Writing Systems and Oral Folklore
Writing Systems and Oral Folklore APY204
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Vanessa Notetaker on Monday April 25, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to APY204 at University of Miami taught by Dr. Everett in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 20 views. For similar materials see Linguistic Anthropology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Miami.
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Date Created: 04/25/16
Writing Systems Writing is quite artificial No writing in North America pre-colonization Europe got writing systems from Mesopotamia Maya writing (from video) o Developed in New World & independently o Can represent one symbol in different ways Scribes had signature style of handwriting… made it hard to decipher Mayan writing (ex: as much as there’s variation in how we write “a” aa a …still, Maya took it to another level) Knorozov: Russian soldier; found copy of Maya codex (1945) on floor of German library (4 books of those left in the world) Stories of emperors, etc.… Made key realization words do not represent actual worlds, but represent the SYLLABLES instead He counted how many symbols there were (roughly 800- 900… so around 1000) What kind of writing was Mayan writing? Logographic or syllabary (combination maybe?) Most likely combo since each symbol meant something different Writing systems always start logographic then gradually become more abstract o End up syllabic or alphabet, so iconic writing become arbitrary Syllabary o Iconicarbitrary How do writing systems evolve to represent sounds? o This realization doesn’t seem to be natural The Rebus principle o based on homophony (words that sound the same) using the same symbol for both words. Ex: One symbol may represent both “eye” & “I” o Facilitates writing Most indigenous people don’t have a writing system o Takes years to create a writing system… usually modeled after another existing system (ex: Cherokee writing system) Abjads o system like an alphabet but vowels go largely unwritten (like Hebrew) o similarities in Arabic and Hebrew: directionality (right to left; minimized use of vowels; both are abjads) Writing systems are really complex *graphemes=sy mbol Logographic Syllabary Alphabet Many graphemes Simpler Most basic Thousands of Each grapheme is Like English and graphemes represented most western (10,000 or more) differently languages Represents idea More graphemes Just enough (ex: # as in than in alphabet graphemes hashtag-trending- (Hundreds of Represents topic, $) symbols) consonants and Like in Chinese, Easier to learn than vowels “house” doesn’t alphabet though separately refer to the sound Everything gets a 25-50 of the word… separate grapheme graphemes written word sort of looks like a house Advantages: 1.- iconicity: word represents a thing 2.- preservation of Sign language Languages 3.- you can learn Not writing even if you just don’t speak the language versions of spoken languages Gallaudet brought French sign language (SL) to USA o American SL (ASL) more similar to French than English o ASL has approx. 500,000-2 million speakers Iconicity- ASL signs represent something Always in addition to spoken language Word order varies across sign language Alternate sign languages o Used for trade and simple communication o On planes of North America, some tribes spoke different languages and tribes developed sign languages to communicate with each other Primary language may be sign language for some people (like deaf people) Martha’s vineyard sign language Developed in small populations o What comes with small populations? More likely to get recessive traits like deafness Smaller genepool = larger chance of getting such issues Urumukapur- 6 deaf people, inbreeding, economic reasons One thing it shares with written language o Signs physically represent something in a way that can be deciphered Translucent/transparent o But most sign languages are opaque o Transparent signs- iconic o Opaque signs- when meaning is told, you have no idea Sign languages get oversimplified… interpretation of actual current language Oral Folklore Verbal oral folklore How language gets used to communicate values and stories that are said to matter Performance o We perform language o Can be subconscious/unconscious depending on context Ex: interview, public speaking (depending on speech genre) o Good storytelling seems to be universal o Seems to convey social meaning Storytelling
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