Teach English in JirengAole Zhen - Xilinguole Meng — Xilin Gol

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What we are destroying is nothing but houses of cards, and we are clearing up the ground of language on which they stand. Ludwig Wittgenstein General observations Language is rich and diverse, it has many functions, forms and styles. Moreover, language is very old. However, despite its antiquity, it is forever young and flexible. In the same paradoxical way, it can be rational and absurd at once. There is a great mystery hid in here, or, as Aesop would say, touch of divinity. And is it related to our topic? Yes, it certainly is. If we wonder where the difference between formal and informal language really starts, we do firstly note a huge historical gape between speaking and writing. And we should point out that colloquial speech is by definition informal, while writing, on the contrary, is mostly formal. Of course, written language might be informal, too; whereas natural colloquial speech cannot help not be informal in principle. And this is a point that every human has this experience in childhood. Thereby, this is a matter of historical language genesis, the model of which we repeat in our individual development. So then the first considerable conclusion we get about their differences is of historical character: non-formal language is much far older than formal one, being the source and material of all further differentiation. In this regard, I would like to notice a funny thing that the early tongue of children is thousands years older than a mature language of science, literature and, in sense, the cultural environment as a whole. It is so older to the rest of language, as body is older than intellect. The same thing can be said about an organic vernacular of illiterate hard-working people of the countryside, who are almost gone nowadays. This folk natural tongue is simple, spontaneous, figurative and discrete. But being naive and imperfect, it is associated with the inner world of sense and emotions, with the deeper consciousness and creativity, with all of these that we can -- and apparently should -- call the soul. It was not a researching science, but a creative language that generated both a word and a concept, as Johan Huizinga said. This is the second important difference: informal language is a creative language. The language that keeps producing the world, like Adam in Eden, giving names primordial things. This language is flexible, smooth, playful and filled with poetic potentiality. Unlike formal language, it is not serious -- so that often it can border on absurdity. The spontaneous genius of kids and simple souls is amazing and able to confuse philosophers. The linguistic reason for this, probably, is that within the natural language, life (with all its meanings) express itself in play, accepting things as they are, no conceptualizing, no theorizing. The closest thing to the children’s creative vernacular is folklore -- fairy tales and poetry of Mother Goose, whose characters speak in language that has an aesthetic value as well. Here we find the simple tongue of simple life, reflected into songs and tales that had existed for centuries in numerous versions before having been recorded in literary form. And this is again an integral part of informal language, much more ancient, free and vital than the cultivated rhetoric of educated classes, fine arts and science. Thus, in natural colloquial speech that we find in children, in common people and folklore, the creative soul of language manifest oneself as the uncertainty factor, whose significance cannot be overestimated, for without its power human language would be just a useful communication machine and a boring gathering of codes. And it would be an extremely immense loss. Specific characteristics of informal language The relevant feature of the informal language is a tendency toward simplification taking place in grammar, vocabulary, phraseology, syntax and phonetics that is to say in the all areas. That is why we have so many kinds of contractions in colloquial speech. The most common type of contractions is a shortened grammatical form, composed of two or more functional words blurring together. E.g., «ain’t» for «have not», «whaddya» for «what do you» and the like. Phonetically this tendency shows itself as so-called relaxed pronunciation and various types of reduction. Reduction concerns everything and can be considered as falling or transforming of a phoneme, loss of quality by a vowel (i.e. turning into schwa) or disappearance of a consonant, commonly at the end of words (elision) etc. To understand colloquial speech, it is necessary to have an idea of such phonetic phenomena as catenation, intrusion and assimilation, which we are not discussing in detail here. The tendency to reduce long, hard to speak words reveals itself not only by phonetic, but either by morphological means. We know a variety of short colloquial derivatives like «maths» or «doc». Phonetic reductions, like «gal» or «brudda», are not so much to shorten a word as to speed up its pronunciation. In the field of phraseology, the most important features of informal language are its emotionality, imagery and incredibly powerful creative ability, which are expressed in the treasury of proverbs, sayings, idioms, puns and different figures. Specific characteristics of formal language The formal language is mainly designed for writing business letters, delivering lectures, negotiating, reporting etc. It is extremely grammatically correct, neuter, never uses shortened forms, phrasal verbs, colloquialisms, idioms or figurative expressions. We find here complex as well as sophisticated syntax structure, Latin and French derivatives and the passive voice; the latter is caused a tendency toward impersonality, which is not necessarily bad. Stylistically formal language can have some diversity being hard or mild, then it can be called very formal or semi-formal. However, vocabulary and phraseology of formal language are rich and rather interesting in its manner and deserves to be thoroughly studied. The only flaw of formal language is a regrettable feelings prohibition, leading to the lack of metaphors, idioms, imagery, any poetic expression. Nevertheless, as a tool of science and academic knowledge, it forms an essential part of human culture and has its unique value.