ARTS1691 - Social Register

A register is a form of language used in a particular context.

The register we speak in is not determined by the people involved, but rather the subject matter.

People who misjudge social situations by not speaking in the correct formal/informal dialect tend to have some kind of pragmatic disorder; they ramble, have too short answers, provide irrelevant information, or the like.

We all tend to subconsciously shift style/register in different/changing situations (sometimes subtly, sometimes noticeably).

Examples of Registers

  • informal, casual conversation
  • formal interview
  • sports jargon
  • technical jargon

Characteristics of Informal Speech

  • reduced articulation
  • relaxed following of rules
  • use of contractions
  • excessive exclamations
  • lots of slang

Even relaxed, casual rules still have structure;

e.g. “are you going to the pub?” -> “[you] going to the pub?”

(not “are going to the pub?”)

Social Relationships and Language

Some languages have social relationships encoded within them. It means users have to be consciously aware of what these relationships are.

e.g. du/Sie in German.

No-Naming is what happens in English when we don’t know what to term someone (first name, last name, honorific, etc), and so we just don’t call them anything.