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What is Registers?

Published by on May 24th, 2019.


As a language users, one is faced always with the need to choose appropriate words and vocabularies  at specific times and situations. Any competent user of any language should be able to make appropriate choice of words and expressions to be used in different situations. To know the appropriate words and expressions associated with various discipline, there is the need to study registers.
The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines registers as the words, style and grammar used by speakers and written in particular situations. The Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary defines it as the vocabulary, grammar etc used by speakers in particular circumstances or contexts. Audu (1997) cited in Oyedekun (2001) sees registers as the use of a variety of language suitable, acceptable and appropriate to different situations, occasions or to different social contexts. Odiaka (2007) puts it even more simply as the words which people generally use when they are talking about a particular subject, job or human activity.
From the above definitions, it can be seen that the word, ‘registers’ is associated with the appropriate choice of words and expressions as they are suitable for different situations and occasions. The situations and occasions under discourse will to a great extent influence a speaker or writer’s choice of words and expressions. One can then define registers as situational varieties of language use.

At any given time, certain factors will influence the choice of words and expressions of a language user. Such factors are viewed from three different angles, i.e field of discourse, mode of discourse and tenor of discourse.
Field of discourse has to do with the context under which a discourse takes place. It has to do with the profession, disciplines or situation under discourse. According to Aleminu (2009), three fields are identified. Technical field, domestic field and social field.
This has to do with the context of the profession or discipline under. Such disciplines as engineering, science, computer, law, medicine, education, agriculture, technology, arts., Belong to the technical field of discourse. In this field, words are succinctly and directly used. No room for unnecessary wordiness. Language use here is not decorated or coloured to avoid confusion.

This field refers to how language is used and applies in the home. Registers in this context are lexical items which are predominantly used and understood by members of a family. A visitor in a home may not understand certain discussions because the family members maybe using registers that are peculiarly used in the family alone. Such words as “poo-poo”, may be considered to be a domestic registers. Even within the same family, some close family members may have registers which are not understood by others. For example, a mother and her daughter may have discussions at home, using feminine registers which may not be understood by the male members of the family.
This refers to language use as they are peculiar to social gatherings like parties, markets and among friends. At parties, one may come across such words as masters of ceremonies (M.C) dance, dance, dance, menu, menu, item seven, etc. It must be noted here that certain registers nay cut across different fields. A word like “pray” cqn be found in both the religious and legal fields of discourse.
mode refers to the method through which the discourse is carried out. The two major modes identified are the written and spoken modes. The people involved in the communication may choose any of the two modes depending on a number of factors. Such factors as distance, subject matter, target audience, the urgency qnd importance of the message may influence the choice of mode. 
This is the verbal mode used in a discourse. It requires the physical presence of those involved in the communication. The topic under discussion and circumstances of the speech will influence the choice of registers. The spoken modes of discourse will be most appropriate in teaching, learning, broadcasting, sermons and conversations. These activities when done through the internet as introduced in latest inventions like information and communication technology and the computer are still not as adequate as when done face to face.
The level I’d competence of a language user at a particular time is determined by how effectively one can alternate one’s choice of lexical items to suit various circumstances and situations. For instance a speaker invited to deliver speeches on the same topic among students in a secondary school and those in the tertiary institution will have to choose registers that will suit the levels of students in each of the circumstances.
Communication herecould is made through the use of signs and symbols which are known as alphabets. This is most commonly used in technical and scientific fields. A teacher can not teach effectively without writing. In addition, there are some information that needs to be documented for future purposes and these are best done in writing. 
This refers to the style employed in carrying out the discourse. Tenor of discourse is influenced by the role relationships between the participants in the discourse. Tenor of discourse could be formal/official (impersonal style) or informal/unofficial style (personal). For instance, the way a secretary will address her boss in the office who is a man will be different from the way she will address her husband at home. 
in the past, the word ‘Jargon’ is associated with “rubbish”. However, due to the ever dynamic nature of language which leaves no room for changes in meaning and usage of words and expressions, the word has come to acquire a different in meaning, (Oluga, et al 1997). The Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced learners defines Jargons as “special words and phrases that are only understood by people who do the same kind of work”. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English also defines it as “difficult or strange language Whish uses words known only to the members of certain groups”. Even in the present time, the word Jargon, among some people who are not highly literate, is still associated with rubbish or meaningless expression. It is important to understand that when a particular expression is understood only by the members of the profession that uses it, such expression is referred to as a jargon of that profession. Jargons are formal words/expressions and meaningful to the users. For example, when a medical doctor prescribes drugs or write some information for record purpose, a novice in the field if medicine may not be able to understand what the doctor writes. That, however, does not mean that what he/she writes is meaningless or it is rubbish. 
there are various reasons why Jargons may be used by professionals in a certain field of discourse. Jargons may be used to cut outsiders off from the discussion of professionals. For instance, two doctors may be discussing the health situation of a patient in the presence of the patient. They may not want the patient to understand their discussion because this may cause more harm to him/her. They may then choose to make use of the Jargons of their field. 
Jargons may also be used to create a kind of respect and restriction for a profession. When outsiders fnd the discussion of professionals in certain field difficult to understand, they will not be able to dabble into the discussion any how. 



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