Here is my latest article for The Imaginative Conservative website–in which I discuss the impact the omnipotent screen will have on language.
With the predominance of textual language we forget that language was first meant to be spoken not written and read. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was spoken. Stories were told. Instructions were given. Then the stories and instructions were memorized and passed down not in scrolls and scriptures, but by word of mouth. Stories were dramatized and then became dramas that were acted out. The actors memorized and passed the text on to the next generations through the formal traditions of drama, storytelling, teaching and memorization.
Then alphabets were developed and our ancestors began to write down the stories and the plays. The Scriptures became sacred. The written word could be kept on the page not only to be read but also to be studied and analyzed. Books were written about books and books were written about those books. Step by step, through the wonder of the written word, language became more and more abstract. Thought and analysis became increasingly theoretical and cut off from reality.
Now, however, our children and grandchildren are un-literate. They can read, but they don’t read. Why should they read even an e-book when the stories are acted out so much more entertainingly on the screen? Why should they read when they can listen to a story through audio while they are doing something else? We are used to stories being told through text by skilled writers, but stories used to be told verbally by skilled storytellers. Stories were told and songs were sung. Now we gather information from non-fiction books written by skilled writers. Once we gathered that information from teachers and tutors.
Before long we will realize the true impact of the screen revolution, and it will be the disintegration of written language.
Read the whole article here.