Literacy - What does it really mean?

Discussion in 'The Guru's Pub' started by Size_Mick, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. Size_Mick

    Size_Mick Master Guru

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    Random thoughts occur in my head all the time and I can't control them, and one such thought is, in a global economy and with the internet and everything, should someone who can only understand a single language be considered literate?

    Then I had to ask myself, well, if someone only knows one language but has read a wide variety of books and studied numerous subjects, are they literate?

    Then I had to ask myself, so, what about people who only know one language and aren't into books, but they know how to read and write, are they literate?

    A quick google search led me to a UNESCO document about literacy:

    http://gaml.uis.unesco.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/12/4.6.1_07_4.6-defining-literacy.pdf

    Which in itself sounds pretty good, but in a world as complex as this one is, and with so much at stake for the future of our race and of all the other living things, is this a good enough definition?

    Speaking for myself, I only know English. I've taken a little German in college, and know a handful of words from various languages (most of them Indo-European). I like to play with Google Translate and learn dirty phrases from other cultures and such, like many of you probably. ;)

    Then I thought, let's ask the good folks at the Guru3D forums, mainly because I can hope for replies from people from all over the globe. I believe some European countries with native languages other than English require kids to take English classes, yes? If you tried to do something like that with, say, Spanish in the US you'd have a bunch of hillbillies screaming "F**********CK YEEEEEEEWWWWWWWW!!!! FREEEEEEEEDUUUUUMB!" or some such. They'd probably think it was prep for a Mexican Invasion. Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2020
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  2. The Laughing Ma

    The Laughing Ma Ancient Guru

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    To me it means the ability to understand, comprehend, process and use. In the past it was a pretty literal term referring to the ability to read and write with very little in the way of expansion. Now though it seems to be attached to and used as an alternative meaning to understanding how something can be used or operated. I.e computer literate. To expand on your question as to knowing how to: read, write, communicate and understand one language makes you literate. Well yes if that language is wide spread enough to allow you and other individuals to freely communicate through reading, writing and spoken language then yes you are literate. I guess you could narrow the meaning by saying someone is, for example English Literate or French Literate.

    You mentioned that part of the curriculum for most schools is a secondary language, which it indeed was the case for high school when I went however I now believe they start as early as the first few years of primary school. In light of recent world events it has been decided that when children return to school they will only be taught core subjects (I am guessing to try and catch up) and one of the first things that's been dropped has been the foreign languages. I guess that kind of highlights how import they really consider teaching a second language?
     
  3. mbk1969

    mbk1969 Ancient Guru

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    @Size_Mick

    You understand that only literate gurus can answer to your OP, don`t you?
    :cool:
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2020
  4. Dragondale13

    Dragondale13 Maha Guru

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    Literacy is one of the major problems we have in T&T among adults as well.But pride stops 90% of them from ever admitting, much less doing anything about it, in order to better themselves.
    Can't go into the reasons for it because they're all stupid and selfish (the reasons) and for that very fact, I could care less.
     

  5. Quantumgamer

    Quantumgamer New Member

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    To me literacy includes (but is of course not limited to) understanding references, idioms and quotes from important/popular/relevant literature.
    If one speaks many languages but doesnt understand a single reference to relevant books, is one really literate?
     
  6. TaskMaster

    TaskMaster Maha Guru

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    Then I had to ask myself, well, if someone only knows one language but has read a wide variety of books and studied numerous subjects, are they literate?

    Yes.

    Then I had to ask myself, so, what about people who only know one language and aren't into books, but they know how to read and write, are they literate?

    Yes.

    I speak two languages myself.
     
  7. Fox2232

    Fox2232 Ancient Guru

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    I understand language of mathematics which includes mathematical logic. Best language ever. Enables all science in the world.
    Enables computers to do what they do. Enables people to process information with minimal bias as reality.

    All verbal languages are just something around. My language (similar complexity structure as Polish) is ~twice as complex as German which is quite more complex than English from grammar point of view.
    If you ignore grammar, you are going to have a lot of fun here.
     
  8. Size_Mick

    Size_Mick Master Guru

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    I used to be annoyed by bad spelling and grammar (and if it's extreme, I still can be), but then I read an article concerning ancient languages and learned that they know what a lot of words sounded like precisely because they were misspelled in ancient graffiti. Without these comparisons, we wouldn't be as sure about how they were pronounced. So, as it turns out, a little misspelling can actually have some residual benefits. Just as an example (not great but hopefully the point will be taken), the word "correction" might be misspelled "korrekshun" and it would sound the same.

    Following good grammatical rules is important, but so many people from around the world have been more or less forced to speak English that I have to have a lot of tolerance for bad grammar, just as any decent person should. And besides, English can be rather mangled and still be intelligible, so it all balances out.

    A followup question to people who understand more than one spoken language fluently: If you read something translated from one of those languages to another and you understand both, do you ever find yourself disagreeing with the translation (it could have been better, it was incorrect, who does this guy think he is translating a book, etc.)?
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2020
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  9. Fox2232

    Fox2232 Ancient Guru

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    And that's the difference. Fun comes from meaning of words. One letter can change meaning of entire sentence a lot...
     
  10. XP-200

    XP-200 Ancient Guru

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    Someone called me illiterate the other day, but the jokes on them as i have no idea what it even means. :p
     
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  11. vestibule

    vestibule Master Guru

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    I guess, I would not describe myself as literate on account for the most part, being lazy. When it comes to literacy again for the most part, I need a goodly kick up the bum to get my ass in gear on the matter. In fact I am terrible.
     
  12. jbscotchman

    jbscotchman Ancient Guru

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    LIteracy in it's most basic form means the ability and/or skill to understand basic languague, whatever is native to you.
     
  13. Clawedge

    Clawedge Ancient Guru

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    i believe alot of you are merging intelligence with literacy.
     
  14. Size_Mick

    Size_Mick Master Guru

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    Well, I think literacy builds on itself, really. The more you read and communicate, the more you understand what you're reading and communicating. Then things you read that didn't mean anything to you at first start to make actual sense. There has to be some point at which people have a decent overview of the state of the world and the history (such as it is written) of Man, and how it's all put together, even if they don't know many fields of study in-depth. But until you reach that point I think it becomes difficult to really understand what other people are saying in many cases. I mean, knowing the rules of language certainly isn't the same as knowing a language. And to an extent, knowing a language isn't the same as understanding it. In any case, since I only read and speak one language fluently, I don't feel particularly literate. I feel cut off from a vast amount of knowledge and other points of view. It's possible that even the language I speak affects my understanding of things, like books or films translated from another language. Or maybe it informs my perspective in pervasive ways that I am mostly unaware of.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
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  15. AsiJu

    AsiJu Ancient Guru

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    Literacy is the ibality to raed and wreti on an udalt level.
     
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  16. Horus-Anhur

    Horus-Anhur Master Guru

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    Literacy, as a definition is not a static concept. It changes with time and within regions.

    A few examples:
    In medieval times being literate meant the ability to read and write Latin. But a significant part of the population in Europe did know how to read and write in their native language.
    Estimates vary from 30 to 50% of medieval population being able to read and write. This is a lot more than most people nowadays think about medieval times.
    But because only those who know Latin were counted as being literate, it created a bit of a myth that medieval people didn't know how to read and write.

    One of the concepts of evaluating literacy was that of "functional literacy".
    This refers to whether a person can understand what is written on common books and documents, or if that person can only recognise letters and numbers and interpret a few words.
    This means that in most countries literacy ranges in the 90%. But when considering "functional literacy" this number plummets.
     
  17. Keitosha

    Keitosha Ancient Guru

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    FFS! I only speak and write Klingon and always have to Google Translate it. :(

    - translated by Geugle Transhite -
     
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  18. K.S.

    K.S. Ancient Guru

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    L O LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

    So deep & so true. "In the land of the one-eyed trolls, the literate man is King"
     
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