Language and Popular Culture
Examples of Linguistic Registers
H. Schiffman, Instructor
The following are samples of different registers of English. Most have
been taken from newspaper accounts of various sorts; they are thus
examples of different types of reportage in journalism, but most
are also citing material from other registers that they are
reporting about. The last few examples are from scientific
particular abstracts of scientific articles.
`Plaintiff alleged that defendent did hit, beat, pummel,
punch, and mutilate plaintiff, and did damage and/or destroy
valuable photographic equipment belonging to plaintiff.'
- SHERIFF'S SALE: By virtue of a Writ of execution, to me
directed, issued out of the SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY, CHANCERY
DIVISION, CAMDEN COUNTY, DOCKET NO. F-8373-96 will be sold at Public
Venue on Friday the 29th day of December, 1997, at 12 o'clock, local time
noon of said day, property located as described below. [description
- SAUTEED MARINATED BRAINS. Parboil the brains.
Cool and cut in thick slices. Marinate for several hours in a mixture of 1/2 cup
olive oil, 3 tbsp. lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. Tabasco, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tbsp. each
chopped parsley and chopped chives. Remove from marinade, dip in flour, beaten egg,
and fresh bread crumbs, and saute in hot oil until golden brown. Serves 4.
- CUDDLER, OUTDOORS LOVER. Tall, cute, SWM, 46, N/S, educ. New to Phila. area
seeks youthful, affectionate, playful, nurturing fem to share life with. Do you
enjoy getting away from it all & long to build a happy relationship? Attitude
more important than age, race, looks. Height & weight proportional plz. P/P nice
but not neces.
- WALLACE CLARK, 73, researcher. Wallace H. Clark Jr., 73,
a dermatologist whose research into moles, freckles and other skin discolorations led
to the early identification and treatment of certain forms of skin cancer, died of an
aneurysm Friday at his home in Kennebunk, Maine.
- William Bolcom clearly appreciates the plainspoken beauty of Kenyons' language,
and he frames it with near-perfect music. A piano, smooth, discreet, controlled, laps
over and over a four-note motif at the start of ``Otherwise" ---whose key, G
sharp minor, is ominously repeated, altered, and reinforced in the held tones of the
bass line. How succinctly, in the space of 34 measures, Bolcom underlines the New
Hampshire Day described by his late friend Jane Kenyon. ...
- Regional Forecast.
Poconos: Sunshine followed by increasing clouds. High 40. A period of rain tonight,
low 35. Showers may occur early tomorrow with flurry late. High 38.
PENN SHIFTS PROBE OF ATHLETE. A panel of academics, not the athletic department, will
handle the eligibility investigation. ... Meanwhile, a lawyer for fifth-year student
Mitch Marrow--the all-Ivy League student-athlete at the center of the
controversy--said his client was ``a smart kid, a squeaky-clean kid" who was
being victimized by a Penn history professor with a grudge.
point n (1878) 1 The lowest temperature at which vapors above
a volatile combustible substance ignite in air when exposed to flame 2: a
point at which someone or something bursts suddenly into action or being 3:
- SIXERS SLAMDUNK SONICS FOR SIXTH WIN IN
SEVEN GAMES ... More than compensating for the loss of All-Star center Alonzo
Evening, Austin, despite straining a groin in the first quarter, scored 28 points,
grabbed 8 rebounds and had a career-best five steals to lead the Sixers to a 94-81
victory over the Seattle Supersonics Wednesday.
- "While Silverstein disingenuously claimed to support
the master plan, his actions, then and up to the present time,
bespeak a clear intent to derail the project wherever he perceives a conflict
with his personal financial interests," the lawsuit said. [...] Silverstein
Properties said through a spokesman, Howard J. Rubenstein, that it was surprised by
the lawsuit. "It has always been our desire to avoid a senseless courtroom fight,"
Mr. Rubenstein wrote in a statement. [...] Silverstein Properties said yesterday
that it understood "that just a few days ago, the Libeskinds accepted our repeated
suggestion of mediation by some neutral third party and that they were in fact
considering a list of potential mediators." [...] "That being said, we fully expect
to prevail." But the Libeskinds' legal papers said the Silverstein mediation proposal
was "nothing more than a further stratagem to delay
resolution of this fee dispute and frustrate progress of
the master plan."
LET YOUR HEART TAKE THE WHEEL.
Your heart is telling you something.
To get behind the wheel of an Eldorado Touring Coupe with the Northstar System.
To feel the 300-horsepower V8 weld your back to the leather of the
To take control of the only luxury coupe with the
astonishing handling advantages of StabiliTrak.
Your heart is
telling you something.
Are you listening?
LIVE WITHOUT LIMITS
Here's an example of the register of an auctioneer which
many native speakers of English might not understand.
Now look at some scientific registers:
Notice what kinds of claims
they make, and what verbs they use to do this:
We review research on the neural bases of verbal
working memory (WM),
focusing on human neuroimaging studies. We first consider experiments
that indicate that verbal working memory
is composed of multiple
components. One component involves the subvocal
rehearsal of phonological
information and is neurally implemented by
left-hemisphere speech areas,
including Broca's area, the premotor area, and the supplementary motor
area. ... These experiments provide some support
for the hypothesis
that, when a task requires processing the contents of working memory,
the dorsolateral prefontal cortex is disproportionately
- Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) encompass a group of
fatal neurodegenerative diseases in animals and man which can be
transmitted experimentally. The etiology of naturally occurring TSEs seems
to comprise horizontal and vertical transmission as well as
predisposition, yet for the majority of cases the etiology is unclear. The
onset of clinical illness is preceded by a prolonged incubation period of
months to decades. Clinical symptoms of TSEs include
dementia and loss of
movement coordination. Neuropathological examination typically reveals
gliosis and spongiform changes, sometimes accompanied by the formation of
amyloid deposits (amyloid plaques). In the 1980s it was
established that a
common hallmark of TSEs was the accumulation of an abnormal isoform of the
host-encoded prion protein in the brains of affected animals and humans.
- Tamil is unusual among the world's languages in that some of its
dialects have five contrasting liquids. This paper focuses on the characterization of these sounds in
terms of articulatory geometry and kinematics, as well as their
articulatory-acoustic relations. This study illustrates
the use of multiple techniques--static palatography, magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI), and magnetometry (EMMA)--for investigating both
static and dynamic articulatory characteristics using a single native
speak of Tamil. Dialectal merger and neutralization phenomena exhibited
by the liquids of Tamil are discussed.
Comparisons of English /r/ and /l/ with Tamil provide
evidence for generality in underlying mechanisms of rhotic and
lateral production. The articulatory data justify the postulation of a
class of rhotics and a class of laterals in Tamil, but do not provide evidence in favor of a larger class of
liquids. Such a superclass appears to have largely an acoustic basis.
1999 Acoustical Society of America
- Linguistic assimilation in the German-American church has been studied by Hofman
(1966:139-50, 1972) and tangentially by Schneider (1939), Beck (1939), Dietz (1949), Stellhorn
(1963), Graebner (1965), and Kloss (1966). Except for Hofman and Kloss, most of these studies
have accepted the notion that linguistic assimilation was a given,
and that the process only needed to be documented. Most also have studied the ``official''
change in language policy (from German to English) in the German-American churches by
examining the statistics on number of churches offering
confirmation classes in English, and number of church publications sold in English vs. German.
Hofman concludes, for instance, that
``the most crucial variable in the relatively greater persistence of German [as opposed to
Scandinavian or other ethnic languages] may well be the greater
numerical concentration of Germans. ... [C]onservatism is an unnecessary assumption in order
to account for the somewhat greater retentiveness of German''. (1972:623).
Kloss (1966) goes beyond this to offer a useful taxonomy of factors
affecting language maintenance, but admits the contradictory effect
of some of them (in some
cases a given factor will aid maintenance, while in others the same factor will hasten
[...] The literature seems to assume that the official language
policy of these German-American churches is representative of the actual de facto language
preference of their members, and then attributes the quick
change-over to English after World War I to the harsh regulations of that era; or, these
groups are acknowledged to be already English-preferential, but their English dominance is
attributed to the ``enormous assimilative power of American civilization'' (Glazer 1966:360).
The overwhelming evidence from internal documents of these churches, and particularly their
schools, however, indicates that the German-American school was a
bilingual one much (perhaps a whole generation or more) earlier than 1917, and that the
majority of the pupils may have been English-dominant bilinguals from the early 1880's on.
last modified 7/07/2004