Essay on appropriateness in language

1490 Words 6 Pages
What is meant by appropriateness (or appropriacy) in language use?

Kevin Speck
Word Count: 1407 words.
Date: 12th November, 2014.

Appropriateness of language means tailoring the language you use so it is appropriate for the age, perceived social status, form of communication, and the context of the occasion. These factors by themselves assume that the person you are communicating with is a native speaker of the language. Teachers of English as a second language need to take into account all the above factors, as well as the second language ability and the cultural background of their student. To understand the implications of language appropriacy for second language teaching purposes I have outlined the main issues in
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In Japanese culture, the set phrases for leaving work are ‘goku-ro sama deshita’, and ‘otsukara-sama deshita’. When they are translated into English both phrases mean exactly the same thing, ‘thank you for your hard work today’. However, the first phrase can only be used by a superior or a boss when talking to a junior employee. It carries the nuance of dominance and social hierarchy. The second phrase can only be used by someone who is talking to someone of the same, or higher, social status. Although both the boss and the junior employee leaving work are speaking politely to each other, they need to use completely different phrases. ESL students whose first language has culturally ingrained dominance and submissive language maybe confused by what language they should use when talking to people they perceive as having a different social status. The ESL teacher can suggest to them that they should usually reply to people with the same level of politeness that is being used by the other person; regardless of social status.
Form of communication: Written language doesn’t carry with it any body language or visual cues. It is expressionless and therefore can be more easily misunderstood than spoken language. It is also a lot more enduring than a conversation. An impolite business email or letter is a physical item that can be seen by a large number of people and read repeatedly, so it can

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