Oral cultures in literate societies

João Wanderley Geraldi About the author

One essential point regarding the relationship between language and culture is related to the different functions of writing and to the ways it is socially appropriated in literate societies. This article is based on a specific way of employing writing by Jarawara Indians and on narratives about the Amazonian myth called Cobra Norato (Norato Snake) told by people living along the Madeira River, in the Brazilian Amazon. It then discusses the different relationships between orality and writing. Permeated by power relations, these relationships transform the alphabet, which is a social artifact constructed to express orality, into a social territory of differences, cleavage and exclusion.

Orality; writing; alphabet


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