An Overview of Formal Language
This article has been written by Liam McAlary, a Years 7 – 12, VCE Legal Studies and VCE English Language Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Liam then please check out his page here.
Hi everyone, here is my article for April, which focuses on Unit 3, Area of Study 2, (language). This article will briefly look at some social purposes, and features of formal language, as well as some tips on where to find additional texts.
Some of the key social purposes of formal language are listed on the study design. You need to be aware of these purposes of formal language, as well as others. The list on the study design is not exhaustive (note the word, “including”).
Study design: https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Pages/vce/studies/englishlanguage/englangindex.aspx
Additionally, it is important to be aware that many features will serve more than one purpose. A Kate Burridge quote that I stumbled across when doing some research for this article demonstrates this well. Burridge said in 2006 that, “taboo and euphemism are closely entwined with the concepts of politeness and face.” Essentially, Burridge is using euphemisms (which primarily serves to help negotiate social taboos) as an example to demonstrate how when we speak in more formal settings, participants need to consider how the language they use may reflect on them, but also the face needs of the people with whom you are conversing. Not only is this evidence of a feature having the ability to serve multiple purposes, it also is a good one to keep in your notes as it can be used in essays to support an argument about the purposes of a key formal language feature (features and purposes of formal language are a common essay topic).
Moreover, the key features of formal language are important to be aware of. One key feature of formal language is euphemisms. Euphemisms are sayings which serve to, “soften the blow,” of a statement that relates to a topic which is considered a taboo or difficult to talk about. Euphemisms can present a challenge when it comes to finding fresh examples, as they primarily relate to, “old taboos,” such as bodily functions and death. Furthermore, jargon, (technical language related to a specific domain, such as a workplace) is also a feature which pops up a lot in this outcome. Jargon can serve a myriad of social purposes, depending on the context surrounding its use. Jargon examples tend to be a bit easier to find. These two features are just two of several key formal language features, however this article would be very long if I were to go through them all.
Every English Language student knows examples are important. Formal language examples are all around you. However, politics tends to be a bit of a goldmine, especially in an election year (like 2019). All ministers have their transcripts from speeches and interviews publicly available on their websites, so make the most of them as they are usually littered with examples which are brilliant for essays. It is also common for these transcripts to be texts for your SACs (if they are short answer or commentaries).
Anyway, that’s all from me and I will have another article for you next month.
If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: What To Expect As A First-Year University Student, Social Purpose and How it Relates to Informal Language and The Summer Holidays and Formal Language Examples.
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