More generally, register is also used to indicate degrees of formality in language use.
- Discourse Domain
- Formal Style
- Informal Style
- Language Variety
- Legal English
- Levels of Usage
- Linguistic Variation
- Semantic Field
Etymology:From the Latin, "record"
Examples and Observations:
- "Every native speaker is normally in command of several different language styles, sometimes called registers, which are varied according to the topic under discussion, the formality of the occasion, and the medium used (speech, writing, or sign).
"Adapting language to suit the topic is a fairly straightforward matter. Many activities have a specialized vocabulary. If you are playing a ball game, you need to know that 'zero' is a duck in cricket, love in tennis, and nil in soccer. If you have a drink with friends in a pub, you need to know greetings such as: Cheers! Here's to your good health!
"Other types of variation are less clearcut. The same person might utter any of the following three sentences, depending on the circumstances:
I should be grateful if you would make less noise.Here the utterances range from a high or formal style, down to a low or informal one--and the choice of a high or low style is partly a matter of politeness."
Please be quiet.
(J. Aitchison, Teach Yourself Linguistics. Hodder, 2003)
- "Like variation in our manner of dress, stylistic variations in language cannot be judged as appropriate or not without reference to the participants in the interchange (i.e., speaker and listener or reader and writer). For example, you would not speak to a 5-year-old child, an intimate friend, and a professor using the same style of speech. Using the term eleemosynary 'charitable' would probably be inappropriate for the child and the friend, while using number one 'urinate' would probably be inappropriate for the friend and the professor."
(F. Parker and K. Riley, Linguistics for Non-Linguists, 1994)
- "[R]egister features are core lexical and grammatical characteristics found to some extent in almost all texts and registers. . . .
"Any linguistic feature having a functional or conventional association can be distributed in a way that distinguishes among registers. Such features come from many linguistic classes, including: phonological features (pauses, intonation patterns), tense and aspect markers, pronouns and pro-verbs, questions, nominal forms (nouns, nominalizations, gerunds), passive constructions, dependent clauses (complement clauses, relative clauses, adverbial subordination), prepositional phrases, adjectives, adverbs, measures of lexical specificity (once-occurring words, type-token ratio), lexical classes (hedges, emphatics, discourse particles, stance markers), modals, specialized verb classes (speech act verbs, mental process verbs), reduced forms (contractions, that-deletions), co-ordination, negation, and grammatical devices for structuring information (clefts, extraposition).
"A comprehensive linguistic analysis of a register requires consideration of a representative selection of linguistic features. Analyses of these register features are necessarily quantitative, because the associated register distinctions are based on differences in the relative distribution of linguistic features."
(Douglas Biber, Dimensions of Register Variation: A Cross-Linguistic Comparison. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995)