Ong (2002). Introduction. (Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word.)

Ong, W. J. (2002). Introduction. In Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (pp. 1–3). Routledge.

“Many of the features we have taken for granted in thought and expression in literature, philosophy and science, and even in oral discourse among literates, are not directly native to human existence as such but have come into being because of the resources which the technology of writing makes available to human consciousness.” (p 1)

“… since readers of this or any book by definition are acquainted with literate culture from the inside, the subject is, first, thought and its verbal expression in oral culture, which is strange and at times bizarre to us, and, second, literate thought and expression in terms of their emergence from and relation to orality.” (p 1)

“It is useful to approach orality and literacy synchronically, by comparing oral cultures and chirographic (i.e., writing) cultures that coexist at a given period of time. But it is absolutely essential to approach them also diachronically or historically, by comparing successive periods with one another.” (p 2)

“We — readers of books such as this — are so literate that it is very difficult for us to conceive of an oral universe of communication or thought except as a variant of a literate universe.” (p 2)

“Our understanding of the differences between orality and literacy developed only in the electronic age, not earlier. … The electronic age is also an age of ‘secondary orality’, the orality of telephones, radio, and television, which depends on writing and print for its existence.” (p 2)

“Almost all the work thus far contrasting oral cultures and chirographic cultures has contrasted orality with alphabetic writing rather than with other writing systems (cuneiform, Chinese characters, the Japanese syllabary, Mayan script and so on) and has been concerned with the alphabet as used in the West (the alphabet is also at home in the East, as in India, Southeast Asia or Korea). Here discussion will follow the major lines of extant scholarship, although some attention will also be given, at relevant points, to scripts other than the alphabet and to cultures other than just those of the West.” (p 3)

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