Łukasz Stolarski Jan Kochanowski University “Style-shifting as a function of multiple factors: A corpus based study.”
According to Labov (1966, 1972), the selection of a given style is primarily dependent on the amount of attention the speaker pays to what he is saying. In more formal styles he tends to be more aware of the way he speaks, and in less formal styles he does not concentrate on his linguistic performance. An alternative explanation of style-shifting was proposed by Giles (1973), who suggests that the speaker attunes his speech toward his addressee. The major aim of the present paper is to evaluate these two approaches in a single experiment. In order to fulfil this task the distribution of formal and informal variants of three selected variables have been investigated in the Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English (MICASE). This corpus allows the testing of the variants according to specific transcript attributes, making it particularly suitable for the task. The results of the experiment indicate that the choice of a speaker’s style depends on both of the factors suggested in the two theories and, as proposed in some recent publications, the process may be affected simultaneously by many other aspects of the speech event.