Language level

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Language levels are varieties of a language which differ from the standard language in terms of preferred vocabulary , preferred grammatical constructions and a modification of the grammar . In contrast to dialects , the language levels are not determined by regions, and every speaker of a language understands all the language levels of his language (or his dialect) to some extent.

In linguistics, the term register denotes a way of speaking and writing that is characteristic of a particular area of ​​communication. In the register , social relationships are represented in language. For example, an employee uses a different way of speaking when talking to his superior than with friends.

According to John Rupert Firth et al. a. the term register denotes a function-specific linguistic expression. Accordingly, members of different social classes have a number of linguistic codes (in phonetics , prosody , lexicons and syntax ) that can be used stylistically in concrete speech situations. Such consciously used style levels can be described in pairs of opposites (e.g. spoken - written, casual - formal, coarse - polite).

The term must be distinguished from the jargon , which is characterized by a special group and subject-specific vocabulary that is often not understandable for outsiders.

In a broader sense, the language level is also understood as a synonym for the language style . In the Duden - The large dictionary of the German language, for example, there is no entry under register and also under language level or language level . Instead, there is an entry language layer that refers to the entry style layer , which in turn refers to the entry style level . Finally, reference is made to the Style entry . Jumping between different language levels within a text could also be used as a stylistic device (which in turn would be a separate language style (as such) that would contain several language levels).


Which language level is used in which situation depends on various external circumstances, for example

  • the relationship between sender and recipient: family, superior, subordinate;
  • degree of familiarity between sender and recipient: strange, known, friends;
  • the type of communication: oral, written;
  • from the conversation situation: at work, among friends;
  • on the position in society: nobility, workers.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Register 7. In: Brockhaus Enzyklopädie. 19th edition. Volume 18, 1992, ISBN 3-7653-1118-9 , p. 205.
  2. Language - Varieties. In: Brockhaus Encyclopedia. 19th edition. Volume 20, 1993, ISBN 3-7653-1120-0 , pp. 696-698.
  3. style. In: Duden - The large dictionary of the German language. 2nd Edition. Volume 7, 1995, ISBN 3-411-04802-6 , p. 3255.