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Consultative Register

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Consultative Register

During your study of English Language so far, you might have come across the word 'register'. You might also be aware that there are several different kinds of register that a person can use in social interactions. Each of these is different and suits different types of purposes.

Register refers to a variety of language used for a particular purpose or in a specific kind of interaction. Register often refers to formality.

The register we'll be looking at in this article is the 'consultative' register. We'll find out what this means, what situations require a consultative register, and we'll look at some examples of consultative exchanges.

The other kinds of registers are: frozen, formal, informal, neutral, and intimate. Each of these can be characterised by its own set of traits and features.

First on the to-do list then: break out the dictionary!

Consultative Consultative Register StudySmarterBefore we dive into the article, let's look at some definitions, Pixabay

Consultative Definition

The question of the hour - what does 'consultative' mean?

First of all, consultative is an adjective, which means it's a word that describes a noun.

If we break down the word into parts, we get:

  • consult: which means to seek or give advice or counsel.

  • -ative: which means to have the ability to do something (for example 'preservative' means to have the ability to preserve, and 'informative' means to have the ability to inform).

From this, we can see that the word 'consultative' means having the ability to provide consultation or advice. In the context of the English Language, this refers to the type of language someone would use if they were providing expert or professional advice or recommendations.

In other words, consultative (the adjective) describes the type of language (noun) used in a social exchange where someone is seeking or giving consult.

Consultative Synonyms

As far as exact synonyms go, the word 'consultative' doesn't really have any perfect matches. There are, however, quite a few words with very similar meanings which can be used in similar contexts.

Some examples of near-synonyms include:

  • advisory: having the power to advise or give recommendations
  • informative: having the ability to provide useful information
  • educational: intended to educate or enlighten

Consultative Speech Style

The consultative register simply refers to a variety of language used in situations where advice is sought or given. Let's learn a bit more about the consultative speech style.

When to use consultative register

Like any other kind of speech register, consultative speech is not always appropriate. As language users, we have the ability to adapt our linguistic choices to the different situations we find ourselves in. We change our level of formality depending on who we're talking to, and we use different language structures depending on what we're trying to achieve during discourse.

Discourse refers to any written or spoken, or even visual, communication. Discourse can have many different goals such as giving someone a compliment or advice, asking a favour, or building a relationship with someone.

Audience

Audience is going to be one of the most important factors to consider when thinking about whether or not the consultative register is appropriate. Who are you talking to, or who is talking to you (depending on which party is seeking advice and which is giving advice)? The consultative register is most often used in expert-novice, mentor-mentee, and teacher-student exchanges.

A novice is a person who is new to or inexperienced in a particular subject, job, or situation.

Where the consultative register is concerned, most of the time, one of the participants in the exchange is going to be a professional or expert in a particular field. Therefore, the consultative register is usually used when the participants are someone looking for expert advice and someone giving expert advice.

If you require medical insight, you would go to the doctor. A doctor is a professional in their field and they are highly qualified to give medical or health-related advice. When we go to see a doctor, we book a consultation. Therefore, we can tell that a consultative register is likely to happen in the interaction.

Consultative Expert-Novice StudySmarterMedical professionals often communicate with their patients using the consultative register, Pixabay

Can you think of any other industry professionals you might "consult" for expert advice?

Time

Time is another factor that might come into play when deciding whether or not to use a consultative register. Because the consultative speech style is quite formal and is mostly based on giving and receiving advice, it might be necessary that the participants in the exchange have sufficient time to properly discuss the specifics of the advice at hand.

If you went to the doctor because you had a knee injury, you'd want the doctor to properly examine you, ask you the right questions, and explain his medical advice thoroughly so that you'd have the best chance of recovering. A rushed-through consultation would not be helpful or satisfactory, and so time is required to ensure a consultative exchange can be properly carried out.

On the other hand, if advice is the only thing that is required in a particular situation, lots of time might not always be necessary. Because the consultative register is very purpose-driven, it might be possible that in certain circumstances, conciseness (keeping things short and to the point) is key.

If you are trying to grow tomatoes but find that they suffer from blight (a plant disease) and die, you might consult a gardener. This doesn't need to be a very long exchange, and the gardening expert might simply tell you something like "If you plant your tomatoes in a greenhouse instead of outside, they'll be protected from sudden changes in weather and will be less susceptible to blight." In this situation, the gardener does not go into as much detail as a doctor would, but still provides expert advice.

Place

It's possible to seek advice for a particular thing in multiple places or scenarios. Although you might be talking about the same topic, the circumstances in which you discuss the topic might influence whether or not a consultative register is necessary.

If you have a rash on your skin, you might decide to book a doctor's appointment, but you might decide to visit your local pharmacy for advice instead. A pharmacist will likely be able to advise you on the best course of action to address your rash, such as recommending a topical cream, but they would not go into the same amount of detail as a doctor might. Therefore, they would not necessarily use a consultative speech style with the same level of formality and detail as a doctor would.

Formality

Formality is not so much an influence on whether a speech exchange should be consultative or not, but rather a key characteristic of the consultative register. In other words, the consultative speech style is usually characterised by quite formal and professional language.

If you went to the doctor because you injured your knee, your doctor would not say something like "Mate, your knee is busted. Put some ice on it and chill out for a few days."

As the professional providing the expert advice, the doctor would be more likely to use the consultative register and say something like "I can see that you've overstretched a ligament, and unfortunately this kind of injury takes quite a while to heal. This will mean you're going to have to be really conscious of your movements for a few weeks at least, to ensure no further damage is caused."

In this example, you can clearly see the difference in formality between the two utterances. The consultative register normally requires a moderately high degree of formality, which is something you can look for to decide whether an utterance is consultative or perhaps an example of a different kind of register.

Consultative Formal Register StudySmarterProfessionals in many different fields will use the consultative register when advising their clients, Pixabay

Examples of Consultative Speech

So we've seen what consultative means and the factors that influence language to create a consultative register, but to make things even clearer, here are some more examples of consultative speech.

As the article mentioned earlier on, consultative speech is most often used in exchanges where there is an expert-novice dynamic. This could be in the form of a teacher and a student, a mentor and their mentee, or an industry professional and a client.

Let's look at one of each kind of exchange:

Teacher-Student Exchange

Student: "I really don't understand what we're supposed to do for the homework, is it like an essay?"

Teacher: "So the homework is based on the poems we read in class today, and it's a comparison task. That means you need to analyse both poems and then focus your discussion on the ways in which they're similar to each other. The word count is 1000 words and it is a long-form writing task, so an essay would be ideal."

Mentor-Mentee Exchange

Mentee: "I want people to really appreciate my work in this exhibition. What do you think about the way I've done the installation?"

Mentor: "I think you need to add some more height aids, perhaps in the form of some plinths and podiums set at different levels. This would create a more dynamic visual effect and make the installation more interactive as it would allow the viewer to move in and around the individual pieces a bit more organically."

Professional-Client Exchange

Client: "We want this to be as quick and painless as possible. We don't want to be married anymore but we're still good friends and want to keep it simple."

Lawyer: "If you're both in agreement then I suggest we carry out an inventory of your collective assets and then we'll organise a time to sit down and discuss the best way to divide the value between you."

Can you see how the expert in each of these scenarios uses consultative language? Think about the level of formality, the circumstances of each exchange, and the use of professional vocabulary relating to each field of expertise.

Consultative Register - Key Takeaways

  • 'Consultative' relates to seeking and offering advice, usually in professional settings.
  • The consultative register is formal language use and is most commonly used in situations where an expert is giving advice or recommendations to a novice.
  • Consultative speech can depend on a number of factors including audience, time, and place.
  • Some examples of expert-novice exchanges include: student and teacher, mentor and mentee, professional and client.

Frequently Asked Questions about Consultative Register

'Consultative' refers to providing advice or counsel, so being consultative means that people can consult you for a particular reason and you'll be able to provide information or advice. 

Some words with similar meanings to consultative include: 

  • advisory
  • informational
  • informative

 

None of these words is a direct synonym but they have functional similarities.

During a doctor's appointment, the doctor might say something like: "It looks like you've damaged a tendon in your knee which means you'll have to try and restrict movement and weight-bearing as much as possible until it heals, or you risk further damage." 

This is a consultative sentence. 

A consultative discussion is one where one participant is seeking advice, recommendations, or information, and the other participant is providing it. Consultative discussions usually take place between participants who fit the expert-novice dynamic. In this case, the one seeking the advice is the novice and the one providing the advice is the expert. 

A consultative speech style is a variety of language (or register) where advice is sought and/or given. This advice is usually of an expert or professional standard. 

Final Consultative Register Quiz

Question

What does 'consultative' mean?

Show answer

Answer

Consultative refers to giving professional advice or recommendations. 

Show question

Question

Define 'register'.

Show answer

Answer

Register refers to the variety of language a speaker chooses to use in a particular situation or exchange.

Show question

Question

What kind of dynamic is consultative speech usually characterised by?

Show answer

Answer

expert-novice

Show question

Question

What kind of word is 'consultative'?

Show answer

Answer

adjective

Show question

Question

True or false, an individual can switch between different registers depending on the situation they're in.

Show answer

Answer

True, register is related to circumstance not to the user themselves. 

Show question

Question

What does it mean to consult someone?

Show answer

Answer

To consult someone means to ask them for expert advice or recommendations. 

Show question

Question

List three words similar in meaning to consultative.

Show answer

Answer

  • advisory
  • informative
  • educational

Show question

Question

What four factors can determine what register to use in a situation?

Show answer

Answer

  • audience
  • time
  • place
  • formality

Show question

Question

Give three examples of expert-novice situations.

Show answer

Answer

  • teacher and student
  • mentor and mentee
  • industry professional and client

Show question

Question

True or false, the consultative register is often quite casual in tone. 

Show answer

Answer

False. The consultative register is usually characterised by relatively formal language use.

Show question

Question

Choose one phrase to describe the consultative register:

Show answer

Answer

purpose-driven

Show question

Question

What are the five other kinds of register?

Show answer

Answer

  • informal
  • formal
  • neutral
  • frozen
  • intimate

Show question

Question

Is the consultative register typically an emotional language style?

Show answer

Answer

No, the consultative register is characterised by professional and moderately formal language.

Show question

Question

List three kinds of industry professionals that might be able to provide expert consult to a client.

Show answer

Answer

  • Doctor
  • Lawyer
  • Accountant
  • (or any three other appropriate professions)

Show question

Question

True or false, a speech style is the same thing as a register.

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Answer

True, the two terms are interchangeable.

Show question

Question

What does 'discourse' mean?

Show answer

Answer

Discourse refers to any written or spoken, or even visual, communication.

Show question

Question

Give an example of a goal of discourse.

Show answer

Answer

Any from this list, or your own ideas:


  • complimenting someone
  • asking a favour of someone
  • building relationships

Show question

Question

What is a novice?

Show answer

Answer

A novice is a person who is new to or inexperienced in a particular subject, job, or situation.

Show question

Question

Why is time important when using the consultative register?

Show answer

Answer

Often when someone is seeking advice, the person giving the advice needs a good amount of time to properly assess the situation in order to help effectively.

Show question

Question

What kind of language is the consultative register associated with?

Show answer

Answer

Professional

Show question

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