Difference Between Written English and Spoken English

Key Difference – Written English vs Spoken English 


One can clearly discern a variety of differences between the written English and spoken English as there are many elements where a clear contrast can be observed. Written English refers to the English language one notices in texts and other such materials. Spoken language is what one hears and uses for conversing with others. Although both written and spoken language can be used as mediums of communication, the key difference between written English and spoken English is that while written English is text-based and spoken English is not. Through this article let us examine the differences between the two types through some examples.

What is Written English?

As mentioned above in our introduction, Written English refers to the English language one notices in texts and other such materials. There are many text materials for example books, newspapers, articles, magazines, letters, notices, etc. All these material allow the individual to become aware of something. It can be a message, news or even knowledge. Written English language can be used to express various emotions as well. For an example imagine you read a letter from a friend or loved one. Through the diction, you will notice the attitude of the writer. This is often referred to as inferring.

A special feature of written English is that it allows us to organize our ideas and produce a piece of writing. You will notice that when you read an article or a news item it is very well organized. It follows a particular structure. This organizational factor is not apparent in spoken English. Also written English since it is often a text has a direct flow of language. It is true that there are pauses used to convey a clear idea, but it has a smooth flow. This gives us an idea of the written English language. Now let us pay attention to the Spoken English.

Difference Between Written English and Spoken English

What is Spoken English?

Spoken English is what one hears and uses for conversing with others. For an example, you meet a friend on your way home. You use spoken language to converse with your friend. This can be considered as more natural and less organized because the individual expresses what he feels, thinks, and sees at that very moment. This is why unlike written English; spoken English tend to lack organization. In literature, writers use a technique referred to as the stream of consciousness, where they express the ideas of the character as they come to him. Spoken language is quite similar to this. When speaking, we rarely structure our responses as in the case of written language.

Also unlike in written English, in spoken English we can identify the differences in the manners of speaking. For example, people of different contexts have different accents. The way an American speaks can be different to that of a Canadian or British. Another difference is that in spoken English there are utterances. These refer to the pauses in between speech. These cannot be seen in written language. The register of the language or else the formality of language is also different in spoken English. It can be more informal in comparison to written English although there are exceptions to this.

Written English vs Spoken English

What is the Difference Between Written English and Spoken English?

Definitions of Written English and Spoken English:

Written English: Written English refers to the English language one notices in texts and other such materials.

Spoken English: Spoken English is what one hears and uses for conversing with others.

Characteristics of Written English and Spoken English:

Flow of language:

Written English: There is a steady flow of language.

Spoken English: There are pauses referred to as utterances.

Organization:

Written English: Written English is much more structured.

Spoken English: Spoken English not as structured as written English.

Register:

Written English: Language can be both formal and informal depending on the text.

Spoken English: Language is mostly informal.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. “SanDiegoCityCollegeLearningResource – bookshelf” by Joe Crawford from Moorpark, California, USA – Flickr. [CC BY 2.0] via Commons

2. Talking at Google Opening Reception By Film Crew hired by Wikimania 2012 coordinators (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons