From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Hypocorrection is a linguistic phenomenon which involves the purposeful addition of slang in an attempt to appear less intelligible or soften the description. It contrasts with hesitation and modulation because, rather than not having the right words to say or choosing to avoid them, the speaker uses hypocorrection as a strategy.

Originally, hypocorrection or accented pronunciation of words may have arisen due to physical properties involved in sound production (such as Aerodynamics, Anatomy, Vocal Tract Shape)[1] (page 259). However, intentional use of hypocorrection or affecting a, for instance, Southeastern US accent to sound less elitist. It involves "...make-believe hesitations and colloquial language may work as affiliative strategies (softeners) etc.".[2] Over time, due to both physical features of voice production and affected accents to not sound overly sophisticated influenced local dialects.

Another strategy, hypocorrection (Maury-Rouan 1998) has similar interactive goals as it also works as a softener. Hypocorrection consists of an attempt to give one’s discourse a clumsy, colloquial, or even broken or dysfluent style, when introducing clever or innovating statements or ideas. By and large, hypocorrection allows the speaker, by toning down a potential flattering image of self, to avoid sounding pretentious or pedantic, thus reducing the risk of threat to recipient(s) face.


Maury-Rouan's participants in the study:

Original: "The balance between East and West used to be very reassuring; we knew there was an East block”
Hypocorrection: "The balance between East and West sort of ah:::: t’was like very ah::::(1.65) reassuring + ya’ know + we knew + well there were ++ there was a We+East block"

Example by Charles Jones in Historical Linguistics:

...distinctive vowel nasalization on vowels that used to stand next to nasal consonants maybe considerably greater in amplitude than ... when nasalization was a predictable phonetic feature.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jones, Charles (2013). Historical Linguistics: Problems and Perspectives. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN 978-0-582-06085-2. 
  2. ^ Maury-Rouan, Claire. "Do listener's facial expressions influence speaker's discourse?". Gesture Studies. University de Provence. Retrieved 20 December 2016.