In what ways does written language differ from spoken language in its relationship to knowledge?

6 June 2016

The terms written and spoken have two completely different definitions, the word written means language that can be traced onto paper and read, whereas the word spoken is language that can be expressed through speech and is generally heard once without the use of such things as recordings. Knowledge can be acquired from these two different types of language, in different ways depending on how a person learns and also which area of knowledge the language is being conveyed in. Written and spoken language are expressed in different ways and neither one can be above the other, in a hierarchical scale, in terms of the knowledge being gained. This will be explored through the investigation of which expression of language works best under each area of knowledge and why.

When writing a paper, most people want it to sound formal and complex to the point where a person could feel challenged while reading it, and maybe have to reread for a full understanding and this is what written language is, an ability to be able to reread is a skill that is quite often necessary when reading papers or books. For example, in my English class at the moment we are studying poetry and as many people have noticed, a poem can be hard to analyze if rereading it is not an option. Poems have many meanings, especially if you read into the subtext and find pieces of the authors life wrapped up inside the text. Reading these pieces just once would not give the poem any meaning, and the surface level may only just be scraped. If someone gave a speech with the same skill, it would not be effective in the slightest because rereading or sometimes even listening again, is not an option.

In what ways does written language differ from spoken language in its relationship to knowledge? Essay Example

The complex language used in pieces of literature is not the same complex language used in speeches and presentations. This could bring up the knowledge issue of how can we determine if language is too complex to be heard or too simple to be written? Fiona Hoffman from Hamilton College said, “What is more effective in most speaking situations is what is called oral style.”(Hoffman, “Spoken vs. Written Language”), oral style is basically the way we speak to others, and there are many ways we should, that gives others the knowledge that we withhold. Some are, using more personal pronouns, sentence fragments and repetition of words(Hoffman, “Spoken vs. Written Language”). Using the techniques of both written and spoken language, we are able to convey a sense of knowing throughout the areas of knowledge.

In the areas of knowledge of mathematics and natural science the written language seems to be more practical because it is so involved with specific numbers and examples that reading over the usage of them is the only way a person can completely understand. My mathematics book is set up in a way that it explains the concept, gives an example and then gives practice problems, this is the way that most books are set up and it really aids the student utilizing it because you can either read the explanation or focus on the example, or if you are like me, do both. Although I may understand the concept when I read it once, that does not mean I could repeat it without going back to the concept, I always have to look back up and plug in the practice numbers to deliver a correct answer.

If the teacher had given these examples to me through speech, the concept would have been confusing because it is more concerned with memorizing the way in which a problem is solved, it is based on reason rather than the ways of knowing of sense perception and emotion and this is why there is more memorization and application. Reason is generally not an opinion, and focuses more on the facts, and these facts need to be memorized or taught so that they are implanted into ones brain and many believe that the only way to do this is review and read up on the topics(Baez, “How to Learn Math and Physics”). Arguments could be made that Mathematics involves all of the Ways of Knowing because of how we interpret the problems and the way we go about them, but both of these arguments utilize reason much more than emotion and sense perception. We do have to use all of them if we are going to have a balanced subject area, but one usually dominates the others and I believe in this situation it is reason.

With the Natural Sciences it is the same concept but even more memorization is involved especially in the fields of Chemistry and Physics because of the many formulas and how it is not up for interpretation. This brings up the knowledge issue of to what extent can we interpret areas of knowledge? I believe that there is some emotion involved in Science and Mathematics but it is not to the extent that The Arts portrays, for example Newtons Laws of Motion are not interpreted laws, they are facts and if you were to challenge them the result would always be that the Laws of Motion are valid. Some may counteract these claims and state that reason could be classified as an opinion because it is ones way of being able to decide, but do we not have to base the deciding factor upon the facts? Factual information is the basis of of the area of the natural sciences and remembering these facts and equations is the best way to gain the knowledge of the subject, so written language would be the most practical way to go about learning.

Learning through speech is a system of being able to listen and retain the information you are listening to. In the Area of The Arts, speech can work better than written language because of the many ways of interpretation emotion, and using writing may not do the emotion any justice at all. When reading poetry you realize that even if the words were not right in front of you, a meaning could still be expressed. A sense of imagery could come about you, and the poem that is being spoken could be pictured in your head.

The reader can explain their point of view, and yours could be the same, altered or you could express your completely different one and all three are able to stay in your head as knowledge that was gained. It is the emotion behind the poem that helps the knowledge stick, Dr McPherson stated, “Latest research suggests that it is the emotions aroused, not the personal significance of the event, that makes such events easier to remember.”(McPherson, “The Role of Emotion in Memory”). The Arts is an area that is focused mainly on emotion and this, as stated above, is how people remember much of the detail through listening to a person speak about it. This may not always be true, which is why some may disagree and say that the area does not provide them with emotion, therefore they cannot remember details through speech. This counter argument aids my point because by saying that one can cannot remember because there is no emotion involved , means that if they had that emotional connection, knowledge could be gained through that speech.

History is an area that could go both ways, because the more you want to learn about History, the easier it is to gain the knowledge necessary. It is a subject more focused on Language and Sense Perception than Emotion and Reason, because History involves the way that we look at events and how they happened, there is also room for some interpretation too. Listening to a person explain their view on an event could affect yours and, when an impact is made, remembering the facts is easier. For example, in high school I have taken two different Humanities classes and the way that the content was delivered impacted the way I completed my work.

The teacher that delivered his thoughts through a monotone voice, made me realize that I needed to read the material and memorize it to gain a better grade because the way that the speech was delivered did not make any impact on me at all. The teacher that delivered the content through interaction and excitement, had me interested and engaged in the conversation and reading did not make as much of an impact because the speech already had.

To write something down and to speak something aloud could be similar actions, but when the variable of knowledge is involved it changes the whole situation. Knowledge is something that we, as human beings, deem necessary for survival and we like to pick the easiest way to gain that knowledge. Spoken Language is a valid way to gain knowledge, but it is usually tied in with emotion and interpretation which is why it works best with The Arts. Written Language ties in with Reason mainly, and this is because Reason is something we usually memorize and when something is written it can be reread as many times as one wants. They are both valid ways to gain information but the way we use them is what changes, and this is greatly connected to the Area of Knowledge that is involved.

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