How language and relationships interfere

At alugha, this week is "Relationship Week". Depending on the nature of our relationship, we communicate differently. You can find out exactly what I mean here.

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When we hear the word "relationships", many people first think of romantic relationships. However, we will discuss the topic of romantic love next week. Nevertheless, here in the team we also quickly thought of communication difficulties between couples who have different L1s and where misunderstandings can quickly arise, which can sometimes be funny.

Linguistic variation depending on the relationship

Nevertheless, I would like to look at relationships in general and briefly explain that we communicate differently depending on the type of relationship. Here I am referring less to healthy or unhealthy relationships, where communication also varies significantly, but to very general everyday situations in which language is used differently. 

First of all, I'm even moving away from the concept of relationship and claiming that we use language differently depending on the situation? Or do you write the way you speak? 

However, differences in language use do not only refer to those between written and oral communication. For example, if I am in the region where I grew up, I am more likely to speak in a dialect or with an accent than if I am in another part of the country. This is called diatopic variation. 

Another thought experiment: A young person is with other young people. They get along well and discuss their everyday life. In another situation, the same young person is talking to her maths teacher. What do you think? The adolescent certainly communicates differently with the teacher than with his or her circle of friends. Why? Because she has a completely different relationship with the teacher than with the other young people. Here we speak of diastratic and diaphasic variation. On the one hand, the age of the communicators varies in the above-mentioned situation, and on the other hand, the conversation situation varies. The conversation with the teacher is formal, the one with the friends is familiar. 

Addressing a person depending on the relationship

Let's stay with the maths teacher from above. Let's call him Jonathan Miller. Depending on a person's relationship to Jonathan Müller, he may be addressed differently. Here are a few examples:

  • Mr Miller

  • Sir

  • Jonathan

  • Johnny

  • Darling

  • Daddy

I assume that the pupil would not address Jonathan Miller as "Johnny", but perhaps the teacher's best friend would.

Language creates relationships

Without language, relationships are certainly not possible, because without it we are not able to get to know people. By means of language, we can court sympathy, but also lose it. All levels of language, such as choice of words, intonation, but also non-verbal communication, play a role here. Therefore: pay attention to your language when you cultivate your relationships of any kind. 

Diastratic and diaphasic variations may be different in other languages 

Not every language communicates equally at all levels. For example, in many languages people use informal pronouns such as "du" in German more quickly than in others. In other languages, the distinction between "Sie" and "du" is not known at all. These differences are a challenge for translators, and even more so for automatic translation programmes. For that reason, human expertise is very necessary in such cases. You can rely on this at alugha.






Akramova, N.. (2021). Scientific Approaches to the Study of Youth Sociolect in Linguistics. Bulletin of Science and Practice. 7. 541-545. 10.33619/2414-2948/65/67. 

Gabriel, Christoph & Meisenburg, Trudel (2007): Romanische Sprachwissenschaft, Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink (10.02.2022, 13:21) (10.02.2022, 13:16) (10.02.2022, 13:24)

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