General considerations Definitions Both terms in the title of this article are in need of elaboration.
Prehistoric literacy[ edit ] Origins of literacy[ edit ] Literacy is emerged with the development of numeracy and computational devices as early as 8, BCE. Script developed independently at least five times in human history MesopotamiaEgyptthe Indus civilizationlowland Mesoamericaand China.
During this era, literacy was "a largely functional matter, propelled by the need to manage the new quantities of information and the new type of governance created by trade and large scale production".
Proto-cuneiform texts exhibit not only numerical signs, but also ideograms depicting objects being counted. The Egyptian hieroglyphic writing system was the first notation system to have phonetic values.
These civilizations used glyphic writing and bar-and-dot numerical notation systems for purposes related to royal read write arabic program the voice and calendar systems.
These systematic notations were found inscribed on bones and recorded sacrifices made, tributes received, and animals hunted, which were activities of the elite. These oracle-bone inscriptions were the early ancestors of modern Chinese script and contained logosyllabic script and numerals.
Indus script is largely pictorial and has not been deciphered yet. It may or may not include abstract signs. It is thought that they wrote from right to left and that the script is thought to be logographic.
Because it has not been deciphered, linguists disagree on whether it is a complete and independent writing system; however, it is genuinely thought to be an independent writing system that emerged in the Harappa culture.
Origins of the alphabet[ edit ] According to social anthropologist Jack Goodythere are two interpretations that regard the origin of the alphabet. Many classical scholars, such as historian Ignace Gelbcredit the Ancient Greeks for creating the first alphabetic system c.
But Goody contests, "The importance of Greek culture of the subsequent history of Western Europe has led to an over-emphasis, by classicists and others, on the addition of specific vowel signs to the set of consonantal ones that had been developed earlier in Western Asia".
Much of this theory's development is credited to English archeologist Flinders Petriewho, incame across a series of Canaanite inscriptions located in the turquoise mines of Serabit el-Khadem.
Ten years later, English Egyptologist Alan Gardiner reasoned that these letters contain an alphabet, as well as references to the Canaanite goddess Asherah.
InWilliam F. Albright deciphered the text using additional evidence that had been discovered subsequent to Goody's findings. This included a series of inscriptions from Ugaritdiscovered in by French archaeologist Claude F. Some of these inscriptions were mythological texts written in an early Canaanite dialect that consisted of a letter cuneiform consonantal alphabet.
Another significant discovery was made in when three arrowheads were uncovered, each containing identical Canaanite inscriptions from twelfth century BCE.
According to Frank Moore Crossthese inscriptions consisted of alphabetic signs that originated during the transitional development from pictographic script to a linear alphabet. Moreover, he asserts, "These inscriptions also provided clues to extend the decipherment of earlier and later alphabetic texts".
During the Late Bronze Agesuccessor alphabets appeared throughout the Mediterranean region and were employed for PhoenicianHebrew and Aramaic.
According to Goody, these cuneiform scripts may have influenced the development of the Greek alphabet several centuries later. Historically, the Greeks contended that their writing system was modeled after the Phoenicians. However, many Semitic scholars now believe that Ancient Greek is more consistent with an early form Canaanite that was used c.
While the earliest Greek inscriptions are dated c. Baruch ben NeriahJeremiah's scribe, used this alphabet to create the later scripts of the Old Testament.
It was then that the new script "Square Hebrew" emerged and the older one rapidly died out. As the Bronze Age collapsedthe Aramaeans moved into Canaan and Phoenician territories and adopted their scripts.
Although early evidence of this writing is scarce, archeologists have uncovered a wide range of later Aramaic texts, written as early as the seventh century BCE. Due to its longevity and prevalence in the region, Achaemenid rulers would come to adopt it as a "diplomatic language". Aramaic merchants carried older variations of the language as far as Indiawhere it later influenced the development of Brahmi scripture.
It also led to the developments of ArabicPahlavi an Iranian adaptation"as well as for a range of alphabets used by early Turkish and Mongol tribes in SiberiaMongolia and Turkestan ".
The Aramaic language would die out with the spread of Islam and with it, its influence of Arabic. Ancient and post-classical literacy[ edit ] Further information: Latin alphabet Until recently it was thought that the majority of people were illiterate in ancient times. The Republic amassed huge archives of reports on every aspect of public life".
The army kept extensive records relating to supply and duty rosters and submitted reports. Merchants, shippers, and landowners and their personal staffs especially of the larger enterprises must have been literate. In the late fourth century the Desert Father Pachomius would expect literacy of a candidate for admission to his monasteries: And if he is illiterate he shall go at the first, third and sixth hours to someone who can teach and has been appointed for him.
He shall stand before him and learn very studiously and with all gratitude.Find U.S. Department of State programs for U.S.
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Literacy is traditionally defined as the ability to read and write. In the modern world, this is one way of interpreting literacy. A more broad interpretation is literacy as knowledge and competence in a specific area. The concept of literacy has evolved in meaning.