At-Risk Students And The Study Of Foreign Language In School Writing Style and Formality

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Writing Style and Formality

The writing style includes four characteristics:

  1. Formality
  2. The complexity of language
  3. Objectivity, and
  4. Depth of information.

The purpose you are trying to accomplish, the needs of the readers, your relationship with the reader, and the type of document will affect the style in which you write. Style is a strategy for effective writing, not a goal.

In this article, we will deal with Formality.

Formality means (1) the degree to which you attend to the standard conventions of English, real and assumed, (2) the degree to which you use common words as opposed to colloquial, idiomatic words, (3) the level of objectivity, and (4) ) the level of intimacy it assumes with the reader. Writing in a formal way does not mean using “fancy” language and big words.

Levels of formality, sometimes called language registers, can be interpreted as follows.

Intimate (the least formal): This is how you talk or write to your best friends or significant others. Intimate language is highly dependent on shared experiences, assumes knowledge of common themes, and does not reflect standard English conventions of grammar or sentence structure. It also relies on common definitions of what words and expressions mean, and those meanings may have different or more specific meanings used by the general public. Because intimate language is so dependent on the relationship with the other person, and because intimate language involves social and emotional closeness, avoid intimate language, except when speaking or writing to people in your closest relationships.

Random: This is how you talk or write to people you associate with casually. Friends and family members can fall into this category, as can many acquaintances. Although this language record has been described as a “friendly” language, we can still use a random language in friendly circumstances. Casual language depends somewhat on shared experiences, common interests and similar personalities with the other person. Word usage is often idiosyncratic (ie, slang) and depends on common experiences.

Social: This is how you speak or write to people you meet in social situations, such as when you speak to an employee or when you introduce yourself to a friend of a friend. It is based on widely accepted word definitions, common and respectful ways of addressing the other person, and standard conventions of English, although it is not as rigorous as more formal records. It does not depend on common experiences, but may employ idioms common to a particular community or culture. Social language is appropriate for most social encounters. Indeed, social language implies belonging to a particular community or to a general culture and is appropriate if you are trying to establish yourself as a member of a particular social community.

Formal: Formal language strictly follows the standard conventions of English and is based on widely accepted word definitions. Tends to avoid personal opinions, feelings and experiences from private life. Also avoid idiomatic language. Unlike less formal language styles, formal language does not assume that the reader has shared experiences, understands the themes and issues, or has a social connection with the writer or speaker. Generally, this is the level of formality for public writing, posting or writing to people with whom you have no social relationship. This is the most acceptable level for most published or widely distributed documents, business documents, and academic papers.

Professionals: Here, the word professional it doesn’t mean formal and businesslike. It means writing specific to a particular profession. Professional documents are, for all practical purposes, social documents. In any case, the social group is a specific, targeted group of readers in a professional field. Members of this group share a common professional language with specific words and expressions, often called jargon, and specific expertise in a field of study. Unlike social language, knowledge is not dependent on shared experiences within a community or social group. Rather, knowledge is dependent on shared expertise and experience in a particular professional field. Like formal language, professional language pays rigorous attention to linguistic conventions.

This examination of levels of formality is useful for two reasons. (1) It can help to select and use the appropriate level. Using the wrong level creates a conflict with your reader. If you use a level that is too intimate, you assume a level of intimacy that the reader does not share. If you use a level that is too formal, you may be perceived as an arrogant and condescending outsider. In any case, they damage the relationship with the reader that you need to achieve your goals. (2) Understanding different levels of formality will help you gauge the effectiveness of your communications, make adjustments, and become flexible in your communication style.

Although levels of formality dictate the use of words, nothing about formal or professional writing indicates that using longer, more esoteric words is better. In fact, if certain words are not common to the audience you are addressing, or if you are not sure how to use them, you risk damaging your communication and credibility.

In business, school, and most professional settings, effective writing remains firmly in the formal level, unless you have a very specific, considered reason for using a different level.

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