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Speech and Writing



Interest in spoken language as an area of linguistic investigation is recent. In the past, speech was considered as an inferior version of writing: less polished, full of errors and hesitations, unstable and not worthy to study. The situation has been reversed and speech is now considered worth serious linguistic analysis and it is the primary form of language. But most people still consider written language as true language. For example, Biber thinks that children need to study English at school, which includes written composition and rules of writing, not speech. Immigrant children are fluent in conversation but they are not literate in English, so they don't know English. Speech has linguistic primacy but writing is given social priority by most people in western cultures.
But speech is certainly primary if we consider that we all learn to speak long before we learn to write and that there are languages which are only oral.
Speech and writing are different systems and both deserve attention.

di Melissa Gattoni
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