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JANUARY 31 - Anthropology 2245

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Western University
Anthropology 2245F/G
Tania Granadillo

JANUARY 31, 2014 LANGUAGE AND LITERACY -Response 2: expand on one point of the video -Anthropology of reading and writing -Literacy: reading and writing, embedded in system of meaning -What’s considered writing? -Definitions of writing under debate • Inclusivist view (capable of reproducing ALL parts of speech) / Exclusivist view • Writing as a continuum or as a leap (different ways of communicating – is it a leap from different forms of communicating) -Studying the origin of writing, just like spoken word (Babylon, Mayan (SA), east) -Pictographs • Petroglyph: rock art, painting, repeated motifs (stick figure of a man) all around the world also spirals are recurrent, separated in space and time, prone to erosion, largest concentration at Ontario’s Petroglyph Park (1200), In Ecuador they mark particular places that mark their history; is this phonetic material? OR pointers to a story? • Yukaghir “love letter”: culture in Siberia NE, carved on bark, cone shaped = people; party game; love torn girl carved this thing but read it out loud to the man anyway -Literacy • All writing systems incorporate by definition in their representation of speech • Classification of writing system based on proportion of phonetic/non-phonetic material in the graphemes: o 1. Alphabets > consonantal alphabets: no vowels represented, one representation for each sound (46 sounds in English, 26 letters) o 2. Syllabaries: graphemes represent syllables, wouldn’t work in English o 3. Logographs: phonetic component obscured but present, represent syllable in Chinese too • Graphemes: unit of writing, not everything we write is a letter • Not clear connection between graphemes and speech because sounds and language always changing • Arabic: right to left, • Many writing systems exported by empires to be used in other parts of geography = changes, extinction • Nordic Runes: angular, would’ve been used for English if we didn’t adopt Latin • Cheerokee Syllabary: invented late 1900s, representative of syllables, inspired by English symbols but phonetic content very different, within 20 years illiteracy rate was almost zero, very excited about this innovation • Japanese: 4 writings systems, most difficult in the world, 2 syllabaries, by 12 grade almost ready to be efficient, reading books is very hard too = Manga popularity (cultural consequence) -Literacy as a sociocultural construct • Literacy as the difference between various dichotomies • Great divide or autonomous model • Ideological model: diversity of literacy experiences, writing needs to be understood in your culture • Fruitful areas of research: consequences in society; acquisition of literacy; invented literacies; literacy practices; literacy and sociopolitical processes, gender, development, education • Crystal (2008) an example of adaptation of literacy • Mahiri (2008) great summary of these developments and suggestions for various studies (we will read Heath (1983) in two weeks, so you’ll get an even better understa
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