Friday, 10 August 2012

Do we speak how we write?

Somewhere between smothering myself in Olbus Oil (a desperate attempt to placate yet another sinus infection) and slipping into the land of sleep last night, I found myself analysed in a way I was entirely unprepared for.

One of my best friends Steve is currently studying Creative Writing at Uni with aspirations of one day becoming a writer himself. He's pretty damn freaking good and, as a result of this I'm always keen to glean an insight into his critiques and compliments in relation to my own ramblings. On this occasion however, he surprised me entirely by not only analysing what I'd written (and telling me off for starting a sentence with and -Sorry!) but through what I'd written, analysing me as a whole.

Call me naive but despite two years of studying English language and Literature in what seemed at the time painful detail, I had no idea how much about a person you can decipher through their writing. Focusing his attention on my previous post I think it's fair to say Steve hit the metaphorical nail on the head throughout the entirety of his little Sarah review.

For example, I know I am prone to writing in a rather lyrical way - I adore the flow of words and I'm a great lover of alliteration. My English teacher once infact informed me that 'you write a paragraph when you require a sentence' but it seems a habit that I cannot shake. Steve noted, however, in reality I rarely speak like this - of course there are occasions when my inner poetic goddess (really, who am I kidding?!) decides to emerge, but in general I tend to verbalise in a much more paired down manner than this blog would perhaps suggest. Why, however is very much debatable. My expert linguistic analyser suggested a lack of self belief, which I think many despairing relatives who encourage me to have more confidence in my endeavours would eagerly agree with. However, whilst I hold my hands up to a large degree of inadequacy and self doubt, I also perhaps wonder if it's a mere result of practicality?

In this day and age text speak rules supreme. Coz like LOL YOLO. A slightly more 'old fashioned' manner of speaking is somewhat alien and sounds downright odd in amongst a sea of abbreviations and slang. In my head, however, I'm free to speak however I want and a little old fashioned flavour is favourable in my writing. Could this be the difference?

Flipping this example on it's head it's commonplace for one to adapt the way they speak to fit in with differing occasions. You only have to look at other languages where entire terms off address are changed completely depending upon who it is you're talking to, your relationship with them and their position of authority. Do we merely adjust the way we speak / write and even think depending on circumstance? Or does it run much deeper than that?

I'm entirely curious, despite only touching on the briefest section of the analysis Steve offered me, it has awoken in me some curiosity that spawned this blog post. I'm eager to hear what you think? Do you write exactly as you speak, or do you tweak one or the other? If so, for what reason? I'd love to hear from you.

In your own words of course. None edited.


Sarah Flight said...

I personally think it depends on the person. My school teachers were always telling me that I write like I speak which was a bad thing, until I pointed out that I actually speak quite well. I do take pleasure in talking in a way that I think is "proper" and particularly "english" but sometimes when there are others around I tend to let that slip a bit for fear of sounding like an idiot. For example my partner is from Liverpool and his whole family thought the way I talk was absolutely hilarious, however they are much more relaxed in every aspect than what I have been taught. When going out for a meal with them they laughed at me for sitting and waiting for everyone else's food to arrive before tucking in. I think we do/can change the way we speak and talk depending on who we are around and how confident we feel in certain situations, but the same can be said about actions and general behaviour.

Unknown said...

Sarah - I completely agree, some people think, speak and write instinctively, others can debate what to say, how to say it and even if to say it at all for hours? I think it's incredibly interesting to look into. I'm the same actually, I pride myself on talking 'well' and having decent articulation (most of the time!) but I too ease up on it. It's definitely interesting. I think culture plays a massive part in it, like you say in Liverpool you might feel a little 'posh' compared to how they perhaps speak but then I'm sure if we joined the royals for a day we'd feel ridiculously common? It's so odd and interesting. Thanks so much for your insight! xo

Anonymous said...

I prefer to write the whole word instead of abbreviations. Maybe that's me getting old tho...
But my vocab is a bit weird anyway... I.e. I prefer the word 'charver' for chav; I say Scottish tems all the time (aye, och, barns, cannae, etc) - better than being used to general English words?

I much rather like my vocab; mind you I could call people from my town charvers right now, thanks to an article in today's newspaper....

Unknown said...

Jules - I have a terrible habbit for using abbreviations! Your vobac is intrguing! x0

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