Essay on Use of Style Shifting and Codeswitching in the English Language

Essay on Use of Style Shifting and Codeswitching in the English Language

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Use of Style Shifting and Codeswitching in the English Language

Style shifting in a language and codeswitching between languages are
used for many different reasons. In this essay I will examine both
the process of style shifting in English and codeswitching between
English and other languages. I will look at the functions these
processes serve, the reasons for their occurrence and the linguistic
changes that occur in these processes.

Style Shifting

Style shifting is a method of altering your speech to suit a
particular situation. The situation can dictate the style of speech
you choose to use. If you are in an informal situation you will
probably speak differently, perhaps more colloquially, than if you are
in a formal situation. However, it is not only the formality of a
situation which determines how one speaks. There are many other
factors to consider.

Allan Bell’s theory of audience design argues that your speaking style
varies according to the audience you are speaking to. Bell studied
New Zealand newsreaders on various radio stations and discovered that
more formal pronunciation was used on stations where the audience was
known to consist of professional, educated people. Interestingly,
some of the newsreaders worked on several stations and their
pronunciation would change to suit the style of the station (p.301
course book). Bell examined the pronunciation of the letter /t/ in
words such as ‘writer’ and ‘better’. He discovered that the /t/ was
pronounced more formally on stations with a professional audience.
Peter Trudgill also compared the pronunciation of /t/ in his own
speech to that of people he...

... middle of paper ...

...meone speaks the whole context
of a situation is taken into account. The speaker's perception of the
audience, the topic of conversation, the setting of the conversation
and the types of social relationship are all considered before someone

In this essay I have discussed the processes of codeswitching and
style shifting. I have looked at different reasons for the
occurrences of these processes and the motivations behind them. I
have also discussed the grammatical constraints applied to the


GRADDOL, D., LEITH, D., and SWANN, J., (eds) (1996) English: history,
diversity and change, Routledge in association with The Open
University (course book)

University College of London Phonetics department website (
entered on 23/3/03

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