ERIC Number: ED208345
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Jan
Reference Count: 0
The Oral and the Written: Two Competing Cultures.
Havelock, Eric A.
The development of literacy is traced in this paper to promote the thesis that dependence on literacy education naturally leads to two competing cultures, one oral and one literate. Events in the development of the Greek alphabet are traced to advance the argument, and the differences between cultures dependent on Greek and non-Greek writing systems are presented as evidence of the conflicts that can result between the competing dynamics of oral and written communication. The paper stresses the idea that the capacity for acoustic communication has been programed into human genes, making oral communication a fact of evolutionary history, while alphabetic communication enjoys no such programing and is a learned faculty in the sense in which a language is not. The recent events in Iran, the problems associated with the Chinese symbol system, and the "mind set" created by Western civilization's dependence on written language are discussed to illustrate the tension that has developed and is developing between the modes of oral language and the modes of literacy. From this discussion comes the conclusion that in any modern society some kind of partnership must evolve between oral language and literacy and that this partnership should be accepted and accomodated. (RL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Conference of the Bard College Center (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, January 21-22, 1981).