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Lecture 2

Anthropology of Reading and Writing - Week 2.docx

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Western University
Anthropology 2246F/G
Tania Granadillo

Sept, 16, 2013 Anthropology of Reading and Writing – Week 2 -A grapheme is a unit of writing and all writing systems are representations of speech, which is a mix of semantic and phonetic signs and they are better adapted to their own language (when native to it) and most divergence is in foreign words (some sounds don’t exist in certain languages, this is why we see certain languages with added symbols to make up for the sounds not represented in the Latin alphabet, etc) -There really is no natural link between any languages graphemes to the sounds they are trying to represent and this shows how arbitrary it is -Reading needs both vision and sound because you need to see the sign and also hear it because sometimes those two things don’t necessary match (homophones are an example, and homographs) but there are exceptions like blind people reading with brail -We have to ask whether we think in terms of writing or in images and sounds (writing seems to be dominant) -There are various theories of reading depending on script and language and there are various methods for teaching reading and writing depending on these factors because they are too diverse to be universally the same -However when using an alphabet there are similarities as well as with glyphs, etc -Writing needs to be taught (when Spanish taught in chunks of syllables rather than words at a time) and site words are words that can be recognized without sounding them out (ex: cat, dog, the) -The way English works we can read sentences with the words jumbles so long as the first and last letters are in place but this would not work in languages that rely on syllables -Writing needs formal teaching and it will not develop on its own and no matter how much you are exposed to a language (parents reading to babies, etc) you will not be able to write it so it is not a normal development of language (Spanish saying long ago said “letters learned with blood” refers to the way the education system was a brutal institution to teach reading to children) and it takes a lot of perseverance to learn to write -There are very few cases of people who learned to write without specific teaching (people can teach themselves to read thou
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