Spoken Language

There are lots of differences between formal and informal language. Formal is the polite form you would use to speak to those of greater age than yourself, those in authority over you and strangers. Formal language shows respect for that person’s position and acknowledgment that they potentially know more or are more experienced than you are. On the other hand, informal, or familiar language is what you would use to talk to friends, family and other people with whom you are comfortable and casual. These two examples have used both formal and informal language to suit the given audience.

In text A we’re conveyed from a conversation between two friends a very informal kind of language. We understand this by the way the two friends greet each other; “What you got today?”. There is no formal greeting they just start the conversation with a question, which suggests to us as an audience that the two friends know each other. This language used is called idiolect; language you personally use, individual to you and your personality. In contrast context B starts with a much more formal introduction. This is a conversation between a head teacher and a student. Sue, the student greets the head teacher by thanking her: “ Thank you for agreeing to see me…” She sets a positive tone to the beginning of the conversation and by thanking the head she communicates different levels of importance between the both of them.

Further on in context A between the two friends we encounter tag questions added at the end of a sentence which transmit the feeling of colloquial language as it is prevalently used in informal language. Alternatively in text B there are no tag questions as the language used is just formal. However more pauses are used to conjure the feeling of tension between the head teacher and the student as they are discussing about school uniform with two different opinions.

Contraction is another element used in text A, which is a shortened form or group of words. An example of this is highlighted in line 16 when one of the two friends says “Dunno man”. This is a shortened way of saying don’t know, that can also be classified as slang. This adds to the informality of the text. On the other hand the choice of vocabulary in the other text is more intricate and elaborate. An example of the use of this vocabulary is: “ as their friend to help get their opinions heard”. In this sentence the student whom is speaking to the head conveys to the audience a sense of maturity. Whereas in text A, the use of slang and non-standard sentence structure, makes the language colloquial and informal.

Fillers are words which to not carry conventional meaning but which are inserted in speech to allow time to think, to create a pause. These are used more frequently in text A as in line 11: “Er, perhaps”. This shows the audience that the speaker needs time to think. Fillers tend to be used when speaking between friends and family in a more spontaneous conversation. In text B which is more formal, fillers are replaced by pauses, so that the text remains formal and elaborate.