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Using Formal and Informal Language Appropriately. Using Formal and Informal Language Appropriately. Everyday life is not like a Grey Poupon Commercial….

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everyday life is not like a grey poupon commercial
Everyday life is not like a Grey Poupon Commercial…

Most of us remember the Grey Poupon commercials of the 90’s where a man in a limousine is asked for some fancy mustard and replies, “But, of course!” We all inherently know why the commercials are amusing, but we probably haven’t taken the time to actually analyze the reasoning.

art imitates life
Art Imitates Life
  • In the example of the Grey Poupon commercial, the language of the perceived wealthy man with the fancy mustard is formal in tone, indicating a certain class difference marked by education level, therefore, marketing the mustard toward people of more “sophisticated” tastes.
  • In writing, formal and informal language work in a similar way… to influence tone, which, in turn, speaks to your audience.
slide4
Tone

Tone is defined as the writer’s attitude toward the subject matter and his or her readers.

audience
Audience

The audience is your reader or listener– the recipient of your verbal or written communication.

diction
Diction
  • Diction is word choice
  • Word choice is important in establishing tone
  • Three levels of diction:
    • 1. high or formal diction
    • 2. neutral diction
    • 3. informal or low diction
characteristic of formal and informal language
Informal

light

humorous

personal

casual

offhanded

"loose"

plainspoken

simple

Formal

serious

objective

impersonal

reasoned

controlled

reserved

Characteristic of Formal and Informal Language
why does it even matter
Why does it even matter?
  • Official or serious situations are often signaled by the use of formal language, while ordinary or relaxed situations are signaled by the use of informal language.
  • Formality of language varies in relation to such factors as public versus private occasion, the size of the audience, the relationship of the speaker/writer with the audience, and so on. The ability to vary your language according to the situation is often considered a mark of an educated person.
certain situations
Formal Situations

job interview

principal’s office visit

business letter

class essay

Informal Situations

text message

friendly letter

“locker” conversation

Journal-style writing

Certain Situations
what makes informal language
What makes INFORMAL language?
  • Simple grammatical structure
  • Personal evaluation
  • Colloquial or slang vocabulary
what makes formal language
What makes FORMAL language?
  • Formal language, even when spoken, is often associated with the conventions expected of written standard English.
  • Although you generally don’t worry as much about formality in speaking, it is extremely important in writing because of the knowledge you are recording through the written word.

Continued on next slide…

remember when you are speaking writing or analyzing language in a formal situation
Remember… when you are speaking, writing or analyzing language in a formal situation…

What makes formal language (continued)?

  • Formal language does not use contractions
  • Avoids personal pronouns such as: you, I, us, me, and we
  • Includes more polysyllabic words—BIGGER words
  • Complex, complete sentences
  • Avoidance of colloquial or slang vocabulary
  • Impersonality
  • A consistent preference for “learned” words
remember when you are speaking writing or analyzing language in a formal situation13
Remember… when you are speaking, writing or analyzing language in a formal situation…

What to avoid in formal writing…

  • Exclamation marks
  • Needless words like “well” and “you know”
  • First and second person point of view
  • Beginning sentences with coordinating conjunctions
  • Too many short, choppy sentences that could be combined to make more complex sentence structures
what to avoid in formal writing
What to avoid in formal writing…
  • Avoid most shortenings in formal writing. In formal English, you talk on the “telephone,” not the “phone”
  • Know what acronyms may be used in your writing. In formal English, you should limit your use of acronyms, abbreviations making use of letters that stand for certain words
  • Similarly, limit your use of absolute terms, such as "everybody," "always," "never"
  • Avoid cliché’s, stage directions and colloquialisms
common colloquialisms and informal words
A lot, alot

Ain't

Alright, all right

Anyways

Anybody, anyone

As

Big, large great

Buy

Contraption

Could of, would of, should of

Cute

Fellow

For sure

Get, obtain

Get, understand

Gonna, wanna

Got

How come

How do you do

Humongous

Kid

Common Colloquialisms and Informal Words
common colloquialisms and informal words continued
Kinda, kind of, sorta, sort of

Let

Like

Most

On the other hand

Pretty

Real, really

Shall, will, should, would

So

Thus, thusly

Until, till, ‘til

Use

Use to

Yeah

Common Colloquialisms and Informal Words Continued
formal or informal
Formal or Informal?

After reading The Red Badge of Courage, it is easy for you to see Crane’s purpose in telling the story.

formal or informal18
Formal or Informal?

Native American literature is rich in cultural information and poetic language.

formal or informal19
Formal or Informal?

Native American literature isn’t rich in Puritain characteristics.

formal or informal20
Formal or Informal?

Native American Literature is oral. It is passed down by word of mouth.

formal or informal21
Formal or Informal?

Everybody knows that Snickers is the best candy bar.

formal or informal22
Formal or Informal?

The field trip participants will meet at the A-Town Wal-Mart.

references
References

“Formal/informal language.” 15 October 2008 <http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/

SESLL/EngLang/LILT/forminf.htm>.

“How to Avoid Colloquial (Informal) Writing.” 16 October 2008 <http://www.wikihow.com/Main-Page>.

“Tone: A Matter of Attitude.” Capital Community College. 2006. 15 October 2008 <http://grammar.ccc.commnet.

edu/grammar/composition/tone.htm>.