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Frozen Register

In a conversation, we often change how we speak depending on the person we are talking to. For example, you would probably talk to your friends differently than if you were to talk to a stranger. One way we do this is by changing our register. But what is a register?  

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Frozen Register

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In a conversation, we often change how we speak depending on the person we are talking to. For example, you would probably talk to your friends differently than if you were to talk to a stranger. One way we do this is by changing our register. But what is a register?

Register refers to the different ways we use language depending on the situation and who we talk to. Register typically refers to how formal or informal our language is. For example, we would use more formal language in serious or professional settings (such as in school or at work), but we would use more informal language when we have a chat with our close friends.

There are six different types of registers, which are as follows:

1. Frozen

2. Formal

3. Consultative

4. Neutral

5. Informal/Casual

6. Intimate

Today, we will focus on the frozen register.

Frozen register: definition

Let's begin by looking at the meaning of the frozen register:

A frozen register means that the type of language used has not changed over time, and will remain the same in the future. This means that the words stay the same every time they are spoken or written. It is like they have been frozen in time!

The frozen register is often used for official and serious purposes (such as for legal matters or religious reasons). Because of this, it tends to use standard grammar and vocabulary, and full sentences. But, this is not always the case. For example, songs and poems are examples of a frozen register but can include more informal elements and non-standard language (such as abbreviations or slang).

The frozen register can also contain archaic language. This refers to old-fashioned words or phrases that were commonly used in the past, but are not commonly used today. For example, the word 'thou', which means 'you.' This word was used a lot by Shakespeare!

The frozen register is also referred to as a static register.

Frozen register: synonyms

The word frozen can have different meanings. When we talk about frozen language in English, we do not mean this type of frozen!

Frozen, ice cubes, StudySmarterFig. 1 - The frozen register has nothing to do with ice!

Instead, we mean that the language used is fixed, so is not expected to change over time.

Here are some synonyms of the word frozen. These will help you to understand the meaning of a frozen register, as all of these words have similar meanings:

  • unchangeable

  • fixed

  • suspended

  • held (in place)

  • controlled

  • regulated

  • preserved

The opposite of the frozen register

We know some synonyms for the word 'frozen', but what about antonyms (the opposite)? The opposite of frozen, in this context, is:

Changeable

The frozen register is the only type of register that contains unchangeable language. The other registers, whether they are formal or informal, are all changeable. This means that they don't have to be recited or memorised in a certain way.

Frozen register: examples

Examples of the frozen register can be found in many official or formal texts. This includes reciting religious and legal texts, such as:

  • The Lord's Prayer
  • The right to silence
  • Exchange of vows

Let's look at these examples of the frozen register in more detail!

Frozen register: The Lord's Prayer

The Lord's Prayer is the most well-known prayer in Christianity.

"Our Father, who art in heaven,hallowed be thy name;thy kingdom come;thy will be done;on earth as it is in heaven.Give us this day our daily bread.And forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive those who trespass against us.And lead us not into temptation;but deliver us from evil.For thine is the kingdom,the power and the glory,for ever and ever.Amen."

Whenever this prayer is recited, the wording stays the same. You may also notice the archaic language - some of the words used are not commonly used in conversations today. For example:

  • Art means 'are.'

  • Thy means 'your.'

  • Thine means 'yours.'

The archaic language used in historical texts like this prayer can help us to understand how language evolves. It not only preserves the historical traditions of the past, but also shows how language has changed over time.

Frozen register: The right to silence

This is a police caution, used by the police in England and Wales. It is read to people who have been arrested and gives them the right to refuse to answer questions.

You do not have to say anything. But, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.

The US version of the right to silence is called the Miranda warning.

Frozen register: Exchange of vows

Vows are exchanged when people get married, to promise a lifelong commitment to one another. They can be different depending on your religion, country, and culture. In the Church of England, the typical Anglican vow is as follows:

‘I, [name], take you, [name]

to be my [wife/husband],

to have and to hold

from this day forward;

for better, for worse,

for richer, for poorer,

in sickness and in health,

to love and to cherish,

till death us do part,

according to God’s holy law.

In the presence of God I make this vow.’

The wording of this vow can vary slightly, but the main idea remains the same.

DID YOU KNOW: Originally, the vow was only said by the wife as a promise to obey her husband. Can you think of why this has changed in today's society?

Frozen, wedding rings, StudySmarterFig. 2 - Wedding vows are an example of the frozen register as they typically don't change much over time.

Frozen register: sample of titles and authors

The frozen register can also be found in other texts such as poems and songs. Other examples include:

  1. William Shakespeare - Hamlet
  2. Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice
  3. Charles Dickens - Great Expectations
  4. Emily Brontë - Wuthering Heights
  5. Fyodor Dostoevsky - Crime and Punishment
  6. George Eliot - Middlemarch
  7. Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter
  8. Leo Tolstoy - War and Peace

These are examples of the frozen register because the language used stays the same whenever they are recited or sung. They are not always as formal as the previous examples, which means they can use for more casual and personal language.

Frozen - Key Takeaways

  • A frozen register means that the type of language used has not changed over time, and will remain the same in the future.
  • A frozen register contains language that stays the same whenever it is spoken or written.
  • The frozen register is often used for official and serious purposes, such as legal or religious matters. But this is not always the case (e.g. songs and poems).

  • The frozen register can also contain archaic language (words that were commonly used in the past, but are not commonly used today).

  • Some examples of the frozen register include The Lord's Prayer, the right to silence, the exchange of wedding vows, poems, and songs.

Frequently Asked Questions about Frozen Register

A frozen register means that the type of language used has not changed over time, and will remain the same in the future. This means that the words stay the same every time they are spoken or written.

A few examples of a frozen register are:

  • The Lord's Prayer
  • The right to silence
  • Exchange of vows

There are six registers of language. These are:
1. Frozen

2. Formal 

3. Consultative

4. Neutral

5. Informal/Casual

6. Intimate

The frozen register is typically used in situations such as official documents, legal proceedings, academic writing, and some professional settings. Using frozen register can convey professionalism and seriousness in certain contexts, but it may also come across as cold and distant because it is the kind of communication that rarely changes.

There are six registers of language. These are:

1. Frozen

2. Formal 

3. Consultative

4. Neutral

5. Informal/Casual

6. Intimate

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

A frozen register contains language that can be changed.True or false?

A frozen register means that the type of language used has ___________ over time.

The frozen register is often used for official and serious purposes.True or false?

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