Formal Language – Concept, characteristics, uses and examples

We explain what formal language is, its characteristics, when it is used and examples. Also, what is informal language.

formal language
Formal language is the most polite, correct and meticulous way to speak.

What is formal language?

When we speak of formal language, we generally refer to the formal register of speech or simply formal register, that is, to the careful, planned and correct way in which we use our language when we are in a social situation that requires it. It differs from informal language, which is casual and colloquial, and is the one we use in more relaxed or familiar situations.

Speakers do not always use the language in the same way, but we adapt it to the needs of the communicative moment. It is not the same to talk with our friends in the familiarity of the square, than to present an academic work in front of a specialized jury, and to that extent we must choose a more or less formal way of speaking, that is, more or less careful.

The formal registration It is typical of situations in which you want to make a good impression and there are social pressures or protocols. It is the most polite, correct and meticulous way of speaking, which normally requires some planning and which reflects our educational level, therefore it is also the one that requires the most effort.

Characteristics of formal language

The formal registry is characterized by the following:

  • It’s a more or less planned way of speaking, so it usually requires prior preparation or at least a certain degree of effort. This does not mean that all formal language is cultured, of course, but it does try to appear so.
  • Profanity, slang, or inaccuracies are not allowed when talking. In the same way, courtesy and respectful treatment formulas are used, since there is no complicity of the interlocutors.
  • It can be a technical or specialized record (such as the scientific or legal record, typical of professionals in those areas), or simply a formal speech.
  • Gesture is little used, interdicts or mimics, and is more dependent on language and words.

When is formal language used?

Formal language is used in situations such as the following:

  • At formal events, rituals or in which there is a protocol of conduct to follow, such as receptions, exhibitions, liturgies, etc.
  • In situations where we wish express respect to our interlocutorSuch as when dealing with an important client or having a job interview.
  • In academic, political or institutional activities, such as conferences, talks, exhibitions, thesis defenses, etc.
  • In elegant interactions, label.

Examples of formal language

Some examples of formal language are as follows:

An exhibition at the university:

The speaker says: “The Latin American wars of independence had a significant material cost, but even more a human cost, with an estimated loss of several million lives, which decimated the general population and weakened the workforce.”

How do we know that it is a formal record?

  • It uses a specialized lexicon (“material cost”, “labor force”).
  • Spin the sentence without stopping and without colloquial turns.
  • It uses cultism (“decimated” for “reduced”, “weakened” for “decreased”).

An interview of a politician with the ambassador of the neighboring country:

It begins with the politician saying: “Your Excellency Ambassador López, I thank you first of all for this deference. I know that their time must be scarce, but for me it is of vital importance to preserve these spaces for dialogue between two nations with such a narrow past as ours ”.

How do we know that it is a formal record?

  • He uses courtesy formulas such as “Your Excellency Ambassador”, and addresses the interlocutor of “You”.
  • Use careful vocabulary: “deference”, “scant”, and so on.
  • He uses metaphors to illustrate certain points (“past so narrow”) that he considers worth highlighting.

Informal language

Informal language, on the other hand, It is the one that we use in situations of trust and familiarity, or in everyday circumstances in which the rules of courtesy and protocol are relaxed.

It consists of a casual way of communicating, paying little attention to the language itself, since we have other tools of the moment to make us understand, as well as, generally, the complicity of our interlocutors. An example of this is the way we talk to our friends during a lively chat in a bar.