In some of his earlier papers the present writer tried to point out the principal differences existing between written language and spoken language from the structuralist point of view.1 The results of his examination may be summed up in the following definitions: Written language is a system of signs which can be manifested graphically and whose function is to respond to a given stimulus (which, as a rule, is not urgent) in a static way, i. ?., the response should be permanent (i.e., preservable), affording full comprehension as well as a clear survey of the facts conveyed, and stressing the intellectual side of the facts. On the other hand, spoken language is a system of signs that can be manifested acoustically and whose function is to respond to a given stimulus (which, as a rule, is urgent) in a dynamic way, i. ?., the response should be quick, ready, and stressing the emotional as well as the intellectual side of the facts concerned. Printed language was not treated of in the said papers, as it was regarded as a variant of written language; special features characterizing the variant were attributed to technical factors. But more careful insight into the matter discloses the fact that the difference between written and printed language is not confined to the technical means by which the graphical signs are realized; as a matter of fact, deeper linguistic differences are involved.
The differences become visible more clearly if spoken utterances are compared with what will conventionally be called here “written utterances” on one hand, and with what may be denoted as “printed utterances” on the other hand. 2 The comparison of spoken and written utterances naturally reveals important differences between the two types, which are due to differences of materials (acoustic or graphical, respectively) by means of which the language signs become manifested. As the most important of the differences may be mentioned (1) the two-dimensional (sometimes even three-dimensional) character of written utterances as opposed to the one-dimensional character of spoken utterances, and (2) the independence of written utterances of time as opposed to the indissolubly close union existing between time and spoken utterances (further details may be found in the second of the papers quoted in Note 1). The two differences just referred to are also characteristic of the relation existing between spoken and printed utterances. These differences, however, only cause to stand out more clearly an important conformity between spoken and written utterances, which does not exist between spoken and printed utterances. Any and every written and spoken utterance reflects the individuality of the utterer not only by its contents but also by what may be called its material form, that is to say, by the utterer’s personal habits of handwriting or pronunciation respectively. It means, practically, that every speaker has his or her own peculiar timbre of voice, a peculiar rhythm and velocity of speech by which he or she differs from all other speakers. Similarly, every writing person has his or her own peculiar slant of script, a peculiar way of joining the characters of script to one another, a peculiar ratio between larger and smaller characters of script, etc., which, again, distinguish him or her from all other writing persons. Contrary to this, printed utterances lack such individuality of material form, since diverse forms of handwriting have been replaced by the uniformity of printer’s types. In accordance with this, the author of a written utterance can often be recognized directly from the optical aspect of a single, arbitrarily chosen line of the utterance exactly as the author of a spoken utterance, even if he or she cannot be seen, can be recognized from the acoustic aspect of a couple of words overheard from the utterance. The author of a printed utterance, however, can be recognized only in an indirect way, that is to say, if his or her name can be inferred from the contents of the utterance or if it is expressly stated in the context or — as is oftener the case — at the beginning or end of the utterance. It should be pointed out that the former case can indeed be qualified as affording indirect recognition only because recognition in that case is reached in a roundabout way leading from the optical aspect of the word to its meaning which, in its turn, imparts the recognition, whereas in the case of a written utterance recognition is arrived at directly from the optical aspect of the word, without the mediation of meaning.
This ascertained fact leads to some consequences of general interest. According to the well-known thesis of KARL BUHLER, any linguistic utterance is charged with a treble function, that is to say with air (Kundgabe), appeal (Appell) and reference (Darstel- lung).3 The thesis should be applied, of course, to written and printed utterances as well, not to spoken utterances only, as generally happens. Once the application has been effected, a fundamental difference between written and printed utterances comes to light: in the former, the first of the two mentioned functions (air) may assert itself by primary means that are at the disposal of the utterance, whereas in the latter the primary means are unable to manifest it — in other words, printed language in comparison with written language, is short of one important feature. The other two functional aspects, appeal and reference, can be manifested by primary means both in written and in printed utterances (for the functional aspect of appeal, both kinds of utterances possess, of course, a much more limited scale of primary means than spoken utterances).
However important the above said difference between written and printed language may be, care must be taken lest too far- reaching consequences should be derived from it. As a matter of fact, written and spoken language coincide in a great majority of their features, and the definition of written language, as found in the opening lines of the present paper, holds good for both. The exact difference existing between written and printed language cannot be found in putting the question which of the two deviates from the above mentioned definition but rather which of the two is more radical and thorough in embodying it. And here the prize undoubtedly goes to printed language. The first of the tasks implied by the definition, i. e. to respond to a given stimulus in a permanent (i. e., preservable) way, is certainly fulfilled both by written and by printed utterances equally well. As regards the second task, however, printed language necessarily excels its rival. It cannot be doubted that individual differences of various handwritings put a greater strain on the reader’s eye than individual differences of sets of printer’s types — which is a proof of the fact that printed utterances comply with the demand for full comprehension and clear survey of the facts concerned more thoroughly than their written counterparts,4 however good the latter may be in performing the task with the material means available to them. And, last but not least, an examination of the way in which the third demand of the definition is met by both kinds of utterances discussed here leads to analogous results. The extent of stress laid on the intellectual side of the facts conveyed is definitely greater in depersonalized, i. ?., objectivized printed utterances, than in written utterances, the material side of which never lacks a personal tinge resulting from the writer’s peculiar way of handwriting. (It is fair to say, though, that the amount of such personal tinge is undoubtedly smaller in written than in spoken utterances.)
From the above mentioned facts it foUows that printed language is not generically different from written language; the difference is rather one of a degree. Printed language may be qualified as an intensified variant of written language in which most of the features characteristic of written language have been pushed to the extreme. It is a remarkable fact that the origin of this peculiar linguistic structure can be traced to purely technical, i. ?., extralinguistic causes — it was called forth by the steadily growing demand for the greatest possible number of copies of individual written utterances. The technical origin of printed language is particularly interesting if due account is taken of the fact that written language, in its time, also originated from technical practice — from a desire to fix and preserve, for documentary purposes, certain phonic types by optical means (in short, from a kind of a primitive phonetic transcription). It is especially worth noting that both written and printed utterances originally constituted hardly more than geometrical projections of other structures (the rudimentary written utterances being projections of spoken utterances, and the rudimentary printed utterances analogously projecting written passages). Before long, however, these projections, so to speak, began living their own lives and developed into linguistic structures of their own peculiar types, possessing their own sets of problems.5
The above observations, if all consequences are derived from them, throw some new light on a number of facts connected with the culture of language, or at least show them from a new angle. The modern period of human history has been characterised by an effort to procure the greatest possible number of copies of concrete linguistic utterances and to win the widest possible publicity for them. It has been intended to enable the greatest possible number of people to participate in reading, or listening to, a given linguistic utterance in the greatest possible number of places. It is remarkable that in propagating written utterances different methods were employed from those adopted in the propagation of spoken utterances. A spoken utterance admittedly preserves (at least, to a considerable degree) its individuality of material form when propagated by phonograph, gramophone or wireless — its projected copies are, upon the whole, faithful reproductions of the original utterance. Contrary to this, a written utterance, when propagated in printing, loses its individuality of material form and its propagated copies are only simplified reproductions of the originad utterance, characterized by a style totally different from the style of the original. Should the written utterance keep its individuality of material form (its air, as we may call it with BUHLER), it would have to be propagated in photographic reproductions.
The difference in methods of reproduction used for the two kinds of utterances cannot be explained away by chronological considerations, i. e., by the inaccessibility of exact reproducing methods at the time when propagation of written utterances was considered essential, and by the availability of such methods at the time when propagation of spoken utterances was felt to be urgent. If only the accessibility or inaccessibility of exact reproducing methods were responsible for the said difference, it would be very difficult to account for the fact of non-introduction of exact reproducing methods, after their subsequent discovery, into the sphere of written utterances. Why, indeed, should the practice of reproduction cling to the old, imperfect methods when new, infinitely finer devices offered themselves? The way for the propagation of manuscripts in a photographic way instead of putting them to print was open. And yet it was adopted in quite exceptional cases only, viz., when either the necessity of documentary evidence or reasons of piety were strong enough to enforce it. In all other cases — and they represented an overwhelming majority — the traditional method continued to be pursued. The reason of this conservatism was unquestionably the fact that the function of written (or, from that time on, printed) utterances was by no means impaired by lack of formal individuality in them but rather that it was reinforced by the said deficiency. No less instructive is the absence of any attempt at a depersonalization of reproduced spoken utterances which might be comparable to the depersonalization effected in printed utterances. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that formal individuality (air, to use Bühler’s term) is a feature so typical of a concrete spoken utterance that it simply cannot be left out from it.
On the other hand, reproductions of spoken utterances, especially those common in broadcasting, reveal another interesting point the consequences of which can help in delimiting what has just been said about the individuality of form being a typical feature of spoken utterances. As has been shown above, the primary reason for reproducing an utterance is to win the widest possible publicity for it. If a spoken utterance is reproduced in broadcasting and if greatest possible benefit is to be derived from it by the listeners (i. ?.,’if it is to be followed by them with as little difficulty as possible) it is obvious that individual peculiarities of form reflected in it must be kept within certain limits Thus modern methods of reproducing spoken utterances have emphasized the essentiality of the problem of orthoepy, i. e. model pronunciation6 . If we now turn to the domain of written language again, we may find in it a counterpart of orthoepic requirements — it is represented by requirements of calligraphy, or better, of that part of calligraphy which is concerned with legibility rather than with aesthetic effects. It is certainly remarkable that no analogous requirement can be found in the sub- domain of printed language. And yet it is quite natural: the discovery of printing led by itself to that kind of standardization of the elements of printed language which is aimed at by orthoepy and (elementary) calligraphy in their own respective domains. Thus the imaginary requirement of a “callitypy” was satisfied before it could be as much as formulated or even realized and denoted by a term. It is hardly superfluous to point out that the fact just alluded to definitely disproves the rather frequent idea depicting written language as a kind of inferior linguistic structure, lagging hopelessly behind the “superior” structure of spoken language. We have clearly seen here that written language solved an important structural problem (standardization of elements for the purpose of easier perceptibility of their reali zations) before an analogous problem began to be so much as felt in spoken language.
In conclusion, the terminological side of the problems discussed calls for some comment. It may justly be said that some common linguistic terms rather obliterate than elucidate mutual relations existing between the linguistic notions denoted by them. Thus, as a counterpart of orthoepy, calligraphy has been established here, but only so far as it is concerned with the demand for legibility, not with aesthetic considerations. But the component “calli-” stresses these considerations so intensely that the term calligraphy does not do very well in cases where the aesthetic side of the question should be disregarded. Where aesthetic considerations do come in, calligraphy corresponds not to orthoepy but to euphony. Obviously the domain of written language is short of one term here which should denote that grade of calligraphy which confines its demands to the field of legibility. Purely theoretical considerations might advocate the term orthography (which is an exact counterpart of orthoepy as far as its formation is concerned) but its common meaning has been so firmly established that any change of it would by no means be feasible. As is well known, orthography denotes a set of rules that serve for the transposition of spoken utterances into written utterances. Very few people realize that there is another gap in common linguistic terminology: we miss a counterpart of the term orthography itself, i. ?., there is no term to denote the set of rules that serve for the transposition of written utterances into spoken utterances. In practical textbooks the term “pronunciation” is fairly common, which, however, is hardly satisfactory from the linguistic point of view, as it is generally used by the linguists as a synonym of “articulation”. Besides, the term is unsuitable for the given purpose by its lack of the component “ortho-”, which undoubtedly is desirable in a term denoting a set of normative rules. Perhaps the term orthology might be helpful here; unfortunately, it has been charged with other meanings as well. After all, it has not been the object of the present paper to coin new linguistic terms. But it was felt necessary to point out some inadequacies of the existing terminology which, if used too mechanically, might misinterpret some of the essential linguistic facts.
1. See especially: J. Vachek, Zum Problem der geschrie - benen Sprache. Travaux du Cercle Linguistique de Prague IX, 19?9, pp. 94f. — J. Vachek, Psany jazyk a pravopis. Cteni ? jazyce a poesii I, 1942, pp. 229f. — J· Vachek, Písmo a transkripce ve svëtle strukturálniho jazykozpytu. Casopis pro moderni filologii (Prague) XXVIII, 1942, pp. 403ff. — See also A. Artymovyc, Pysana mova. Naukovyj Zbirnyk Ukrainskoho Vys. Ped. Institutu v Prazi II, pp. Iff. — A. Artymovyc, Fremdwort und Schrift. Charisteria Gu. Mathesio quinquagenario ... oblata (Prague 1932) pp. 114ff. — H. J. Uldall, Speech and Writing. Congrès international des sciences anthropologiques et ethnologiques, Compte rendu de la Deuxième Session, Copenhagen, 19?9, p. 374.
2. By a written utterance is meant here what corresponds, in the domain of written language, to “spoken utterances”, i. e. any written word, sentence, passage, article or book intended by the writer for reading („eine Schriftäußerung”). Analogously, by a “printed utterance” is meant any printed word, sentence etc. with the same intention. — Spoken utterances were dealt with by V. Skalicka in his paper Promluva jako linguisticky pojem (Slovo a slovesnost, Prague, III, 1937, pp. 1b3ff).
3. See K. Bühler, Axiomatik der Sprachwissenschaft (Kantstudien XXXVIII), by the same author: Sprachtheorie, Jena 1934. — The term air is used here instead of “expression”, which may sometimes be found in linguistic papers; we avoid it for its ambiguity.
4. The above statement is corroborated by the well-known fact that printers prefer typewritten manuscripts to those written by hand.
5. The development leading from primitive transcriptions to written utterances was commented upon in the first three papers mentioned in Note 1.
6. This was clearly seen in Great Britain, where a series of “Broadcast English” manuals, discussing orthoepic problems, was published in the period between the two wars.
*From Recueil Linguistique de Bratislava, I: 67-75(1948).