The Birth Out of Existence

by Jessah Jen Garbino, Samantha Villacorta, Kyla Villanueva

Oraliteracy: The Orality and Literacy

Some might argue that orality paved the way for literacy. Some might insist that orality is superior to literacy and vice versa. Some will have their own perspective in viewing the oral and literary cultures. But what is really true about it?

There was a time when someone was watching a video about Mathematics’ history and the viewer was only able to remember that it began with “tallying” and forgot the other details of the story. Now, imagine if we go back 50,000 years ago, where cultures with little to no knowledge of writing exists, were all our ancestors’ beliefs, discoveries and theories really passed to generations? or it was just simply a detail?

One of the major difference of oral culture to literary culture is the primacy of the word itself. The words in oral culture is everything, they are the voice, ears, eyes and lips of communication. They are central to all understanding and memory of the people born in those eras. Before, oral culture involves communication for the sake of communication itself. People who lived in oral tradition depends so much with the capacity of their mind to remember which leads them focus in a limited concept over and over again.

In literate culture, the words are just now letters on a page, the interpretation of language becomes more private and instead of being experienced, the words are simply absorbed. Literacy safeguarded the fruits of orality. And after years, technology was introduced to enhance communication both in orality and literacy in such forms. As what Walter Ong said, “I reject the idea that technology necessarily leads to a decrease in the quality of human connectivity. In fact on the whole better technology allows for better communication.”

As time went by, literacy was formed to protect products of oral culture. Literacy has apparent differences with how information us to be relayed so in order to fill in those gaps, this ‘media’ model of communication conditioned the way information was to be written. It was written in a thorough manner which gave many writers a difficult task to complete its writing so long as it can preserve those so-nearly forgotten tradition and informations.

Both the oral and literate culture has its own pros and cons. Both has its own purpose of why it was created. Thus, literacy was born like pens were made for papers not to be superior on the other but to support and work together.


Ong, W. (1982).”Ong on the Differences Between Orality and Literacy”. Retrieved August 12, 2018 from

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