What are the effects of language features?
Apart from knowing the different language features, you will need to know the type of effect each one has on the reader.
Use of the same language feature can tell the reader very different things, depending on how it is used. For instance, using metaphor to describe someone’s face:
1. His face was a map of his suffering, the jagged contour lines and coloured blotches indicating a bleak landscape.
2. His face was a beacon of hope, radiating warmth and kindliness and offering calm reassurance.
The language feature is metaphor in both cases, but the information conveyed is clearly very different.
Effects of language features
The effects that language features can have on the readers are many and varied. There are so many, in fact, that it’s impossible to list them all. However, as with the language features that cause them, effects can be summarised under four main headings:
How did example 1 above affect you? Our guess is that the map metaphor for the man’s face:
- Helped you understand the man: that he had suffered greatly in some way
- Helped you sense what his face looked like, and how it might feel to touch
- Got you to respond emotionally: you felt sorry, or concerned, for him
- Enabled you to remember what he looked like
How did example 2 affect you? Our guess is that it:
- Helped you understand the man: that he was kind, friendly and full of hope
- Helped you sense (see in your mind’s eye) a friendly, hopeful face
- Got you to respond – perhaps you felt that you liked him, and would like to know him better
- Enabled you to remember what kind of person he was
So, although the two metaphor examples tell us different things about each man, we can still talk about the effects in the same terms: