Talking vs writing

One reason writing is so much harder than talking is that the grammar used by writers is quite different from the grammar used by talkers, as you can see in the conversation below. All native speakers of any language have had enormous amounts of practice using the grammar of spoken language.

We’ve had far less practice using the grammar of written language.

A sample stretch of talk

…speakers are sitting at the dinner table talking about a car accident that happened to the father of one of the speakers

< speaker 1 >  I’ll just take that off. Take that off.
< speaker 2 >  All looks great.
< speaker 3 >  [laughs]
< speaker 2 >  Mm.
< speaker 3 >  Mm.
< speaker 2 >  I think your dad was amazed wasn’t he at the damage.
< speaker 4 >  Mm.
< speaker 2 >  It’s not so much the parts. It’s the labour charges for
< speaker 4 >  Oh that. For a car.
< speaker 2 >  Have you got hold of it?
< speaker 1 >  Yeah.
< speaker 2 >  It was a bit erm.
< speaker 1 >  Mm.
< speaker 3 >  Mm.
< speaker 2 >  A bit.
< speaker 3 >  That’s right.
< speaker 2 >  I mean they said they’d have to take his car in for two days. And he says All it is is straightening a panel. And they’re like, Oh no. It’s all new panel. You can’t do this.
< speaker 3 >  Any erm problem.
< speaker 2 >  As soon as they hear insurance claim. Oh. Let’s get it right.
< speaker 3 >  Yeah. Yeah. Anything to do with
< speaker 1 >  Wow.
< speaker 3 >  coach work is er
< speaker 1 >  Right.
< speaker 3 >  fatal isn’t it.
< speaker 1 >  Now.
from:  Teaching about talk – what do pupils need to know about spoken language and the important ways in which talk differs from writing? by Ron Carter

Linguist Jim Miller on talking vs writing.

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