Sean Curley Understanding and effectively using a particular language requires several degrees of competence ◦ Lexical competence: knowing the words of a language and their meanings ◦ Syntactic competence: knowing how to put those words together in meaningful ways We can use real words in the language, and put them in the proper order, and still sound “wrong” ◦ We can’t just know the what and how of language, but the where and when (context competence) ◦ Shown by appropriate register choice A register is a subset of all the linguistic rules that we have available to us We change our register to meet the expectations of a situation ◦ Different social gatherings ◦ Different individuals in similar social scenarios Depends on personal relationship Context-incompetence can have very negative consequences Business ◦ The age of the global economy ◦ Different languages, different rules Ex.: Tu and Usted in Spanish Ex.: Japanese honorifics Education ◦ Students of different socioeconomic status (Payne 2008) Students from lower SES may default to incorrect register ◦ The rise of CMC communication “Chatspeak” and its lexicon “The linguistic ruin of this generation” (Axtman 2001) But wait…(Tagliamonte and Dennis (2008); Varhagen et al (2009)) A standard for registers would be nice to have ◦ Those unfamiliar with registers could use such a reference ◦ There are a lot of registers to classify Formality seems to be a common difference amongst registers, and the biggest area of potential misinterpretation ◦ Developing the standard around the concept of formality would be, at the very least, a good starting point A working definition of formality Some sort of scale of formality An evaluator for speech acts Can these even be developed, and how? ◦ So that we know by what measure to evaluate speech acts ◦ So that we can provide an idea of formal levels ◦ So that we can classify registers based on these levels ◦ So we can insert those acts into our formality registers and have a useful scale ◦ (That’s my research question.) Past attempts at developing scales ◦ Joos (1967) Defined formality registers in terms of the relationship between communicators Frozen – Formal – Consultative – Casual – Intimate Every language has these five levels ◦ Gemmell (2009) Defined formality registers by social consequences (cultural scripts) Language-independent Formal – Somewhat Formal – Everyday Courteous – Slightly Informal – Informal Past attempt to define and measure formality ◦ Heylighen and Dewaele (1999) “Deep formality”: ambiguity avoidance F-measure, analyzed speech acts by word type Formality should include ambiguity avoidance, we should use the correct choice of words to minimize the chance of being misunderstood It should also include politeness rules, as if we are not polite enough (or even too polite), we also run the risk of being misinterpreted An attempt at a definition: “The level of formality of a communicative act is the degree to which the communicator is concerned (perhaps cautious) with the act being correctly interpreted by the recipient.” As a speech act decreases in formality, it will be less about what is literally said; the recipient must use more effort or have more background knowledge to correctly interpret the act The five levels that Joos and Gemmell use are a good starting point; let’s create the scale by situations of increasing formality with the situations in which to use them ◦ Ceremonial: Rituals; strictly follows appropriate forms ◦ Presentational: Academic work, business meetings ◦ Transactional: Conversation between professionals towards gaining information ◦ Casual: Conversation between friends ◦ Internal: Close friends or family The evaluator is going to need more work ◦ Heylighen and Dewaele’s research is useful for relative formality and might help to determine bounds, but seems to ignore politeness A proper evaluator should include ambiguity avoidance along with politeness ◦ Politeness rules of a language need to be observed and enumerated ◦ There are some obvious ones (slang is typically frowned upon in more formal situations) ◦ Should we evaluate by number of rules, strength of rules? Use F-measure to better differentiate? Creating a useful objective scale is possible; it’s just really difficult ◦ Defining the scale is the easy part ◦ Evaluating acts is hard because defining and measuring politeness is hard ◦ The evaluator will inevitably be at least somewhat specific to the culture in which it was developed Once we have the tools, we can use them to… ◦ Evaluate our own speech ◦ Use it as a teaching tool for students learning language Axtman, Kris. “‘r u online?’: The Evolving Lexicon of Wired Teens.” Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 12, 2002. < http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1212/p01s01-ussc.html>. Gemmell, Maggie Sue. "Defining Formality Levels: Cultural Scripts as a Guide to the Formality Scale of Register." Thesis. University of Texas, 2009. University of Texas Libraries Digital Repository. Web. <http://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/ETD-UT-2009-08-207?show=full>. Heylighen, Francis, and Jean-Marc Dewaele. "Formality of Language: Definition, Measurement and Behavioral Determinants." Internal Report (1999). Center "Leo Apostel", Free University of Brussels. Web. <http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.30.6280&rep=rep1&type=pdf>. Joos, Martin. The Five Clocks. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967. Print. Payne, Ruby. "Nine Powerful Practices." Educational Leadership 65.7 (2008): 48-52.ASCD. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Web. Sept.-Oct. 2011. <http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr08/vol65/num07/Nine-PowerfulPractices.aspx>. "Register (sociolinguistics)." Wikipedia. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Register_(sociolinguistics)>. Tagliamonte, S. A., and D. Denis. "Linguistic Ruin? Lol! Instant Messaging And Teen Language." American Speech 83.1 (2008): 3-34. Web. <http://web.uvic.ca/ling/coursework/ling395/395_LOL.pdf>. Varhagen, Connie, G. P. McFall, Nicole Pugh, Lisa Routledge, Heather Sumida-MacDonald, and Trudy E. Kwong. "Lol: New Language and Spelling in Instant Messaging."Reading and Writing 23.6 (2009): 71933. Department of Psychology, University of Alberta. Web. <http://www.psych.ualberta.ca/~varn/Documents/VarnhagenMcFall2010.pdf>.