Similarities Between Spoken Language and Written Language

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What is Spoken Language?

Spoken language is a language that is used by articulately producing different sounds. This is the first type of language that every person encounters and learns, while also being the first form of communication between humans. All the information was usually transferred only verbally, from one generation to the next, but at one point during the evolution, there was the need to preserve that information. This had been achieved through the formation of written language.

There are some minor ambiguities in the term spoken language. Mainly, whether spoken language includes some “silent” non-written languages, such as the sign language (mostly used for communication with deaf people). Some linguists argue that the sign language isn’t a spoken language, and make a distinction between vocal languages (which are a type of a spoken language) and sign languages. There are, of course, others who disagree with that and believe that any sign language is also a spoken language. It’s an open problem in linguistics that sparked many interesting debates so far. The ambiguity itself doesn’t affect the relationship between spoken and written languages or their similarities, so it can be overlooked in this case.

Similarities Between Spoken and Written Language

What is Written Language?

As I mentioned above, at a certain point in time during the evolution of humans, there was a need to preserve some information. This led to the invention of different symbols, each representing either a specific term or a specific vocal. This led to the further development of symbolic or phonetic languages, but they each fundamentally served the same purpose – to represent something that was stated using spoken language and preserve it in the form of a series of symbols. Later on, different grammatical rules started forming, dictating how those symbols could be arranged and combined, and the grammar itself also evolved with time, following the changes in spoken language. As people started talking differently, the change in spoken language would become widespread, ultimately forcing written language to be changed accordingly so as to follow the change in spoken language.

Similarities between Spoken Language and Written Language

Since written language is basically a visual representation of spoken language, they really serve the same purpose – to transfer information from one person to another. However, if something stated using spoken language was transcribed directly into written language, the form would be weird, or even incorrect, and there would be the use of slang, or repetition of certain phrases, and other constructs that exist and are common in spoken language but aren’t acceptable in written language. Also, when trying to transfer information using written language, a lot more time is allotted to the formation of sentences and their order, so something that was written down would actually have a defined structure, while spoken language is a lot more spontaneous.

Apart from that, these two types of language are fairly similar:

  • They both serve the same purpose

That is, to transfer information.

  • They both undergo the same changes

When a new term is introduced, it first starts being used verbally, becoming a part of spoken language, and, shortly after, it becomes introduced in its written form, becoming part of written language.

  • There is a strict correlation between them

Exact rules govern how you should read something that is written down, as well as how you should write down something that was spoken, so it’s easy to go from one language to the other.


Overall, spoken language does have a sort of “priority”, regarding how it first introduces and dictates changes, while written language only serves to preserve the information transferred via spoken language, practically following in its footsteps. It was invented later, and it undergoes any possible changes after they happen to spoken language. On the other hand, something that is written down usually contains a well-defined inner structure, making it easier to understand and follow, while something said in spoken language is usually spontaneous and not structured at all.

Author: Dr. Howard Fields

Dr. Howard is a Clinical Psychologist and a Professional Writer and he has been partnering with patients to create positive change in their lives for over fifteen years. Dr. Howard integrates complementary methodologies and techniques to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each patient.

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