Language Study Joshua Spiratfleer
This report will examine the difference between formal and informal language, the types of audiences for which you would use the two languages and the purpose of both styles of the interaction. Determining when to use formal and informal language forms a big part of mastering any situation. The words that are chosen, the way they are spoken and put together differ between the two styles. Formal language will be less personal. It is used in official, literary and academic content such as reports, assignments, business emails or when interacting with people you don’t know or in a professional environment. The primary purpose of formal language is to achieve sophistication and clarity. In formal language the speaker will avoid using colloquial words or phrases, will avoid abbreviations, is usually written in the third person tense, will use specific words, avoid clichés and avoid addressing readers or people using second person pronouns. Informal language is generally used when we are talking with family or friends or other people we know well. It is more impulsive and casual. We will use casual, colloquial language and the tone will be more personal.
In this report we will explore two spoken and written interactions that use formal and informal language. For formal written language, an email from a student to a teacher is examined and for formal spoken language, a conversation with a business requesting a quote for some work. For informal written language, I’ll look at a messaging conversation to a friend whilst gaming and for informal spoken language, a face to face conversation with some friends.
Formal writing is often used in situations that are more serious and where a higher degree of professionalism is required. It is frequently used in a written context, this can include emailing between teacher and student. An example of formal is some written language used in an email from a teacher regarding a lack of feedback on class essays.
The tone of the email will be direct and to the point, no casual language will be used. It is addressed “Dear Ms. Joe”, an informal start to the email would have been “Hi Ms. Doe”. The email is formally signed off with “Sincerely”. The tone of the email could come across as harsh, the words used are very direct, the first sentence in the email could be taken in a negative manner. There is little doubt or confusion about the issue the writer of the email is having, “a lack of constructive notes and criticism on returned essays”, “without feedback of any kind it is hard to decipher ways to improve our work”, “more direct guidance from you would be of great benefit”. She has used direct words to avoid confusion.
The nature of day to day life means we have formal conversations every day. An example of this can be when you ring a business to enquire if they can provide a quote for a job you need done. A good business will train their workers to answer the phone “Good morning, business name, first name of worker speaking”. First impressions count, where it is face to face or over the phone. You need to portray a good first impression otherwise you risk losing the customer. Similarly the customer also needs to introduce themselves. As with formal written language, formal spoken language will use direct words to ensure there is no margin for error or confusion. The information gained will be used to develop a quote for the job that needs to be completed. An example of a formal spoken sentence could be “Our household has no hot water and suspect there is an issue with the hot water system”, whilst informal could be “We have no hot water!” A business will do anything to obtain someone’s business and a good one will maintain professionalism at all times, this includes the use and tone of language, though they may at times incorporate informal language or neutral language that the customer will understand. The uses of formal technical terms can sometimes cause confusion with people who have less knowledge of the area in question.
Informal writing is often used in situations that aren’t serious and where using more slang is accepted. This can include messaging on gaming. An example of gaming messaging can be:
Hey man, can play GTA if u want, can make money by CEO, heist or RNG. If you’re not in the mood for GTA, can play fh3 or fh4. Let us know.
The tone of the message is relaxed and casual. Abbreviations will be used and the style of language used can depend on the age group. Written informal language amongst the younger generation can be very abbreviated, an example of this is “lol” which equates to “laugh out loud”. The greeting “Hey man” at the beginning is far more relaxed and personal, a formal start to the message would have been “Dear first-name” . The message does not contain a sign off, therefore making it an open discussion with a close off still to be determined.
Informal language is frequently used in a spoken context, this can include speaking to a friend or a relative about every day matters. You could be asking how their recent holiday was, trying to arrange a family get-together or trying to arrange a night out with a friend. “Hey there, you doing anything Friday night? Want to catch up for dinner and drinks”?
As with informal written language, informal spoken language will generally be in a relaxed and casual tone. The information gained will be used to develop an understanding of what is wanted. The use of informal language can confuse people who have less knowledge of the topic being talked about or don’t understand the casual language being used.
Throughout this report it has been found that informal and formal language both have a time and a place to be used. Informal language is more appropriate to use in causal and relaxed situations like at home with family. Whereas formal language is important in day-to-day life when addressing people in a professional setting like a job interview. It is important to know when to use which form of language for different occasions. Both styles of language can be used both professionally and personally. As you get to know someone in the professional environment you start to learn who you can and can’t joke with or use a more relaxed tone of language. However, you always need to maintain the company image. Knowing when to use a style of language, particularly in a professional setting comes with experience, it is something you learn as you progress through life and the variety of situations you become involved in.