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Current time:0:00Total duration:8:14

Video transcript

hello grammarians hello Rosie hi David so we're going to be talking about what we call the spectrum of formality today in the context of language style so balancing your style between formal and informal language when it's appropriate is just a general life skill but it's also something that's tested on the SAT and you can check out Khan Academy org slash SAT to find out more about that so when we talk about formal versus informal language what we're really talking about is this this thing called register what is appropriate for the whether it's like a social occasion or a style of writing that you're attempting to do you know what what register should you speak in so let me give you an example Gary Evans the esteemed chairman of the board is blank right we have this sentence we want to fill in this blank with something there are a couple of ways we could do this we could say Gary Evans the esteemed chairman of the board is a pretty decent dude now there are a couple of things that tell me that a pretty decent dude is not stylistically appropriate for this sentence and it's both that we're applying the adjectives esteemed to Gary and that we're giving him this highfalutin title chairman of the board and so probably in this situation we wouldn't want to say we wouldn't want to use this kind of slangy informal language it pretty decent dude right there's a level of respect that we're conveying with this esteemed chairman of the board so instead I don't know Rosie what what another thing we could put in there let's say Gary Evans the esteemed chairman of the board is a renowned philanthropist woo a renowned philanthropist so in addition to being like a large $4 word philanthropist is a word that just means like someone who literally loves people and this refer - you know generosity of this person and so we can tell by the respect that we are recording this person by the use of word esteemed that renowned philanthropist probably an appropriate set of words to use described as man but what we just showed you was an example of being insufficiently formal here's what it looks like if you're too formal please join us for little Phillips first birthday celebration this festive occasion will include look London certain point for the version in which you can partake so this is a little boy's birthday party let's you know this is not a steak dinner may be relit him you have to tailor the content of what you're trying to write to its context right like how how fancy is the first birthday party of a little boy going to be receive you've been to a child's first birthday party an adult I have it was not this fancy no but it wasn't you know the prints of the country or something right like okay I'll give you a pass if if like little Philip is the Prince of your nation yes otherwise like this first sentence is fine please join us for little Philips first birthday celebration this specification will include an abundance of delightful diversions in which you can partake may be little much so we were going to rewrite this I would probably tone down the language a little bit and just Ratchet it back I might even go so far as to say little I like it maybe throw in an exclamation point because we're excited this just seems this language seems a little stuffy even though we're describing a party it seems very emotionally removed from part eNOS so that's much better thank you so please join us for a little Philips first birthday party it's going to be fun we'll have cake and games let us know if you can make it you know so so we're taking this this content you there's abundance of delightful diversion which suppose that a first birthday party would probably again be cake and games there's not there's not really that much that a one-year-old can do at a party can and so we're taking this this high register this formal register language and then just kind of dialing it back a couple of notches so we've got we've got formal on this on the side informal over here you're here you want to be at about here the main thing your main indicator for whether or not language is formal or informal is the kind of vocabulary that you choose to deploy so the more informal you are the more likely you are to use silly vocabulary or made-up words and contraction contractions so the more of the more informal contractions slang profanity I mean look like we here at Khan Academy we're not advising you to curse all over the place but if you must do it in an informal setting right like formal settings are not suitable for obscenity that's why it's called obscenity and then the more the more formal your language becomes the more likely your vocabulary is to become more complex or or specialized like if I were let's say I were a doctor and I were addressing a doctor's convention I would probably use a lot of doctor language right like specialized vocab the more formal you are as rosie was saying the less likely you are to use contractions so full constructions so an example of that would be on the informal side of the scale you might say can't wear the formal you would say cannot yeah I mean I think I think the the other side of the profanity is potentially more respectful depending on who you're speaking with so you might address someone you know you might address someone sir formal language generally means a more respectful form of address so if I were to say like on the informal side yeah buddy extremely informal as opposed to excuse me sir quite formal so yeah so I guess I guess the big takeaway here Rosie right is just consider your context exactly you know you're you're taking a look at the situation that you're in and considering what kind of language is going to be appropriate in that situation is it going to be informal talking to your friend or is it a formal dinner party where you would use different vocabulary and more formal language the way our colleague grant described it to me is this it's it's useful to have a tuxedo in your closet but you wouldn't wear it to a beach party exactly you know um so so reserve your formal and the informal language for contexts when it is necessary just like you wouldn't wear formal shoes to the beach neither would you show up you know in flip-flops before a joint session of Congress exactly whether you're writing or speaking always consider your context consider your audience and from that consider the way that you deploy language you can learn anything David out Randy out