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Definition of Diction
Diction (pronounced dik-shun) is the author’s choice of words or phrases in his or her writings. It defines the author’s creativity, correctness, clearness and effectiveness altogether. It also tells the readers the kind of attitude, mood, dialect, and writing style the author has. Since no two authors are alike, it is safe to say that each author has developed a unique diction.
An author’s diction can vary, however, depending on the purpose of his/her writings and the type of readers or audience he/she has. In formal writing, the choice of words or style of writing is expected to be in compliance with prevailing writing conventions or standards. The words used should be accurate, concise and well-thought-out to give the impression that the author knows what he/she is talking about. On the other hand, if the audience or readers are the author’s friends or close affinities, his/her diction can be casual, informal, or even slang.
In sum, diction or choice of words is the author’s prerogative and reflects the quality of his/her writing. There are hundreds of words in the dictionary that have similar denotative meanings but vary slightly or significantly in their connotative meanings. The choice that the author makes with those words are what we refer to as his/her diction.
Type of Diction
As mentioned above, each author is unique, and since there are many authors out there, there also are that many types of diction unique to each author. Their diction could vary among multiple factors including contexts, settings, complexities and time/era. The only, basic way of classifying them would be through formality, i.e. formal diction vs. informal diction.
A written work has formal diction when it is in compliance with formal or conventional rules of writing, i.e. no contractions or colloquialisms. It must be free of misspellings and grammar errors as those directly reflect the poor writing skills or low intelligence level of the author. Here are examples of writings wherein formal diction is expected:
- Press releases
- Business communications
On the other hand, informal (aka vernacular) diction is used in a more relaxed, unguarded situation, such as writing to a friend, wherein colloquial, non-literary and slang words are fine to use. Aside from personal emails to friends and acquaintances, informal diction is also used by modern novel authors.
Function of Diction in Writing
In literary works, diction plays a pivotal role in setting the perfect tone, mood and setting of a piece. Authors must choose the correct words to effectively tell their story or put their message across. If the diction is edgy, the whole piece will come across as edgy, and so on. In short, diction is everything in literature as it affects the reader’s attitude and impression towards the overall quality of a literary work.
In poetry writing, unique linguistic style, vocabulary and metaphors are used. Poetic diction is usually creative in nature as it usually includes the usage of rhyming words, figures of speech, etc.
In short stories and novels, authors employ diction in molding or describing their characters. For instance, if the character is a teenager, the author is at liberty to use a modern-day language; if the character is from the slum, urban or street slang can be expected, and so on.
Some authors in the modern day and age have adopted the diction used by literary legends such as Shakespeare. They use archaic terms to inject a classic touch to their work, e.g. “art,” “thee,” “thy,” etc. This showcases how well-versed they are as a writer and allows the readers to time travel back to the Elizabethan era.
In summary, literally everything that is written has diction, with its mood, tone and depth depending on how the author play with the words.
This bundle contains 5 ready-to-use diction worksheets that are perfect to test student knowledge and understanding of what diction is and how it can be used. You can use these diction worksheets in the classroom with students, or with home schooled children as well.
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.