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Differences between Speech and Writing

SPEECH
Universal, everybody acquires it Spoken language has dialect variations that represent a region

WRITING
Not everyone learns to read and write Written language is more restricted and generally follows a standardised form of grammar, structure, organization, and vocabulary

Speakers use their voices (pitch, rhythm, stress) and their bodies to communicate Writers rely on the words on the page to express their message meaning and their ideas Speakers use pauses and intonation Speakers pronounce Speaking is often spontaneous and unplanned. Speakers have immediate audiences who nod, interrupt, question and comment Writers use punctuation Writers spell Most writing is planned and can be changed through editing and revision before an audience reads it Writers have a delayed response from audiences or none at all and have only one opportunity to convey their message, be interesting, informative, accurate and hold their readers attention Writing on the other hand is more formal and compact. It progresses more logically With fewer explanations and digressions. Writers use more complex sentences With connecting words like however, Who, although, and in addition. Writers are often solitary in their process Writers must consider what and how much their audience needs to know about a given topic

Speech is usually informal and repetitive

Speakers use simpler sentences connected by lots of ands and buts. Speakers draw on their listeners reactions to know how or whether to continue Speakers can gauge the attitudes, beliefs, and feelings of their audience by their verbal and non-verbal reactions

Speech Usually ...... Acquired in L1 by everyone Speaker and listener share same time/place Speaker and listener can see one another meaning may be carried by gesture, facial expression Takes place in a shared context May contain deictic references to outside world (over there / this one)

Writing Usually ...... Learned in L1 not necessary by everyone Reader and writer separated in time /space Reader and writer cant see one another all meaning must be conveyed by text

Has to create its own context References must be built into the text

Speaker and listener may know one another already Speaker and listener may interact and change roles

Reader and writer may not know one another No immediate interaction or exchange of roles between reader and writer

Immediate feedback (verbal or non-verbal) expected and given


What is spoken is temporary and transient Not planned in advance Utterances may contain strings of clauses with little subordination

No immediate feedback possible


What is written is permanent and retrievable May be planned and edited More subordination and complex sentence structure

Grammatically incomplete or inaccurate utterances accepted Contains hesitations, paused, fillers, repetition

High degree of accuracy expected

Contractions used

Full form used

Boundaries of utterances marked by intonation, pauses

Grammatical boundaries of sentences marked by punctuation, layout


Capitalisation, font variation, underlining etc used to stressitems. Attitude may also be conveyed via punctuation! Little regional variation Changes more slowly Basic unit morphemes

Prosodic features volume, pace, stress, rhythm- communicate meaning as well as words May show marked regional variation Changes more quickly Basic unit phonemes