Thursday, October 05, 2006

Style Shifting

There was an interesting piece on NPR that addressed Former President Clinton's recent appearance on Fox News.
The Psychology Behind the Sudden Southern Drawl

The focus of the piece was on the pronounced appearance of Clinton's southern drawl when he became agitated.

Guest on the show,linguist Walt Wolfram explained that all people engage in style-shifting, using different registers or styles when talking to certain people or in certain situations.

A heighten level of emotionality often causes people to revert to the comfortable register of their childhood.

The "interesting" question raised on the show was whether Clinton's style-shifting was unconscious or a deliberate strategy.

An interesting paper I found online: Slang, Style-Shifting and Sociability

I have been thinking about style and stylistic behavior a lot recently. The phenomenas of slang, style-shifting and meme creation, particularly amongst children and teens is an area than needs to be examined in much more detail. I've come to think of the social role of children and teens as that of "meme spreaders" and that of adults as "seed spreaders". I believe there is a distinct difference in the consciousness of a person when they graduate from "meme" to "seed" and it isn't entirely biological. There are many adults who remain "meme spreaders" their entire life. It has more to do with outward social connectivity as opposed to inward, focused on one's particular family unit.

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