The Modes of Language
Good morning, everyone!
In our last lecture, I was talking about language as part of our semiotic system.
And today I am going to move on to another topic, that is, the modes of language.
As you may know, messages are transmitted in human language most frequently through two primary modes: speech and writing.
Well, you know, there is also a third mode, which is not that frequently used as speech and writing.
The third mode is called signing, which is used by deaf people.
But in today's lecture, we will just focus on speech and writing, and the specific features of these two modes.
In linguistics, it is commonly noted that speech is primary and writing secondary.
Linguistics take this position because all languages are spoken except those dead languages such as Latin, which is only existent in written form.
All children will naturally acquire the spoken version of a language if they are exposed to it.
They acquire the spoken form of their mother tongue during the formative period of language acquisition.
However, to become literate, a child will need some kind of formal schooling in reading and writing.
In many respects, we might call speech "primary" and writing "secondary".
It implies that writing has a second-class status when compared with speech.
In fact, it is more accurate to view the two modes as having different but complementary roles.
For instance, in most legal systems, while an oral contract is legally binding, a written contract is preferred.
The reason is simple—unlike speech, writing provides a permanent record of the contract.
Thus, if the terms of the contract are disputed, the written record of the contract can be consulted and interpreted.
Disputes over an oral contract will involve one person's recollection of the contract versus another person's.