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In other words, what kind of language-use (independent of content) makes the audience think more highly of the speaker’s qualifications and intellect?

I am aware that the answer will heavily depend on the type of audience. Clearly, what sways a laymen audience will be different from what sways an audience full of experts on the topic being discussed.

I am looking for formal academic studies, rather than anecdotal examples or opinions. Thank you!

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    You could start with this BBC article - it has lots of usefuls links and it's a good summary of most relevant research studies bbc.com/worklife/article/…
    – Alex B.
    Mar 10, 2021 at 18:23
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    You could, if you trust BBC Science. They are hopelessly confused and notoriously wrong, especially about anything having to do with language.
    – jlawler
    Aug 7, 2021 at 15:59

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There is a lot of research on registers of a language, and features of the scientific register in contrast to other registers have been given by a lot of authors. There are studies for different languages, not only English, in this respect.

Of course, this kind of research does not really answer question in the title: The audience is probably able to recognise the scientific register, but does it infer smartness from that?

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As jk says the study of registers, accents and sociolects would be the avenues of research that are most elucidating in this regard. Of course Bernstein's work on class codes immediately comes to mind. Also Accent Prestige Theory (Giles, 1970). A more recent review of literature on accents and interpersonal evaluations is found in Fuertes, J. N., Potere, J. C., & Ramirez, K. Y. (2002).

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