Style, context and register
Language varies according to its uses as
well as its users, according to where it is
used and to whom, as well as according to
who is using it.
The better you know someone, the more
casual and relaxed the speech style you
will use to them.
People use more standard forms to those
they do know well, and more vernacular
forms to their friends.
The speaker’s relationship to the addressee
is crucial in determining the appropriate
style of speaking. And how well you know
someone or how close you feel to them, is
one important dimension of social
The addresee or audience is a very
important influence on a speaker’s style.
For example: A person reading the news on
the middle-level station reads in a very
much less formal style than on the higher-
brow radio station.
When people talk to each other their speech
often becomes more similar, that is to say each
person’s speech converges towards the
speech of the person they are talking to. This
process is called speech accomodation. It
often occurs when the speakers like one
another, or where one speaker has a vested
interest in pleasing the other.
Converging towards the speech of another
person is usually a polite speech strategy.
How do speakers accommodate?
When people simplify their vocabulary and
grammar in talking to foreigners and
children, they are converging downwards
towards the lesser linguistic proficiency of
People may accomodate to others by
selecting the code that is most comfortable
for their addressees.
Example: In the market you usually
acccomodate to the language of the person
selling goods in order to secure good will
and good bargain.
Choosing a language not used by one’s
addressee is the clearest example of
The use of metaphors in Literature, in
that the message cloaked in this kind of
register is accessible only to those who
are conversant with the code is another
example of divergence.
Convergence happens when an individual
adjusts his speech patterns to match those of
people belonging to another group or social
Divergence happens when an individual
adjusts his speech patterns to be distinct
from those of people belonging to another
group or social identity.
When someone mispronounces a word in a
conversation with you, for instance, how do
Do you converge and misprounce it too?
Do you diverge and pronounce it the way
you know it ought to be pronounced?
Note: The best way of solving an
accommodation problem will depend on the
CONTEXT, STYLE AND CLASS
When we combine information about the
way people from different social groups
speak with information about the way
people speak in different contexts, it is
clear that features of social class and
contextual style interact.
When a person wants to shift
style, the obvious way to vary
your speech is to imitate the
speech of another person.
Example: to sound more casual at a
party, people model their speech
of thatt of a lower social group.
When people shift styles, they often
adopt the linguistic features of a
It is a sociolinguistic term that refers to
the social function of certain linguistic
phenomena. It may be defined as an
incorrect analogy with a form in a
prestige dialect which the speaker has
The use of I rather than me in
constructions such as between You and I
you and I illustrates structural
Speech functions, politeness and cross-
The Phatic communication
conveys an effective or social
message rather than a
The way a message is given
is always going to depend on
the intonation, tone of voice
and context the speaker
The form people choose in a
particular context depends on
the social distance between
participants, their relatives
status, and the formality of
the context. 17
Politeness and address forms
Being polite is a complicated business in any
language. It is difficult to learn because it
involves understanding not just the
language, but also the social and cultural
values of the community.
Being polite is not as
simply as a matter of
saying please and
taking account of the
feelings of others.
Anyone who has travelled outside their own
speech community is likely to have had some
experience of miscommunication based on
cultural differences. Often, these relate to
different assumptions deriving from different
We need to know what people mean in the
Example: In New Zealand a commonly
quoted phrase is Ladies a plate,
gentlemen a crate, meaning women
should bring some food and men some
The Cultural Dimension in Foreign
Linguistic competence goes together with
The importance of including culture in
planning lessons as a strategy for students
to find their own way to speak in the
second language speech community
through activities that enable them to
observe and differentiate the culture
diversity behaviors and ways to address
Learners require to learn and
understand the customs, habits, beliefs,
behavior, and language patterns of the
culture of this new language and
establish differences with their own
language in view of the fact that both
can be perceived in different ways from
they require to learn and understand the
customs, habits, beliefs, behavior, and
language patterns of the culture of this
new language and establish differences
with their own language in view of the
fact that both can be perceived in
different ways from each culture.
When in class, it is necessary to avoid
of making judgments about other
students cultures especially the ones
based on personal opinions, this would
create an environment of respect about
Some authors suggest to use authentic
materials such as: photographs,
newspapers, travel brochures to help
students to be involved in authentic
cultural experiences as well as the use
of proverbs, role play, culture capsules,
ethnographic studies, literature, films
and television to establish differences or
similarities in their use from one
language to another.
Sharing, learning and contributing in the
use of target language in appropriate way
in a multicultural classroom, to use actual
objects from their own and target culture
and discover experiences from invited
students who live in native countries
This model was developed to account for the
kinds of knowledge people need in order to
use language in meaningful interaction .
Is the ability to use the forms of the
language (sounds, words, and sentence
Is knowing how to use the grammar,
syntax, and vocabulary of a
Is the ability to undersatnd and create forms
of the language that are longer than
sentences, such as stories, conversations, or
business letters. It includes understanding
how particular instances of language use a re
Discourse competence also includes
understanding how texts relate to
the context or situation in which
they are used.
Is the ability to use language appropriately
in different contexts. It overlaps
significantly with discourse competence
because it has to do with expressing,
interpreting and negotiating menaing
according to culturally-derived norms and
It is our sociolinguistic competence
that allows us to be polite according
to the situation we are in and to be
able to infer the intentions of the
Is the ability to compensate for lack of
ability in any of the other areas.
What do you do when you do not know a
word that you need?
How do you manage a social situation when
you aren’t quite sure about the rules of
In both cases, you rely on your strategic
competence to help you communicate.
If you don’t know how to express
something you use gestures and facial