Talking to Different
Types of People
Language is a system for encoding and
decoding information. People do not only
have to speak verbally to communicate
with one another, but they can express
themselves through body language. As
we age, we learn how to use language to
fit the situation.
There are several interesting questions
people are curious to know about
-In what ways do we change the way we
speak to fit a situation?
-What is and is not difficult about
these changes?
-Are we conscious of it?
-Are we all equally good at it?
Korean Dialect
• “Konglish” is the inclusion of English words in a
Korean sentence, or the use of Korean words in
an English sentence. This form is more commonly
seen in the second generation Korean-American
culture where “loan words” are used to fill the
gap of a limited Korean vocabulary.
• Examples: “Unni what are you doing?”/ “Ji-keum
mo hae?, lets eat dinner together tonight.”
• Slangs are informal words and expressions that some people use to
communicate with one another. The term “Slangs” is a particular
vocabulary or phraseology, typically used by social groups and
usually consisting of new words or existing words used in novel
ways. Some of the slangs teenagers or young adults use when they
communicate through text messages are:
• Lol- (laugh out loud)
• Bbl-(be back later)
• iight-(alright)
• Brb-(be right back)
• - "Where are you at?" to "Where you at?" –
• - "I be chillin"
Observation: Informal Vs. Formal
When talking to my sister I use slangs and I
talk to her like how I would speak to my
When she speaks to me she uses both the
informal and formal language. For example,
she calls me (unni) which is a word that is
used in Korean to show respect to an older
(female). She does not have to use this
formal word when she speaks to me because
she grew up surrounded by the AmericanCulture.
My sister uses formal language as well when
she speaks to me such as, OMG, LOL, thanks,
yeah, but even Shut Up when she’s angry
with me.
When we get into arguments there are times
when cursing is involved, or we use sarcasm
to push our buttons further.
When speaking to my mother I use
formal language, respect and words that I
wouldn’t normally use when I’m talking to
my sister or my friends .
Talking to my mother using a formal
language makes her feel comfortable.
I would never use sarcasm towards my
mother nor talk back to her.
I would ask her questions in a formal way
such as, “May I please?” “Thank You”..
instead of saying “thanks”. Also, I would
reply to her questions in a “formal
manner” saying the word, “yes” instead of
word “yeah”.
Friends Vs. Teachers
I have a diversity of friends. When I talk to
my Caucasian friends I seem to talk more
clear and proper than when I’m talking with
my Hispanic friends. With my Hispanic or
African-American friends I use slang terms,
and many times my “New York” accent will
appear as I have conversation with them.
When talking to my friends I feel more
comfortable than talking to my mother or a
teacher. I can make personal jokes with my
friends that teachers and parents would find
I talk about more personal things in life to
my friends than to my sister, mother or
When I speak with my teachers I use the
same rules that I use to speak with my
mother and seniors.
I do not curse or talk back with my
professors. (Obviously that’s common sense I
don’t want to get a F )
I use proper tone, and talk to them with
respect. For example, when I am addressing
to a professor, I would say, “Hello Professor
…” I would never address to him/her or talk
to him/her like to my friends. In other words,
I would never say, “Hey Jenny…what’s up?”
When talking to teachers I talk to them
about my goals or class work.
I use direct eye contact when talking to a
teacher or head nodding to let the teacher
know I’m comprehending what he or she is
My students at 4-322
Language Differences
There is a variety of
different languages
throughout the world.
Most importantly,
there are many ways in
which people change
the way they speak to fit
daily life situations,
although not everyone is
conscious of the way
they change their speaking.
Chomsky’s Theory
Humans are born with a special biological
brain mechanism, called Language Acquisition
The ability to learn language is inborn.
This theory allows me to reflect upon my son who is
is 2 years old and hasn’t started speaking yet.
As a newborn and as most babies, he used to cry
when he was in need of food/diaper
We nurture language by reading books and
exposure of phonics to allow development of
1st Form of Language
Body Language:
Body Language is used
by many of us
throughout the day.
We can show love, anger
and many other emotions
through the use of body
Here we see a picture of a
young girl. By her facial
expressions we can assume that
she is upset.
Facial Expression is used here,
and that is a form of Body
2nd Form of Language
Sign Language:
As I observed two people communicating, I notice
the use of official sign language. They used their
hands to form letters, sentences and communicate
due to their inability to communicate orally.
3rd Form of Language
Oral Expression:
Oral Expression is used by most of the people on a daily basis.
We use oral expression when communicating over the
phone/ in person.
People change the way they speak in order to fit a situation.
If one is at work, he/she may speak with a more professional
manner than the way he/she would speak to a friend.
It is obvious during a greeting that one would say:
Hey, what’s up? (To a friend)
Good morning, how are you? (In the work field)
How r u? / What u up 2? / LOL! (Text message)
As Ellen and Polly have
already explained in the
beginning, we speak in
different ways according to the
person we are talking to.
I observed my brother Kelvin,
who is 22 years old, and my
sister Argelis, who is 19 years
old. I noticed that when they
speak to each other, they use
informal words like if they were
friends. I also think it’s
because they are almost the
same age. For example, my
sister calls my brother
“Yo…give me this, yo…give
me that, yo…” and vice versa.
On the other hand, my siblings don’t dare to
speak in that way to my parents because my
mother considers that form of language very
disrespectful. Therefore, they speak very
formally in front of my parents. For example,
they would say, “Mami, or Papi may we have
this…?”. I believe my sister and my brother
are conscious of the way they speak to each
other and, on the other hand, they are aware
of the fact that they have to modify their
language when speaking to my parents.
My first observation was my boyfriend Tone. Tone and I have
been together for 7 years and ever since we met I notice he
changed his voice when he would talk to specific people.
• When he speaks to his friends, he tends to use more slang and his voice
becomes deeper, and he uses a lot of hand movement. He always seems
to stand amongst his friends because he never sits. I ask him why he does
this and he says that he can express himself better with a certain voice
and body language. He says someone might not take him seriously if he is
speaking about an important topic if he is sitting down.
• When he speaks to his parents, the greeting is a little bit more casual but
it is also respectful. His posture seems more upright, and his voice is very
neutral. All his responses will be “yes” “thank you” “please” and “may I”.
• When I hear him on the phone with someone from work, someone from
my family, or someone older in his family, he speaks very professionally
and mature. His voice is also very high pitched but shy at the same time.
He also leaves the room because I know he is timid to speak in such a way
around me or someone.
I have an 11 year old brother named Jaylon. He
just started junior high school in September, so I
know the pressures of trying to “be cool” or “fit
in” among new people. I am around him as much
as possible and I am always observing him. It
amazes me how fast he has grown. He is a big
Xbox360 fan. He uses Xbox live which is an
internet based program. If a person lets say in
California who is playing a game such as Halo,
and my brother is playing the same game, they
can communicate with each other while playing
the game via headset microphone. Jaylon speaks
with a lot of slangs and curses on the
microphone because I don’t think the players
know he is 11 years old, and I don’t think my
brother knows I eavesdrop over him. I do have
to scold him when I hear him curse because I
know he would never speak like that to my
father or his mother.
I am also interning in a 5th grade class in the Bushwick
section on Brooklyn. The kids think because I am young
that they can disrespect me by using foul language or
using gestures because I am not their official teacher,
but these are things that are inappropriate for not only a
child, but someone in school so I will put them in their
place as much as I can. On the contrary, when they are
speaking to the teacher, some of them lack respect for
her also. So when my mentor teacher calls the assistant
principle to come in the classroom, the children sit in an
upright position and answer all questions very formally.
Even their pitch becomes very low and squeaky. I think
these actions the children perform are also another way
of “being cool” or to “intimidate” other students.
Observing these kids that are around the same age
group, I definitely see how they change their voices. A
lot of the boys seem to use their hands when talking as
well, and seem to sit in a slouchy laid back posture. It is
so funny seeing them pretending to be adults, but on
the second hand I think that they should value being a
kid. They do know how to distinguish the way they
speak to different people with the formal and informal
My group members presented a series of examples in which they observed how people change
their way of speaking according to the situation they are in. However, I have a different type of
observation that relates to my personal experience in the field of language.
I am an International student coming from Europe. I have been living in New York City for
approximately three years. I studied English as a second language in my country, yet only in High
School. Thus, I learned most of this beautiful language once I arrived in the United States.
I don’t use any slangs and expressions that my group members mentioned previously, though I
hear people speaking and saying those phrases very often. The reason why I don’t talk in such a
way, is because I don’t feel comfortable and totally at my ease. When I try to imitate Americans
saying “Yo, whaaattss up?” or “See ya.” I think I sound funny. This is because I’ve learned English
in school as a completely new language in terms of grammar, semantics and pragmatics.
Consequently, when I speak to people, regardless of their age, job position, or entitlement, I
verbally communicate to them in the same exact way without changing the way of speaking.
Nevertheless, I do agree with the statement, “Language communicates much more than the
words we use, and the ways we use words vary not only between people but based on who we
are talking to”. In fact, although I live in a city where everything is written and spoken in English,
which is not my native language, I do have a couple of examples that fit in the presentation of
language differences.
I work in the Modern Languages Department of LaGuardia Community College as an
Italian Tutor.
I have three classes that I see every week. To my students I speak most of the time in
Italian, so then they start getting the idea of the language. When I have to explain
them something related to any grammar topics, I speak to them in a formal way
trying to use the best English terms I have learned so far. Also, I try to be as much
clear and precise as possible in a way that they can easily understand. On the
other hand, I notice the way they speak to me. Some of my students are aware of
the fact that I am the one standing at the board teaching, and therefore, bring me
respect and demonstrate full interest towards the subject. They may say, “Good
Morning Professor, how are you?” (of course this in Italian) Others talk to me
informally without paying to much attention to they use of the language. One of
my students once told me, “Hey Paola, you took attendance? I was late today, you
know? Sorry”. (of course this student didn’t bother to say a word in Italian).
I assume it all depends on the individual’s personality we are referring to because,
though I might be much younger than some of my Italian students, they should
still use a formal way of talking.
In the same place where I work as an Italian Tutor, there are other people who work with me.
One of many colleagues, whose name is Salvatore, is as young as I am, and in fact, I talk to him
like if he were one of my best friends. If I have to explain him something regarding our job, I
would definitely use the informal way without doubting about it because this is the way we
always communicated to each other. Not surprisingly, sometimes it may happen that the tone
of our voice increases, especially when we are passing through a stressful or hard moment.
We count on each other whenever we need help because we are “on the same boat”. We
have the same exact tasks, and therefore, we always exchange opinions about the work we
are doing. If I am tired, I would tell him, “Hey Salvatore, I need a coffee…do you want to step
out for a minute?”. For the following pictures, I want you to pay attention to my facial
expressions and my posture, though you don’t hear me talking.
Posture and face
expression represent an
important factor in
In fact, from these two
photos you can easily
tell that I feel very
relaxed talking to my
On the other hand, I want to introduce another person from the Modern Languages Department whom I
work with too. Angeles, who actually is my Supervisor, is a nice woman who sometimes observes me while I
teach in the Lab. She is extremely kind and reliable, yet she makes me feel nervous when I have to talk to
her. I start stuttering like if I had learned how to speak the day before, and my face turns as red as a tomato.
Every time I have to ask her something related to my job, I blush and my heart begins to beat very fast. I
don’t feel very comfortable because I am not able to show her how formal I can be. However, I believe she
understands why I don’t feel so relaxed compared to my coworkers. I think it’s because I am conscious of the
fact she has a higher position in the job circumstance and I feel very inferior. I hope that with time I would be
able to get accustomed to speaking to different types of people in the same way without differentiating
whether a person is similar to me or not. Take a look at the following pictures they took me and you can
immediately see how agitated and nervous I was.
Angeles, my
She was
showing me
the new
This is a video that shows
the way I normally speak
to Angeles.
In conclusion, we realized after doing our observations
that Language is not just something that is spoken,
but it is expressed in many more ways, such as sign
language, body language, facial expression and color,
vocal ranges, and text. We all adapt to different
environments and communicate with each other in
our special way. Whether we were born here and
raised in a traditional American atmosphere, or have
joined us from abroad and have not been trained to
speak in slang or informally, language makes us
unique. It allows us to express our feelings without
even having to use our voices.

Talking to Different Types of People