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Occupational Register

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Occupational Register

Linguists define register as the way a speaker uses language in different circumstances.

What is Occupational Register?

By using the term 'occupational register', we refer to the language that is used by professionals in different work settings and occupations. This is sometimes called consultative or professional register. This kind of register also determines whether it is formal or informal. In English, occupational registers are considered to be more formal.

What are some examples of occupational register?

Before moving on to the characteristics of occupational registers, let's look at some examples:

Language of the courts

There are certain technical terms that only those familiar with the law will understand.

  • "As a firm, we cannot undertake any more pro-bonos."

  • "Michael sent over the subpoena to the claimant."

  • "The jury has released the defendant on parole."

Words like pro bono (when legal work is done for free), subpoena (a written command stating that one must appear in court), claimant (the person making a claim in court), defendant (the person accused of the crime), and parole (the temporary or permanent release of a person before they finish their sentence), are often used by lawyers and judges.

These words are all legal terms, necessary for those in the profession so they can communicate with each other. An outsider may or may not understand them, and it depends on their level of knowledge.

Occupational Register Image of people in court StudySmarterThe occupational register is used in court (Pixabay)

Note: If you have watched “Suits” or “Crime Scene Investigation”, you may have come across these legal terms. Despite the audience not necessarily being in the legal profession, it is necessary for the scriptwriters to include such terms, in order to maintain the authenticity of the show.

Medical language

You'll come across some medical terms during a visit to the doctor. Not having understood some of them, you may have had to ask for an explanation.


  • "The tumour that is now removed will be sent for biopsy to check whether it is benign or malignant."

  • "Cerebral edema can cause irreversible damage."

  • "Sleep bruxism was the cause of her headache."

The highlighted words, such as biopsy (a tissue sample for testing purposes), benign (non-cancerous), malignant (cancerous), edema (swelling caused by a build-up of fluid) and bruxism (teeth grinding), are technical terms that are commonly used by medical professionals.

Occupational Register Image of medical professionals StudySmarterThe occupational register is used by medical professionals (Pixabay)

What to consider when deciding to use an occupational register?

When deciding to use an occupational register, it is important to take into account the audience.

Audience

It is important for professionals to know who their audience is. The audience may be listeners or readers. For example, when doctors and lawyers speak with their colleagues, it is acceptable to use technical jargon, as those within the profession will understand what the speaker is saying. However, if a doctor/lawyer is speaking to a patient/client, it is important not to use too many technical terms as the listener may not be aware of them. It is important for the speaker to avoid technical terms as much as reasonable.

What are the characteristics of the occupational register?

An occupational register often includes technical terminology, acronyms, and abbreviations that are specific to a profession. The rules of occupational registers are similar to those of formal language but they have a different purpose. They are often either bi-directional or multi-directional, which means that there is more than one person or group involved in the conversation. Some examples include conversations between a doctor and patient, teacher and student(s), or lawyer and client.

The main purpose of using an occupational register is to get a specific message across effectively and efficiently.

Tip: Learning how to use the occupational register in a specific situation will help you come across as professional and help you get what you want from the other person.

Email from the claimant's lawyer to the defendant's lawyer - 1

“Hi, Jon

I am going to call your client to the stand at court next week if she doesn't accept our terms to settle the matter between us. Explain to your client that it is the best option for everyone involved.

Best,

Jerry ”

Email from the claimant's lawyer to the defendant's lawyer - 2

“Dear Jon,

Your client will be subpoenaed to testify in court next week. Understand that accepting our settlement offer is in the best interests of all parties involved.

Regards,

Jerry ”

It is clear that email 2 is more concise and precise. It makes use of technical legal terms (these have been highlighted). It is understood that both the writer and reader, in this case, are part of the legal profession, so their use of legal terminology is acceptable.

Why are the occupational registers used?

Learning how to use an occupational register will help you develop skills needed to interview someone, or even to be interviewed. Being aware of the occupational register suggests that you are aware of a particular profession, and able to demonstrate your interest in it. Occupational and formal registers complement each other in the sense that when using an occupational register, the tone tends to be formal.

Occupational Register - Key takeaways

  • Occupational register is the language used by professionals in their specialist fields.

  • Occupational register is also called consultative or professional register.

  • When deciding whether to use an occupational register, it is important to take into account the audience and whether or not they are from the profession.

  • Occupational register shares characteristics with formal register.

  • Using an occupational register makes it easier to communicate with those in the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions about Occupational Register

An occupational register is language that is used by professionals in different work settings and occupations. It is sometimes called consultative or professional register. 

An example of the occupational register is the language used in courtrooms. Words such as claimant, defendant and parole are often used by lawyers and judges. This type of language is not always understood by those outside of the legal profession.

The occupational register is used in formal settings, within a professional/work environment.

The occupational register is considered to be formal. It often includes technical terminology, acronyms and abbreviations that are specific to certain professions. It is also often bi/multi-directional, meaning that there are multiple people involved in the conversation.

The concept of the occupational register refers to language that is used within working environments by those in certain professions. It is not always understood by those outside of the profession.

Final Occupational Register Quiz

Question

How do you define occupational register?

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Answer

Language that is used by professionals in different work settings and occupations. 

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Question

Which of the following is another term for occupational register?

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Answer

Consultative register

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Question

True or false?


Occupational register is informal.

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Answer

False 

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Question

Which of the following is not an example of the occupational register?


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Answer

Language used between friends

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Question

Which of the following terms are not considered to be part of the occupational register? 


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Answer

Heart Attack 

Show question

Question

What factor must be taken into account when using occupational register?

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Answer

Audience

Show question

Question

Which of the following must be taken into account when using occupational register?


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Answer

Audience 

Show question

Question

The occupational register is considered to be...

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Answer

Formal

Show question

Question

True or false?


The occupational register often consists of technical terminology

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

True or false?


Being aware of the occupational register is beneficial only to those within the specific profession.


Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

How does occupational register help you if you are not a professional?


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Answer

Despite not being a professional, being familiar with the occupational register will help you develop language skills such as having a formal tone of voice. This will help in situations where you might have to speak to your boss for instance, or while conducting interviews.

Show question

Question

True or false?


The occupational register can never be understood by outsiders.

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Answer

False

Show question

Question

What is register?

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Answer

The way a speaker uses language in different circumstances.

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Question

Why is it important to know the nature of the audience when using occupational register?


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Answer

Occupational register includes terminology that is specific to a particular industry, which may not be understood by those not in the profession. Therefore understanding the nature of the audience and their level of knowledge of the particular field will help the speaker decide which terms to use. As the main aim of the interaction between the speaker and the listener is communication.

Show question

Question

True or false?


The occupational register is the language spoken by those in the medical field only.

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Answer

False

Show question

Question

In court, who does claimant refer to?

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Answer

The person making a claim in court

Show question

Question

In court, who does defendant refer to?

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Answer

The person accused of the crime

Show question

Question

What is a subpoena? 

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Answer

A written command stating that one must appear in court

Show question

Question

What does pro bono mean?

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Answer

When legal work is done for free

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Question

What is parole?

Show answer

Answer

The temporary or permanent release of a person before they finish their sentence

Show question

Question

Bruxism is the medical term for what?

Show answer

Answer

Teeth grinding

Show question

Question

In the medical professional, if a tumour is described as benign, it is...

Show answer

Answer

non-cancerous

Show question

Question

In the medical profession, if a tumour is described as malignant, it is...

Show answer

Answer

cancerous

Show question

Question

What is edema?

Show answer

Answer

Swelling caused by a build-up of fluid

Show question

Question

True or false?


The occupational register often consists of acronyms and abbreviations.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

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