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RAS Syndrome - Systrophe

A glossary of grammatical and rhetorical terms, from RAS SYNDROME to SYSTROPHE. Click on a term for definitions, examples, word history, pronunciation guide, and links to related articles.

RAS syndrome
RAS syndrome is a humorous initialism for "Redundant Acronym Syndrome syndrome": the redundant use of a word that is already included in an acronym or initialism.

readability formula
A readability formula is any one of many methods of measuring or predicting the difficulty level of a text by analyzing sample passages.

reader
(1) A person who reads. In composition studies, the term reader is generally synonymous with audience. (2) An anthology: a collection of essays, stories, or other works of prose or poetry.

reader-based prose
A kind of public writing: a text that is composed (or revised) with an audience in mind.

reading
Reading is the process of extracting meaning from a written or printed text.

reading speed
Reading speed is the rate at which a person reads written text (printed or electronic) in a specific unit of time.

rebuttal
In an argument or debate, rebuttal is the presentation of evidence and reasoning that is meant to weaken or undermine an opponent's claim.

received pronunciation (RP)
Received pronunciation (RP) is a once prestigious variety of British English spoken without an identifiable regional accent.

receiver
The listener, reader, or observer in the communication process.

reciprocal pronoun
A reciprocal pronoun is a pronoun that expresses mutual action or relationship. In English the reciprocal pronouns are "each other" and "one another."

recitation
Recitation is the spoken delivery of prose or verse (usually memorized) in front of an audience.

recursion
Recursion is the repeated sequential use of a particular type of linguistic element or grammatical structure.

red herring
An observation that draws attention away from the central issue in an argument or discussion.

reduced adverb(ial) clause
A reduced adverb(ial) clause is an adverb clause that has been shortened to a phrase, usually by omitting its subject and a form of "be."

reductio ad absurdum
In argumentation and informal logic, reductio ad absurdum is a method of refuting an opponent's claim by extending the logic of the opponent's argument to a point of absurdity.

redundancy
(1) Any feature of a language that is not needed in order to identify a linguistic unit. (2) In generative grammar, any language feature that can be predicted on the basis of other language features. (3) The repetition of the same idea or item of information within a phrase, clause, or sentence: a pleonasm or tautology.

reduplicative
A reduplicative is a word or lexeme that contains two identical or very similar parts.

reference
Reference is the relationship between two grammatical units, such as a pronoun and a noun.

reference grammar
A description of the grammar of a language, with explanations of the principles governing the construction of words, phrases, clauses, and sentences.

referent
A referent is the person, thing, or idea that a word or expression stands for.

reflected meaning
In semantics, reflected meaning is a phenomenon whereby a single word or phrase is associated with more than one meaning.

reflexive pronoun
A reflexive pronoun is a pronoun formed by adding "-self" or "-selves" to a form of the personal pronoun.

refutation
Refutation is the part of an argument wherein a speaker or writer anticipates and counters opposing points of view.

regional dialect
A regional dialect is the distinct form of a language spoken in a certain geographical area.

regionalism
Regionalism is a word or expression that is characteristic of a particular geographic area.

register
Register is one of the many styles or varieties of language determined by such factors as social occasion, purpose, and audience.

regular verb
A regular verb is a verb that forms its past tense and past participle by adding "d" or "ed" (or in some cases "t") to the base form.

relational grammar
Relational grammar is a theory of descriptive grammar in which syntactic operations (or relationships, such as those between subject and object) rather than syntactic structures are used to define grammatical processes.

relative adverb
A relative adverb is an adverb ("where," "when," or "why") that introduces a relative clause, also known as a relative adverb clause.

relative clause
A relative clause is a clause introduced by a relative pronoun (which, that, who, whom, whose) or a relative adverb (where, when, why).

relative pronoun
A relative pronoun is a pronoun that introduces an adjective clause (also called a relative clause).

relativization
In transformational grammar, relativization (also spelled relativisation) is the process of forming a relative clause.

relevance theory
In the fields of pragmatics and semantics (among others), relevance theory is the principle that the communication process involves not only encoding, transfer, and decoding of messages, but also numerous other elements, including inference and context.

Renaissance rhetoric
Renaissance rhetoric refers to the study and practice of rhetoric from approximately 1400 to 1650.

repair
In linguistics, a repair is the process by which a speaker recognizes a speech error and repeats what has been said with some sort of correction.

repartee
A quick, witty reply or an exchange of witty remarks.

repetition
In linguistics and rhetoric, repetition is an instance of using a word, phrase, or clause more than once in a short passage--dwelling on a point.

replacive
In morphology, a replacive is a word element that substitutes for another element within a stem.

report
A report is a document that presents information in an organized format for a specific audience and purpose.

reported speech
The report of one speaker or writer on the words said, written, or thought by someone else.

reporting clause
A reporting clause is an utterance (such as "she said," "he shouted," or "Cecil asks") that identifies the speaker of a reported clause in either direct or indirect speech.

reporting verb
A reporting verb is a verb used to indicate that discourse is being quoted or paraphrased.

research
Research is the collection and evaluation of information about a particular subject.

research paper
Definition of a research paper with concise guidelines and examples.

restaurantese
Restaurantese is an informal term for the specialized language (or jargon) sometimes used by restaurant employees and on menus.

restrictive element
A restrictive element is a word, phrase, or dependent clause that limits (or restricts) the meaning of the element it modifies while providing information essential to the meaning of the sentence.

restrictive relative clause
A restrictive relative clause is a relative clause (also called an adjective clause) that limits--or provides essential information about--the noun or noun phrase (NP) it modifies.

resumptive modifier
A resumptive modifier is a modifier that repeats a key word at the end of a sentence and then adds informative or descriptive details related to that word.

retronym
A retronym is a new word or phrase created for an old object or concept whose original name has become associated with something else or is no longer unique.

review
A review is an article that presents a critical evaluation of a text, performance, or production.

revision
Revision is the process of rereading a text and making changes (in content, organization, sentence structures, and word choice) to improve it.

rhetor
(1) A speaker or writer. (2) A teacher of rhetoric.

rhetoric
Rhetoric is the study and practice of effective communication.

rhetorical analysis
Rhetorical analysis is a form of criticism (or close reading) that employs the principles of rhetoric to examine the interactions between a text, an author, and an audience.

rhetorical canons
In classical rhetoric, the rhetorical canons are the five overlapping offices or divisions of the rhetorical process.

rhetorical move
(1) A general term for any strategy employed by a rhetor to advance an argument. (2) In genre studies, a term introduced by linguist John M. Swales to describe a particular rhetorical or linguistic pattern, stage, or structure conventionally found in a text or in a segment of a text.

rhetorical punctuation
Rhetorical punctuation (also known as elocutionary punctuation) is a system of punctuation intended to help people read a text aloud or hear how it is supposed to sound.

rhetorical question
A rhetorical question is a question asked merely for effect with no answer expected.

rhetorical situation
The rhetorical situation is the context of a rhetorical act; minimally, made up of a rhetor, an issue, and an audience.

rhetorical stance
Rhetorical stance is the role or behavior of a speaker or writer in relation to his or her subject, audience, and persona (or voice).

rhetoricality
A modern (or postmodern) view of rhetoric as an inherent feature of language or as a condition of our existence as language-using creatures rather than an overarching theory of discourse or communication.

rhetorician
(1) A master or teacher of rhetoric. (2) An eloquent speaker or writer.

rhopalic
A rhopalic is a sentence or a line of poetry in which each word contains one letter or one syllable more than the previous word.

rhyme
Rhyme is the identity or close similarity of sound between accented syllables.

rhyming compound
A rhyming compound is a compound word that contains rhyming elements.

rhyming slang
A form of slang commonly associated with London Cockneys though it has never been a major feature of Cockney usage and can be found in other parts of Britain as well as in parts of Australia and the U.S.

rhythm
(1) In phonetics, rhythm is the sense of movement in speech, marked by the stress, timing, and quantity of syllables. (2) In poetics, it is the recurring alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in sentences or lines of verse.

riddle
A riddle is a question or observation deliberately worded in a puzzling manner and presented as a problem to be solved.

Rogerian argument
Rogerian argument is a negotiating strategy in which common goals are identified and opposing views are described as objectively as possible in an effort to establish common ground and reach agreement.

root
A root is a word from which other words grow, usually through the addition of prefixes and suffixes.

root compound
In morphology, a root compound is a compound construction in which the head element is not derived from a verb

root metaphor
A root metaphor is an image, narrative, or fact that shapes an individual's perception of the world and interpretation of reality.

rules of English
In linguistics, the rules of English are the principles that govern syntax, word formation, pronunciation, and other features of the English language.

run-on sentence
In prescriptive grammar, two independent clauses that have been run together without an appropriate conjunction and/or mark of punctuation between them.

running style
Running style is a sentence style that appears to follow the mind as it worries a problem through, "mimicking the "rambling, associative syntax of conversation."

résumé
A résumé is a concise record of a person's work experience and professional qualifications.

salutation
At the beginning of a conversation, letter, email, or other form of communication, a salutation is a polite greeting, expression of good will, or other sign of recognition.

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the linguistic theory that the semantic structure of a language shapes or limits the ways in which a native speaker forms conceptions of the world.

sarcasm
A mocking, often ironic or satirical remark, usually intended to wound as well as amuse.

satire
Satire is a text or performance that uses irony, derision, or wit to expose or attack human vice, foolishness, or stupidity.

sausage machine model
The Sausage Machine model (Frazier and Fodor, 1978) is a sentence parsing scheme that is made up of two stages.

scare quotes
Quotation marks used around a word or phrase not to indicate a direct quotation but to suggest that the expression is somehow inappropriate or misleading.

scheme
Scheme is a term in classical rhetoric for any one of the figures of speech: a deviation from conventional word order.

schizoglossia
See "linguistic insecurity."

schwa
Schwa is the most common vowel sound in English, represented as ə in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

science writing
(1) Writing about scientific subject matter, often in a non-technical manner for an audience of non-scientists. (2) Writing that reports scientific observations and results in a manner governed by specific conventions.

Scottish English
Scottish English is a broad term for the varieties of the English language spoken in Scotland.

second language (L2)
A second language (commonly referred to as "L2") is any language that a person uses other than a first or native language (L1).

second persona
A term introduced by rhetorician Edwin Black to describe the role assumed by an audience in response to a speech.

second-person point of view
The second-person point of view involves use of the imperative mood and the pronouns "you," "your," and "yours" to address a reader or listener directly.

second-person pronouns
Second-person pronouns ("you," "yours," "yourself") are pronouns used when a speaker addresses one or more individuals. Other second-person pronouns (such as "thee" and "ye") have been used in the past, and some (such as "y'all" and "yous") are still used today in certain dialects of English.

secondary orality
Secondary orality refers to electronic discourse, or oral communication that is made possible by modern technologies.

secondary source
In conducting research, a secondary source is information that has been gathered by other researchers and recorded in books, articles, and other publications.

segment
In speech, a segment is any one of the discrete units that occur in a sequence of sounds.

segregating style
A prose style characterized by sequences of fairly short simple sentences.

semantic change
In semantics and historical linguistics, semantic change (or semantic shift) refers to any change in the meaning(s) of a word, especially over the course of time.

semantic field
A semantic field is a set of words (or lexemes) related in meaning.

semantic field analysis
Semantic field analysis (also called lexical field analysis) is the arrangement of words into groups (or fields) on the basis of an element of shared meaning.

semantic merger
Semantic merger is a type of semantic change in which two or more lexically distinct meanings are subsumed under one form.

semantic narrowing
Semantic narrowing is the process by which the meaning of a word becomes less general or less inclusive than its earlier meaning.

semantic satiation
Semantic satiation is a phenomenon whereby the uninterrupted repetition of a word eventually leads to a sense that the word has lost its meaning.

semantic split
A semantic split is a type of semantic change in which new words emerge to distinguish the multiple senses of an existing word.

semantic transparency (ST)
Semantic transparency refers to the degree to which the meaning of a compound word can be inferred from its parts (or morphemes).

semantics
Semantics is the field of linguistics concerned with the study of meaning in language.

sememe
A sememe is a unit of meaning conveyed by a morpheme (i.e., a word or word element).

semi-auxiliary
A semi-auxiliary (or semi-modal) is a multi-word construction based on an auxiliary verb and having some of the same grammatical characteristics.

semi-negative
A semi-negative (also called a "near negative") is a word or expression that is not strictly negative but is almost negative in meaning.

semicolon
The semicolon is a mark of punctuation ( ; ) used to connect independent clauses and indicating a closer relationship between the clauses than a period does.

semiotics
Semiotics is the theory and study of signs and symbols, especially as elements of language or other systems of communication.

sender
The individual who initiates a message in the communication process.

sentence
A sentence is the largest independent unit of grammar: it begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation point.

sentence adverb
A sentence adverb is a word that modifies a sentence as a whole or a clause within a sentence.

sentence case
The conventional way of using capital letters in a sentence--that is, capitalizing only the first word and any proper nouns.

sentence combining
Sentence combining is the process of joining two or more short, simple sentences to make one longer sentence--an alternative to traditional grammar instruction.

sentence diagramming
Sentence diagramming is a method of grammar instruction that relies on a standardized framework of lines and branches to reveal the syntactic structure of a sentence.

sentence expanding
Sentence expanding is the process of adding one or more words, phrases, or clauses to a main clause.

sentence fragment
A sentence fragment is a group of words that begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation point but is grammatically incomplete.

sentence imitation
In rhetoric and composition studies, sentence imitation is an exercise in which students study a sample sentence and then imitate its structures, supplying their own material.

sentence length
Sentence length refers to the number of words in a sentence.

sentence negation
Sentence negation is a type of negation that affects the meaning of an entire main clause.

sentence processing
Sentence processing is the study of the ways in which sentences are produced and understood.

sentence variety
In composition, sentence variety refers to the practice of varying the length and structure of sentences to avoid monotony and provide appropriate emphasis.

sententia
In classical rhetoric, a sententia is a maxim, proverb, aphorism, or popular quotation: a brief expression of conventional wisdom.

sequence of tenses (SOT)
Sequence of tenses (SOT) refers to the agreement in tense between the verb phrase in a subordinate clause and the verb phrase in the main clause that accompanies it.

serial comma
The serial comma is a comma that precedes the conjunction before the final item in a series.

serial verbs
Serial verbs are verbs that occur together in a single verb phrase without a marker of coordination or subordination.

series
In English grammar and rhetoric, a series is a list of three or more items, usually arranged in parallel form.

sermon
A form of public discourse on a religious or moral subject, usually delivered as part of a church service.

sesquipedalian
Sesquipedalian means given to the use of long words.

setting
Setting is the place and time in which the action of a narrative takes place.

sexist language
Sexist language refers to words and phrases that demean, ignore, or stereotype members of either sex or that needlessly call attention to gender.

short answer
In spoken English and informal writing, a short answer is a response made up of a subject and an auxiliary verb or modal.

short passive
The short passive is a sentence construction in the passive voice in which the subject is absent altogether rather than reduced to a prepositional phrase introduced by "by."

shortening
See "clipping."

sign
A sign refers to any motion, gesture, image, sound, pattern, or event that conveys meaning.

signal phrase
A signal phrase is a phrase, clause, or sentence that introduces a quotation.

signifying
A combination of rhetorical strategies employed in African-American speech communities--in particular, the use of irony and indirection to express ideas and opinions.

silent letter
A silent letter is a letter that is usually left unpronounced.

similative
A similative is a construction expressing sameness or similarity of manner or being.

simile
A simile is a figure of speech in which two fundamentally unlike things are explicitly compared, usually in a phrase introduced by "like" or "as."

simple sentence
A simple sentence is a sentence with only one independent clause.

Singapore English
Singapore English is a dialect of the English language that is used in Singapore, a lingua franca influenced by Chinese and Malay.

singular
Singular is a grammatical category of number denoting one person, thing, or instance.

singular "they"
Singular "they" refers to the use of the pronoun "they," "them," or "their" to refer to a singular noun or to certain indefinite pronouns (such as "anybody" or "everyone").

situated ethos
In classical rhetoric, proof from character that depends on a rhetor's reputation in the community.

situational irony
Situational irony refers to an occasion in which the outcome is significantly different from what was expected or considered appropriate.

skotison
Intentionally obscure speech or writing.

skunked term
Skunked term is a phrase coined by Bryan Garner for a word that has undergone "a marked change from one use to another" and is "likely to be the subject of dispute."

slang
Slang is an informal nonstandard variety of speech characterized by newly coined and rapidly changing words and phrases.

slash (virgule)
A slash is a forward sloping line (/) used as a mark of punctuation in writing and printing.

slip of the ear
A slip of the ear is an error in listening: mistaking a word or phrase for a similar-sounding word or phrase in speech or conversation.

slip of the pen
A slip of the pen is an inadvertent mistake made while writing, usually the substitution of one letter, word, or phrase for the correct one.

slip of the tongue
A slip of the tongue is an accidental mistake in speaking, usually trivial, sometimes amusing.

slippery slope
Slippery slope is a fallacy in which a course of action is objected to on the grounds that once taken it will lead to additional actions until some undesirable consequence results.

slogan
A slogan is a short, attention-getting expression (or catchphrase) used in promoting a product, candidate, or cause.

slot and filler
Definition, explanations, and examples of the slot-and-filler method of analyzing sentence structures.

sluicing
Sluicing is a type of ellipsis in which an interrogative element is understood as a complete question.

Slurvian
Slurvian is a facetious term for slurred and compressed speech

snark
Snark is abusive and sarcastic speech or writing--a form of invective.

sniglet
Sniglet has been defined by comedian Rich Hall as "a word that doesn't appear in the dictionary but should."

snowclone
A type of cliché or formulaic expression that "can be used in an entirely open array of different jokey variants by lazy journalists and writers" (Geoffrey K. Pullum).

social dialect
A social dialect (or sociolect) is a variety of speech associated with a particular group within a society.

sociolinguistics
Sociolinguistics is the study of the relationship between language and society.

Socratic dialogue
Socratic dialogue is an argument (or series of arguments) using the question-and-answer method employed by Socrates in Plato's "Dialogues."

soft language
Soft language is a phrase coined by comedian George Carlin to describe euphemistic expressions that "take the life out of life."

solecism
A solecism is a traditional rhetorical term for a usage error or any deviation from conventional word order.

solidarity talk
Solidarity talk is a type of communication in which words or other vocal utterances are used primarily to strengthen social ties rather than convey information.

sophism
Sophism is most commonly a pejorative term for a plausible but fallacious argument, or for deceptive argumentation in general.

sophistry
Sophistry is reasoning that appears sound but is misleading or fallacious.

Sophists
The Sophists were professional teachers of rhetoric (as well as many other subjects) in ancient Greece.

soraismus
Soraismus is the use of foreign words and expressions, usually as an affectation or for humorous effect.

sorites
In logic, sorites is a chain of categorical syllogisms or enthymemes in which the intermediate conclusions have been omitted.

sound bite
A sound bite is a brief excerpt from a text or performance (anything from a single word to a sentence or two) that is meant to capture the interest and attention of an audience.

sound change
In historical linguistics, a sound change is a change in the sound system of a language over a period of time.

sound symbolism
Sound symbolism is the association between particular sound sequences and particular meanings in speech.

source domain
In a conceptual metaphor, the source domain is the conceptual domain from which metaphorical expressions are drawn.

South African English
The varieties of the English language that are used in South Africa.

spacing
Spacing is a general term for the areas of a page left blank--in particular, the areas between words, letters, lines of type, or paragraphs.

Spanglish
An informal and sometimes pejorative term for a mixture of the Spanish and English languages, especially as used by bilingual speakers in the U.S.

spatial order
In composition, a method of organization in which details are presented as they are (or were) located in space.

speaker
(1) In linguistics, one who speaks. (2) In rhetoric, an orator. (3) In literary studies, a narrator.

specialization
See "semantic narrowing."

specificity
In composition, specificity refers to words that are concrete and particular rather than general, abstract, or vague.

speech (linguistics)
Speech is communication through spoken words. The study of speech sounds is the branch of linguistics known as phonetics. The study of sound changes in a language is phonology.

speech (rhetoric)
In rhetoric, a speech is a formal address delivered to an audience--an oration.

speech act
In linguistics, a speech act is an utterance defined in terms of a speaker's intentions and the effects it has on a listener.

speech community
Speech community is a term in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology for a group of people who use the same variety of a language and who share specific rules for speaking and for interpreting speech.

speech-act adverb
A speech-act adverb is an adverb (such as "frankly," "briefly," or "seriously") that identifies how a speaker intends to speak (or perform the speech act).

speech-act theory
Speech-act theory is a subfield of pragmatics concerned with the ways in which words can be used not only to present information but also to carry out actions.

spellchecker
A computer application that identifies possible misspellings in a text by referring to the accepted spellings in a database.

spelling
In written language, spelling refers to the choice and arrangement of letters that form words.

spelling flame
A spelling flame is an inflammatory Internet post that corrects the spelling in another post, usually as a way of attacking the writer rather than responding logically to the writer's point.

spelling pronunciation
The use of a pronunciation that is based on spelling rather than in accordance with a word's conventional pronunciation

spelling reform
Spelling reform is any organized effort to simplify the system of English orthography.

spin
Spin is a contemporary term for a form of propaganda that relies on deceptive methods of persuasion.

splinter
In morphology, a fragment of a word used in the formation of new words.

split infinitive
A split infinitive is a construction in which one or more words come between the infinitive marker "to" and the verb.

spoken English
The ways in which the English language is transmitted through a conventional system of sounds.

spoonerism
A spoonerism is a transposition of sounds of two or more words.

sports writing
Sports writing is a form of journalism or creative nonfiction in which a sporting event, individual athlete, or sports-related issue serves as the dominant subject.

sprezzatura
Sprezzatura is the rehearsed spontaneity, the studied carelessness, the well-practiced naturalness that lies at the center of convincing discourse of any sort.

squinting modifier
A squinting modifier is an ambiguous modifier (usually an adverb, such as "only") that appears to qualify the words both before and after it.

squish
Squish is the view that grammatical constructions do not have strict boundaries but occur on a continuum.

stacking
Stacking is an informal term for the piling up of modifiers before a noun.

stacking the deck
Stacking the deck is a fallacy in which evidence that supports an opposing argument is simply rejected or ignored.

stance
Linguistic and non-linguistic forms and strategies that show a speaker's commitment to the status of the information that he or she is providing.

Standard American English (SAE)
Standard American English is the dialect of English that is generally used in professional writing in the United States and taught in American schools.

Standard British English
Standard British English is the variety of English that is generally used in professional writing in Britain (or in England or in southeast England) and taught in British schools.

Standard English
Standard English is a form of the English language that is spoken and written by educated native users.

stasis
In classical rhetoric, stasis refers to the process of, first, identifying the central issues in a dispute and then finding appropriate arguments by which to address those issues.

stative verb
A stative verb is a verb used primarily to describe a state or situation as opposed to an action or process.

status-word
As defined by C.S. Lewis, a word that assigns "a type of character or behavior" to a person's legal, social, or economic rank or status.

stem
A stem is the form of a word before any inflectional affixes are added.

stimulus freedom
The principle (formulated by linguist Noam Chomsky) that what a person says or writes is not determined by external circumstances.

stinky pinky
Made up of an adjective and a rhyming noun, a stinky pinky is a type of rhyming compound that functions as a playful definition.

stipulative definition
A stipulative definition is a definition that assigns meaning to a word, sometimes without regard for common usage.

Stoic grammar
Stoic grammar refers to studies in language conducted by Greek and Roman philosophers associated with the school of Stoicism.

stop consonant (phonetics)
In phonetics, a stop consonant is a sound made by completely blocking the flow of air and then releasing it.

straw man
Straw man is a fallacy in which an opponent's argument is overstated or misrepresented in order to be attacked or refuted.

stream of consciousness
Stream of consciousness is a narrative technique that gives the impression of a mind at work, jumping from one observation or reflection to the next without conventional transitions.

stress
In phonetics, stress is the degree of emphasis given a sound or syllable in speech.

strike-through
A horizontal line drawn through text.

strong verb
See "irregular verb."

structural metaphor
A metaphorical system in which one complex concept (typically abstract) is presented in terms of some other (usually more concrete) concept.

structure-dependency
Structure-dependency is the linguistic principle that grammatical processes function primarily on structures in sentences, not on single words or sequences of words.

stunt word
Defined by Tom McArthur in "The Oxford Companion to the English Language" (1992) as an informal, late-20th-century term for "a word created and used to produce a special effect or attract attention, as if it were part of the performance of a stunt man or a conjuror."

style
Narrowly interpreted as those figures that ornament speech or writing; broadly, as representing a manifestation of the person speaking or writing.

style guide
A style guide is a set of editing and formatting standards for use by students, researchers, journalists, and other writers.

style-shifting
Style-shifting is a term in sociolinguistics for the use of more than one style of speech during the course of a single conversation or written text.

stylistics
Stylistics is a branch of applied linguistics concerned with the study of style in texts, especially (but not exclusively) in literary works.

subject
The subject is the part of a sentence that indicates what it is about.

subject complement
A subject complement is a word or phrase (usually an adjective, noun phrase, or pronoun) that follows a linking verb and describes or renames the subject of the sentence.

subject-verb agreement
Subject-verb agreement is the correspondence of a verb with its subject in person and number.

subjective case
The case of a pronoun when it is the subject of a clause, a subject complement, or an appositive to a subject or a subject complement.

subjunct
A type of adverb (or sentence adverb) that expresses a condition or hypothesis.

subjunctive mood
The subjunctive is the mood of a verb expressing wishes, stipulating demands, or making statements contrary to fact.

submerged metaphor
A type of metaphor (or figurative comparison) in which one of the terms (either the vehicle or the tenor) is implied rather than stated explicitly.

submodifier
An adverb used in front of an adjective to heighten its meaning.

subordinate clause
A subordinate clause is a group of words that begins with a relative pronoun or a subordinating conjunction. A subordinate clause has both a subject and a verb but can't stand alone as a sentence.

subordinating conjunction
A subordinating conjunction (or subordinator) is a conjunction that introduces a dependent clause.

subordination
Words, phrases, and clauses that make one element of a sentence dependent on (or subordinate to) another.

subordinator
See: subordinating conjunction

substantive
A word or group of words that functions as a noun.

substitution
In grammar, substitution is the replacement of a word or phrase with a "filler" word to avoid repetition.

subvocalizing
Subvocalizing means saying words silently to oneself while reading.

suffix
A suffix is a letter or group of letters added to the end of a word or stem, serving to form a new word or functioning as an inflectional ending.

summary
A summary is a shortened version of a text that highlights its key points.

summative modifier
A summative modifier is a modifier that appears at the end of a sentence and serves to summarize the idea of the main clause.

superlative
A superlative is the form of an adjective or adverb that indicates the most or the least of something.

suppletion
In morphology, suppletion is the use of two or more phonetically distinct roots for different forms of the same word.

supporting details
In a composition or speech, a supporting detail is a fact, description, example or other item of information used to back up a claim, illustrate a point, explain an idea, or otherwise support a thesis or topic sentence.

suprasegmental
In speech, suprasegmental is a phonological property of more than one sound segment.

surface structure
In transformational grammar, surface structure is the outward form of a sentence.

suspended compound
A suspended compound is a set of compound nouns or compound adjectives in which an element common to all members is not repeated.

suspension point
See "ellipsis" (definition #1)

SVO (Subject-Verb-Object)
SVO is the basic word order of main clauses and subordinate clauses in present-day English: Subject + Verb + Object.

swear word
A swear word is a word or phrase that is generally considered blasphemous, obscene, vulgar, or otherwise offensive.

Swenglish
Swenglish is an informal term for a variety of English that has been influenced by features of the Swedish language (including pronunciation, vocabulary, and syntax).

syllable
A syllable is one or more letters representing a unit of spoken language consisting of a single uninterrupted sound.

syllepsis
Syllepsis is a rhetorical term for a kind of ellipsis in which one word (usually a verb) is understood differently in relation to two or more other words, which it modifies or governs.

syllogism
A form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.

symbol
A symbol is a person, place, action, word, or thing that (by association, resemblance, or convention) represents something other than itself.

symbolic action
Symbolic action is a term used by 20th-century rhetorician Kenneth Burke to refer in general to systems of communication that rely on symbols.

symbolism
Symbolism refers to the use of one object or action (a symbol) to represent or suggest something else.

symploce
Symploce is a rhetorical term for the repetition of words or phrases at both the beginning and end of successive clauses or verses: a combination of anaphora and epiphora.

synathroesmus
Synathroesmus is a rhetorical term for the piling up of words (usually adjectives), often in the spirit of invective.

synchoresis
Synchoresis is a rhetorical term for a type of concession made to create an impression of fairness and impartiality.

synchronic linguistics
The study of a language at one period in time (usually the present).

syncope
Syncope is a traditional term in linguistics for a contraction within a word through the loss of a vowel sound or letter.

syncrisis
Syncrisis is a rhetorical figure in which opposite persons or things are compared (usually in order to evaluate their relative worth).

syndeton
Syndeton is a rhetorical term for a sentence style in which words, phrases, or clauses are joined by conjunctions.

synecdoche
A figure of speech in which a part is used to represent the whole or the whole for a part.

synesis
A grammatical construction in which agreement or reference is determined by sense rather than the strict requirements of syntax.

synesthesia
In semantics and cognitive linguistics, synesthesia is a metaphorical process by which one sense modality is described or characterized in terms of another, such as "a bright sound" or "a quiet color."

syngnome
The forgiving of injuries.

synonym
A word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word in certain contexts.

synonymomania
See "monologophobia."

synonymy
Synonymy refers to the semantic qualities or sense relations that exist between words with closely related meanings (i.e., synonyms).

synopsis
Here are definitions, examples, and discussions of the term "synopsis": (1) an overview or summary; (2) a 19th-century grammatical exercise.

syntactic ambiguity
Syntactic ambiguity is the presence of two or more possible meanings within a single sentence or sequence of words.

syntactic blend
See "anacoluthon."

syntactic category
See word class and parts of speech.

syntactic persistence
In psycholinguistics, syntactic persistence is a speaker's tendency to reuse the structure of a previous utterance when given a choice between two different structures having roughly the same meaning.

syntax
(1) The study of the rules that govern the way words combine to form phrases, clauses, and sentences (and one of the major components of grammar). (2) The arrangement of words in a sentence.

synthetic compound
In morphology, a synthetic compound is a compound that parallels a verbal construction, with the head derived from a verb and the other element functioning as an object.

systemic functional linguistics (SFL)
Systemic functional linguistics (SFL) is the study of the relationship between language and its functions in social settings.

systrophe
Systrophe is a rhetorical term for an expansive series of definitions, descriptions, or tropes.

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