English Language- EDEXCEL ALEVEL- Glossary of terms

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109 Terms

1

articulation

refers to the movement of the speech organs to produce sounds  required for speech. Place of articulation refers to position of the  speech organs used to make a sound and manner of articulation refers  to how that sound is made. When describing articulation, it is  syntactically typical to mention the place of articulation before the  manner, for example an alveolar plosive. 

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voicing

certain speech sounds are made by drawing together the vocal cords  so that they vibrate whereas others are made when the vocal cords are  spread apart allowing air through. The former is classed as voiced and  the latter is classed as voiceless. For example, the phoneme /d/ is a  voiced alveolar plosive and the phoneme /t/ is an unvoiced alveolar  plosive.

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plosive

refers to consonant sounds made by a complete closure of the airway  followed by a quick release of air. It is one of the more common  manners of articulation for English and includes phonemes such as /d/,  /t/, /p/ and /b/.

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accent

refers to the distinctive features of pronunciation that often mark an  individual’s regional, personal or social identity.

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fricative

refers to consonant sounds made by the passing of air, often  replicating hissing sounds e.g. /f/, /z/, /s/ and /v/.

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received  

pronunciation


is an accent of English that is typically associated with prestige and  high social status. It is not a geographically based accent and is  frequently abbreviated to RP.

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th-fronting

refers to the substitution of the phonemes /ð/ or /θ/ for a labio-dental  phoneme such as /f/ or /v/. For example, if a speaker pronounces with  as /wɪv/ then they are using this language feature

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th-stopping

refers to the substitution of the phonemes /ð/ or /θ/ for a plosive  phoneme, typically /t/ or /d/. For example, if a speaker pronounces that  as /dæt/ then they are using this language feature

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yod-dropping

the elision of the /j/ phoneme from certain words, typically as a feature  of accent. For example, if a speaker pronounces the word tune as  /tu:n/ then they are demonstrating this language feature. 

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minimal  pair/set

hese are words that are identical except for one phoneme occurring in  the same place. This altered phoneme changes the meaning of the  word. For example, /sɪt/, /bɪt/ and /fɪt/ are all part of the same minimal  set. We use them to show which phonemes are distinctive or  contrastive in a language.


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homophones

refers to words that have the same pronunciation but different spelling  and meaning. For example, grate and great. It is worth being aware  that accent can affect homophones. 

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homographs

refers to words that have the same spelling but are pronounced  differently and have a different meaning. For example, the word bow  pronounced /bɑʊ/ or /bəʊ/ depending on the meaning. 

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glottal stop

a sound that is produced by the release of air at the glottis after being  stopped by tightly closed vocal cords. It is represented by the symbol  /ʔ/ and is most typically used in place of the /t/ phoneme. However, this is used in place of a number of phonemes in different  regional varieties. Be aware that this is not strictly speaking  a phoneme as it does not form a minimal pair. For example, /bɪt/ and  /bɪʔ/ are not different words. 

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schwa

is the unstressed vowel sound represented by the symbol /ə/

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assimilation

in phonology, assimilation refers to the way in which sounds can  change to be closer to neighbouring sounds. For example, in rapid  speech the word handbag is often pronounced as /hæmbæg/ as both  /m/ and /b/ have the same place of articulation. 

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rhotic

is used to describe accents that audibly pronounce the /r/ after vowel  sounds such as many West Country varieties. Accents that do not  pronounce this phoneme are classed as non-rhotic. 

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derivation

the process of creating new words by using affixes. Also known as  affixation, this is a very common way of creating new words. 

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etymology

the study of the origins of words. It is an interesting area of study as it  can reveal aspects of cultural and social ideology that people may not  have explored. For example, the original meaning of the word ‘villain’  

simply meant someone who was low born, revealing how attitudes  towards the poor and class have affected the way the word is used  today.

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neologism

refers to a newly created or coined word or expression

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sociolect

the language used by a specific social group that helps distinguish that  group from another. 

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idiolect

the distinctive language used by a specific individual.

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slang

words and phrases associated with informal speech.

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jargon

typically refers to the language used by different occupational groups  that serves to exclude members outside of that group. For example,  legal jargon is used to make it difficult for those outside of the legal  profession to understand it easily. 

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register

refers to the way language is defined according to its use. For example, texts produced for highly formal occasions will adopt a formal register in order to match the communicative situation.

This may also be used to describe the varieties used for specific purposes, activities, trades or professions. For example, the jargon used by computer coding can be classed as…..

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hypernym

refers to a word with a broad coverage of meaning. For example, tree  can refer to oaks, beeches, willows etc. Also called the superordinate.

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hyponym

refers to the more specific elements ‘under’ a hypernym. For example,  if the hypernym was red, then crimson, scarlet and vermillion would be  hyponyms.

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synonym

refers to a word with a similar meaning as another. For example, “huge” and “massive” are linked to the adjective “big” by this term. 

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antonym

refers to a word with the opposite meaning to another. For example, the relationship between hot and cold. 

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metonym

refers to the use of an attribute to refer to the thing or concept. For  example, if a newspaper reported, ‘The word from Number 10 is…’  they are using the address of the Prime Minister to refer to the government. 

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amelioration semantic  change

where the meaning of a word becomes more  positive over time. For example, cool simply referred to a  temperature but now is seen as a positive adjective describing  something that is on trend or good

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 pejoration semantic  change (2)

where the meaning of a word becomes less positive  over time. For example, the word villain simply referred to someone  of low class and lived in the country, drawn from a synonym for  villager. However, over time the word has become associated with  evil and cruel actions  

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broadening or expansion semantic  change (3)

where the original meaning of a word  expands to encompass more ideas. For example, the word holiday  is derived from holy day, a time when people would stop work and  observe religious practices. It has broadened to refer to any break  from work or other occupation  


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Broadening or expansion types of  semantic  change (3)

where the original meaning of a word  expands to encompass more ideas. For example, the word holiday  is derived from holy day, a time when people would stop work and  observe religious practices. It has broadened to refer to any break  from work or other occupation  


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bleached/weakening  semantic  change (5)

where the original power or load of a  word becomes reduced over time. For example, the emotive power  behind the word dead has been weakened by it becoming an  intensifier e.g. dead tired, dead boring. 

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connotation

refers to the associated meanings of a word that go beyond their literal  definition. For example, using the word swarm to describe the  movements of people because it is  associated with insects and pests which may be considered negative.

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collocation

refers to two or more words that typically go together as a set phrase.  For example, bread and butter, tea and biscuits, pay attention. 

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morpheme

refers to the smallest unit of meaning. For example, in the word  ‘helped’, both ‘help’ and ‘ed’ convey meaning and therefore both  elements are morphemes. In this case, the morpheme help can convey  meaning on its own, meaning it is a free morpheme whereas the  morpheme ‘ed’, while conveying that the action is in the past, needs to  attach to another morpheme to make sense, making it a bound  morpheme. There are two types of bound morpheme:

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inflectional morpheme

refers to the bound morphemes that  indicate a shift in grammatical tense e.g. plurals and tense markers 

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derivational morpheme

refers to the bound morphemes that  change a word’s class or meaning e.g. suffixes such as -ful, -less, - able. 

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root or stem

refers to the main word that others are built from using prefixes and  suffixes. 

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affix

refers to a bound morpheme that can be attached to existing words to  create new ones. 

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plurality

refers to when there is more than one of something, usually indicated  by the addition of an inflectional morpheme e.g. on regular nouns -s or  -es is used to show plurality.

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regular

refers to words, typically nouns and verbs, which follow typical patterns  grammatically. For example, to play is an example of a regular verb as  it uses typical suffixes to indicate tense e.g. -ed, -ing, -s. 

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Person

refers to the distinction between the speaker (first person), the  addressee (second person) and others (third person). Person is  reflected in the personal pronouns and verb forms and can also  indicate singular or plural. For example, by writing ‘We helped’, the  pronoun ‘we’ is the first person plural form indicating that although the  writer was personally involved in an action, they were not alone. 

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dialect

where accent looks at the distinctive pronunciation features of  speakers, dialect looks at the distinctive grammar, syntax and  vocabulary that marks a speaker’s regional, personal or social identity. 

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subject

refers to the noun phrase or pronoun which is the actor of the verb  within a clause. For example, in the sentence, ‘The wind howled all  night,’ the wind is the subject. 

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object

refers to the noun phrase or pronoun which is governed or affected by  the verb within a clause. There are three types of object in English: 


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direct object

when the object is directly affected by the verb. For  example, ‘The cat caught the fish’ 


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indirect object

when the object receives the action of a verb. For  example, ‘She gave me a new book’ 


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object of preposition

when the noun or noun phrase is governed  by or linked with a preposition. For example, ‘They walked to the  shop in silence’.


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predicate

the part of the sentence which contains the verb and offers information  about the subject. For example, in the sentence ‘I moved quietly,’  moved quietly is the predicate. 

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phrase

refers to a group of words that function as a single syntactical unit. For  example, in the sentence, ‘The grey cat sat on the mat,’ the phrase  ‘The grey cat’ acts as a single unit. Phrases are identified by their main  head word: 

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noun phrase –

a phrase where the head word is a noun, usually  structured as determiner + noun e.g. The dog 


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 modified noun phrase –

a noun phrase which includes an  adjective e.g. The huge dog 


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adjective phrase –

usually structured as adverb + adjective e.g.  very loud 


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adverbial phrase –

usually structured as two or more adverbs e.g.  quite smoothly 


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verb phrase –

usually structured as an auxiliary verb and a main  verb e.g. must leave, has left. Verb phrases can also act as  adverbs or adjectives e.g. Running as fast as I could, I left the  house. 


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Clause

refers to a group of words that is structurally larger than a phrase and  typically contains a finite verb. Clauses can be described as

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 main or independent clause


a clause which is made up of a  subject and a predicate and expresses a complete concept. For  example, ‘We walked home,’ where ‘we’ is the subject and ‘walked  home’ is the predicate 


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subordinate or dependent clause

a clause which depends on  the main clause to make sense. For example, ‘If I get out early, I  will wait in the common room’  


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co-ordinate clause

a main clause which is preceded by a co ordinating conjunction connecting it to another main clause. For  example, ‘He was angry and he was tired’.


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sentence

refers to a set of words typically containing a subject and a predicate,  which conveys either a statement, question, command or exclamation. 

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co-ordination

the linking of lexical items/ideas that are equally important. For  example, ‘Rocky ran and jumped over the hedge.’ In this sentence,  both actions have equal status within the sentence.

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modification

the process of using linguistic elements to specify or qualify the nature  or features of another. For example, using adjectives or adverbs to  modify nouns or verbs. 

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interrogative

a sentence type which acts as a question. For example, ‘What are you  doing?’ 

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imperative

a sentence type which acts as a directive e.g. commanding, warning,  pleading or requesting. For example, ‘Don’t go.’ Other sentence types  can function as an imperative despite having different structures e.g.  ‘Would you shut the door quietly’. 

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exclamatory

a sentence type which conveys strong emotion and ends with an  exclamation mark. For example, ‘What an incredible display of skill!’

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active voice

refers to the grammatical structure of a sentence where the subject is  the actor of a sentence. Typically, sentences in the active voice follow  a subject-predicator-object pattern. For example, ‘The wrong person  answered the phone call.’

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passive voice

refers to the grammatical structure of a sentence where the subject  and object change positions to change the focus of the sentence. For  example, ‘The call was answered by the wrong person.’

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modals

auxiliary verbs which denote possibility, necessity or obligation. The  main modal verbs are: can, could, shall, should, will, would, may,  might, must, ought. 

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deixis

lexical items that rely on context to convey meaning. For example, in  the sentence ‘You know he did it again,’ context is required to be able  to understand both who ‘he’ is and what he has done.

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mode

the term used to denote the medium of the language being explored,  for example spoken or written. It can also be used to denote the  format. For example, newspaper or TV script

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linearity

refers to the linear or structure of a text – typically a text written in  chronological order.

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narrative

a spoken or written account of events which are connected.

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cohesion

refers to the way links and connections are used to unite elements of a  discourse or text. 

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coherence

refers to the way elements of a text or discourse combine to allow it to  make semantic sense. 

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exchange  structure


refers to the way certain interactions follow key exchange patterns to  act as a single unit. For example, the Initiation – Response – Feedback structure is an expected pattern of discourse whereby the  teacher asks a question, the student gives a response, and the teacher  then gives feedback. The structure acts as a single unit of  communication. 

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adjacency  pair


refers to a unit of conversation where each participant takes a turn and  the two elements are functionally related. For example, both speakers  say hello to each other, or one speaker asks a question and the other  responds.

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overlap

refers to the simultaneous talk of two or more participants in a  conversation. 

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topic shifts

refers to the linguistic techniques used by a speaker to change the  subject of conversation. For example, ‘That reminds me…’ acts as a  shift to a new topic. 

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framing moves


refers to linguistic patterns that are employed to highlight key segments  of a discourse or text. For example, during a phone call one speaker  may use a phrase like, ‘It’s been lovely to speak to you,’ as a way of  framing the close of the conversation. 

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non-fluency

refers to features such as fillers and false starts that prevent the  discourse from being completely fluent. 

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pseudo 

speech


refers to language that appears to have meaning but is actually not in  the main lexicon of the language. For example, ‘My head feels a bit  woodeny today.’ 

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genre  

convention


refers to recurring elements within a genre or form. For example, the  use of a happy ending is a genre convention of fairy tales. 

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Context

refers to the circumstances in which speech or writing take place that  can potentially impact on the language used. Contextual elements  include social, cultural, personal, technological and physical factors.

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sense

refers to the semantic meaning of a lexical item. In words that have a  number of different meanings, the sense of the word is identified by  the way it links to the words around it. For example, the word ‘fire’ has  many different meanings and identifying the intended meaning  requires knowledge of how it is being used in a sentence

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semantic role

refers to the relationship between the verbs and noun phrases of a  sentence. These roles can be further defined as: 


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agent semantic role

looking at the performer of an action within a sentence.  For example, ‘Louise ran home’ 

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force semantic role

looking at the performance of an action but where the  instigation is not voluntarily or consciously performed. ‘It rained’ 


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causative semantic role

looking at a natural force which has brought about a  change. For example, ‘The drought destroyed the crops’ 


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posessive semantic role

 looking at the ownership of something. For example,  ‘The back of Luke’s chair broke in two’ 


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recipient semantic role

 looking at who or what receives something. For  example, ‘She gave the form to her teacher’.


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Grice’s  maxims


refers to the unspoken rules which allow a conversation to operate  successfully. These maxims work on the assumption that all  participants want to co-operate with one another. The four maxims  are: 


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the maxim of quality

the maxim of quality – where a speaker is truthful and honest 

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the maxim of manner

where a speaker tries to be clear and  orderly in what they are saying and avoids ambiguity 


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the maxim of relevance

where a speaker tries to ensure their  contributions are pertinent and relevant to the rest of the  conversation.


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When maxims are overide

However, speakers frequently and deliberately flout these maxims  and still have successful conversations, often by creating implicature which the other participants understand

For example: A: Are you going to the party tonight? 

B: I’ve got to be at work by 6am for a meeting.  

Speaker B has openly flouted the maxim of relevance deliberately  creating an implicature, which speaker A fully understands – B will not  be coming to the party as they have to get up early.

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Implicature

refers to the implied meaning of a statement. Unlike entailment, if A  is true, B does not always have to be true. For example, in the  statement, ‘I was late for work because I lost my cat,’ the listener  assumes that you were looking for your cat that day.  


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entailment

refers to the need to draw conclusions from a particular word or  phrase. Typically,this operates that if A is true then B must  also be true. For example, in the statement, ‘The Archduke Franz  Ferdinand was assassinated,’ we must draw the conclusion that the  Archduke died. 

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presupposition

refers to the assumed knowledge or truth of a statement. For  example, in the question, ‘Are you a vegetarian now?’ there is a  presupposition that you once ate meat. 

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