ERIC Number: ED282230
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-May
Reference Count: 0
Properties of Spoken and Written Language. Technical Report No. 5.
Chafe, Wallace; Danielwicz, Jane
To find differences and similarities between spoken and written English, analyses were made of four specific kinds of language. Twenty adults, either graduate students or university professors, provided a sample of each of the following: conversations, lectures, informal letters, and academic papers. Conversations and lecture samples came from tape recordings of casual dinner table talk and from class lectures. Letters and papers were voluntarily provided by the subjects. Findings indicated that conversationalists employed a relatively limited vocabulary, made inexplicit lexical choices, and used many colloquialisms. They created relatively brief intonation units which they chained together, stopping occasionally to form a sentence boundary. Conversationalists also interacted with their audiences, showed ego involvement, and often spoke specifically. Academic lecturers employed an equally limited vocabulary, also used hedges and were referentially inexplicit. They used literary vocabulary more than conversationalists, but their intonation units were only slightly longer and they created no more syntactically complex sentences. In contrast, letter writers used more varied vocabulary, and only sometimes hedged or were inexplicit. They used a moderate number of colloquial words and contractions, but many more literary items. Their intonation units were intermediate between conversationalists and academic writers, and their sentences were usually well formed. Letter writers were more involved with themselves and with concrete reality than any other language users in the study. Academic writers exhibited the extremes of writing behavior. They used large varied vocabulary and hedges, inexplicit references, colloquialisms, and contractions. Academic writers used maximally long intonation units, expanded them with all available syntactic devices, and were detached from both concrete reality and themselves. (SKC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: California Univ., Berkeley. Center for the Study of Writing.