Skip to content

Spoken Language Features Essay Writing

Features of Spoken Language That Are Significantly Different From Written Language

2395 Words10 Pages

This paper serves as an introductory investigation into the grammar of spoken English. More specifically, this paper will analyze selected features of spoken language which are significantly different from written language or features of spoken language not found in written language. The features analyzed also have a high rate of occurrence in the spoken language. The ultimate goal of this investigation is the development of English Language Teaching materials which will address the features detailed.

What is the hallmark of fluency? Certainly no one is ever judged as fluent without showing competence in the production of acceptably fluent speech. Standard English is not a widely spoken variety; it is mostly…show more content…

For this paper, I have chosen to investigate some features of the spoken language which are highly common in the conversation register or are typically exclusive to the spoken language. First, I will discuss some of the high frequency lexical verbs in the spoken language, both single and multi-word. Next, I will investigate lexical bundles which commonly occur in the spoken language. Lastly, I will present some smaller units which occur frequently in spoken language and serve purposes which are not typically used in writing.

The Usual Suspects
Despite the huge number of verbs available in the English language, there are a small number of verbs which occur with a relatively high frequency in conversation. Here I am only considering lexical verbs as opposed to auxiliary or modal verbs, which are also common, albeit for different reasons. Of all the single-word lexical verbs, get is the most frequently used in the spoken register, and it is also the single most common verb in any register with more than 9000 occurrences per million words. In addition to its high frequency, get also has a wide range of uses. It can be used when referring to obtaining something, moving to or away from something, causing something to move or happen, changing from one state to another, or understanding something.
Say is the most common verb over all registers, and it is one of the next most frequent

Show More

In a critical essay you should be able to write about key language features used in novels, short stories, plays and poems. Here's a reminder of what they are and how they work:

  • Alliteration

    the first letter of a word is repeated in words that follow; the cold, crisp, crust of clean, clear ice.

  • Assonance

    the same vowel sound is repeated but the consonants are different; he passed her a sharp, dark glance, shot a cool, foolish look across the room.

  • Colloquial

    language that is used in speech with an informal meaning; 'chill', 'out of this world', 'take a rain check'.

  • Dialect

    the version of language spoken by particular people in a particular area, such as Scots.

  • Dialogue

    conversation between two people; sometimes an imagined conversation between the narrator and the reader. This is important in drama and can show conflict through a series of statements and challenges, or intimacy where characters mirror the content and style of each other's speech. It can also be found in the conversational style of a poem.

  • Dissonance

    a discordant combinations of sounds; the clash, spew and slow pang of grinding waves against the quay.

  • Enjambment

    a device used in poetry where a sentence continues beyond the end of the line or verse. This technique is often used to maintain a sense of continuation from one stanza to another.

  • Hyperbole

    exaggerating something for literary purposes which is not meant to be taken literally; we gorged on the banquet of beans on toast.

  • Imagery

    similes, metaphors and personification; they all compare something 'real' with something 'imagined'.

  • Irony

    the humorous or sarcastic use of words or ideas, implying the opposite of what they mean.

  • Metaphor

    a word or phrase used to imply figurative, not literal or 'actual', resemblance; he flew into the room.

  • Monologue

    an uninterrupted monologue can show a character's importance or state of mind. Monologue can be in speech form, delivered in front of other characters and having great thematic importance, or as a soliloquy where we see the character laying bare their soul and thinking aloud.

  • Onomatopoeia

    a word that sounds like the noise it is describing: 'splash', 'bang', 'pop', 'hiss'.

  • Oxymoron

    Where two words normally not associated are brought together: 'cold heat' 'bitter sweet'.

  • Pathos

    language that evokes feelings of pity or sorrow.

  • Personification

    attributing a human quality to a thing or idea: the moon calls me to her darkened world.

  • Repetition

    the repetition of a word or phrase to achieve a particular effect.

  • Rhyme

    the way that words sound the same at the end of lines in poetry. Poems often have a fixed rhyme-scheme (for example, sonnets have 14 lines with fixed rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG). Try to comment as to what contribution the rhyme-scheme is making to the text as a whole. Why do you think the poet has chosen it? Does it add control or imitate the ideas in the poem?

  • Rhythm

    a repetitive beat or metre within a poem. Tennyson's poem The Lady of Shallot uses a strong internal rhythm to build up the sense of unrelenting monotony in the poem:

    There she weaves by night and dayA magic web with colours gay. She has heard a whisper say, A curse is on her if she stay To look down to Camelot. She knows not what the curse may be, And so she weaveth steadily, And little other care hath she, The Lady of Shalott.

  • Simile

    a phrase which establishes similarity between two things to emphasise the point being made. This usually involves the words 'like' or 'as'; 'he is as quick as an arrow in flight', 'as white as snow', 'like a burning star'.

  • Symbolism

    often objects, colours, sounds and places work as symbols. They can sometimes give us a good insight into the themes. So, snakes are often symbols of temptation as in the story of Adam and Eve, white usually symbolises innocence and a ringing bell can be a symbol for impending doom.

  • Tone

    the writer's tone or voice or atmosphere or feeling that pervades the text, such as sadness, gloom, celebration, joy, anxiety, dissatisfaction, regret or anger. Different elements of writing can help to create this; long sentences or verses, with assonance (repeated vowel sounds), tend to create a sad, melancholic mood. Short syllabic, alliterative lines can create an upbeat, pacy atmosphere.

  • Word choice

    sometimes called 'register', this is the common thread in an author's choice of language. Authors may use words commonly associated with religion, words describing sensory experience such as touch, smell or colour or 'mood' words that reflect a character's state of mind.