Spoken and written ellipsis in (and not in) the experience of adult literacy learners
Keywords:Ellipsis, adult literacy learners, Corpus Linguistics
Interference from spoken language can hinder adult learners’ reading, so it is helpful for tutors to be aware of differences between spoken and written syntax. Study of the incidence of ellipsis in two adult learners’ conversational language demonstrates the absence of most forms of coordination and subordination ellipsis typical of writing, and the frequent omission of subordinators, including the total absence of that relatives from one informant’s corpus. Examples of typically spoken situational ellipsis draw attention to the different locus of reference (situational or textual) in spoken and written ellipsis, and therefore the different strategy of interpretation required in reading. It is also shown that the use and non-use of ellipsis often have communicative functions in the dialogues that reflect linguistic skills rather than sloppiness or incompetence. Implications for tuition are suggested.