One of the most prominent differences between speech and writing is the degree of formality. This is due to the difference in use of language between the two. In writing we often consider more carefully the words we use. We have time to plan and revise what we have to say to fit in with the meanings we want to convey and the person or people we are addressing. In speech we often do not consider our words so carefully. However, we are still making choices about how to express ourselves so quickly that we rarely have time to reflect on it.
In the chosen texts, the element of formality differs due to the use of formal noun phrases and informal phrasal verbs. The written article is rich in formal language as the writer has used long noun phrases while commenting on the players’ performance. Such as “reigning champions”, “punchy innings”, “farcical run out”, “a superb early spell” and “the death to complete figures”. One the contrary, the oral commentary sounds highly informal because of the casual phrasal verbs. Such as “likes it out”, “here he goes” and “took off the moment” etc. Moreover, written language avoids repetition and pauses which make the spoken texts informal. For example, in spoken commentary the speaker is constantly repeating the expressions of “Down the track” and “once again”.
Writing is more durable than speech, for it provides a record of events and information. Speech is gone immediately after we have stopped speaking/listening, it is stored in short-term memory for a very short time (a few seconds), which is why we can tolerate false starts, pauses and gaps, for we forget them quickly. Only a very small portion of an instance of spoken interaction is stored into long-term memory. Thus, this is the written medium that provides a permanent source of documentation.
Among the two samples of commentary, written article is more reliable for it can be reviewed and accessed on the internet anytime even after quite a long period. It is a permanent and durable record of the IPL match held on May 11, 2009. Each line states factual information regarding the players’ standing in the match which is relatively much more authentic in a written form. However, the oral commentary lives for a transitory period in the short-term memory of the audience/ listeners. It is full of over-lapping statements, pauses, confusions and abrupt emotions which make it a little less authentic than the written note.
3- Planned Vs. Unplanned Dichotomy-Spontaneity:
According to Hatch’s (1992) concept of planned vs. unplanned dichotomy, a polished and well structured expression is planned, whereas a spontaneous language performance is unplanned. Most of the times speech is less planned than writing and so is the case with the chosen commentaries. The written version is well organized and densely packed with information, for the writer had time to properly structure his thoughts and express the feeling in better words. He had an opportunity to undergo the process of revising and editing in order to produce a planned organization of speech. The article consists of eleven lines and each line works as a paragraph in itself because it conveys more information in less words.
However, the oral commentary presents an unplanned and spontaneous language performance. The commentator has used abundant clauses and repeated expressions to comment on the movements and gestures of the players. Speech carries less information in more sentences. Even the sentences are not well structured for being unplanned. The spontaneity of the commentary rises with the intonation and stress pattern in expression.
4- Expression-Spoken Vs. Written:
Spoken and written language also differs in terms of expression. Speakers use their voices (pitch, stress and rhythm) and bodies (gestures and facial expressions) to help convey their ideas. Whereas, writers have to rely upon the words on the page to get their meaning across. Speakers’ pauses and intonation are replaced by punctuations in writing. In short, speakers pronounce and writers spell.
In order to convey the meaning, feelings, emotions and excitement all through words, the writer has made a use of action words and parenthetical commas in the selected article. Such as “Smith, keeping home favourite Herschelle Gibbs out of the side as the Chargers recalled Chaminda Vaas, justified his selection by hitting four sixes”, “The Royals, a shadow of themselves in 2008, never threatened the target”, “Siddharth Trivedi (1) was then bowled by RP Singh and Munaf Patel was run out in the final over, summing up their night” and “Vaas, playing his first game of the tournament, showed he has lost none of his control”. On the other hand, in oral commentary the speaker expresses the feel of the match through a sensational expression supported with paralinguistic features, pitch of voice, stress and intonation which cannot be transcribed on the paper yet makes the speech a bit more impressive than writing.
5- Off-line Vs. On-line Mediums-Contextualization:
Spoken language is an on-line process because it is produced and received almost instantaneously and the recipients can follow its production from the beginning to the end. While with written language more time is needed to produce a message as it needs to be polished but the receiver doesn’t know how long it took for the message to be written, for it’s an off-line medium. In other words, speech is usually more contextualized than writing.
The commentary-based online article is a written mode of expression. That’s why, the writer has no idea where the reader is or what is motivating him to look at this unit. He doesn’t know if the reader is alone, inside, outside, whether it is morning, afternoon or evening. To make his meanings clear, he types words into a computer that fit together in series of phrases and clauses with boundaries marked by full stops and initial capital letters and tries to make what he writes as clear as possible because the reader doesn’t have a chance to ask him for clarification.
However, in the oral commentary, the commentator constantly keeps on gauging the response of the audience. He automatically monitors their excitement through roars, clapping and slogans. The audience’s reaction continuously influences the commentator’s behavior. He must produce his utterances quickly and readily, and the listeners also catch them as rapidly as possible, under the pressure of the emotive and social atmosphere of the stadium.
6- Form and Structure:
As far as the difference in form and structure of the two texts is concerned, written article is rich in syntax with complete sentences and joined clauses. For example, “Vaas, playing his first game of the tournament, showed he has lost none of his control, delivering a superb early spell and returning at the death to complete figures of two for 18 from four overs, leaving Jadeja unbeaten on 19.” Whereas, the spoken commentary is less structured as it contains a set of fragmented clauses and incomplete sentences like “Once again lot of energy lot of commitment.”, “Down the track hitâ€¦he hit hardâ€¦tremendous shotâ€¦and there’s another one.”
Secondly, the written piece exhibits a use of metalingual markers and logical connectors to mark the relationships between clauses and sentences. For instance, “Moreover, Andrew Symonds chipped in with 30 in 19 balls after Tirumalasett Suman hit 29 in 19 deliveries at the very top of the order.” and “Thus, the result means the Chargers replace the Royals in third place as the Royals drop to fourth.” On the contrary, in speech such markers are replaced by gap-fillers such as er, hmm, emm. For example, “So young and so confidentâ€¦erâ€¦great body language” and “It was a brilliant feel anywayâ€¦emm..andâ€¦erâ€¦down the track once again that took off the moment.”
Moreover, written language is grammatically and lexically more complex than spoken, for its being packed with information. The writers use a complex vocabulary and grammatical techniques of précising the information in order to convey more meaning in fewer words. For example, the quoted statement of the article is both lexically and grammatically rich in itself: “Rohit Sharma then picked up two wickets in two balls to dismiss Morne Morkel (8) and Shane Warne (0), who had torn a hamstring in the field, the off-spinner finishing with three for 12 having also clean bowled Abhishek Raut for one.” However, in oral commentary several clauses are chained together in an additive fashion which ranks it low in complexity. Such as “Once again hitting it hard Shane Warne taking a risk hereâ€¦he’s a risk-taker that’s why he’s such an exciting skipper Shane Warne.”
Lexical density (the ratio between the words that carry message and words that carry no semantic meaning) is usually much higher in writing than in speech. That’s why, among the chosen texts, written article is lexically denser than the oral commentary. The ratio of content words such as “hammered”, “champions”, “clean bowled” (nouns, verbs and adjectives) is higher in written version than in the spoken one. While the spoken commentary exceeds in the number of function/ grammatical words (pronouns, prepositions and articles).
So, the preceding analysis of the oral commentary and written article states a series of differences between the spoken and written language. However, some of the differences are less definite than the others. A diagrammatical representation of the findings, the ratio of each difference between the two texts, is presented in the next section.
Nevertheless, despite these general observations about the difference in written and spoken language, there are certain weaknesses in the traditional division of language into two main categories of speech and writing. There are spoken genres, in which language is used very much as in certain written styles (lectures, interviews, presentations), and, conversely, writing can sometimes be deliberately used for mirroring certain speech styles. Therefore, modern variations in the use of language have turned the distinctions blurred and vague.
Thus, it has to be admitted that although there are distinct features in both types of discourse, the differences are not absolute. Chafe (1982) states that there’s no simple, single difference between speech and writing. In fact, both the mediums overlap and do not fall into neat categories. “The most useful way to conceive of the differences is to see them as scales along which individual texts can be plotted” (Chafe 1982). So according to the standard view, the differences between the written and spoken texts form a continuum and not the opposites of a rigid dichotomy.
“It is not possible to speak of dichotomy of written and spoken language since there is much overlapping between the two and there are clusters of variables at work, rather than just a cline of features.” (Biber, 1988).
Indian Premier League – IPL
IPL: Deccan Chargers Thrash Rajasthan Royals
11 May 2009
IPL: Deccan Chargers Thrash Rajasthan Royals
Rohit Sharma (left) was in the wickets again for the Chargers.
Â©REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA SPORT CRICKET) Picture Supplied by Action Images
Deccan Chargers 166-7 (Smith 47, Pathan 3-34) beat
Rajasthan Royals 113 (Asnodkar 44, Sharma 3-12) by 53 runs
Indian Premier League, Kimberley
The Deccan Chargers moved to within two points of the top of the Indian Premier League with a comprehensive 53-run win over reigning champions Rajasthan Royals.
Dwayne Smith hammered 47 as the Deccan Chargers racked up 166 for seven in Kimberley before the Royals were bowled out for 113, Rohit Sharma taking three wickets.
Smith, keeping home favourite Herschelle Gibbs out of the side as the Chargers recalled Chaminda Vaas, justified his selection by hitting four sixes in his 32-ball innings before he was the last man to fall with one ball remaining in the innings.
Moreover, Andrew Symonds chipped in with 30 in 19 balls after Tirumalasett Suman hit 29 in 19 deliveries at the very top of the order.
Vaas also hit a maximum as he contributed 20 in 15 balls coming in at number six as Yusuf Pathan picked up three for 34 and Ravi Jadeja two for 26.
The Royals, a shadow of themselves in 2008, never threatened the target, Vaas removing Graeme Smith (1) and Lee Carseldine (8) to put the Chargers in control.
Naman Ojha was run out for 16 before Yusuf Pathan chipped a catch to Dwayne Smith off Naman’s namesake Pragyan and all hope was lost when Swapnil Asnodkar’s punchy innings of 44 in 39 balls was ended in another farcical run out.
Rohit Sharma then picked up two wickets in two balls to dismiss Morne Morkel (8) and Shane Warne (0), who had torn a hamstring in the field, the off-spinner finishing with three for 12 having also clean bowled Abhishek Raut for one.
Siddharth Trivedi (1) was then bowled by RP Singh and Munaf Patel was run out in the final over, summing up their night.
Vaas, playing his first game of the tournament, showed he has lost none of his control, delivering a superb early spell and returning at the death to complete figures of two for 18 from four overs, leaving Jadeja unbeaten on 19.
Thus, the result means the Chargers replace the Royals in third place as the Royals drop to fourth.
Â© Cricket World 2009
Sample of Spoken text
Cricket Commentary (1 minute length):
Down the track hitâ€¦he hit hardâ€¦tremendous shotâ€¦and there’s another one. (Pause) he likes it out. Once again hitting it hard Shane Warne taking a risk hereâ€¦he’s a risk-taker that’s why he’s such an exciting skipper Shane Warne. Down the track once again and here he goesâ€¦108 for 4 (pause). Jadeja is on again. So young and so confidentâ€¦erâ€¦great body language. Patel is not terribly quick but he’s good at saving time. Once again lot of energy lot of commitment. It was a brilliant feel anywayâ€¦emm..andâ€¦erâ€¦down the track once again that took off the moment. This partnership is extremely dangerous for Rajasthan Royals and Shane Warne. Jadeja’s completed his overâ€¦118 for 4.
Source: (Indian Premier League – IPL: Deccan Chargers Vs. Rajasthan Royals held on May 11′ 2009)
Nunan, D. (1993). Language Teaching Methodology. New York: Prentice Hall.
Biber, D. (1988) “Variation across Speech and Writing” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Chafe 1982 _____. “Integration and Involvement in Speaking,
Writing, and Oral Literature.” In Tannen 1982:35-53. Norwood: Ablex.
Hatch, E. (1992). “Discourse and Language Education”. Cambridge: CUP
Weathersby, A. (2008) “The Difference between Spoken and Written English” (Online Article) Available at: www.putlearningfirst.com/language
Accessed on May 2nd’ 2009
Warren (2002) “Spoken and Written Language” (Online Article) Available at: www.homepage.ntlworld.com/vivian.c/Speech&Writing.htm
Accessed on May 2nd’ 2009