Style-shifting is a term in
sociolinguisticsreferring to alternation between styles of speech included in a linguistic repertoire of an individual speaker. As noted by Eckert and Rickford,cite book |author=Eckert, Penelope; Rickford, John |title=Style and sociolinguistic variation |publisher=Cambridge University Press |location=Cambridge, UK |year=2001 |pages= |isbn=0-521-59789-7 |oclc= |doi=] in sociolinguistic literature terms style and register sometimes have been used interchangeably. Also, various connotations of style are a subject of study in stylistics.
Style-shifting is a manifestation of intraspeaker (within-speaker) variation, in contrast with interspeaker (between-speakers) variation. It is a voluntary act which an individual effects in order to respond to or initiate changes in sociolinguistic situation (e.g., interlocutor-related, setting-related, topic-related).
William Labov, while conducting sociolinguistic interviews, designated two types of spoken style, casual and formal, and three types of reading style (a reading passage, a word list, and a minimal pairlist). Analysing style-shifting Labov postulated that "styles can be arranged along a single dimension, measured by the amount of attention paid to speech" (1972, as quoted incite book |author=Milroy, Lesley; Gordon, John |title=Sociolinguistics: method and interpretation |publisher=Blackwell Pub |location=Cambridge, MA |year=2003 |pages= |isbn=0-631-22225-1 |oclc= |doi=] ), casual style requiring the least amount of conscious self-monitoring. Such style-shifting is often referred to as responsive (produced in response to normative pressures).cite book |author=Gordon, Matthew J.; Milroy, Lesley |title=Sociolinguistics: method and interpretation |publisher=Blackwell Pub |location=Cambridge, MA |year=2003 |pages= |isbn=0-631-22225-1 |oclc= |doi=]
In recent developments of stylistic variation analysis scholars such as Allan Bell, Barbara Johnstone, Natalie Schilling-Estes have been focusing on initiative dimension of style-shifting, which occurs when speakers proactively choose among various linguistic resources (e.g. dialectal, archaic or
vernacularforms) in order to present themselves in a specific way. In initiative style-shifting speakers actively engage in social practices to construct social meaning.
*Bell, A. (2001) Back in style: Reworking audience design. In P.Eckert and J. Rickford (eds.), Style and Sociolinguistic Variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
*Johnstone, B. (1999) Uses of southern-sounding speech by contemporary Texas women. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 4 (3), 505-22.
*Labov, W. (1972) Sociolinguistic Patterns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
*Schilling-Estes, N. (1998) Self-conscious speech in Ocracoke English. Language in Sosciety, 27(1), 53-83.
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