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Speech vs. Writing (was Re: Chinese writing systems)

From:Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>
Date:Monday, November 4, 2002, 11:17
Mat McVeagh wrote:
> I guess in conclusion I am a 'speechist', I believe speech is primary over > writing.
I used to be. Now, I see them as co-equal, or with speech as being possibly a little more important than writing. The two are distinct media. Some reasons against pure pro-speech bias: Writing is generally one-way, speech is generally two-way; thus writing must be clearer than speech, because there is no chance to clear up misunderstandings. Speech usually has a specific audience, rarely more than 2 or 3 people (excepting things like prepared speeches), while writing is often to an unspecific audience, thus one can rely more on context in speech, having shared knowledge with the listener As a corollary, homophones should be distinguished if some dialects distinguish them. For example, I pronounce "pen" and "pin" the same way. If I'm speaking to a person who has the same homophony, they will be used to that homophony (and hence, to looking for context to disambiguate), but if I'm speaking to someone who pronounces them differently, they may not, and thus there's more chance of confusion. I could clarify if I'm speaking to them ("No, I mean, like, a pen that you write with"); one is used to using context to disambiguate the homophones of one's own dialect, but less so for other dialects. Writing is generally long-term; speech is usually ephemeral. Writing allows some things that are impossible in speech (tables, for example) I could come up with more, but it's 5 in the morning here, and I should've been in bed long ago. :-) In summary, speech and writing are two different, tho related, forms of communication, and neither can be said to be dependent on the other. -- "There's no such thing as 'cool'. Everyone's just a big dork or nerd, you just have to find people who are dorky the same way you are." - overheard ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-Name: NikTaylor42