The "U" Word

Making Windows safe for Unix people since 1995


Verbal vs. written style

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Betsy Aoki, the manager of this community site (amongst others), writes that people are surprised that her verbal style is different from the written style of her blog.

Oddly enough, I am often told that my conversational style and written style are almost identical. Some friends have told me they can hear my voice in their head reading the words I've written on paper or in email. (Let's not get into questioning their sanity, okay?) Maybe I use a variety of verbal styles, thus covering all the bases; verbally, I frequently adopt accents or localized speech habits, and I kinda do the same thang when writin', usually fer the same reasons.

At least my written style doesn't drift depending upon where I am, physically. If you drop me in England for a week, by the end of that time my accent and word choices will have begun to drift towards the local dialect, as much as my poor Americanized ears can hear, anyway. Worse yet, the drift is usually unconscious; I have to work at dragging it back to my normal transplanted-Noo-Yawkuh accent.

I wonder, though, if conversational style (leaving content aside for the moment) has a significant impact on the uptake rate for a blog. That is, is the likelihood that a person will subscribe to my RSS feed affected by written conversational style? Is it a negative-impact only (i.e. “lousy writing style, can't understand it, signing off now”) or will people actually read a blog more often because the writing style itself is appealing?

  • There are some blogs I read the don't have too much technical content, but that I read for the sake of the style.

  • The term I think you want to use is "oral" and not "verbal."

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