Speech Styles

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According to Martin Joos (1976:156), speech style means the form of language that the speaker uses which characterized by the degree of formality. He identified the styles, which he called ‘clocks,’ in five classes such as frozen style, formal style, consultative style, casual style, and intimate style. These five clocks are levels of formality in language use, which are determined by the situational context and degree of familiarity or intimacy between the interlocutors. Each level determines what kind of language is appropriate to use in a specific context.

Frozen

It is the most formal communicative style that is usually used during respectful events and ceremonies. It also used when one shows hesitation, disinterest, or prejudice. Frozen speech is used generally in a very formal setting and does not require any feedback from the audience. It is the most formal communicative style for respectful situations.

The frozen style of speech is generally used in print media, rules, or declamation. The speech is carefully planned and verbalized as it mainly relies on the use of words. This style discourages feedback or questions for clarifications from the listeners which is why it is important that words are precise and carefully chosen.

EXAMPLE: Pledges, anthems, marriage ceremonies, laws, etc.

Intimate

This speech style is for very close relationships like couples, family, and best friends. It is also used for self-addressed questions or self-talk, etc. Intimate speech is used in conversation between people who are very close and know each other quite well because they have the maximum of shared background information.

This speech style makes use of words at a minimum. The communicators understand each other even with just a single nonverbal gesture or behavior such as a rising tone of voice, a grunt, or a raised eyebrow. A child who often forgets to close the door may be told by his or her sibling to do so just by saying, “Door.”

EXAMPLES: Couple talking about their future plans, family sharing ideas, very close friends sharing secrets, etc.

Formal

Formal speeches are straightforward speeches. In this speech style, the speaker avoids using slang terminologies; what the speaker says is something that has been prepared beforehand. Its complex sentence and noun phrases are well structured, logically sequenced and strongly coherent.

Communication using the formal speech type is one-way, in which the speaker simply transmits information to the listener. The formal type of speech style often does not encourage listeners’ participation or interaction among communicators. Public speaking commonly makes use of formal, informative speech. In situations where there is uncertainty in terms of receiving a favorable response, the speaker also uses this type of speech. For instance, if you are borrowing money from someone you are not close with, instead of saying, “Can I borrow sane money,” you may say, “Money is tight these days. Could you perhaps lend me some money?” Instead of saying, “I don’t understand the lesson,” one may say, “It is difficult to understand the lesson.” Since the speaker is somehow detached from the message, it attempts to avoid awkward or embarrassing situations.

EXAMPLES: Announcements, SONA, welcome addresses, etc.

Casual

This is an informal communication between groups and peers. Casual style is used in conversation between friends and insiders who have something to share and have shared background information but don’t have close relations.

Casual speech is characterized by slang meanings or expressions that are easily understood by the communicators without being given too much information.

For instance, among friends, when one says “Hey, I saw your best friend a while ago” in a teasing manner and the listener replies sarcastically, it is most likely that the speaker is referring to the other person’s enemy.

EXAMPLES: phone calls, everyday conversation with friends, chats, inside jokes of friends, etc.

Consultative

This is used in semi-formal communication, sentences end to be shorter and spontaneous, the speaker does not usually plan what he/she wants to say, most operational among others.

Unlike the formal and frozen styles of speech, the level of communication making use of the consultative style involves cooperation but does not necessarily require involvement. This means that the listeners are involved in meaning-making by being allowed to give feedback.

For instance, if the information presented by the speaker is insufficient or unclear, the listener may ask for elaborations or clarifications. On the other hand, if there is too much information, the listener may say, “I know” or “I understand” to imply that the speaker need not elaborate. The consultative style is the standard or most commonly used style in everyday conversations.

According to Joos, communication using the consultative style is automatic, since the speaker does not prepare what he is going to say more than three seconds beforehand and that the listener can interrupt the speaker at any time. Conversations between strangers, teachers and students, doctors and patients make use of the consultative style.

EXAMPLES: regular classroom discussions, doctor-patient, etc.

These styles are important in speech-making because it will help you choose the appropriate approach for specific events. Picking the correct speech prevents misunderstanding and conflicts.

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