Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Webster Dictionary Definitions

I was writing in Microsoft Word and when I right clicked the mouse to correct the spelling of literacies you only have an option to change it to "literacy’s", "literacy", "illiteracies", "literalizes", and "literalism". Out of curiosity I wanted to see what illiteracies was only because according to Microsoft word literacies is not a word so how could illiteracies exit without literacies. According to Webster Dictionary (2002), "literacy n. the state or quality of being literate; specif., a) a ability to read and write b) knowledgeability or capability [computer literacy]" (pg 838). Webster (2002) definition of "illiteracy n. 1 the state or quality of being illiterate; lack of education or culture; esp. an inability to read or write 2 pl. --cies a mistake (in writing or speaking) suggesting poor or inadequate education" (pg 711). Final Webeter (2002) definition, "illiterate adj. 1 ignorant; uneducated; esp., not knowing how to read or write 2 having or showing limited knowledge , experience, or culture, esp. in some particular field [musically illiterate] 3 violating accepted usage in language [an illiterate sentence] --n. an illiterate person; esp., a person who does not know how to read or write --SYN. IGNORANTE – illiterately adv." (pg 771). I wanted to use my old school literacy of using Webster Dictionary to look something up vs. using the internet. It made me realize the internet is extremely accessible. Which leads me to another thought of how people back in the day used to have bookshelves of encyclopedia’s, dictionary’s, thesauruses, and other reference material that can now be typed and revealed in seconds on a computer screen. It’s amazing how technology influences our ideas of literacy and cultural practices.


Tamara Niquette said...

I think it's interesting that "illiterate" is defined as being ignorant. I'm not exactly sure about that. I know people who can't read and I would say they are illiterate but I would never say they are ignorant.

Heather said...

"Ignorant" to me implies a lack of access (willingly or not) to the information or experiences. If someone is illiterate aren't they cut off from some information or experience? Is it so wrong that illiteracy has a negative connotation and implies some ignorance? After all, this is a big part of teaching right? "Literacy." "Math Literacy." "Social Literacy." "Science Literacy." If illiteracy isn't a big bad deal, dare I say a form of ignorance then why is that we teach?

Perhaps, the problem is that we make a value judgement as to a person's character rather than just an assessment of skills. My favorite Uncle was illiterate. Yes, it was terribly embarrassing to him and I think he did see it as a horribly negative thing because he was "cut off" from so much in his world. I think he did feel a little ignorant even if it wasn't willful. It was so negative that he'd rather go his whole life putting tremendous effort and resources into hiding his lack of this particular skill rather than simply learning to read. He was so embarrassed he would ignore (note the word: ignorant) political problems, contracts and certainly never had literature in his life. He always had to have things explained to him. He never voted ...ever.

Because I loved him so much you should also know he knew every Catholic joke ever told, mixed a hell of a Manhattan, play serious cards, was a notorious bootlegger at 15, and was the most loving, happy, thoughtful person ever.