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Introduction to Anthropology of Reading and Writing.docx

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Anthropology 2246F/G
Tania Granadillo

Sept, 11, 2013 Introduction to Anthropology of Reading and Writing -Writing is a system of graphic symbols that can be used to convey any and all thought (important stipulation) -All writing systems are more similar than they are different leading to all the debate about their origins -Symbols that represent sounds vary in proportion of phonetic and semantic signs and they are representation of oral speech and they are trying to capture the oral aspect of language which is very complex -All writing systems are incomplete in their trying to represent speech because there are so many facets of speech that it makes it impossible to be represented in a writing system and this is why scripts are interpreted differently -Language is basically oral and writing is a relatively new invention in terms of human cultural history (had it roughly 5000 years but language for roughly 500,000) and some groups are still capable of living without writing -This makes us question why we have writing and what is it good for (is it good at all?) -For a long time writing was limited to a few people in society and only in the last 50-60 years it has become democratic and there are many programs against illiteracy -Once it became widespread we cannot even think of our lives without it and it created much cultural change making us dependant on it in all aspects of our life -There is so writing system that is 100% semantic and all have a phonetic component (even hieroglyphs, etc it’s just the quantity that differs) -Our language includes numbers which are semantics and other symbols such as $, &, %, etc and looking at texting we also use emoticons and other symbols -No writing system is perfect because writing itself is a simplification with advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of language and the proportion of semantics to phonetics and it is each culture’s decision to write their language in a certain way based on many factors from their past history -This is what makes writing systems so hard to change and it leads to many confusing questions -We write a variety of the language because it cannot all be represented in writing and usually this variety that is chosen becomes standard with more prestige and wide spread practice so decisions on variety have long standing consequences on the social standing of that particular language (who uses it) -Phonetic content can vary at different levels: segments, consonants, vowels, and syllables (semantics are phonological units basically) -There are people who have created languages with no training that follow the linguistic units
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