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Monday, May 25, 2015

Region Focus

Understanding the orality of Arabic culture

Khaled Islaih

According to semioticians, symbolic breakthroughs have led to major transformations in human civilization and enabled new modes of thinking, sensing, knowing and being. Historically, symbolic shifts led to cultural transformations and created new economic landscapes with new business and career opportunities. For example, oral traditions (known as orality among media experts) dominated modes of communications, lifestyles, knowledge production and social interactions in preindustrial times. As a main symbolic system, orality also shaped cultural norms and social structures. For instance, people lived in tribal communities, and knowledge was transmitted orally among social groups and then onward to the next generation. Economic activities were meshed within kinships, family and a wider social web.

Despite accelerated advances in information and communications technologies, oral cultures are still alive in most parts of the world and shape social behaviors and attitudes for the majority of world population. Orality doesn’t necessarily imply illiteracy. Instead, orality refers to a different way of thinking about things, and even a different way of relating to the world. For example, while literate people tend to embrace analytical knowledge in problem-solving and decision-making, oral people use relational knowledge to navigate their lives and make everyday decisions and choices. According to orality experts, more than 60% of the world’s populations are described as oral communicators. Historically, oral modalities shape Arab language and culture. . .

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Above excerpt taken from the December 2012 issue of MultiLingual published by MultiLingual Computing, Inc., 319 North First Avenue, Suite 2, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864-1495 USA, 208-263-8178, Fax: 208-263-6310. Subscribe

December, 2012