the state is answering the same question, so you have to be good at making your own response stand out from the crowd.

Now, let’s talk a little about what language analysis actually is. This task asks you to read a piece, such as an article or a speech, and then examine the way it has attempted to persuade the reader. This means working out:

You work your way through the piece, spotting the different attempts at persuasion and then you write an essay explaining how each thing works. For a more in-depth look at what that essay will look like, make sure to check out our video on structuring a language analysis.

Next, let’s look at what teachers and assessors expect from you for this task. The VCAA identifies their marking criteria for language analysis as these three key points:

Don’t think of these three things as each making up a third of your mark: they are looked at as a whole. Some key things to note are * highlight as I read through these *:

Purpose.  This study used statistical text analysis to examine the features of crime narratives provided by psychopathic homicide offenders. Psychopathic speech was predicted to reflect an instrumental/predatory world view, unique socioemotional needs, and a poverty of affect.

Methods.  Two text analysis tools were used to examine the crime narratives of 14 psychopathic and 38 non-psychopathic homicide offenders. Psychopathy was determined using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). The Wmatrix linguistic analysis tool ( Rayson, 2008 ) was used to examine parts of speech and semantic content while the Dictionary of Affect and Language (DAL) tool ( Whissell & Dewson, 1986 ) was used to examine the emotional characteristics of the narratives.

Conclusions. These language differences, presumably beyond conscious control, support the notion that psychopaths operate on a primitive but rational level.