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What is register?

Register refers to varieties of a language that differ from each other in vocabulary, grammar and style. Every speaker of a language understands all registers of his or her language to a certain extent. The register used in a given situation depends on external factors such as the relationship to the interlocutor.

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The 4 registers

Different groups and individuals use different versions of spoken language. The register facilitates communication within the respective group and is also a sign of belonging and of differentiation from other groups. The choice of words and expressions depends on the following factors, among others: 1. the relationship between interlocutors, 2. the type of communication (e.g. oral or written) and 3. the conversation situation.

Register 1: Dialect

A dialect is a local or regional variety of language with its own rules of pronunciation and grammar. Dialects are pronounced differently depending on social class. Dialects are primarily kept alive in rural areas. They are used in private, for example in conversations with family members, friends or neighbours.

Register 2: Colloquial language

Colloquial and everyday language is particularly widespread in cities and is primarily used in private settings and on social networks. It is subject to constant change, which is why sociolects (e.g. teenage slang) often occur. Colloquial language is seen as a combination of dialect and standard language.

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FAQ: More questions about register

What does sentence structure mean?

Sentence structure is the position of individual clauses or words in a sentence. A
classic German sentence usually follows this pattern: subject – predicate – object.

What are the registers?

The different registers of style within a language are divided into dialect, colloquial language, high-level language and elevated language.

What is elevated language?

Elevated language is characterised by a particularly distinguished way of speaking. Many foreign words and technical terms are used. An example of this register are the terms ‘dine’ and ‘consume’ as synonyms for the word ‘eat’.

What are examples of the four registers?

There are countless examples of the different German language styles. What is called “schwätzen” in Southern German dialect is called “quatschen” in colloquial language, “sprechen” in standard language and “verlauten lassen” in elevated language.

What are stylistic layers?

Stylistic layers are linguistic layers which, for sociological reasons, can be assigned to a certain linguistic level. For example, colloquial language tends to indicate a low level of education.

What does register mean in linguistics?

In linguistics, the term register refers to a way of speaking or writing that is characteristic of a particular area of communication. For example, an employee uses a different choice of words towards superiors than towards his wife. Parents also use different words and phrases towards their child than they do when talking to friends.

What is pragmatic communication?

Pragmatic communication is part of the linguistic approach to language development in pedagogy. It assesses a child’s linguistic abilities when communicating with their peers.

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