The move from oral to written language


We can communicate via images too.

As I was sitting here reflecting on a comment Rommel had made on my post “Style” I realised that as long as  our use of language was mainly oral we would not  have been worrying about apostrophes in the  sentence.

The cat ate it’s dinner v The cat ate its dinner.

The main reason,.I have thought of ,is that when we are talking to somebody in the flesh we have a lot more information about the situation we are in.If we had a dog called “It” my husband would know that the cat might:

Eat It’s dinner.

But he would probably be happy if the cat having been ill

ate its dinner.

When we move to written communication we have many advantages like being able to know   what others  elsewhere think,share information,read books etc but we have to be careful to make sure that we get over exactly what we intend and I think this is when punctuation helps and why it is so important.Of course we can say,I mean the cat ate its own dinner…etc but sometimes people misinterpret what another person writes and don’t know that they have done that,Also I find writing poetry that it may have meanings I never noticed.

One reason that Bible reading was not allowed in the Catholic church before the Reformation is that it was thought people needed to be learned about  the time the Bible was written,about different translations etc. So the priest would expound to them upon a reading.I don’t know if they could ask questions.It seems unlikely but they could ask privately.

Many people don’t know that the Gospels were not written for many years after Jesus died so  the claim they are literally true might be misleading.The people  such as MMLJ who wrote them were in a small community where no doubt being Jews [yes!] they would discuss things at length and compare ideas and discuss what to write and how to explain  it to the larger group.When the Church grew  enormously that was hard to maintain.The split between Jews and Christians came in after the fall of Jerusalem in 70  CE when nearly all the Jews were killed by the Romans.The Rabbinical  sect and the Christian  sect were the survivors according to Karen Armstrong.They went separate ways.And  even with the Christians there had been conflicts about whether non Jews could become Christian.St Paul who wrote before the Gospels were written believed that non Jews were permitted to join but not everyone agreed,which led to a conflict between Jews who became Christians and Gentile Christians…. which led perhaps to the persecution of the Jews down the ages.

What we call the Old Testament is a selective rewriting of the Hebrew Bible which  has an even more complex history.Many of the stories are metaphorical as indeed they are in the New Testament.And many are now misunderstood like  ” an eye for an eye”

When we get the News now it’s not usually oral [I exclude TV as it is  not mutual].We get it in writing in the newspaper or on the screen here   and that is already an interpretation based on a  selective  choice from all that is happening..Again journalists need to know style,grammar and punctuation to make their writing transparent.Of the tabloid press, we might wish otherwise!We might choose to read other newspapers in other countries but time is a problem

If you disagree with me you can comment or ask me to clarify but if you disagree with BBC News or The Times it takes longer and may not have any effect.

I conclude that as humans move away from talking face to face it is harder to understand just what they mean when they use language..Talking together,we need no semi colons.As we moved into  using widespread written communication, we then needed ways to make clear our meaning but  in the end it is talking  between people which is primary and we need no lessons in grammar for that.I am surprise how no-one mentions how amazing it is that babies learn to talk without having lessons [but reading is harder for most children]

.Of course talking face to face has its own problems especially relating to power imbalances.And I have seen many articles about how we rarely listen properly and attentively to the person.Cultural differences also matter.I have taught many Muslim students and also interacted on-line and I find the men more courteous than   many  men from my  culture.It’s almost as if men here think,OK you want to be equal,we’ll hit you like we would a man or we’ll swear and curse in front of you or at you.Alas,many people don’t even know they are cursing and swearing as it is so common in soap operas.Why  even Alfred,my part time cat sometimes gives me a dirty look and a loud whine and might say something rude if he could talk in English.Thank God,he can’t

I welcome comments and criticism

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