Understanding something of the way language works can make a valuable contribution to communicating effectively with all kinds of audiences. And the science of linguistics offers many potential insights into how, and why, certain uses of language are likely to be more effective than others. It will be obvious to the casual observer that, as well as many different languages, there are many different varieties of language. These can differ at every level – including in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. The reason for all this variety is that we use language, and languages, as a signalling system to indicate two basic things: status and solidarity. We can either move our speech patterns towards the norms of the group we want to belong to for status or solidarity reasons, or, conversely, diverge away. In this way, our speech patterns indicate to others something of our identity and something of who we want to be. As communicators, we can similarly use language to indicate group and personal identity on behalf of our organisations as a means of constructing relationships with audiences, and as a way of encoding personal qualities and characteristics.
Learn to dig deeper with linguistics
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Judy Delin is an expert in corporate language and communication. She was a professor of language and communication at the University of Leeds between 2005 and 2007, and at the University of Reading between 2008 and 2010. She is now a partner at Roe Delin, providing consultancy and training for major companies on the language they use. She is a co-founder of The Language Consultancy Association, a new organisation for people interested in applying linguistic ideas to brand and corporate communication problems