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Thread: Comparing texts

  1. #1
    kmcn8098 Guest

    Default Comparing texts

    I just wondered whether anyone could offer me some guidance with regards to the following problem my Linguistics class have been given:
    Wallace Chafe has argued that academic writing is characterised by a high degree of 'integration' or
    compactness, compared with the fragmentation of spoken language, and that it is characterised by
    'detachment', a lower degree of involvement, that is, of collaborating with the audience to make
    sense of a text. His conclusions are discussed by Deborah Tannen (1982). (The article is on Special
    Reserve in electronic form).
    Tannen, Deborah (1982). "Oral and literate strategies in spoken and written narratives." Language
    58(1): 1-21
    I want to write a short essay (750 - 1000 words) on the differences between written
    academic English and spoken English, discussing Chafe's and Tannen's ideas and using the data
    provided below. As part of this, I need to consider the use of the active and passive in both texts,
    and of nominalisations, as well as any other differences between the two texts you think important.
    -an appendix listing for each text:
    1. all passive participles used
    2. all noun phrases which contain prepositional phrases
    3. a phrase structure tree for the clause: But writing also has its 'phatic' functions, which seem to be
    increasing, as suggested by the expanding business of producing cards to mark special occasions
    4. a phrase structure tree for the sentence But you can also write things down to tell people what
    you feel about them, and people seem to be doing this more, and maybe this is because people are
    producing more cards to mark special occasions
    TEXT 1
    The relative permanence of written language makes it ideally suited for such functions as recording facts and communicating ideas. But these days talking books for the blind, libraries of recorded sounds, and other ideas are providing alternatives.

    Letters and messages for distant contacts used to be written. Nowadays, they can also be spoken - thanks to tape cassettes, telephone answering machines, radio phone-ins, and other such developments.

    The immediacy of speech makes it ideal for social or 'phatic' functions. But writing also has its 'phatic' functions, which seem to be increasing, as suggested by the expanding business of producing cards to mark special occasions - birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, examination results, passing (or failing) a driving test, and many more.

    However, when it comes to tasks of memory and learning, speech is no substitute for writing. Written records are easier to keep and scan. Written tables and figures readily demonstrate relationships between things. Written notes and lists provide an immediate mnemonic. Written explanations can be read often, at individual speeds, until they are understood.

    TEXT 2
    If you write something down it can last a long time, and so writing helps you record facts and get ideas across to other people. But these days you can do the same things in other ways - you can record books on tape for blind people, you can build libraries of sounds.

    We used to write letters to people who lived far away. Nowadays, we can speak to them - thanks to tape cassettes, telephone answering machines, radio phone-ins, and other such developments.

    Because we speak to people directly with no time-lag, speaking is ideal when we want to interact normally with people and tell them what you feel. But you can also write things down to tell people what you feel about them, and people seem to be doing this more, and maybe this is because people are producing more cards to mark special occasions - birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, examination results, passing (or failing) a driving test, and many more.

    But if you want to remember something or if you want to learn something, it is much better to write it down than to say it. It is easier to keep stuff that you have written down, and it is easier to scan it. Written tables and figures help you see if things are related. Written notes and lists help jog your memory. And if someone explains something in writing, you can read it again and again at your own pace until you have understood it,


    Any assistance and comments would be greatly appreciated as I am in first year Linguistics at university and am feeling a little overwhelmed. I really like the course and feel that with a little guidance I will be able to fully apply my efforts to this task. Thankyou so much.
    Kelly Mcnamara

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Comparing texts

    But these days talking books for the blind,... The use of 'but' rather than 'however' is, in these terms, more engaging with the reader; the phrase 'these days' is an informal one- it has no specific reference
    other ideas are providing- normally not used in the progressive form formally, so it's another example of making the text more familiar.
    This is not a very heavy academic written text, so I'm not sure that it provides enough to show very much- the use of 'used to be written' instead of 'people used to write' doesn't persuade me that there's much going on here in these terms. It's a text that you might see in an academic context, but that doesn't make it an academic text, IMO.


    However, I must declare a bias- I can't stand Deborah Tannen; I think she has based her career on anectodal and poorly analysed coffee table examples that she has tried to extend into a theory based more on preconception than fact.
    Last edited by Tdol; 11-May-2005 at 13:30.

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