How should I go about categorising texts?

The first thing I would keep in mind when trying to categorise a text or a number of texts is that there are multiple different ways to categorise texts, but there has to be data in these texts to support the way I choose to categorise them. I find it useful to imagine that I am trying to persuade someone to agree with the choice I have made, and so I have to support myself as much as possible. With the texts in front of you it can be a daunting task knowing where to begin. It’ll be worthwhile to give the texts a quick read through and highlight or note down any of the features that immediately jump out at you. These could be things like the genre of the text, graphology, a repeated use of lexis from semantic field, or speech indicated by the use of speech marks. Straight away this gives you at least some features to discuss. Then, it’s a bit easier to take a more detailed look at the texts and note down some less obvious features such as pragmatics, or grammatical structures. Once there are some features noted down and some ideas in your head, I would suggest trying to narrow these points down to your most effective. This doesn’t necessarily mean the ones with the most data, or the most complex feature, but the ones which you feel confident in developing further in relation to how the text can be persuasively categorised. After this narrowing process I would begin to consider how these features work in the texts. What do they actually do? This is usually related to context. A Ford car manual may share a semantic field of ‘cars’ with a car advertisement, but it is unlikely to be for the same reason, as one text seeks to inform, while the other mainly seeks to persuade. It’s important to consider what the context is doing when grouping texts through linguistic features, and vice versa, consider what linguistic features are doing if you group texts through context. (It’s best to steer away from social contexts such as gender and power as these will be the explicit focus of section B of the exam.) Once you’ve got some points down and developed, it’s often a good idea to wow the examiner with a more nuanced, advanced feature if you haven’t already. These tend to be the concepts which are a bit harder to get your head around and discuss and develop, such as pragmatics or grammatical structures. If you can manage to explain how one of these more advanced features can be used to help the text do its job and how it can persuasively be use to categorise texts you can show off a higher level of ability and access some high marks.

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