Language, and the way we use it, is clearly a prevalent factor in how we interact with the external world and how others perceive us. In different circumstances, we demonstrate language habits that reflect our class or perceived class distinctions. Personally, in the presence of a prospective employer, for example, I might say that I am “going to” do something, not that I am “gonna” do something. This also depends on the environment of the prospective job. The distinction would probably be inconsequential on a construction site. However, if I was on a construction site and had to communicate with a corporate member, a project coordinator or building manager for example, I might be inclined to speak more formally. This also might depend on the level of familiarity with the person I am speaking to.
With the idea of the workplace in mind, a lot of self-monitoring seems to be inherent in going for an interview at a new prospective job. I, whether premeditated or not, tend to rely mostly on a rehearsed mental script when taking part in an interview. A lot of statements made during the conversation feel the need to be ended with a result, like: “I coordinated locations for placement of outdated equipment, which I feel helped the company with more efficient operations.” It likely isn’t as formal as it is written here, but the focus, for me and ostensibly the employer, is on the results-based outcome of the answer. As in the construction site example, there is likely a propensity to speak in more proper terms, even though this may not even be absolutely necessary given the interviewer. Even though my high level of language self-monitoring may not needed from the interviewer’s perspective, it might still be a good idea to take part in this monitoring because it shows a certain amount of effort and a disciplined mindset.
Other than the interview scenario, I find a certain amount of self-consciousness in many environments. A recurring environment is the university campus. This awareness of language appears in a few aspects of content. Firstly, the content of informal language seems to have a higher sense of monitoring attached to it. A joke among cohorts — “talking shit” — I feel at least has the potential to be construed more often as insensitive language. I’m not advocating hate speech by any means, but the trend of this issue looks to be indicating a more politically correct ethic. The content of academic language is something that I am perhaps hyper-conscious of. Each individual university course, or at least each department, seems to have its own linguistic nuances, and essentially its own language. Words take on different meanings at different times; in an art history class, a ‘formal’ analysis means examining the use of form (shape, line, composition) in a piece of art, rather than an ‘official’ or ‘sanctioned’ analysis. If a work makes a ‘classical’ reference, that word is probably being used to mean “relating to Greek or Latin literature, art, or culture” rather than having to do with tradition or establishment.