Writing self vs speaking self

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Magical Realist, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Are we different people when we are writing from when we are speaking? Writing is like being yourself in slow motion--in a carefully filtered pre-edited manner. Well worded ideas, topical relevance, immunity from immediate sentence-by-sentence reactions, a loss of emotive vocal tone, and lack of real time sensitivity to feedback. It just seems to me this self is not the same one we express in face to face conversation. Even when we DO want to mimic spontaneity in writing, we only do it to achieve a certain precalculated effect, as in omg! or lol! A writer is a monologue-reciting performer acting out a kind of role for an anticipated audience. A speaker is a flawed, on-the-fly improvisor. Two different selves in play here. Do you agree? How are YOU different from how you write, if at all?
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It wouldn't be too far off to say that a written language and a spoken language are kinda like two different dialects of the same language.
    • Written language is usually a little more formal because we're not sure who's going to be reading it so we don't want to embarrass ourselves or use slang that the reader might not understand or approve of. When we speak we know who our audience is so we choose the vocabulary, grammar and syntax that are appropriate.
    • Spoken language is full of non-phonemic sounds like pauses, loudness and pitch. These add to the information content of what we say. They can indicate how we feel, whether we're being serious, what we think of the topic in question, etc. In writing we don't have those resources so we have to express everything in words. This can make a written sentence longer than a spoken one. We might even need to insert entire sentences that are not necessary in writing.
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  5. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    When it comes to a Thanksgiving gathering, I definitely don't fall into the situation of the third paragraph below. Speech-wise, I'd feud just as clumsily now with one of my less favorite relatives as I did long ago. Almost like some switch automatically flips in the head where you nostalgically return to the patterns and temperaments of yesteryear.

    Our "personalities" can be outright eliminated from third-person, formal writings (but also oral, public lectures / presentations prepared in advance), due to trying to produce a neutrality or objective POV. Exceptions are when the author creatively uses a 1st-person approach (like Mark Twain on Huckleberry Finn), or has benefited from having a schtick in non-fiction of relaxing stiff convention with humor and quirks and subjective observations; or going gonzo and personally participating in / producing the described or reported events.

    People who hourly have to think adeptly / properly on their feet, ad lib, and speak eloquently as part of their job can reach the point where it becomes such a habit that it intrudes into their old casual, non-artificial self that interacts with family and friends. "Stop being pretentious!" would probably be a common complaint received among those with redneck or black and other "authenticity-heavy" ethnic backgrounds. Who somehow eluded the neighborhood crabs pulling them back down into the seafood bucket of local stereotype-hood. An ordinary salesperson, OTOH, wants a good blend of both the casual, amiable "gal/gal next door" and systematic professionalism.
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Just as the average bilingual European automatically starts conversations with his wife at home and his supervisor at the office in the language each of them understands, without giving it any conscious thought. They learn that in childhood.

    It's fairly common for Afro-Americans to be equally comfortable in Standard American English and AAVE (Afro-American Vernacular English or "Ebonics"). They don't have any trouble speaking standard in the office and their own cant in the "hood." The human brain is well-wired for language skill. (I call AAVE a "cant" because to a significant extent it is used deliberately to thwart understanding by outsiders, and that's the dictionary definition of a "cant.")

    Good communicators are quite capable of changing their persona to engage their audience, whether addressing an auditorium, interviewing on the Jon Stewart show, talking to stockholders, a jury, or a prospective girl/boyfriend. We even know how to exaggerate the modulation in our voice to make our dogs happy.

    They get over that soon enough. After all, family and friends are just two more audiences they need to adapt to, and adaptation is something they're really good at.

    Some people like to show off--to demonstrate how superior they are. These are usually the insecure. Secure people don't need to make other people feel insecure. A good communicator manages the response he gets from his audience. Disdain and hostility are seldom what they want!

    Yes. Salespeople make their living by communicating so they have to be really good at it. They also pick up many of the verbal and non-verbal tricks of the con man.

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  8. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    In type, I don't stammer; though I often have to correct mistakes, nobody can see it. In conversation, I sometimes talk too fast and trip over words. Probably, other people do this, too, because we feel pressure to complete a thought before being interrupted, contradicted or trumped by another speaker. In a dialogue box, nobody gets to interrupt, so we have leisure to form grammatically and aesthetically pleasing sentences.
  9. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Sometimes [going back to the friends / relatives type incidents] it really is just a case of forgetting. One of our past neighbors was a teacher. When I would visit her at times in the evening, her family [they were African-American] would literally point out when she was straying-off into "talking pretentiously", or apparently in the same manner she did when addressing her students. She would either laugh and excuse it as a habit that was difficult to break, or get a slightly annoyed look as if they were mentioning such in front of company purely to irritate her. She even told me the reverse had happened once, where she absent-mindedly started speaking the way she did at home in a classroom.

    Likewise, there are scattered pockets of white people that seem self-conscious about maintaining "authenticity" in regard to whatever applicable sub-culture. Over the phone, my sister-in-law has mentioned having to remind herself to revert back into the drawl she got rid of after moving to the West Coast, when returning to her old stomping grounds. Her kin and childhood friends apparently kid her as much about losing it or "talking like a liberal" [as she strangely puts it] as the friends of her later residence did when she sported it. Plus, I imagine she still sounds no more like a "Yank" to the latter crowd than James Garner did after modifying his southwest accent decades ago; only the inhabitants of their original regions probably recognize a major change. But I guess the adjustments were enough to respectively ease the "cute" neighborhood remarks for her and any initial studio complaints he received. "Yeah, that's the actual level of rambling, cowboy / cardsharp -ism we're looking for with appealing anti-hero Bret Maverick, James. Ditch that Okie buried way too deep in Dust Bowl stuff." LOL [I only vaguely remember the changes he mentioned having to make as a Hollywood newbie back in the '50s, while watching the Tonight Show years ago.]
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I spent my childhood in the Southwest (after being born in Chicago and learning a Midwestern accent) and I thought Brett Maverick spoke like my neighbors: a mild version of a Southern accent.

    That's pretty much what an Arizona accent sounded like, 55 years ago.

    Actors have to be able to learn accents (phonetic differences) and even dialects (differences in grammar and vocabulary but still intercomprehensible). It comes with the job. There are lots of coaches who specialize in that, but to a certain extent the star has to have the skill to do it on his own.

    Some of these coaches are so good that they can teach the accent of a foreign language they don't speak.

    A New York lawyer was assigned to a client in Los Angeles, but the people there were wary of him. With Hollywood right around the corner he contacted a voice coach, who told him his main problem was that he spoke too fast, giving the AngeleƱos an unconscious feeling that he was trying to fool them. He slowed down and learned a few other tricks, and his career took off.
  11. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    I make too many Freudian slips whilst writing.
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    That's unusual. You usually realize what you've said after you say it. But when you write it you have a chance to go back and fix it.
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I've noticed that my writing self is truer to my nature than my speaking self - draws more from the stable whole, less apt to splinter from some temporary glitch or passing influence.

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