Textual Variation: Registers, Jargon, Slang

The speech situation, influenced by different situational factors, can determine the speaker's choice of a language variety. A register is a linguistic variety that is deemed appropriate for use in a particular type of speech situation.

Different registers are characterized by their register markers – register-specific linguistic features – by means of which one register can be distinguished from another. Registers thus show textual variation in the linguistic features they typically carry.

Registers can show characteristic differences on the levels of vocabulary, phonology, grammar, and semantics. Accordingly, we find respective linguistic markers of register with respect to these levels (cf. Finegan, 2004):

(1) Lexical Markers (incl. jargon and slang),

Register is characteristically a very wide field with no restriction concerning the scope and number of registers. There are many spoken and written registers, and we distinguish between formal and informal registers. More specifically, we can differentiate between particular spoken and written registers, such as conversations (telephone, face-to-face), prepared and spontaneous speeches, personal letters or academic journals. We could, for instance, conduct research on their register-specific linguistic features by studying the linguistic features of texts that belong to one of these registers.

The investigation of register-specific linguistic features is called register variation.

Register Variation