28-29) describes how spoken language and written language have traditionally been seen as entirely different variations, each with their own set of rules. He explains that speech is “time-bound, dynamic and transient”, and most often occurs in face to face situations where there is both the chance to use non-verbal means like facial expressions and gestures, and the opportunity for speakers to modify their output depending on reactions coming from the listener. Written language, on the other hand, is “space-bound, static and permanent” and it is more formal because the writer does not always the person or persons who will be reading it, and must make more effort to clarify the context and anticipate what the reader might be thinking. This traditional view of language sees spoken language as more suited to emotional expressions in a social context, and written language more suited to factual purposes such as recording information or learning about something.
When we look at examples of spoken language it is clear that grammar rules are used less rigorously, and there is more tolerance of errors, contractions, imperfect sentence structures, for example someone might say Think it’ll work? and the answer might be No way! The full written version of these sentences would be Do you think it will work? and No, there is no way that this could work! or No, I can think of no way in which this would work! The subject of the sentence is obvious in the spoken context, and the tone of voice conveys that there is a question and answer routine going on here, whereas in a written text these elements need to be made clear for the reader.
An interesting study by Barron (2000) looks at the way all language develops and changes as new technologies arrive, for example when manuscripts gave way to printing in fifteenth century England there was immediately a much greater volume of written material available, and also a need for standardization. (Barron, 2000, p.57)