This is the study of differences or variations or language style which depends on the situation in which the language is used and the effect the user wishes to create on the person he is addressing (addressee). It is important to understand the following key words in the definition above.


This refers to the different forms of the same language that are known or used. Any different form of the same language is called a variety.


This refers to this non- linguistic variable which makes the user choose a certain variety as appropriated, for example the relationship existing between a user and addressee may cause the user to choose a variety which he finds to be appropriated.


When we intend to create a good relationship with another person and therefore solicited a prompt favorable reaction we may use a polite language.

However if we are at a higher position over another person we may revert to a commanding language to ensure that things are done promptly e.g. a police inspector to a recruit.


There are 2 major types of variations of language;

a.      Variation according to user(Dialect)

This is causes by people belong to a particular place or class in a large geographical or social scale.

b.       Variation according to use(Register)

This is the variation that is caused by the condition placed on the user due to use the underlying situation.

   Language variations according to user

The characteristics of a user may cause language variations. This is so especially when we compare users to the same language but from two
different circumstances. These lead to detect and accents.

i. Dialect

A dialect is language variety distinguished from another by differences of vocabularies and grammar. It is usually defined as variation of language which contains typical idiosyncratic features which particular to any individual, peace and social class.

A variety of language used by people from a certain geographical setting is called a regional dialect.

A variety of language used by a particular social group upper class or lower class educated or uneducated is called sociologist.

ii. Accent

An accent is the way a speaker pronounces a language in a way that speakers from a certain geographical area do e.g. British accent, American accent. It is a way of pronouncing the words of a language that shows which country or area a person comes from

Language variation according to use

The use for a language must choose the language elements and structure to fit in the situation requires, these varieties of language resulting from different use are called register.

The following are the names of registers according to the use;

Field of discourse (domain)

This refers to an area of operation where the language activity takes place. This is basically the subject matter of the speech activity it could be agriculture, physics History or Geography etc.

The subject matter determines whether to use technical or non technical language.

For example: in a medical seminar, a wide range of medical vocabularies and other medical technical terms will be expected to be used.

The language choice will be more formal and language construction would therefore be expected to have longer sentences.

Mode of discourse (medium)
This refers to the medium of language activity we therefore get the written and oral modes. The difference of the two is that the written language is more organized with careful punctuation and sentence structures shine the oral language will be expected to be less organized with gap fillers pauses hesitations slips of the tongue ellipsis etc.

tenor of discourse  ( status)

This refers to the relationship between user and addressee (s) it is in this that use distinguishes between polite and impolite language or formal and informal styles. Involving temporary causes permanent or intimate forms of relationship manner which one behaves.

Styles of registers identified in stylistics
i. Consultative/common core/basic style
: Spoken anywhere at any times even a stranger while seeking information.


Example of dialogue


Caro:        Muumuu excuse me miss

Stranger:         Yes, may I help you?

Caro:          Yes I can’t seem to find the PPF tower

Stranger:         Oh! Actually we are standing right opposite to it

Caro (smiling): oh oh, I see one

Caro:               Thank you

ii.Casual: Among friends.

Example of dialogue

Noreen speaking to her friend Irene through the phone

Irene:             what’s up girl, tell me,

Noreen:          You tell me

Irene:              Girl please I call you and you get nothing to say

Noreen:          Well I didn’t ask you to call me

Irene:              Ha ah…. okay goodbye.

iii. Intimate: Spoken to more friendly /close partners e.g. Married couples

Wife:              Baby please takes the kids to school

Husband:        Thought that was your responsibility wife stares at him then says “but am tired sweetly”

Husband:         I always tell you not to look at me like that when you ask for something

Wife:              (smiles) I don’t do it on purpose you know

Husband:        Yes right, fine i will take them

Wife:               Love you mean it
Husband:      Love you too

iv. Formal: Official, proper grammar

Example of dialogue      

At the Transform office, Mbezi

Bundala:                    Cecy would you bring me those files

Cecy:                         Yes, boss

(She takes them in Bundala’s office)

Bundala:                     I need you to make a call to Neringo and have him meet me at 12:00 noon sharp.

Cecy:                         Yes boss

(She departs)

Other characteristics of formal language


i. Proper punctuations
ii. Proper Grammar
iii.Use of more polished vocabulary

E.g. poor health – impoverished


Go down – descend

iv. Frozen style

This is used in particular field of discourse such as literature, religion and law. It is called frozen because it is usually never affected by changes as it retains its features.

In the field of literature, the frozen style is mostly found in poetry than in prose. In religion, it is shown by the use of special religion terminologies and archaism. In law, it is indicated by the use of legal terms. Search style is always familiar to the people who use it always.

Other terms used

Various features constitute some peculiar features which make them be treated as varieties to be labelled, these include;

STANDARD VARIETY (Standard dialect or language)

This language variety has the highest status in the community or nation. It is a kind which is usually based on the speech or writing or of educated nature language speaker. A standard variety is generally used in the news, media and literature. It is the variety found in dictionaries and grammar and is taught in schools and to foreign learners of the language in question.


This is the one that is marked by serious deviations from the so called standard spoken variety. It is characterized by wrong pronunciations and grammar sometimes with wrong pronunciation and grammar, infect it may have wrong language uses.


This is the informal use of words and expressions that are more common in spoken language, especially by a given group of people. Slags are always new, flashy and popular words which are usually short lived in terms of use.

It is normally used in familiar talk among peer groups but is not accepted as good language. When spoken or written language. The central reason for use of slang is desire for novelty, vivid emphasis for being knowledgeable, being up with times or a little ahead.

Example of such words include

Crib – cheat

Contract – order to kill someone

Dough – money

Peg out –die


These are words or expressions which are used by a particular profession or group of people, and are difficult for others to understand. It is therefore a language of a special group profession or activity. It is usually compared with a ling in fact, any speech that sounds strange to people who do not understand it while it is well understood by people of the special profession as doctors, lawyers and other scientists is associated to jargon.


This is a word or phrase used instead of another which is deemed to be embarrassing or unpleasant, sometimes to make it seem more acceptable. It is used to make speech less harsh or unpleasant example the word “pass away” for die short call for pee etc

Situations calling for different language varieties

a.Write a press release to the Tobacco farmers at Tabora together with their Agricultural officers concerning a disease affecting their crop and how to combat it.

b.A play written to encourage farmers at Mwika to plant more coffee due to its profitability.

In (a) we are going to use Formal language – official
-proper grammar

– Standard language – has high status in community or nation

– Language should incite the awareness of the disease, its causes, effects and ways to   combat it.

In (b) Language should be simple.

Casual – to farmers talking

Formal – If it involves official scenarios such as a meeting and someone with facts is addressing the people.

Persuasive – the fact coffee is likely to bring profit.

DIALOGUE:- Study the Diaogue below

Setting      :  Vulage

Characters :  Atu




Rwega   :    Waguma

Swega    :     Are you from the farm?

Uswedi   :    No am from taking Rubisi

Rwega    :    at this farming time

Uswedi   :   Forming time!! What farming time are you talking about?

Rwega    :    I mean now shouldn’t you be pruning your coffee

Uswedi   :  ha ha ha man Rwega,I thought you were a very understanding man …everyone is complaining about the coffee does not full our packets

Rwega    :  Uswedi my friend, we are fast reluctant to implement what our officers tell us.

Wane/Atu:  hallo

Uswedi    : Hallo

Rwega     : where are you young beautiful ladies coming from?

Wane       : We are from SUA University we are here on field studies

Oswed     : ooh so your swat

Atu          :   Ha ha! yes, we are actually studying agricultural.

We happen to overhear your conversation may we could be of help.

Uswedi   :   Rwega your people (leaving)

Rwega    :   Uswedi where are you going let us hear from them


Wane      :  It seems your having problem with coffee farming, this matter can be resolved by just using the proper agricultural skill or technique.

Atu         :  My colleague is right, the only key to a better production   as sufficient technology.

Uswedi   :   sorry what do you mean by sufficient technology


Wane       :  It is applying the proper tools and methods which can help to yield high out puts for example this village has shortage of water but
coffee can be produced here, you can employ irrigation as a solution.

Atu          :  Not only that, but also employ perfect tools and not hand hoes thus by doing so you will be able to earn more output considering the fact
that coffee is very profitable.

Rwega      :  I think you have very good ideas and i think it’s the right time to plan a seminar so that all Mwika coffee farmers will be aware.


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