Orality can be defined as thought and its verbal expression in societies where the technologies of literacy (especially writing and print) are unfamiliar to most of the population. The study of orality is closely allied to the study of oral tradition. However, it has broader implications, implicitly touching every aspect the economics, politics and institutional and human development of oral societies. Moreover, the study of orality has important implications for international development, especially as it relates to the goal of eradicating poverty, as well as to the process of globalization.
On the one hand, the importance of the concept has been a habit of literate cultures to view oral cultures simply in terms of their lack of the technologies of writing. This habit, argues Ong, is dangerously misled. Oral cultures are living cultures in their own right. A 1971 study found that of 3,000 extant languages, only 78 had a written literature While literacy extends human possibilities in both thought and action, all literate technologies ultimately depend on the ability of humans to learn oral languages. Understanding between nations may depend to some degree on understanding oral culture.
On the other hand, according to theory of the characteristics of oral culture, it can be distinguished some different contents which compose the important characteristics of the orality and its culture. Here, there are some of them to focus what it’s about:


  • Formulaic Styling: to retain complex ideas requires that they be packaged memorably for easy recall.
  • Additive rather than subordinative: it demonstrates how oral modes of communication tend to evolve into literate ones.
  • Aggregative rather than analytic: Oral expression brings words together in pithy phrases that are the product of generations of evolution: the ‘sturdy oak tree’, the ‘beautiful princess’ or ‘clever Odysseus’..
  • Redundant or ‘copious’: Speech that repeats earlier thoughts, or shines a different light on them somehow, helps to keep both the speaker and the listener focused on the topic, and makes it easier for all to recall the key points later.
  • To sum up,appart from that there’re some points of view from experts,for instance, Walter Ong, who suggests that the nature of self and community changes as a culture moves from pure orality to scribality to textuality. This change is a movement from exteriority to interiority and from communal structures to the self-reflective individual . The most inportant thing he adds is that all cultures begin as oral cultures. Even those who are borninto highly literate or even post-literate culture spend their early lives in a primarily oral community, icluding in the new technology.


Orality. (2008, September 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:49,January 11, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Orality&oldid=238417313

Orality in Self Through Media Shifts. Retrieved 18:54, JANUARY 11, 2009 from www.owlnet.rice.edu/~univ302/StudentWork/S96/Sandman/Orality.html – 14k –



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