elaborated codes and restricted codes

elaborated codes and restricted codes

specific forms of language and speech derived from particular social contexts, involving different orders of meaning. A restricted code is used in close communal circumstances, where there is legitimate expectation of shared presuppositions and understandings, and involves speech that is inexplicit, telescoped and indexical (see INDEXICAL EXPRESSION). An elaborated code makes no such presuppositions, is explicit in meaning, uses full forms of expression and ‘objective’ standards of reference. Bernstein argues that the English social classes manifest a differential familiarity with each mode of speech, with social and educational implications. However, the application of the concepts of elaborated and restricted codes to the speech patterns of middle- and working-class groups respectively, has not been universally accepted, and considerable scepticism has been expressed about their validity and usefulness since they were first introduced (see Labov, 1972).
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000