Posted by: ellendahat | October 24, 2009

Style and Register

After procurement actions, decontainerise inputs. Perform measurement tasks on a case-by case basis. In a mixing-type bowl, impact heavily on brown sugar, granulated sugar, softened butter, and shortening. Coordinate the interface of eggs and vanilla.

At this point in time, leverage flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowland agregate. Equalise with prior mixture, and develop intense and continuous liason among inputs until well coordinated. Associate key chocolate and nut subsystems and execute stirring operations.

(Taken from an adapted chocolate chip -cookie recipe-Bouridge and Moulder, 2005:245)

Do you find the above passage strange and rather funny?

The passage looks strange because the choice or use of vocabulary is not appropriate to the context or type of text. If we only see the first line we would not have any idea that it is a cooking recipe as the register and the style of the language used is typically used by bureaucrats.

Certain vocabulary items are appropriate in certain context or situation but not appropriate other context. Wardhaugh notes that register is a set of vocabulary items associated with distinct occupational or social groups (2002: 49). Halliday as quoted in Helen Leckie-Tarry (1995) notes that “when we observe language activity in the various contexts in which it takes place, we find differences in the type of language selected as appropriate to different types of situation (Halliday et al, 1964:87).

Do Polliticians use the same language when making public speech and when talking to their children at home? Does the English written in a government official document the same with the English in a child’s story book? Can you imagine if your teacher is teaching in the class in the language used in Poetry? I think it is quite clear that the answer to question 1 and 2 is no as the use of language really depends on the context or situation, and the answer for the third question is that the teacher will look ridiculous or weird and the students would find it very difficult to understand what is being spoken.

Burridge, Kate and Jean Mulder. 2005. English in Australia and New Zealand. An Introduction to its History, Structure and Use. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Wardhaugh, Ronald. 1992. An Introduction to Sociolinguistic. Cambridge:Blackwell Publishers.

Leckie-Tarry, Helen. 1995. Language and Context: A Functional Linguistic Theory of  Register. London and New York: St. Martin Press.

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