By Naomi S. Baron
From pen-and-parchment to the e-mail revolution, language professional Naomi Baron indicates how know-how impacts the way in which we converse and write, and how we educate our youngsters to take action. The fine--and disappearing--distinction among spoken and written English is on the middle of this enticing ebook, which incorporates a number of wonderful anecdotes describing the lengthy trip From Alphabet to Email, in addition to a few upsetting meditations at the way forward for language and literacy.
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Additional resources for Alphabet to Email: How Written English Evolved and Where It's Heading
Even those who knew how to write (or at least read) often chose not to. “Of course he can read. ” This evolution is particularly clear in the legal arena. The Oral Roots of English Wills Remember when formal dealings between two parties were settled with a handshake? Up through at least the eleventh century in England, the written word carried little legal authority. Instead, legal transactions were typically conducted through (oral) ceremony, with writing—when it was used at all— serving to record the oral event.
Now texts began to take on lives of their own, available for individual reading and consultation. For books to be used as stand-alone objects (rather than springboards for performance), readers needed navigational tools for finding particular items or passages within a text, and for locating the specific book they wanted from a collection. How did such tools evolve? Amo before Bibo Pick up any work of nonfiction. Without opening the book’s cover, you already know a lot about what’s inside. You can reasonably expect to find a title page, a table of contents, numbered pages, a body of text divided into chapters, and an index.
The ability to state learned principles hardly assures individual, much less community, practice. For example, while spoken face-to-face communication logically assumes a response from the hearer, communities develop recognized techniques for avoiding answering unwelcome questions (such as the studied art of conveniently running out of time at a meeting). In the case of email, while we know that the physical medium of email transmission is writing, we often behave as if email, like speech, were ephemeral (not pausing to edit messages before sending them or ignoring Robin Hood’s Retort 23 the fact that our private communications frequently can be accessed and printed by others).
Alphabet to Email: How Written English Evolved and Where It's Heading by Naomi S. Baron