Email: like speech? writing? both? neither?


Features of spoken language

1.   time-bound

(both participants are present, and the speaker has a particular addressee in mind)

2.   spontaneous

(not much advance planning)

3.   face to face

(can rely on extralinguistics, deictics like this, here, today)

4.   loosely structured

5.   socially interactive

(pass the time > info; extralinguistics good to convey subtle social nuances)

6.   immediately revisable (but non retractable)

7.   prosodically rich.


Features of written language

1.   space-bound

(unchanging, writer distant from the unknown reader, can be referred to/cited later)

2.   contrived

(has to be crafted to be intelligible to unknown readers).

3.   visually decontextualized

(canít rely on context, deictics, intonation)

4.   elaborately structured

(subordination, parallelism, long sentences)

5.   factually communicative

(recording facts/memory, communicating ideas/learning; can be kept, read over)

6.   repeatedly revisable

(doesnít betray revisions, interruptions)

7.   graphically rich


1.   Both time bound (sort of) and space bound (but revisable, deletable)


2.   Variable spontaneous/contrived


3.   Visually decontextualized


4.   Variable loose/elaborate


5.   Factually communicative; can be socially interactive


6.   Repeatedly revisable (until you send it of)


7.   Neither prosodically nor graphically rich: DC argues that html/highlighting devices arenít (yet) standardized.