Styles, Registers and Jargon

August 8, 2017 | Author: Farah Liyana | Category: Jargon, Slang, Conversation, Sociolinguistics, English Language
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The introduction explanation on Sociolinguistics. Styles, Registers and Jargon....


The further discussion on Styles, Registers and Jargon in Sociolinguistics. In Sociolinguistics, a variety of a language which is associated with social context and which differs in terms of their formality is known as Styles. Academically, styles are language registers; the ranged on a continuum from very formal to highly informal or colloquial in speaking or written forms. This table showed the differences between formal and informal styles: Informal


1. They did an experiment 2. Then




1. The experiment was carried out / goes

through some steps to install the programme 3. One after the other

performed 2. The Drive Manager then performs / executes a series of functions / operations in order to install the programme 3. At regular intervals

Based on the examples above, we could see that different vocabularies are used to express the same ideas. These happened for styles are different according to its uses as well as its users, according to where it is used, to whom as well as according to who is using it. Styles are ways in which something is said, done, expressed or performed. Formal English style is used for official, legal and professional matters while informal English style and colloquial (words or phrases that is common in everyday usage, unconstrained conversations) used for casual purposes. The usage of formal/informal styles could at times work to convey the same message. However, as mentioned above; the users and the surrounding will affect one‟s style. These can be seen through the use of slang, verb forms and many other aspects and ways in English language.

For examples: The uses of slang  He withdrew the amount from an ATM (formal style), he had to get some money out of a whole in the wall (informal style). Verb forms  His insufficient productions conducted to his dismissal (Formal style), the company led him off because he didn‟t work much (informal style). In these situations, we could conclude that differences exist due to places where these conversations take place and to whom the messages were to be told. The variations of formal style, informal style and colloquial usage are influenced by addressee, age of addressee and social background of addressee. Firstly, addressee can be defined as a person who a letter is addressed to. In linguistic context, addressee means a person whom you are talking too when conversations take place. In communication, intonations and words choices differed formally and informally according to the addressee, his age and his social background. The speaker‟s relationship to the addressee is crucial in determining the appropriate style of speaking. For example, a child who lost his purse used different styles while asking around for his good. She used informal style (less politeness) with her friend, “Hey Ally, seen my purse? I think I‟ve lost it” and used formal style (with politeness) with her grandmother, “Grandma, do you happen to see my purse anywhere around the house. I carelessly misplaced it and I couldn‟t find it. Do you see it anywhere grandma?” These conversations proved that age of the addressee influenced the styles in communication. Styles are concluded to be in three forms which are formal style, informal style and colloquial style which are influenced by addressee, the age of the addressee and the social background of the addressee. Note that styles are different registers.

What is a Register? The stylistic (styles) features such as the use of dialogue are called language registers. In other words, the usage of styles (as discussed on the earlier part of the article) could be differentiated through Registers. Registers are the different styles used in a language. Euphemism, dysphemism and contractions are registers used by speakers with different styles according to how he wanted the message to be conveyed (styles; formal/informal/colloquial). Euphemism is a Greek word which carries the meaning of „to use words of good omen‟. In this context, Euphemism is a substitution for an expression that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the receiver, using instead an agreeable or less offensive expression, or to make it less troublesome for the speaker. Some euphemisms are intended to amuse, while others are created to mislead. In other words, Euphemism is the usage of a more polite word substituting a less polite one while Dysphemism has a vice versa situation. It refers to the usage of an intentionally harsh word or expression instead of a polite one; they are rough opposites of euphemism. For examples: Euphemism


May I go to the ladies?

May I go to the toilet?

Note that Dysphemism is related to the usage of impolite and vulgar words. On the other hand contractions mean the shortened versions of mix words such as „gonna‟ which replaced the phrase „going to‟. In English, Registers can be divided into two which are Vertical Register and Horizontal Register. Vertical Register refers to language which is used formally while Horizontal Register refers to jargon, slang and informality.

Registers refer to a variety of language associated with people‟s occupations which are divided into two terms; technical registers and non-technical registers. A technical registers from sociolinguistics and particularly associated with the work of Michael Halliday can be defined as style which is used to described a language variety that is associated with a particular topic, subject or activity such as the use of the word „patella‟, a technical register name which is typically known as „knee cap‟, a non-technical register name. In other words, technical registers are the usage of specialized words which could be understood by a group of people who practiced its usage in their particular activities. On the other hand, non- technical registers are vice versa. It identifies whether a speaker is a member of a particular peer group or not. For example, a group of engineers were talking about the foundation of a new building and they understood the matter discussed while a construction worker who passed by understood the matter when he heard the word piling. The technical term used (foundation) sounded unfamiliar to the worker‟s ear while the non-technical term used (piling) is understood. This is where Jargon (non-technical registers) takes place. In a simpler way, Technical register is marked by a special set of vocabulary (term) which is associated with their profession or occupation or other defined social group while Non –Technical register is a set of vocabulary used by normal social group of people known as Jargon. The different formality in Registers can be divided into 5 contexts which are Frozen, Formal, Consultative, Casual and Intimate. In Frozen register, the wording is exactly the same every time it is spoken such as unchanging language like Biblical quotations. In Formal register, strangers are introduced in one way participation without interruption. Consultative register on the other hand is a two way communication where background information is provided and interruptions are allowed for example the conversation between a doctor and a patient. However in Casual register, no background information is provided and it is typically specialized for ingroup friends and acquaintances. Last but not least, the Intimate register where is most commonly used among family members and close friends. It uses private vocabularies, nonverbal messages and intonation is more important than wording or grammar.

Register is also identified by non-linguistic markers, such as body language and attire; the term has been used since the 1960s, when linguist Michael Halliday identified three variables or types of factors that affect register: First, Tenor. The relationship between the speakers matters, such as when a student is talking to a teacher, an offender to a police officer, an office worker to a superior, or a parent to an infant (baby talk). Here register is generally a marker of formality or intimacy, and commonly affects phonology, pragmatic rules, and accent. Second, Field. The subject of conversation or discourse matters, as particular situations call for particular kinds of vocabulary, mood etc. These variations are often called jargon, but are sometimes simply the form of a particular profession. For instance, priests use liturgical language, lawyers use 'legalese'. Philosophers use the language of subjectivity or rationality, while programmers have their own lexicon. Third, Mode. The medium of communication matters, such as whether it is spoken or written, and if either, on the level of formality or professionalism needed to be conveyed. Instant messaging, for example, is less formal than a handwritten letter, and a professional presentation is different from a coffee shop conversation. Here and in register determined by field, authority and expertise is being conveyed as much as formality. In conclusion, Registers are the different styles used in communication. As mentioned above, Jargon is a part of a Register; specifically known as Non-Technical Register which will not be understood by outsiders who do not participate in the activities. Jargon is also a form of language which has arisen in a language contact situation as a result of pidginisation but which has not yet undergone stabilization, also known as pre-pidgin varieties. The goal of having a Jargon is to make it hard for the outsiders to understand the conversation. There are few other ideas given by Scholars.

According to David Lehman, Jargon is the verbal sleight of hand that makes the old hat seems newly fashionable. However, Paula Candle Kim defines it as an “unintelligible writing” or talk which may be used as a barrier to keep the outsiders from understanding something. This is where, they tend to speak at their own understanding trying to avoid outsiders to understand their discussions and only specific groups will understand what it being said. Another definition for jargon is, the specialized vocabulary that functions as a kind of shorthand by people with common backgrounds and same experiences, such as working at the same place, and with people who belongs from the same culture or clan. However, being the outsiders, they will try to figure out the meaning and later on they will make their own conclusion just to get into the conversation itself. Therefore, the language spoken or written is sometimes misinterpreted by ordinary people because it is full of words known only by the expertise. For example, when a person was shot in a war, he was brought to the emergency room where the doctors will regard him as the „GSW patient‟ to the nurse. However, for the family of the patient, they will be confused with the term used and would be curious until it is later explained. Some people may also use Jargon to leave an impression of intelligence. There are several types of Jargons, which is Technical, and Non-Technical Jargon, Gobbledygook and Buzzwords. The Characteristics of different jargons varies. For Technical Jargon, it is official names used for specific things in a professional profession, where sometimes they are spelt in Capital letters and are commonly shortened to abbreviations and acronyms. Technical jargons are specialized language used by professionals such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, scientist and even sport players. Specialized name are placed for its specific used so that they can save time, money and understood by the group itself. For example, in the medical term, they use “Agonal” to describe a major negative change in a person‟s condition, usually proceeding to immediate death. Whereas, the term ER is used referring to the „emergency room‟. For the IT professionals, they also have their own terms in their communications. For example, the term, „juggling eggs‟ is where you keep a lot of state in your head while modifying a program. As for Non Technical Jargon, they have the same characteristics. Nevertheless, they are used in informal ways.

Gobbledygook is style of communication where meanings are explained in a more complicated way. For example, “Refuse and rubbish shall not be collected from the site or receptacles there on, before the hour of 8.00 a.m. and after the hour of 6.00 p.m. any day”. The clearer meaning is “We will collect your garbage between 8.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m.” Another example is “Santa is large in size, red in color, and fat in grith” and the easier sentence is “Santa is large, red and fat” where filler words are chopped. On the other hand, Buzzwords is an informal fashionable word or phrases that are used to impress than to inform. It uses more than one verb and driven from other field. Here are few examples of Buzzwords, which are Frivolous Glorious, Non-stationary policy paradigm and balanced rigid equation. This is where language is used with unnecessarily long words and is badly put together. For these types of Jargons, there are also several advantages and disadvantages of its usage. Firstly, some of the companies choose to use jargons in order to protect the institution, where for the Disney company, they avoid the term „Standard operating procedures‟ instead uses „operating guides‟. Secondly, it also acts as a kind of shorthand and allowing the specific groups to express the terms concisely without further explanations, where it also saves time and money. Thirdly, it helps to connect and establish bonds between those who see themselves as „insiders‟ in some way and to exclude outsiders. There is a saying „If you don‟t understand my jargon, you don‟t belong to my group‟. Furthermore, from an ethical point of view, exposing the audience to technical jargon can help them to understand more about the field, thus they can apply equally well on any occasion in daily life once the jargon are understood. The disadvantages of using jargons starts when technical jargons are used in writing to people who are not familiar with the terms and without explaining what it means. This usually occurs in educational books or manuals. By not understanding the specific meaning, readers may completely misunderstand the message which the writer is trying to say. Moreover, jargons are widely use and they tend to make the word meaningless such as the usage of Gobbledygook and Buzzwords Jargons.

This continues to shape misunderstandings which may arise in less critical settings when insiders uses their own language with people who don‟t share the same vocabularies and have small scope of the topic discussed. In conclusion, all the three aspects correlate to one another in sociolinguistics. Styles are differentiated through Registers and Jargon is a part of Non-technical Register.

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