Dimensions of register variation in Somali

Douglas Biber, Mohamed Hared

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The present Study uses a Multidimensional approach To analyze The Linguistic Characteristics Of Somali Spoken and Written Registers. Somali is unusual in That it Has a very Short History Of Literacy (only Since 1973), But at present it Has a Wide Range Of Written and Spoken Registers, including Governmental, Educational, and public information uses. It Thus Represents a very different language type from previously described languages. We analyze The distribution Of 65 Linguistic features across 279 Texts from 26 Spoken and Written Registers, using factor analysis To identify five Major dimensions Of variation. None Of These dimensions defines an absolute dichotomy Between Spoken and Written Registers, although Three Of The dimensions Can Be Considered “oral/literate” parameters. As in The Multidimensional analyses Of Other languages, The present Study Shows That No Single dimension adequately describes The Relations among Spoken and Written Registers; Rather, Each dimension Reflects a different Set Of Communicative functions Relating To The purpose, General Topic, degree Of interactiveness, personal involvement, production Circumstances, and Other physical Mode Characteristics. In The Conclusion, We Briefly discuss Our findings Relative To previous Multidimensional analyses Of English, Tuvaluan, and Korean, laying The foundation for Cross-linguistic analyses Of universal Tendencies Of Register variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-75
Number of pages35
JournalLanguage Variation and Change
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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