Different Style, Diffrent Register

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Written by: Mukhlash Abrar

Different Style, Different Register?

Essay question: Does style influence register or register influence style?

Language is an interesting topic to discuss. Basically, Language is defined as a system of communication by sound, i.e., through the organs of speech and hearing, among human beings of certain group or community, using vocal symbols possessing arbitrary conventional meaning.[1] It means people use language to communicate and socialize among them. Language can be studied internally or externally. Internal discussion of language encompasses the structure of language such as phonological, morphological and syntactic structures. External discussion of language, on the other hand, discusses about the factors outside of language which relate to its users such as sociolinguistics. Sociolinguistics derived from the words ‘socio’ and ‘linguistics’, so sociolinguistics is a linguistics field which deals with language relate to social context and cultural phenomenon. It’s like what Hudson says in his book. He defined sociolinguistics as the study of language in relation to society.[2] Then, Trudgill said that Sociolinguistics is that part of linguistics which is concerned with language as a social and cultural phenomenon.[3] There are many topics in sociolinguistics are interesting to discuss further. One of the interesting topics to discuss is variety of language. Hudson states that variety of language is defined as a set of linguistics items with similar social contribution.[4] Based on the definition, register and style are varieties of language. Register is a variety of language based on the use. Style, on the contrary, is a variety of language based on the formality. Since two varieties are different-based, it leads confusion that both influence each other. In addition, in some references, the term ‘register’ is always hand-in-hand with the term ‘style’. Therefore, this essay will try to solve the confusion between the two varieties, in an attempt to answer the question of does register influence style or style influence register. Despite this apparent simplicity of this question, it is actually a considerable amount of information to synthesize before coming to conclusion. The first thing to know is the concept of Register. Then, I try to explain the concept of Style and finally try to see the correlation between register and style whether they influence each other or not. The first item to discuss is the concept of register. The term Register is widely used in sociolinguistics to refer to ‘varieties of language according to use’.[5] This variety of language relates to certain use or function. Another definition mentioned by Holmes is that register refers to the language of groups of people with common interests or jobs, or the language used in situation associated with such group.[6] Moreover, Wardhaugh states that registers are sets of vocabulary items associated with discrete occupational or social groups.[7] From the two definitions, it is clear that register refers to vocabulary which deals with job. Surgeons, airline pilots, journalists, programmers and criminals tend to have characteristics way of speaking which involve certain particular vocabulary choices and grammatical constructions. One example mentioned by Holmes in her book the language used by people who describe a sporting event which can be distinguished easily from language used in other contexts especially in the vocabulary. In cricket, people describe positions by using terms like silly mid on, square leg, the covers and gully and describe deliveries by using terms like off-break, googly and leg break.[8] There are some purposes of using registers. Brown states Registers sometimes enable people to identify with a particular group and to maintain solidarity.[9] The use of registers is to show group’s identity, for example colleagues talk by using medical terms, they must be...
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