ERIC Number: ED125298
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1976-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Formality in English: A Non-Linear Scale as a Descriptive Alternative to Labelled Categories. York Papers in Linguistics, No. 6.
Chan, R. S. K.
Formality as a style may be defined as language which reflects or "keynotes" the degree of familiarity between participants in a discourse. Working from this assumption, this paper attempts to answer the question, "How is formality best described?" Results of a series of tests indicate that informants' labels (with the exception of the polar "formal" and "informal" categories) are unreliable. As an alternative to labelled categories, the article proposes a scale which would be non-linear (since between the two poles, a discontinuity needs to be specified, where marginally formal English passes "catastrophically" to marginally informal English) and would be weighted toward the informal end. Furthermore, the scale should contain no midpoint, for formality appears to have no"neutral" category, i.e., there is no discourse of any length where formality is not signalled in some degree. (DB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: York Univ. (England). Dept. of Language.