Messages Archive

Re: Writing and Speaking Differ

Mark Mandell - Gone Round In New Jersey
Those located within a given geographic area develop dialects and a core of idioms and colloquialisms that form shortcuts to cover information or put terms in context for those of common experience. Move outside the area and the communication often fails, leading to misunderstandings; one man's complement may be an insult to another. I had a friend from Scotland whose brogue was so thick he had trouble getting ideas through to others. In time he had to "learn" to sort of dumb-down his accent. His written English was, however, always flawless.

Conversely, written language is used to convey ideas and information to a wider range of potential readers without regard to their particular dialect. Loading print up with dialect not only complicates clear communication, but it also limits the number of readers who will take the time to consider what is being "said." If I send a note expressing forgiveness, questioning an anticipated result, or agreeing to do something, I want the thought to be clear and easily understood. I could, of course, just send "faghedaboudit" and hope the recipient is familiar with the idiom and the context. Saw a comedy routine where two guys purported to hold a conversation with only the word "dude." With the vocal inflections and body language, there was actually a lot of communication perceived to be taking place. Can't do that in print. Spoken language carries far more information than the mere words used. Typing out the phonetics robs the dialect of most of its information.

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