Alphabet to Email: How Written English Evolved and Where by Naomi S. Baron

By Naomi S. Baron

From pen-and-parchment to the e-mail revolution, language professional Naomi Baron exhibits how know-how impacts the best way we converse and write, and how we educate our kids to take action. The fine--and disappearing--distinction among spoken and written English is on the middle of this enticing ebook, which incorporates a number of exciting anecdotes describing the lengthy trip From Alphabet to Email, in addition to a few frightening meditations at the way forward for language and literacy.

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Additional info for Alphabet to Email: How Written English Evolved and Where It's Heading

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Alphabetization may have been invented by Callimachus (the librarian) for cataloguing Legitimating Written Engilsh 39 the library’s massive holdings, which have been estimated at over half a million rolls. 42 However, the Alexandrian use of the alphabetical principle didn’t easily make its way to Western Europe. While a few works by medieval lexicographers used alphabetical order, 43 early application of the principle generally meant only categorizing items by their first letter, and then clumping together all As, all Bs, and so forth, without further classification.

How widespread was literacy in medieval England? Popular lore suggests that even basic literacy was rare. 6 As far back as 871, Alfred, King of the West Saxons, suggested that scarcely anyone in England south of the Humber River was capable of translating a letter out of Latin. 7 While the spread of Christianity over the next centuries obviously called for increasing the number of people who could handle Latin, men of the cloth didn’t always rise to the occasion. 8 Literacy in the vernacular, though limited to a small sector of the population, was nonetheless firmly rooted by the early Middle Ages.

Scrolled manuscripts of 38 Alphabet to Email ancient civilizations were eventually doomed by the information-retrieval problem. In China, the rolled book was replaced by flat leaves, at least in part, because you couldn’t locate specific passages without unrolling a lot of paper. 37 But even flat pages hardly guarantee that material can be accessed randomly. You need both a system for coding the text itself and a means of summarizing your reference calls. Take the problem of internal coding. Nowhere is the issue of textual division better illustrated than with the Bible.

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