in retrospect

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kansi

Senior Member
japanese
We’ve also seen a return of the glue that has held moral traditionalists and libertarians together in the conservative coalition for so long — the belief that big government is a threat to traditional institutions. Hence, the focus on resuming church services.

In retrospect, the tea party wasn’t as much a purely liberty movement as it seemed at the time.

The return of the tea party

Is in retrospect a formal way to mean "looking back"?
 
  • kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    I would say that looking back sounds more informal. :)
    When you say "it sounds more informal", does that mean that both words can be used in a formal and informal context but when ,in short, it's too informal or formal , one is better than the other and it does not mean that one should be used in formal contexts and the other should be used in informal contexts?
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I prefer not to classify in retrospect as formal. This is a value judgment and some people may think of it as formal and others not.

    In other words, there is no difference between in retrospect and looking back. They are both established phrases.

    It is true that more "learned" phrases like in retrospect tend to be classified as formal. But of what use is that?
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    I prefer not to classify in retrospect as formal. This is a value judgment and some people may think of it as formal and others not.
    I see. Some would think of it as formal and some would think of it as not formal(not informal either:neutral).
    Some prefer seeing it in formal contexts and some do in both formal and not formal contexts.

    Is this also what you mean?
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    This is what the Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar has to say about formal:

    Formal speech and writing is characterized by the use of more complicated grammatical structures, by more unusual or foreign vocabulary, and by the avoidance of contracted forms (such as can't and won’t) and colloquialisms. Thus Patrons are requested to refrain from smoking is more formal than Please don’t smoke in several respects. ... often language is not marked as either.

    In the present case I see no point in calling one of the two phrases formal.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    This close focus on "formality" in many of kansi's posts suggests this comment: Note that in Japanese "formality" is a significantly different concept than in English. Kansi, I recommend you follow the guidance suggested in post #8 and NOT use the Japanese concept of "formality". English will not consider the use of a formal word in an informal situation to be "an unforgivable mistake"! Unless the word is slang or offensive, the use of an informal word in a formal context will not create much of an impression, other than indicating the speaker is not yet fluent, but would certainly not be considered a social blunder!
    Levels of Formality in Japanese and How to Know When to Use Which - Venga Global
    ...we have several levels of formality in our language built into the very grammar we use. Depending on our relationship to the person we’re speaking with, Japanese speakers adjust their language to show the proper amount of respect for their conversational partner. Like English speakers, we choose specific words and make our sentences longer, but unlike languages without specific registers of formality, we even choose different verb forms depending on the level of politeness the situation requires. You can convey a lot of information about yourself and make a good impression — or an unforgivable mistake!—by using appropriately formal language in a first introduction.
     
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    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    This close focus on "formality" in many of kansi's posts suggests this comment: Note that in Japanese "formality" is a significantly different concept than in English. Kansi, I recommend you follow the guidance suggested in post #8 and NOT use the Japanese concept of "formality". English will not consider the use of a formal word in an informal situation to be "an unforgivable mistake"! Unless the word is slang or offensive, the use of an informal word in a formal context will not create much of an impression, other than indicating the speaker is not yet fluent, but would certainly not be considered a social blunder!
    Levels of Formality in Japanese and How to Know When to Use Which - Venga Global
    Does this same thing apply to asking if a word is higher-resistered or not?
    I understand using too high resister words in like daily, ordinary conversation sounds odd or pretentious sometimes.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's a real thing and a real concept, and in extreme cases is obvious when words don't belong, but it's not a strict hierarchy. You can't draw solid lines around different categories and put many words in only one category or another.

    It reminds me of the concept of a dialect continuum. They say that Inuit groups in the Arctic regions speak more or less the same language from west to east. But it's a range of dialects. So the language of the group in the far west changes a bit in the group a little farther east. And a little more in the next group when you go farther east. And so on. By the time you get to the east end, the language has become different enough that the groups of people there have a hard time communicating with the people on the far west end, even though all the groups in the middle can easily communicate with the groups on either side of them.

    It's similar with slang, informal language, everyday language, formal language, extremely formal language. They overlap and form a continuum. Individual words can cross those boundaries without problems. But the farther they go from their central area the more out of place they become. So a slang word used in an extremely formal letter will look very strange. And an extremely formal word used in a very causal conversation will sound silly and weird. But in the middle, many things are possible and there are no sharp lines for individual words. But through experience, English speakers know what sounds too informal or too formal for a certain situation. It's not just a matter of a single word but of entire sentences and the tone of the conversation.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    through experience,
    I see...this includes to get corrected by teachers in school or forum members here...etc. I mean to get that experience , it would be extremely important to get corrected by native English teachers in school from elementary school to high school in English speaking countries. I mean I am too late for that since I already graduated from high school several years ago. What way is effective to get that experience ,beside to ask at this forum or have conversation with native english speakers?
    (I don't think in ordinary conversation native English speakers would correct when I use a word that sounds too odd for the context because conversation keeps going.)
    It's similar with slang, informal language, everyday language, formal language, extremely formal language.
    Is this why he said in retrospect and looking back aren't absolutely formal nor informal and looking back is relatively more informal than in retrospect meaning it would be better to use in retrospect in a very formal context and in the rest of the contexts they both would work?There isn't also a solid line between a formal context and a very formal context,I guess.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    What way is effective to get that experience ,beside to ask at this forum or have conversation with native english speakers?
    Conversation class or spending some time in an English-speaking country.

    Is this why he said in retrospect and looking back aren't absolutely formal nor informal and looking back is relatively more informal than in retrospect meaning it would be better to use in retrospect in a very formal context and in the rest of the contexts they both would work?There isn't also a solid line between a formal context and a very formal context,I guess.
    I think you are expecting too much precision :eek: I was trying to make the point that levels of formality are not precisely defined by solid lines, such as between formal and very formal, as you suggest.
     
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