language levels



We explain what are the levels of the language and what are the registers of the sub-standard, standard and super-standard levels.

By using the appropriate level of the language for a situation, communication is fluent.

What are the levels of the language?

It is understood by levels of the language or levels of language (and also linguistic register) to the degree of correction with which we use the idiom in a given situation. This means that we do not always express ourselves in the same way, but we put more effort and attention in the way we speak or write in some situations, while in others we relax and allow ourselves a greater margin of error, uncertainty and / or informality. .

Thus, the levels of the language have to do, in the first place, with the context communicative: with whom we communicate, in what situation and for what; and secondly, with the linguistic capacities of each person, that is, with their level of educational instruction, their talent for handling language and their lexicon.

Thus, when we use an inappropriate level for the situation in which we are, we run the risk of disagreeing, offending or losing the attention and respect of our interlocutors; while using the appropriate register we guarantee a lower margin of noise in communication. Furthermore, when we communicate we reveal things about ourselves, not only in what we say, but in how we say it.

The three levels of the language are: substandard (below the norm), standard (in tune with the norm), and super-standard (above the norm). Next we will see each one separately.

Substandard level of language

The substandard level can be used in highly familiar contexts.

The substandard level of the language is the least sophisticated of all, that is, the one that requires the least linguistic knowledge and the least capacity for understanding to be used and understood. Therefore, it is the one that uses the language in a more informal, less careful way, with the greatest amount of freedoms and idioms, which in another context may be perceived as inaccuracies.

The substandard level is used in informal situations, in which there is a certain familiarity or in which the rules of protocol and courtesy relax, so it is a level that we all access at certain times. However, its continuous and constant use is considered socially inappropriate, and it is usually associated with the less educated and less resourceful sectors of the community. society.

The substandard level comprises, in turn, two registers of use: the popular language and the vulgar language.

  • Language vulgar or popular. It is the most irregular use of language that exists, disobeying or forcing the rules at convenience and always privileging situational communication over correctness. It is typical of slang, sociolects and local ways of communicating, so it can be obscure for those who do not know the code. In it vulgarisms abound and barbarism, in other words, it is about the lower-class language.

For example, in the vulgar variant of Latin American Spanish, many final consonants are often elided or modified, so that “llorado” becomes cry, or "peel" into fight. It is also common for the lexicon to be very hermetic: in the Argentine lunfardo, for example, “tombo” is a term reserved for the police (from the inversion of “button”).

  • Familiar or trusted language. Although similar to the previous case in its levels of relaxation of the structures and norms of the language, in this case it is the typical mode of communication in situations of great trust, in which affection and familiarity prevail over correction. It is a mode of speech very marked by common expressions and by the affective lexicon (that way of telling things or people that it is typical of lovers or of the family).

For example, within our family we usually give people nicknames (“el tito”, “la pepa”, etc.), we can use incorrect words inherited from our parents (or from grandparents with little educational level, frequently) .

Standard level of the language

The standard level of the language is that which the majority of the population recognizes as correct or adequate, and which therefore establishes the minimum standard for situations in which there is neither familiarity nor relaxation of the conditions of respect and protocol.

It is, say, the level we use to communicate with a stranger in a relatively formal situation. It tends to be inexpensive, no frills, but practical and focused toward full understanding. This means that the standard level strives to meet minimum standards for grammar and phonetic accuracy, which in turn requires some degree of educational instruction and some language ability.

To that extent, there is a single record associated with this level, which is the colloquial language: one that adapts to the basic formal and correction needs of a linguistic community, which can be a city, a region or an entire country. That is the reason why a foreigner, even if he speaks the same language, may be unfamiliar with many of the standard norms of another country.

For example, in the standard River Plate standard, the pronoun “tú” is replaced by “vos”, and it is usually differentiated between “taxi” and “remis”, depending on the type of transport service, a distinction that does not exist in other countries .

Superstandard level of the language

The superstandard level is typical of the most formal and protocol situations.

The super-standard level is the level of the most cultured and sophisticated use of the language, and therefore the one that best adapts to correcting the language and that requires the greatest knowledge of it for its use. It is typical of situations of greater formality and protocol, or of people with a high educational level, so that those without the necessary preparation or practice, it will be much more difficult to understand.

This level includes three registers of language use, which are:

  • Cultured language. The cultured language is the record with the greatest possible correction of the language, used in formal situations, respectful, in which the use of the language must be neat and cautious. It is characterized by a great lexical richness, being able to use many synonyms for the same word, and by paying attention to the way things are said, not just to message in itself, in order to find the most elegant or sophisticated way of saying it.

For example, in very formal situations such as a work exhibition, it is possible that to avoid repeating the word "problem", we use "inconvenience" or "accident" or "unforeseen", depending on whether we want to minimize problems or relieve ourselves of your responsibility. . This degree of command of the language, then, requires that we think about each word, instead of using the first one that occurs to us.

  • Academic language or technique. The academic, technical or professional language is one that is typical of a group or an institution that manages knowledge specialized and that therefore requires a language adapted to the universe of knowledge that it handles. In other words, it is about the way in which people who have a specialized and studied audience use the language, for which no terminology or neologism it will be strange or incomprehensible.

For example, in specialized dental jargon, it is common to speak of scalectomy instead of "teeth cleaning", pyorrhea or periodontitis for "gum infection", and other similar terms.

  • Poetic language. It is the proper record of the literature, the poetry or the art, in which the correction of the language, paradoxically, is secondary to the creative and playful intentions of the artist. In other words, the rules of the language are so well known that they can be broken for creative purposes.

The best example of this are the twists of traditional poetry, in which the structure of certain prayers to thereby achieve the desired metric, or in modern poetry, when a word from a different grammatical category is used to obtain a greater expressive effect.

For example, when César Vallejo writes “It is now so soft, / so wing, so out, so love”, he is using the nouns “wing” and “love” as if they were adjectives.

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