Example Of Orality And Literacy Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Writing, Literature, Tradition, Information, Illiterate, Communication, Literacy, Poetry

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/11/03


Orality refers to the art of communicating using verbal expressions. It is the most popular way of communication throughout the world because it is convenient to both the literate and the illiterate. This is so because one can express himself using a language that he understands better. The main shortcoming of this mode of communication is that it lacks evidence and in some cases it can be used in a negative way. On the other hand, literacy refers to the ability to read and write and even to print a document. This mode of communication is popular to those who are literate and those who have gone through formal education. This mode is advantageous because it can be documented, and chances of disputes arising are low.
This refers to communicating with one another using spoken words only. In this mode, people do not write or print information but they just communicate with each other verbally. The presence of sound is the main element in this mode of communication. It was common among the Bushmen of Africa and the Heidi. The main advantage of this mode of communication is that you cannot ignore it compared to writing that can be ignored by many. Also, this mode suits both the literate and the illiterate population because of its simplicity (Walter, 2005).
The transition from oral to written cultures found in our history books where it is said that writing begun in Egypt and Mesopotamia in the fourth Millennium. Despite this argument, there is little documentary evidence actually to show that writing originated from the two countries.
In Europe, there are records that show that the earliest transition from oral to written culture occurred in Greece. During this period, literature was documented and then passed from one generation to another using both the ancient method of oral tradition and the modern method of reading and writing. When writing was first developed the elites in the society adopted it while many were affected by it. Despite the introduction of writing a few elements of oral culture still remain in our society like reliance on memory in particular contexts because of lack of trust on written records (Walter, 2005).
Greeks used leather roll and wax tablets for writing with the aid of Phoenician alphabet to develop their writing system back in the mid-eighthcentury BCE.According to many scholars, Iliad is believed to be the oldest literature work written in Greek. It is said to have originated a long time ago before writing was introduced. Products of oral tradition and epic poems have been standardized and rebranded to meet the new standards. After the introduction of the Greek Script Homers poems were recorded.
Since the introduction of writing in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece many changes have taken place in order to improve writing in our modern day society (Walter,2005). Some of the changes witnessed include introduction of writing materials like papers, books and even printers that are used to print information. This has made not only reading easier but also writing with the rise of learning institutions all over the world. This has also helped to increase the literacy levels all over the world where people have adopted writing as their way of life.
Homeric poetry refers to oral literature that was passed from one generation to another through the word of mouth. Without necessarily having to write. The learner just uses his memory to learn and understand the poems. In the year 1930 Milman Parry recorded more than 1500 epic poems, and the poems ended up reaching the illiterate population who could not read and write. This ended up benefit the big portion of the illiterate population who were not able to read and write. They too like the literate people were now able to learn something from his poems.
He was a scholar and founder of oral tradition and a scholar of epic poetry who was bornon June 20, 1902 and died on Dec 3, 1935.He studied at the University of California where he did his undergraduate and later joined Sorbonne University to do his Ph.D. In the year, 1933 to 1935 Parry was an Associate Professor at Harvard University, and he travelled to Yugoslavia where he did his studies in traditional oral poetry and recorded it. He worked with Albert Lord who by then was his assistant. They worked in Bosnia where oral tradition was still popular among the residents, and the literacy levels in that area were too low by then.
In the year, 1930 Parry came up with the Homeric verse from a collection of papers that were published posthumously. Some of his poetry works can now be found in the Widener library at the Harvard University.
It is conservative because Storing information is high in a culture where there is no text hence the oral tradition method becomes the most appropriate method of storing knowledge whichis then passed from one generation to another. Information is passed from one generation to the next through the word of mouth. It is also redundant because information is repeated more than once for speaker and the hearer to be at par with each other. This makes it easier for the speaker and the hearer understand one another (Walter, 2005).Sentences in oral tradition are combined with conjunctions that are easy to understand and comprehend compared to writing that is complex. Oral tradition is agonistically toned and the individuals tend to associate with the thoughts of the speakers making them to concentrate as the speech is being delivered. They are homeostatic because they don’t have dictionaries hence there is no reference to the meaning of the words used in oral tradition. This is not the case in written literature where the meaning of the words used can be explained in the dictionaries. (Walter, 2005)
It makes it easier for the listener to understand the information given by the speaker since words are repeated, and both of them move at the same pace. The use of conjunctions that are easy to pronounce and memorize enables the learners to understand it easily compared to writing that is viewed by many to be complex. Participation in discussions enables individuals to be attentive when speeches are given compared to writing where they might lose attention on the subject matter. It also saves time as there is no need of explaining the meaning of the words used hence saving on time spent compared to writing.
Others even considered writing as a preserve of the elite when it was introduced and they were not ready to adopt it. They were reluctant to adopt it because it was difficult for others to understand it hence they were left with no choice but to stick to oral tradition. Individual participation and discussions made it possible for people to ask questions freely thus making them to understand easily. This method was advantageous because it could be used by both the elite and the illiterate in the society compared to writing that faced a lot of resistance when it was introduced. Oral tradition could be passed by word of mouth from one generation to the next compared to writing where written records may be torn thus hindering information to pass to the next generation.


Ong, W. J. (2005). Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London: Routledge.

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Example Of Orality And Literacy Essay. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-orality-and-literacy-essay/. Published Nov 03, 2020. Accessed June 25, 2022.

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