Using register 2

The following ideas are taken from Alan Perlman’s excellent book “Writing Great Speeches”.  In it he makes very simple, but useful suggestions as to how to change between registers when speaking. Native speakers of English probably do all this already without thinking about it, but it will be useful for those of you with English B to see a few “tricks” that you can use.

The basic suggestion is that if you wish to be more formal in your register you should use a more impersonal language when speaking, and if you want to be less formal, a more personal one.

Impersonal = abstract  (ie suffixes -tion, -ity, -ness, -ing)modernisation of the business is proceeding
Personal = who’s doing whatwe are modernising the business
Impersonal = “done to”200 people were hired
Personal = doingwe hired 200 people
Impersonal = compound nounsa petrol tax increase
Personal = short nouns joined by prepositionsan increase in the tax on petrol
Impersonal = keep prepositions with their pronouns/nounsthis is a problem with which we are all familiar
Personal = split them upthis is a problem that we are all familiar with
Impersonal = don’t use contractionsIt will be a tough year
Personal = use contractionsIt’ll be a tough year