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Help talk:Stylistic level

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What's the difference between normal and colloquial?
I suggest maximum 3 levels (if any) e.g. above normal - normal - below normal.
That is complicated enough. This brings me to another classification: complex - medium - simplex
Patio 02:56, 7 March 2007 (EST)

Of course it is complicated. Humans are complicated, their way of communicating is complicated, their language is complicated, and so is cataloging it. If creating a dictionary of every word in every language was easy, it would have been done before.

But it looks like I have to spend some time to define each proposed level and create examples. So, for the difference of colloquial and normal: Let's look at normal first. "Normal" is any term that can be used in daily conversation as well as more formal speech and written conversation without sounding strange. Consider the English word "I". Pretty much everyone can refer to himself this way in English, be it the president in his address to the nation or the 3-year-old kid. But try to find such a word in Japanese, and there is none. Instead, you have at least 10 different expressions on different levels for different speakers and situation, including just omitting it altogether.

A colloquial expression is any expression you would use in casual daily talk, but you would have to avoid in formal speech and writing, such as a letter of reference. Compare "boss" with "direct superiour", or "the web" with "the Internet". --Mkill 08:53, 8 March 2007 (EST)


I'd like to suggest these social apects of speaker vs. addressee:

  • inside family only
  • inside family and close proxies only
  • among peers only
  • superior addressing lower in rank only
  • inferior addressing higher rank only
  • young addressing an older only
  • young addressing an older with respect only
  • older adressing a younger only
  • older adressing a younger with respect only
  • respectful only
  • disrespectful only
  • arrogant only
  • offending only

likely there are many more. --Purodha Blissenbach 13:21, 14 March 2007 (EDT)

Good point. As you might know I'm studying Japanese, where these play a very important role, much more than in English or German. European languages do have ways to express these, but they are much less formalized and enforced.
In Japanese grammars, you'll find a shorter, easier to handle version of your list, which are:
  • General polite language (Keigo)
  • humble polite language (Teineigo)
  • honorific polite language (Sonkeigo)
There are of course subtle differences in honorific polite language, as to whether you address somebody in speech or by letter, and whether it is an elder person, a direct superiour at work, a customer, a professor etc., but the general techniques are the same so it is possible to merge these into the above three.
"inside family" is also important, you probably mean terms like "Mom" or "Dad" here? These could probably be collected under "intimate" or "affectionate language".
"disrespectful" is equal to "casual" in my list, "offending" would be "rough" and "vulgar".--Mkill 23:04, 14 March 2007 (EDT)