Thursday, August 17, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Eric A. Havelock (1903 – 1988)


Professor at the University of Toronto and was active in the academic milieu of the Canadian socialist movement during the 1930s.
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Eric A. Havelock
Over the years, I have become convinced that Hellenism as a culture represents not a static condition of uniform sublimity mysteriously achieved and maintained as an effect of some racial advantage. Rather it should be understood as an evolving process, governed by a dynamic of change, as both language and thought underwent transformational alteration caused by a transition from orality to literacy. The instrument of change is discerned to be the invention of the Greek alphabet, at a quite late stage in the history of developing cultures.
Havelock quotes
What our story, however, has demonstrated is the astonishingly checkered, not to say hazardous, career of a reading device which we in the West now take so much for granted. Historians have acclaimed the "triumph of the alphabet," but the triumph was often compromised, sometimes bitterly contested, and to this day is only half won.
Havelock
A scholar like myself who is not a Sinologist and yet ventures the proposition that Chinese languages should be rewritten in the Greek alphabet (or "Romanized", to use the current term) is treading on uncharted territory (for him) and does so at his peril.




Havelock Eric A. quotes
Could it be argued that if the Chinese revolution seems to be a response to the needs of rural society, whereas the Russian is an urbanized phenomenon, this difference corresponds to that which exists between the users of two different forms of written communication, the one archaic, the other alphabetic?
Havelock Eric A.
Speech is an acoustic reality, writing a visual one. Performance of the former has been perfected through a million years of natural selection in the evolutionary process. The latter is a trick which we began to learn only yesterday (in terms of evolutionary time). To "hear" language (and to "say" it) is programmed in our genes; to "see" it (and "read" it) is not.
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