Vol. 5:1 (2023) ► pp.1–22
What is a register?
Accounting for linguistic and situational variation within – and outside of – textual varieties
Empirical studies of register variation have established the existence of functional correspondence between situation/context and language use. However, previous conceptualizations of register cannot adequately account for empirical findings which have revealed (i) situational and linguistic variation among texts within registers and (ii) texts that do not belong to a register. We propose an alternative conceptualization in which registers are culturally-recognized categories, as opposed to scientifically-defined categories. This allows us to describe registers for their typical characteristics as well as the variation among texts within register categories. It also allows us to account for the functional correspondence of texts that exist outside of register categories.
- 2.Background: The TxtLx (Text-Linguistic) approach to register variation
- 3.Empirical research analyzing patterns of variation among texts within registers
- 4.So, what is a ‘register’?
- 5.Texts without a register
- 6.Wrapping up