Orality, Literacy, and the Tradition — The Orthosphere

Beginning in the mid-1990s and for about ten years I published a number of articles about the dismal state of the humanities and one of its causes: The savage war against literacy being waged in the public schools by the state-university departments of education that set curricula for K-12. My Modern Age article from 2003, “Orality, Literacy, […]

via Orality, Literacy, and the Tradition — The Orthosphere

Orality and Literacy DISTINCTION, not metamorphosis

By Jence Carlo Servano and Ardeth Sinamban

Linguistics has been sounding a faint alarm. The human tongue and hand have been in quite a combat as millenials and traditionalists flag out their linguistic methods to be more effective than the other. Other intellects have even argued that writing has “changed” or “taken over” orality, and that it should be already, with what of the modern human intellect. However, Ferdinand de Saussure commented that: writing has “usefulness, shortcomings and dangers”, but he saw writing as a complement to verbal speech, not a transformer of it.

To really think about it though, it already seems pretty obvious that orality and literacy are different. According to Ong’s Orality and Literacy, there are roughly 3000 languages spoken today to which only 78 have a literature. Writing also extends word resources: English has more than 1.5million words, and most oral dialects have only several thousand words. In short, writing implies some orality in a culture, orality does not imply writing.

Orality was and is mainly used by the tradional oral cultures, and they depend mostly in their memories. They must invest greatly in repeating and memorizing which they arduously learned in years. Indeed to remember things one should established a high set of conservative mind. At the time writing was invented, it gave humans access to limitless memory. It’s not aiming to annihilate oral cultures but because it’s a human need. To know more and learn more. What’s written down, that idea can now last without being forgotten. No need of vivid repeating and memorizing, but making people learn new things faster and share more information without forgetting. With this, intellects and experts of the modern world have commended writing to be used by schools, millenials, and society of the modern world since it is proven to be significantly more convenient, appropriate, and advantageous compared to the acquirements or erudition of orality. However, there still are oral cultures who stood firm in their cultural linguistic ways of learning despite the “evolution” of the modern society.

To sum things up, even with how quite evident it is to see that writing is easier when it comes to studying, and that millenials and majority of the people in the world today do use literacy or writing over orality, that does not imply that it has totally taken over or metamorphosized orality. There are oral cultures still existing that keep faith to their traidtion linguistic method.



Ong, W. J., & Hartley, J. (2013). Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

Retrieved from https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http://neamathisi.com/literacies/chapter-1-literacies-on-a-human-scale/ong-on-the-differences-between-orality-and-literacy.com


ORALITY VS LITERACY : A Fight for Equality


By: Glannerry Kate Salarza and Reyban Sabordo


“No man is an island”

Perhaps, this is one of the most factual aphorisms I have encountered in my entire existence here on Earth. Indeed, no one and nothing could survive without the assistance of the other.

Now, how is this related to orality and literacy?

Throughout the years, these two cultures, oral and literate, have paved their way to get a spot in the realms of language and communication.

Orality, by definition, is a medium of language originated long before chirography was unraveled, whereas people communicate personally. Long ago, since there are no concrete basis or representations, the language our ancestors used was just merely vague sounds. In fact, it doesn’t matter even though they vary with the sounds as long as they understand each other. As a result of the face-to-face connection, conversations tend to be more additive, aggregative, redundant, conservative, close to the human world, agnostically-toned, empathetic and participatory, homeostatic, and situational, than usual.

Literacy, on the flip side, is one aid of connecting with other people in a chirographic demeanor. As years go by, humanity has learned and embraced the essence of communication through written letters, whereas they have come up with an idea to write all the things they want to say to the other person in a sheet of paper. However, in the fast-pacing world of today’s generation, technology has become powerful and influential to the people, especially the millennials. Today, technology has been a wide medium of communication. From letters, people can now communicate through text messaging, chat, e-mail, and the like. Through literate culture, conversations tend to be more analytic, copious, traditionalist, objectively distant, and abstract, compared to oral.

Though they vary in a lot of aspects, primary oral and literate culture have become “best buds” in the given field. Having being said that no one and nothing could succeed alone, we believe that orality and literacy are the support systems of each other. Thus, we do not consider orality as superior or inferior than literacy and vice versa. In lieu, we treat them just the same as a “win-win situation”. These two are interconnected cultures, meaning that they both are dependent with each other. Obviously, you cannot enjoy the zenith level of effectivity of each one by utilizing it individually. Orality and literacy may differ in model and medium of communication, but allowing them to work as one will be a perfect combo.

Hence, orality and literacy should be inseparable, and we should always bear in mind that every person or everything has its own unique trait. We are all different from each other, but that doesn’t mean that one is superior or inferior than the other. Never.




Ong, W. J. (1982). Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London: Methuen. Retrieved from: http://dss-edit.com/prof-anon/sound/library/Ong_orality_and_literacy.pdf

Photo References:

Croman, J. (2017). http://jakecroman.co/why-commitment-to-providing-equal-treatment-is-a-smart-business-move/



Kariton Klasrum Project: Appreciation of Oral and Literary Convergence

By: Donovan Aguilos, Marvin John Saijo, and Erika Xim Paola Santos

“You are the change that you dream as I am the change that I dream and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be.” –Efren Peñaflorida (Founder Kariton Klasrum Program; CNN 2009 Hero of the Year).

While some of us were enjoying the luxury of life, CNN 2009 Hero of the Year Efren Peñaflorida roamed around the streets of Cavite with his kariton delivering free education to all street children. Peñaflorida wasn’t just a typical hero. Since 1997, this ‘slumdog educator’ and more than 12, 000 teenage volunteers have taught basic reading and writing skills to more than 1, 800 children living on the streets and consequently bringing global fame to this Kariton Klasrum Project. These pushcarts were stocked with school materials and even folding tables and chairs. The volunteers then, create school settings in locations wherever the children were.

On the other hand, “How do orality and literacy impact the Kariton Klasrum Program?” The dialogic relationship between these two influences its mission which was clearly focused on developing life and civic skills necessary in producing lifelong learners.


In the project, orality as speech communication was used in leisure activities such as games and storytelling for the children to enjoy learning instead of just immersing them in books. However, the literary culture was observed through different literacy and numerical assessments. There was equilibrium in the teaching methods wherein both oral and literary cultures are involved.


With this teaching method, it showed efficacy based on the results of street children’s learning performance. This only showed that classes weren’t really supposed to be tedious by reading books and copying notes, but it should also engage students in the aforementioned leisure activities. Through these, both mentors and students are engaged in a mutual understanding of the topics by presenting activities that do not deviate from the lessons.

Furthermore, the project promotes the understanding that each student has different learning capabilities, since each of them have different upbringings, and the mentors have to simply put themselves into their position to relay the information in a manner that a child of a certain age group can retain, and make it more comprehensive and enjoyable among the street children.

The study of proper treatment on our thought processes and social structures can develop sustainable teaching strategies which can encourage even the lost street children to go back to the walls of proper education. It is in the appreciation of the convergence of oral and literary cultures we are able to innovate and uplift the value of Philippine education and perhaps envision “Education for All” in a different perspective.

“Before, they saw [a pushcart] as a symbol of poverty, but now they see a pushcart as a symbol of hope.” -Peñaflorida

Askew, L and Beger, D. (2010). Filipinos embrace Hero of the Year, ‘pushcart classrooms’ for poor. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/09/16/cnnheroes.penaflorida.update/index.html

Postigo, N. (2017). Efren Peñaflorida of ‘pushcart classroom’.  Retrieved from http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/People/view?articleId=144430

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2015). Promising EFA practices in the Asia Pacific. The Philippines: Kariton klasrum. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002330/233005E.pdf

Photo References:

Corpuz, J. (2010). Efren Peñaflorida aka kariton kid [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.juanmanilaexpress.com/qbe-foundation-dynamic-teen-company-by-efren-penaflorida-education-programs/

Dennis, M. (2011). Karitun klasrum [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://pinoymanila.com/2011/08/22/golden-abc-supports-efren-penafloridas-kariton-klasrum/

Magbanua, D. (2009). CNN hero 2009: Efren Peñaflorida [Online Image]. Retrieved from https://itsthewalkingstick.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/cnn-hero-2009-efren-penaflorida/

Push Cart Education [Online Image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.tasteofgoodness.info/2011/08/gabc-changing-lives-at-time-in-kariton.html

The Nature of Vlogs and Blogs

By: Joshua Steven C. Rose and Socorro Bay H. Sarabia

Professor Walter J. Ong’s book entitled “Orality and Literacy” delved into different factors that may have somehow changed our thought processes, personality, and social structures that resulted to the development of speech and writing. Moreover, the book explained the vast differences and similarities between oral cultures and literate cultures, and even the relationship of their orality and literacy.

Reflecting on what we have learned from Professor Ong, my partner and I thought that we can relate his concept to the emergence of vlogs and their association to blogs. To start with, we all know that a blog also known as “weblog” is a discussion and informational website wherein authors share their knowledge about any topic they desire. It can also be a form of journal or diary. Moreover, the author of a blog is known as a “blogger”. Similarly, a vlog stands for “video blog” which is an enhanced type of blog and is a major trend in the present time that gives the “vlogger” the opportunity to post videos in his/her website about almost anything under the sun to give entertainment, share information, create tutorials and etc.

Both blogs and vlogs have the same objective and that is to communicate to their audience. Same is true with orality and literacy. The only difference is that one form requires a physical presence to be able to be created. Furthermore, although most of the time the receiver of information in these types of media is indefinite and not present, it can still be considered that both approaches are intersubjective. It is because vloggers and bloggers could only come up with their posts’ content if they share a similar consciousness about a certain topic with their target audience. They imagine a series of anticipated feedback in order for them to present information in their vlogs/blogs and for the content to be more interactive and closer to the human world. The emergence of these modern forms of communication gives us a unique view of the communication model that we know because while it uses a medium and reflects a one-way approach of communicating, it is still intersubjective.


Ong, Walter J. 1982. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Methuen, pp. 171-173

The Effectiveness of Orality vs. Literacy When it Comes to Teaching Children

 By: Anjie Gancita and April Magbanua  

        As a culture moves from orality to writing to printing to televising, its ideas of truth move with it. – Neil Postman

Years and years have passed and great changes happened over the course of time. One of these is the evolution of our cultures which have affected our orality and literacy. It can be said that when it comes to teaching children, both orality and literacy can be effecient but orality is more predominant. Teaching children orally is more effective and learning becomes easier for them.

In teaching young children for the first time, it is more advisable to teach them orally since it will be hard for them to understand written texts. They won’t be able to retain and absorb knowledge from these literary mediums as compared to a person imparting information to them. For example, a child learning how to draw will find it easier if someone teaches and demonstrates it to him or her rather than when he or she reads a book about learning how to draw. Children have vast imaginations and when it comes to learning, they would want to go outside of the box and actualize what they are taught. They do not just settle on a fixed reading material.

Learning has to be an intersubjective type of communication, the teacher and the student both have to be in a sender and receiver position at the same time. They both have to exchange experiences and knowledge to learn from one another. Furthermore, they must be able to connect or have a sense of the other person’s thoughts.

Learning should not only be in a chirographic conditioning form since, unlike the oral culture, it regards speech as informational rather than performance oriented. Furthermore, written texts are one-way since there is no real audience when the texts are being written. One can not be able to have communication with its readers and get inside their minds. As a result, the students would struggle in understanding and learning information from written texts.


Ong, W. J. (1982). Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London: Methuen.

Poetry: Performance Art or Written Piece

by Rea Mae S. Solano and Rexelle Bless L. Velasco

Poetry, in general and in its simplest definiton, is a composition that conveys one’s ideas, emotions and experiences in an artistically manner. With this being said, two forms of poetry evolved from their ancient forms and made their way into our hearts and souls today; spoken word poetry and page poetry or written poetry. The difference of the two mentioned above, according to Kijiner (2014) is that, “One is written with the intention of being performed, or spoken aloud, while the other is written specifically for the page.” Spoken word poetry differs in a way that the poet composed his/her piece with the audience in mind, their reaction and engagement. Also, elements of performance such as gesture, facial expression and projection are included to evoke intense emotion from the listeners.

“Page poetry can be quite illusive and difficult to engage with, but spoken word is out, and it’s saying it, and it’s entertaining without shying away from difficult subjects”. This quote from Amy Wragg quite explains why spoken word poetry is intersubjective in nature. It allows people to express their feelings in a more interactive manner. As for the audience, it is way easier to understand the underlying message and emotion based on the delivery of the piece by the performer. Although spoken word poetry like any other poetry uses the aesthetic of rhymes and rhythms, it could be inferred that it is a hybrid of all poems for it allows interaction from one person to another rather than a person to a piece of paper.

Poems in general are characterized by the use of words to create rhythm and rhymes. And the same concept is applicable to spoken word poetry. Only that in this form of poetry it is more than merely the construction of phrases and sentences but more importantly the oral aspect of the performance. These include diction, pronunciation, intonation, tone and the likes. Furthermore, performers also have to make sure that there is a connection between them and the audience leaving no room for open-ended interpretation as compared to to written poetry. Moreover, in spoken word poetry the meaning is understood and their audience would feel the emotions and thoughts that they want to elicit.


Guy, R. (2016). Retrieved August 20, 2018, from. https://rosguy.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/spoken-word-vs-traditional-written-poetry/amp/

Jaccoud, A. (n.d.) What is spoken word. Retrieved from https://www.spoken-word.ch/en/what-is-spoken-word. Retrieved August 20, 2018

Kijiner, K. J. (2014). Spoken word poetry vs page poetry. Retrieved from https://www.google.com.ph/amp/s/jkijiner.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/spoken-word-poetry-vs-page-poetry/amp/

Mitchell, G. (2016). What is spoken word poetry and why it is so powerful? Retrieved from http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/what-s-on/what-is-spoken-word-poetry-and-why-is-it-so-powerful-1-4741249

Our Abstract World in Symbols

By: Mark Estil, Cedric Jamera, Angelo Nobleza


Imagine a world where everything around us is not actually real. Imagine a world where only our train of thoughts guide the planes of reality. Now, imagine a world where our thoughts, imaginations, and dreams can be shared with a group of fellow human beings with ease and with both of you understanding each other with the help of symbols and characters. That is the world where we live in.

“Orality” or primary oral culture are said to be very different from “literacy” or literary cultures in various other ways. Some experts say that both have their own similarities. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages depending in their uses, their application in the real world or in the abstract way of thinking, and to the culture that they are associated with.

The reality is, both are very well-connected to one another as they are indistinct to each other. They are both dissimilar in a way that orality or oral literature depends on the situation rather than the abstract ways of communicating. But, they can also be connected in a way that both use concrete examples to explain  an abstract thought more thoroughly.

Both do not coincide with one another in a way that, as Orality can persist as a sole medium of communication for a society. However, orality can only be exercised only up to the extent to which direct human interaction is permitted. On the other hand, one of the simplest examples of using concrete ideas to depict an abstract thought is through the use of real life examples to explain concepts which are vague, in-explicit, or unclear.

Another noticeable difference between the oral culture and literary culture is the oral culture being additive rather than subordinate. An example stated in Ong’s book “Orality and Literacy” is the creation narrative in Genesis 1:1-5 where the additive way of communication can be perceived.

Unlike oral culture, literary culture has a more organized but sophisticated way of communicating since it follows a proper structure to avoid misunderstanding in the meaning of the message they want to convey.



Ong, Walter J. 1982. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Methuen, pp.31, 37-49

Orality and Literacy – In What Ways Are Oral and Literate Cultures Similar? (2012, September 30). Retrieved from https://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/09/30/1150/


Orality and Literacy: An Appreciation of Importance and Purpose

“Does time really measure the power of a concept?

         After reading Ong’s perspective towards orality and literacy, this question seems to pinpoint the problem of the statement implying that “orality is inferior to literacy”. But, is it even true? Or is it just another misconception?

         Before diving into the pond, let us first take an initial dip into the subject and define the two most important terms here: Orality and Literacy. Orality, as most of us understand, simply means the use of speech rather than writing as means of communication. On the other hand, literacy, with our basic understanding, means the ability of a person to read and write in a way that lets us communicate effectively.

     However, in today’s society, there’s still a division between orality and literacy wherein some people think that orality is inferior to literacy or the other way around. It is still not clear on why and how they can be inferior, or superior, from one another because of the unique advantages and disadvantages they possess. For example, orality demands the need to repeat the message again and again to be remembered while literacy has a copy that serves as a solid evidence of the message. On the other hand, in orality, communication is made on a personal level so it is much more direct thus no misunderstandings. Unlike in literacy, where there could be more than one interpretation of the written message.

     So, contrary to the belief, there is actually no solid premise that could say that orality is inferior to literacy just because literacy came after orality. In fact, according to Ong (2002), they are co-dependent with each other in the sense that when you read a written text, your mind speaks it out. So, it shouldn’t be a battle of superiority, rather, it should be the appreciation of its importance and purpose in communication.


Ong, Walter (2002). Orality and Literacy. The Technologizing of the Word. Routledge, New York.


Chiara Mari Ricablanca and Karl Sorenio

Orality And Literacy : The Technologizing Of The Word — Channel Rewards

Walter J. Ong’s classic work provides a fascinating insight into the social effects of oral, written, printed and electronic technologies, and their impact on philosophical, theological, scientific and literary thought. This thirtieth anniversary edition – coinciding with Ong’s centenary year – reproduces his best-known and most influential book in full and brings it up to […]

via Orality And Literacy : The Technologizing Of The Word — Channel Rewards