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Spoken and written discourses - Essay Example

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The word discourse is picked from the Latin term ‘discursus’ which is defined as ‘conversation, speech.’From a linguistic point of view the term discourse is defined as a continuous stretch of language,which is larger than a sentence and often constitutes coherent units such as argument or narrative…
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Spoken and written discourses
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Download file to see previous pages The word discourse is picked from the Latin term ‘discursus’ which is defined as ‘conversation, speech.’ From a linguistic point of view the term discourse is defined as a continuous stretch of language, which is larger than a sentence and often constitutes coherent units such as argument, joke, sermon, or narrative A discourse is not necessarily long; short conversations/ groans can be equally described as discourse just as a novel would. Discourses may be classified in many ways: written or spoken discourse; classification according to level of formality; classification according to genre; or classification according to the number of participants, whether on or many.For a conversation to be classified as a written or spoken discourse it needs to fulfill several criteria as Beaugrande (1981) explains. They include cohesion, coherence, intentionality, acceptability, informativeness, situationality, and intersexuality. This paper compares the written and spoken discourses. Differences between Spoken and Written discourses The main difference between spoken and written discourse lies in the fact that spoken language must be understood immediately whereas written discourse can be referred to many times (Crystal 1997). Unlike in written discourses, which involves medium that keeps a record of its conveyed message, spoken discourse involves only air and thus conversation is possible only up to the moment it occurs. The speed of conversation also varies between the two mediums of discourse. In spoken discourse, the speaker uses the speed that is appropriate for him/her; such speed is not necessarily convenient for the listener. The speed in spoken discourses is usually varying but faster than in written discourses. Other differences may be classified into: Contextualization Spoken discourse offers a natural form of speech where the audience is usually present. This speech facilitates effective communication since the speakers are able to get feedback from their listeners. This, however, means that spoken discourse has more repetition as the audience asks for clarification on unclear points. Written discourse as Crystal (1997) explains has an audience that is usually farther away and mostly unknown. Writers experience some disconnect in relation to the audience since the audience is not nearby; the writers only try to imagine what their intended audience would appreciate. Such a distance makes writing discourses inherently more difficult compared to spoken discourses. However, some genres of spoken discourse such as academic discourse, have minimal context of shared content, no feedback is encouraged immediately. On the other hand, some written discourses also employ the feedback of the readers who provide background information of the discourses usually through interviews. Spontaneity Spoken discourses tend to be largely unorganized where topics can change at any moment; interruption and overlapping of communication can occur often (Halliday 1989). In the spoken discourses, speakers can ask for clarification as well as correct what has already been said. Written discourses, on the other hand, are more organized and grammatical (Halliday 1989). The audiences of written discourses only get the finished product and cannot make any modification or clarification. The written discourses are having limited ways of conveying their message; written discourses are more constrained. Lexical characteristics Spoken discourses have a lower percentage of different words than written discourses. Spoken discourses are marked with longer and more repetitions unlike written discourses where repetitions are limited. Spoken discourses generally have shorter, less complex phrases. They contain more verb-based phrases and less abstract words. In addition to this, they also contain more words that refer to the speaker (Halliday 1989). Written discourses, on the other hand, have a more complex lexical characteris ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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