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Sentence structure and formality

Levin, H. and Garrett, Peter Donald 1990. Sentence structure and formality. Language in Society 19 (4) , pp. 511-520. 10.1017/S0047404500014792

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The evidence is practically unequivocal that left-branching (LB) sentences are more difficult to process than right-branching (RB) sentences. In this study, the hypothesis was tested that LB sentences are judged to be more formal than RB ones and that center-branching (CB) sentences would behave like LB ones. Three groups of subjects, university students in England, Wales, and the United States, ordered three versions of 18 sentences in terms of their formality. LB and CB sentences were considered more formal than RB ones by all three groups of students. LB and CB types did not differ from each other. In a second study, American students choose from the group of three sentences the one they would say to a formal listener (professer/employer) or to an informal listener (brother/sister or close friend). RB sentences were attributed to informal listeners and LB and CB sentences, to formal listeners. (Grammar, formality, sociolinguistics)

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0047-4045
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 09:30

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