1. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Written vs spoken vocabulary

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Tesoro, Mar 22, 2011.

    Lately, when writing, I have noticed that I seem to use the same words too many times, or having difficulties to find a better word than the first I come up with. But this seems strange because when I speak I actually have a good vocabulary and that makes me wonder if it is possible that the written and spoken vocabularies differ? Is it possible to find a wider range of words when talking but over-simplifying for yourself in writing, making the text seem at a lower level languagewise? And why do I do that? How can it be 'cured'? Has anyone else experienced this?
    AND dammit, why is it that I find it easier to come up with suitable words in english than in my own language? Now that I have been writing on here for a little while, Im aware of the shortcomings of the swedish language, we dont have as many words for the same things as you do. Does this mean I should switch to english in my writing too? :eek:
    HELP!
     
  2. FictionAddict
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    FictionAddict Senior Member

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    The very opposite happens to me. I have more vocabulary writing than speaking. I believe that's because with the former, I can always rely on dictionaries and the all powerful internet.

    I don't have a clue why you have more fluency speaking than writing, but to fix the latter you can look up for synonyms and related words in a thesaurus crossing the information with a good dictionary. Here's a link to a good one: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/

    About the last question... If you're feeling so comfortable with the English language and find it richer in therms of vocabulary, well, why not do the swiching already? In the beggining I was a little worried to write in a foreing language, but the more I do it, the more at ease with it I become.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    only if you want your writings to be published in english...
     
  4. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I wouldnt mind, ;) but maybe hoping for being translated into english is better. :) I have started a little exercise to extend my word knowledge a little, its quite fun actually. Let's see how it works out.
    Ps. Some day I WILL write something in english. I think its a beautiful language.
     
  5. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the others answered the main focus of your question, but I'm still a bit curious. Are you talking about expressing different dialects in writing?

    For example:

    "How are you?"

    "How y'all doing?"

    Both sentences have the same meaning, but sound a bit different.
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    No its more like Im using a lower educational level in my writing than in the speaking, having a less extensive vocabulary. Like, using fewer words to describe things which makes it sound that im repeating myself all the time. Even though I sure know these words when speaking or reading, I guess I haven't used them in writing before, so I have to start to include them in my own writing, hehe. I guess we all have an active and a passive vocabulary; there are lots of words we know even though we never use them actively.
     
  7. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Huh. I'm also the other way around.

    However, yours has a much easier fix - just say out loud the things you want to write, because if the words come better to you as you spontaneously say them, that that's where you should be trying to find them. :)
     
  8. Norule
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    Norule Member

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    I have the opposite problem. I can write with a much wider vocabulary then i can speak.

    And i have the exact same thing with swedish/english I write much better in English then i do in Swedish. So much so that I almost failed my Swedish class in the writing part. While the comments on my writing in English (from my English as first language teacher) was things like this is the best piece Ive ever read from a student.

    So i dont know either Swedish is a launguage with very limited capabilities becuase of how narrow our modern vocabulary is or Swedish people in general are so influenced by everyhting around us is in English (TV,Books,music). Combined with the large focus on English in school making it almost as much our first language as Swedish.
     
  9. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, spoken and written language do differ, in vocabulary and grammar. This is a fairly modern field of research (it's only been much pursued since the advent of computers) but it's something that writers with sensitive ears have known all along. If you are really interested in the subject, try to get hold of a copy of the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. It prints headwords in red if they are in the 3000 most common spoken or written words, and indicates whether they are in the top 1000, 2000 or 3000 spoken or written. So I can tell at a glance that "detailed" is in the top 2000 written words but not even in the top 3000 spoken, and that "please" is in the top 1000 spoken words but only in the top 2000 written. I have a slightly old edition that only cost me £4 from the discount counter in the bookshop.
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nice to have another swedish POV:) English definitely is a more descriptive & complete language. Even finding a word for 'descriptive' in swedish that sounds like something you would acually say (saying that english is more 'beskrivande' sounds a little tame and doesn't even give the meaning/feeling I wanted) is not easy. There are so many words in english to which you could find a more or less accurate translation but somehow they dont cover all of the significance, they dont hold the same intensity. And I was pretty confused when realizing this about my own vocabulary because I always thought too that I had less difficulties to express myself in writing rather than speaking, but I guess that had more to do with getting my thoughts out and explaining my feelings and ideas, it's not about the actual words that I use.

    That sounds interesting, I will look for that one in the bookstores. thanks for the tips. :)
     

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