Economy & Finance

The Effects of Literacy on the Oral Mind

The Effects of Literacy on the Oral Mind
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  THE EFFECTS OF LITERACY ON THE ORAL MIND Moss DoerksenResearch Paper for LING 484 Principles of LiteracyPresented to Wanda Davies at the Canada Institute of Linuistics!uust "# $%&$  Table of Contents &'Introduction'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''&$'Literacy and Lanuae''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''&(')he )echnoloy of Literacy''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''$4'Characteristics of *ral )houht''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''"4'&!dditive rather than su+ordinate'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''"4'$!reative and conservative'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''84'(,ituational# participatory# holistic'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''&%4'4)i-e''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''&&.'Literacy or /ducation0''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''&$1'Conclusion''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''&4  & 1.Introducton )here is no dou+t that the introduction and ac2uisition of literacy can have a profound effect on an individual and a society' !t the very least it is a ne3 skill and tool that can +eused# like learnin to drive an auto-o+ile and the auto-o+ile itself' Literacy is co--only understood to have a ood and desira+le effect' N/,C* once had a oal to 5eradicate illiteracy +y the year $%%%'6 )his oal 3as certainly not achieved# althouh 3orld3ide illiteracy declined reatly in the last half of the $% th  century and N/,C* is still co--itted to the cause of literacy for all' )he Dakar 7ra-e3ork for !ction $%%%9 has# as its fourth oal 5achievin a .% per cent i-prove-ent in levels of adult literacy +y $%&.'6 Literacy is seen as necessary for i-provin the 3elfare of people# and indeed there is a hih correlation +et3een poverty and illiteracy# 3hen one surveys the rates of  +oth for nations around the 3orld' :ut the effect of literacy isn;t as si-ple as an increase of inco-e or productivity or prestie' Literacy has -any effects on a culture that are often not considered' It shifts paradi-s' Is it al3ays the +est thin to atte-pt to introducin and pro-ote literacy to a people roup0 It certainly see-s that universal literacy is the 3ay that the 3orld is -ovin# +ut perhaps there are so-e issues to ponder on the 3ay to this achieve-ent' !.Lterac" and Lan#ua#e )he distinction +et3een orality and literacy is an area of linuistics that is iven less attention than it deserves' In the past# 3ritin 3as considered the hihest for- of lanuae and thus the only for- 3orth seriously studyin' In the last century linuists reali<ed that spoken lanuae is the -ore +asic and natural for- and turned their  $attention to speech as the -ost authentic source of lanuae to +e studied# releatin 3ritin to the sidelines' *ver ti-e linuists have +eun to pay attention to the reality that  +oth oral and 3ritten lanuae are sinificant facets of lanuae overall' ,till# the  prevailin opinion see-s to +e that lanuae in any for- is +asically the sa-e= 3hatever holds true for 3ritin should +e the sa-e for speakin and vice versa' Writin is enerally seen as su+ordinate to speech' Gudschinsky &>"(9 defined a fully literate person as one 53ho# in a lanuae thathe speaks# can read and understand anythin that he 3ould have understood if it had +eenspoken to hi-= and 3ho can 3rite# so that it can +e read# anythin he can say6' )his -ay  +e fine for devisin a literacy test# +ut does that really e?plain the 3hole of literacy0 Can a person speak a -ap or a +us schedule chart0 Can a 3riter fully capture an oral  perfor-ance 3ith all its estures and intonations0 Infor-ation can certainly +e translated fro- one for- to the other to so-e deree# +ut it si-ply isn;t practical to -ap all of the infor-ation that can +e presented in one for- to the other' @ision and hearin function and are perceived and processed +y us in 2uite different 3ays' ,peech and 3ritin like3ise acco--odate the-selves to the different restrictions and +enefits that each -ethod possesses' Lack of appreciation for the differences +et3een orality and literacy can lead to -isunderstandins in the develop-ent and assess-ent of literacy prora-s' $.T%e Tec%nolo#" of Lterac" Literacy is not your averae technoloical advance-ent' Most technoloies# at least  +efore the 5infor-ation ae6# have allo3ed hu-ans to do -ore physical 3ork 3hile e?pendin less physical enery' )his has radually iven us a +etter 2uality of life# increased our -o+ility and lifespan 3hile at the sa-e ti-e increasin our potential to har- others' Literacy ho3ever is a technoloy of the -ind' It is a -ethod for handlin  (infor-ation in a radically ne3 3ay co-pared to that of oral cultures' It could +e considered the first -aAor technoloy of this sort# unless you 3ish to call speech itself a technoloy' It is an infor-ation technoloy# like the co-puter# +ut -uch -ore funda-ental' Modern co-puters# after all# depend on literacy for their reali<ation' )he reatest contri+ution of co-puters to technoloical advance-ent has +een the3ay that they e?pand the capa+ilities of the hu-an -ind and cause us to think a+out the 3orld in a -ore riorous 3ay' Co-puter prora--ers -ust learn to descri+e syste-s in  painstakinly +asic sets of instructions# yet a-a<inly co-ple? syste-s can +e orani<ed and pheno-ena -odeled +y this -ethod' )he averae person does not concern the-selves 3ith such arcana# +ut of course our lives are reatly effected +y the products of prora--ers and our o3n# -ore casual# e?perience 3ith co-puters and their electronic ilk nevertheless shapes our thinkin and ha+its in -any 3ays'Literacy and co-puter technoloy actually parallel each other in -any 3ays' Likeco-puters# literacy e?pands the -ental capacity of its users# particularly in the area of -e-ory' )he act of 3ritin also encouraes a person to orani<e their thouhts into -oreloical and a+stract structures' Writin co-puter code is like e?plainin so-ethin to the ulti-ate idiot' !s Doulas !da-s put it in his novel  Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective  Agency:  What I -ean is that if you really 3ant to understand so-ethin# the +est 3ay is to try and e?plain it to so-eone else' )hat forces you to sort it out in your -ind' !nd the -ore slo3 and di-B3itted your pupil# the -ore youhave to +reak thins do3n into -ore and -ore si-ple ideas' !nd that;s really the essence of prora--in' :y the ti-e you;ve sorted out a
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