What is the expressive range of language?

G’day mate. How are ya? Today, I am going to talk about what the expressive range of language is. That is, we should take into account all range of varieties and styles in English, depending upon TPO (Time, Place and Occassion). Let’s elaborate this, shall we?

We should distinguish between Spoken and Written English as each has quite different purpose of conveying feelings and opinions

First of all, the tone and formality greatly varies whether it is spoken or written. Spoken English tends usually be less formal in tone, grammar rules are less important, and also a range of informal languages such as slangs understood only by minority groups is acceptable in Spoken English. On the other hand, Written English is usually regarded as more formal in tone, should adhere to the rules of the English grammar, and apparently any informal language is normally unacceptable, depending on circumstances. Let me give an example:

Spoken English Sorry I can’t go out with ya this arvo, cuz I’ve messed up my homework, so I reckon I’ve got to smash it up. Oh devo.

Written EnglishIt is unfortunate that I will not be able to join you this afternoon, mainly because I have realised that I made some sudden mistakes regarding my assignment. Therefore, I ought to complete it today.

In terms of Spoken English, there are a range of informal expressions, abbreviations, or shortened words, etc. And, also it didn’t strictly follow the rules of proper English grammar. In contrast, Written English does not have such languages, instead there are more formal terms. But, of course, you can often see some informal terms in Written English when you are flicking through some English magazines, news articles or blogs. They are all exception, because journalists are normally authorised to use their own languages at their own discretion. It means that this sort of medium of communication tends to be less formal than academic journals or essays.

We should distinguish between Formal English and Informal English as each uses different kinds of vocabularies and phrases

This is quite similar to the distinction between Spoken and Written English, but I should say there is a slight different essence between Formal and Informal English. What does it mean? Well, even Written English uses informal languages such as slangs, right? And Spoken English uses very formal languages. So, strictly speaking, the formality of the English language is contingent upon how serious you want to write articles or speak something. Like official government reports, business letters, etc. are one of those. In contradistinction to formal English, Informal English is usually used in everyday normal conversations, chats, and also personal letters or something. Let me give an example here:

Formal EnglishPardon me, could you please elaborate what you really mean by that?

Informal EnglishSorry mate, what’s that?

Can you see the tone? It’s obvious, isn’t it? All in all, even if you are talking about something, you always need to take into consideration the formality of your language, depending upon circumstances.

You should distinguish between Regional language and Social language as each uses quite different words and expressions that are often less mutually intelligible or exclusive

This is an interesting aspect of the English language. English-speaking country has at least one Regional language, such as Queenslander, Tassie English, etc. in Australia. Each state has a distinctively intriguing dialect. So if you want to migrate into a particular town, you need to get used to the distinctive accent to understand what they are saying. On the other hand, Social language refers more to social class or other shared social features such as a particular age group or a class society. So, you’ve got to understand the variations of English dialects in a different area. The common variation amongst the people in one area is Regional language, whilst the variations of different language are up to Social language.

Last but not least, we should distinguish between Domestic and Professional language as each uses different words and expressions, but they are sometimes similar

Domestic language is your daily language at home, like when you are talking to your parents, siblings or your friends. The words and expressions at home tend to be more like relaxing and less grammatical, but of course it rests upon the situation, right? Sometimes, for instance, when you are discussing today’s finance and stock market news with your family member, you still use some formal words, terminologies, lengthy sentences like academic essays. So all depends, right? By contrast, in Professional language you tend to use more formal, more lengthy, more grammatically-binging language, if you like. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you speak English in a very formal tone, no not at all. You still need to adjust the business situation and circumstance. You’d have a period of linguistic acclimatisation in order for both you and colleagues or senior staff to communicate with one another.

In conclusion, despite English being the official language of the countries above, there are several social groups who live in these countries. They have their own language and dialects. And such difference forms this or another variation of English language. Therefore, we should always take into account Spoken or Written, Formal or Informal, Regional or Social and Domestic or Professional when you speak English.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading!

Have a good one!

Published by Masato Kawaguchi

I am an English entrepreneur here in Australia. I've been teaching the PTE exam for the last 2 years or so, now mainly general English online.

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