The context of oral and written language: A framework for mode and medium switching

Denise E. Murray*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


This article demonstrates that our descriptions of orality and literacy-from the traditional dichotomy to the more recent continuum-are inadequate, largely because they are grounded in the Western positivist tradition and use as their typical texts casual conversation and academic writing. The introduction of a new medium of communication, the computer, into the workplace clearly demonstrates that medium of communication is itself a linguistic choice, depending on the context of situation. The article presents a case study identifying those aspects of the context of situation that affect both choice of mode/medium and mode/medium-switching. The article then proposes a framework that expands on previous work that has sought to describe the dimensions involved in the choice of language (e.g., Halliday 1973; Hymes 1972; Jakobson 1960). This framework suggests an integrated approach for examining oral and written language, an approach grounded in the view that literacy and orality are social practices whose forms and functions vary for different social groups. (Literacy, dimensions of sociolinguistics, discourse).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-373
Number of pages23
JournalLanguage in Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'The context of oral and written language: A framework for mode and medium switching'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this