Language is an extremely important device of human communication used in the expression of feelings and emotions, ideas and desires. It gives order and meaning to society. That’s why, a language-less society of human beings would be a meaningless society devoid of meaningful existence-a society of disorder, anarchy, hopelessness and helplessness. With the possession and use of language man becomes a social being, capable of reasoning and socializing, among other things. Because of its importance, therefore, the study of language becomes worthwhile.
Because English is so widely spoken, it has often been referred to as a “world language”, the lingua franca of the modern era. While English is not an official language in most countries, it is currently the language most often taught as a second language around the world. Some linguists believe that it is no longer the exclusive cultural property of “native English speakers”, but is rather a language that is absorbing aspects of cultures all over the world.
There are two mediums of communication in English like any other language: (1) Spoken and (2) Written. These are in fact very different communication systems which are used to convey different forms of a single language. While the spoken mode is expressed in sounds the written medium is coded in symbols/words and each of the two different codings bring with it significant features. However, many people imagine spoken and written English are closely related notions. However, close examination reveals that there are as many differences as there are connections. This research paper aims to compare and contrast a spoken and a written text (verbal and written versions of commentary on a cricket match) in order to draw a distinction between the two mediums and reach an acceptable conclusion.
Speaking is the voicing out of some audible sounds. When we speak, we are usually expressing or addressing ourselves to other people and our speech has to be sensible and easily understood by the hearers. Each speaker has to be able to adapt his speech to the situation because when we speak, we do so either in response to or to communicate with another person.
Writing is very important to the human race and the art of writing is not just putting pen to paper. It consists of having something to say that is worth saying and knowing how best to convey it in writing. To be able to write well, one must have acquired the skills of listening and speaking in the target language. Being able to listen and understand and speak English bears on what one is writing. One must also have acquired a wide range of English vocabulary to be able to convey meaningful ideas through writing.
That’s why; learning to speak comes before learning to write. We learn to speak almost automatically and naturally but have to be taught how to write. In other words, speaking is the “real” language and writing is only a representation of speaking. Since English is widespread across the globe, the ability to read and to write in the language is like placing oneself in the global web of language.
Variations in a language and its structure relate to different modes of communication such as speech and writing. The two processes, speaking and writing, are not identical, for learning to write is not just a “natural” extension of one’s speaking ability in a language. Many linguists and discourse analysts have been trying to separate speech from writing by highlighting the possible differences between the two. This section aims to present a review of the relevant literature.
Weathersby (2008) states that one of the most essential differences between written and spoken English, is the degree of formality. A written note might state, “Would you like to go out to lunch?” While the person, who would write that note, might alternatively say, “You wanna go out for lunch?” Thus, written expression is mostly more formal than the spoken one.
Hatch (1992) describes the variation in the spoken and written mediums in terms of three dichotomies.
Planned versus unplanned dichotomy
Contextualized versus decontextualized dichotomy
Basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) versus Cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) dichotomy
To explain planned versus unplanned dichotomy, Hatch (1992) states that a revised and polished expression is planned and a spontaneous language performance, whether it’s spoken or written, is unplanned. With the time and opportunity to organize our performance, we can transform a spontaneous or unplanned discourse into a planned one.
Hatch (1992) agrees that oral language is highly contextualized, for both the speaker and listener are situated in a “shared context”. Whereas, written is said to be an academic language in which the writer and the reader do not share the context. While producing the text, writer doesn’t have any idea who is going to be the reader and for what reason he is going to read the text. This gap between the status of speaker-listener and reader-writer generates the contextualized versus decontextualized dichotomy.
BICS versus CALP dichotomy parallels the notion of informal versus formal language. Basic interpersonal communication skills include listening and speaking in which the speakers use simple words and paralinguistic features to facilitate the listeners’ instant comprehension. However, cognitive academic language proficiency involves reading and writing skills which grow upon formal vocabulary and a properly structured expression.
Nunan (1993) presents three aspects of differentiation while drawing a distinction between the written and spoken language.
Manner of Production