Style Shifting • Variation in speech style is as pervasive as regional, social class, ethnic, and gender-based language variation. • Style Shifting refers to speech variation within individual speakers. • There are no single-style speakers. While it may vary, everyone displays a considerable amount of style shifting in their speech.
Types of Style Shifting • All style shifting exists on a continuum. The types of style shifting outlined below are not discrete but often move along a continuum. Different types also overlap from time to time depending on the speech context.
Types of Style Shifting • 1. Casual to Formal: Shifts of this kind occur in specific contexts and may be marked by a reduction in the percentage use of certain casual speech features such as the pronunciation of the –ing ending, the elimination of non-standard speech features (such as double negatives) and the use of slang or taboo words.
Types of Style Shifting • In addition, speakers may ADD features which they consider to be more formal such as Latinate words (smart > erudite) or overuse of what they believe are signals of formal speech, such as whom and shall.
Types of Style Shifting • 2. Formal to Informal or Casual: this type of shift is characterized by an increase in casual speech features and a decrease in formal speech features. Use of certain informal markers (for example, “ain’t”) are often use to signal informal speech. Thus the informal speech may be a widespread speech shift OR selective features. • Both formal and informal shifts may be evident at the level of phonology, grammar, lexicon (word use), semantics (meaning) and pragmatics (group interaction)
Types of Style Shifting • 3. Shifts in dialect: This involves more widespread patterns of shifting from one regional, ethnic, or social variety to another. Quite often it overlaps with the formal to informal continuum outlined above. • The reasons speakers shift from one dialect to another can be quite complex. In positive terms, it may be a way to indicate that the speaker identifies with or is familiar with a particular speech community or its values.
Types of Style Shifting • From a negative perspective, it is often used to mock or demean a speech community through employing speech stereotypes or as a source of humor. This is often employed in media texts (such as television shows) OR in ethnic jokes.
Types of Style Shifting • 4. Another type of shifting occurs when speakers shift from one recognized speech register to another. • A REGISTER is a readily identifiable speech variety that individuals use in specific and well-defined speech situations. • Baby-talk or Motherese; Legalese; robot talk; academic discourse, etc. • Register shifts can overlap with the formal to informal continuum.
Types of Style Shifting • 5. A slightly different type of speech register is PERFORMANCE SPEECH. This register is associated with a speakers attempt to display for others a certain language or language variety, whether their own or that of another speech community. We can think of this as “performing” a particular dialect or speech style.
Types of Style Shifting Sometimes Performance Speech occurs when a dying variety is reduced from the primary vehicle of daily communication to a mere object of curiosity which is performed for outsiders or as part of cultural rituals within the speech community. Speakers will sometimes “put on” their unusual dialect for the benefit of tourists or language investigators.
Types of Style Shifting Most often, these Performance speech shifts are not accurate or complete. Speakers will use a few select features or develop rote phrases that highlight a number of the features of the archaic speech or dialect.
Hypercorrection • Many of these style shift types involve HYPERCORRECTION > The extension of a language form beyond its regular linguistic boundaries when a speaker feels the need to extremely standard or “correct” dialect forms. • Statistically, the lower-middle class and the upper-working class are more prone to hypercorrection than members of other socio-economic classes. Because they are often more concerned with raising their status than members of other class groups.
Hypercorrection • Another form of Hypercorrection involves the use of variants which are not typically found in a speech variety at all, such as the pronunciation of “salmon” or “often.” These are called spelling pronunciations (pronunciation based on the exact spelling of a word).
Hypercorrection • STRUCTURAL Hypercorrection involves the use of a linguistic feature in a context where you don’t expect it. • For example, “Whom is it?” or “She is going with you and I.”