Rethinking Writing

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Indiana University Press, Jan 1, 2000 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 254 pages
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Rethinking Writing
Roy Harris

An argument for the primacy of the written word as the pre-eminent mode of communication.

"This is an excellent book, rich, clear, and innovative from the point of view of semiology." —Jean Khalfa, Cambridge University

The traditional Western view of writing, from Aristotle to the present day, has treated the written word as a visual substitute for the spoken word. The eminent Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) was the first to provide this traditional assumption with a reasoned basis by incorporating it into a more general theory of signs.

In the wake of Saussure’s work, modern linguistics has ignored or marginalized writing in favor of the study of speech.

Roy Harris shows that the theory of writing adopted in modern linguistics is deeply flawed. Reversing the orthodox priorities, he argues that writing is a far more powerful mode of linguistic communication that speech ever could be. Rethinking Writing is a major contribution to current debates about human communication, written and spoken.

Roy Harris, Emeritus Professor of General Linguistics at the University of Oxford, is author of The Origin of Writing.

Contents

Preface
Foreword: Writing and Civilization
Aristotle’s Abecedary
Structuralism in the Scriptorium
Writing Off the Page
Notes on Notation
Alphabetical Disorder
Ideographic Hallucinations
On the Dotted Line
Beyond the Linguistic Pale
Mightier than the Word
Bibliography
Index

256 pages, 9 1/4 x 6 1/4, &$39.95s

  

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Contents

Aristotles Abecedary
17
Structuralism in the Scriptorium
39
Writing off the Page
64
Notes on Notation
91
Alphabetical Disorder
121
Ideographic Hallucinations
138
On the Dotted Line
161
Beyond the Linguistic Pale
184
Mightier than the Word
215
Bibliography
243
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Roy Harris is emeritus Professor of General Linguistics at the University of Oxford. His publications include The Origin of Writing.

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