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ERIC Number: ED165492
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1978
Reference Count: N/A
Formality and Informality in Speech Events, Working Papers in Sociolinquistics, No. 52.
Irvine, Judith T.
This paper considers a distinction frequently used in sociolinguistics and ethnography of speaking to describe speech events: their formality or informality. Three principle meanings of "formality" found in the literature concern whether the formality relates to properties of a communicative code, properties of the social setting in which a code is used, or properties of the analyst's description. Four aspects of formality that apply cross-culturally are: (1) increased structuring of speech; (2) consistency in terms of the social significance of variants chosen at different levels of communicative expression; (3) invoking of positional identities of participants; and (4) emergence of a focus in speech interactions. The role of these variables in cross-cultural comparison and a comparison of certain speech events among the Wolof and Mursi are discussed. All societies seem to make distinctions among speech events according to the four aspects of formality. Comparisons within a society and between societies can be made according to how they connect the various aspects of formality and what concomitant effects formalizing a speech event will have. Formality, in this view, is largely a process of focusing, which can operate along various dimensions. (SW)
Descriptors: Comparative Analysis, Cross Cultural Studies, Discourse Analysis, Ethnography, Interaction Process Analysis, Language Patterns, Language Research, Language Styles, Literature Reviews, Sociocultural Patterns, Sociolinguistics, Speech Communication
Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 211 East 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Southwest Educational Development Lab., Austin, TX.