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The first section in this toolbox is intended as an overview of the way that human language works at a number of levels. It is, of course, not possible to present all the findings of over 100 years of modern linguistics here, and that is not the intention. Instead, we have provided a set of signposts to the relevant aspects of language structure, use and context that may be helpful to users of this website whose linguistic knowledge is elementary.

Structures of language describes in basic terms how the main building blocks of language, from sound to grammar, work together to create utterances and texts.

Functions of language introduces the 'metafunctions' of language. These are the three main ways in which language is used — linguistic, interpersonal and ideational.

Speaker identity explains the importance of individual identity in language use, both from a geographical and a socio-political viewpoint.

Context of situation focuses on the different ways in which the context in which language is produced can affect how it is produced and received.

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