Last Updated 22 Jun 2020

Features of Spoken Language

Category Language
Essay type Research
Words 1286 (5 pages)
Views 428

There are many aspects of spoken language that I have used in my home. When I am speaking to a person with a higher position is society, I will greatly vary my speech in terms of my vocabulary and even reduce or abolish the use of less formal features such as fillers and acronyms. However whilst I am conversing with a person of my age or a similar position in society, I will greatly use informal features such as tag questions and ellipsis.

In my informal conversation with the plumber, I have used an array of spoken language features such as acronyms, hedge words and even ellipsis however on the other hand, whilst conversing with my father, I have employed covert prestige so that he understands me better. In addition I believe that spoken language is different from written language because most written language is intended to be read by someone who is separated from the writer in space and time. Therefore to communicate successfully, it has to be a lot more explicit than spoken language used in a face to face conversation.

Although some written genres such as texts and e-mails are very similar to spoken language, in general written language is more dense in the sense that bigger words are used in smaller spaces and it also uses more subordinate clauses and has less redundancy words like ''sort of'', ''like'', ''you know'', ''yeah? '' which are dominantly found in spoken language. Spoken language tends to be full of repetitions, incomplete sentences, corrections and interruptions, with the exception of formal speeches etc.

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Also, Writers receive no immediate feedback from their readers, except in computer-based communication. Therefore they cannot rely on context to clarify things so there is more need to explain things clearly and unambiguously than in speech, except in written correspondence between people who know one another well. On the other hand, speech is usually a dynamic interaction between two or more people. Context and shared knowledge play a major role, so it is possible to leave much unsaid or indirectly implied. There are many factors that affect the way I speak or my idiolect.

I think that I speak in a slightly informal way and use a lot of slang vocabulary in my speech. This might be related to my family background and also because I come from an under-privileged position in the society where people tend to place a greater emphasis on delivering the message than focusing on the presentation. In addition, my background and lifestyle also affects my idiolect because, I come from an ordinary working class background where, people are not formally educated, so they tend to used words that are not complicated because a person’s speech usually reflects upon their education.

My personal experiences also affect my idiolect in the sense that I am a very sporty person and love games by heart. This tends to affect my vocabulary because I use a lot of technical terms which an uneducated person might not understand straightaway furthermore, I have only been attending school since year 5, this places me in a very difficult position because I sometimes cannot find words that match my emotions because I have not been educated up to a high standard. My friends also influence my idiolect because I tend to socialise with people that have a similar intellect and interests as me.

This greatly affects my vocabulary because we use similar terminology that a different person might not understand. In addition, my vocabulary is greatly affected by my interests too, for example when I read a book; I will try to incorporate the words into my speech so that I will have more breadth of words and lingo. I have recorded myself conversing with two different people that have different positions in society and are also educated to different levels. This greatly affected the topics that we spoke about and also affected the vocabulary I used.

In the informal transcript with the plumber we are discussing about the replacement of a pipe and a tap, on the other hand the formal conversation with my dad was about going to a football match. Both of the conversations follow Grice’s maxims in the sense that the replies are short and have a good manner. However, the structure of the conversation is very different because in one I am more comfortable and open up and in the other, I need to persuade my father so I need to use my best vocabulary in order to be manipulative.

Whilst looking at the transcript with the plumber in an informal situation, I immediately realise that I have a tendency to talk and give suggestions whilst the other person is still speaking, this is evident in the transcript because the topic of discussion was very mundane and did not contain anything educational so I felt that there was nothing for me to learn so why not present a quick reaction and agree with what the other person is saying. This adds emphasis to the point that peers do not mind if they are cut in between because of the informality of the situation.

It also suggests that the two peers share a bond in the sense that they do not mind and will forgive the other person who has intruded in what they were saying. This might suggest that the people who usually employ such methods come from a background where this is seen as acceptable whereas formally educated people or people with a higher position in society will usually wait for their turn until the other person has finished speaking and follow the feature of turn taking which is evident in the formal transcript because it is seen as impolite to interrupt.

People usually look down upon a person who employs this tactic because the person assumes a higher intellect than the person they interrupt because they don’t wait for them to finish their sentence, people who employ this technique might also come off as over-confident or over-smart. As the situation was very informal and relaxed, we could relate and form a bond of compassion where I do not need to be overly formal or employ formal features such as Standard English because we can relate in terms of background etc.

This proves the point that I was able to successfully manipulate my speech depending on the situation and the person who I am speaking with. In addition to having lots of interruptions, the informal conversation contains lots of acronyms and initialisations such as “I gotta leave ASAP” and “LOL, that’s funny cos’ my friend goes to Copland”. This suggests that the situation is very hasty and I have employed this feature in my speech to reduce the time it takes to deliver a message.

By, using “ASAP” in my speech, I was able to emphasise the hastiness of the situation and was also able to show wariness of the change in language over time. I have employed this feature because I would like to fit in with the way my peers speak to avoid social exclusion where no-one understands what I am trying to imply. This feature is extensively used in my and the plumber’s idiolect for convenience because we would like to deliver a longer message in a shorter amount of time without losing the importance of the message.

In formal situations, people will usually keep acronyms as their last resort because it shows that a person is too lazy to finish their sentence which might be perceived as not being confident enough. However, it shows that a person is aware and embraces change in the English language, for example people who use Received Pronunciation, can be seen as ignorant or unaware of the changes that English has had to suit convenience.

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Features of Spoken Language. (2017, Apr 29). Retrieved from

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