Friday, June 22, 2012

Language Varieties in Sociolinguistics- Style and Register

Style is language variation which reflects changes in situational factors, such as addressee, setting, task or topic. Style is often analyzed along a scale of formality, the level of formality is influenced by some factors like the various differences among the participants, topic, emotional involvement, etc. (Janet Holmes, 2001)

Addressee as an Influence on Style
Age of addressee ==> People generally talk to the very young and to the very old. For example: Baby-talk.
Social background of addressee ==> People talk differently to the higher class and to the lower class. For example: The pronunciation of newsreaders on different radio station  (Janet Holmes, 2001).

Some Examples of Context, Style and Class
  • Formal contexts and social roles
  • Different style within an interview
  • Colloquial style or the vernacular
  • The interaction of social class and style
Meanwhile, for the terms of Register, Janet Holmes ( 2001: 246) explained that Registers are specific sets of vocabulary items associated with different occupational group or the language of groups of people with common interests or jobs. For example: the language used by airplane pilots, surgeons, bank managers, jazz fans, commentators, etc.

Slang Definition
Slang is a label that is frequently used to denote certain informal or faddish usages of nearly anyone in the speech community. Slang is special vocabulary used by any set of persons of a low or disreputable character; language of a low and vulgar type (Oxford Dictionary). Nowadays, slang is often applied to aspects of the language of adolescents or others who are perceived as speaking non-standard varieties of the language. Slang exist alongside jargon and argot, The use of slang plays a major role in the maintenance of the gang’s group identity. It separates the in-group, who use the slang, from the rest of society who do not and are not part of the gang. For example: Glasgow slang, American university (UCLA) slang, etc. (Contemporary Linguistics, 1997:555).

According to Janet Holmes ( 2001: 167) Slang is area of vocabulary which reflects a person’s age. Current slang is the linguistic prerogative of young people and generally sounds odd in the mouth of an older person. It signals membership of a particular group – the young. For example: spiffing, topping, super, groovy, fab, etc.

Jargon and Argot
The terms jargon and argot are often used almost interchangeably to refer to “obscure or secret language” or “language of a particular occupational group”. The term argot arose in the 17th century as the label for a speech variety used by French beggars and street merchants and later was applied to the secret language of criminals. It is a label for speech varieties associated with social groups whose members wish or must conceal themselves or some aspects of their communication from non-members. Jargon or argot is restricted to a smaller number and is more obscure to outsiders than slang. (Contemporary Linguistics, 1997: 555-557)

The Examples of Jargon and Argot
  • Cockney rhyming slang ==> English argot used among navies in London’s East End in the 19th century (bees & honey ==> money, merry-go-round ==> pound sterling).
  • Gay lingo ==>  used among homosexual co.
  • Hacker jargon (freeware, happiware, etc.)
  • Cyberspace jargon (www, mailing list, e-mail, etc.).

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