Glossary Term: Primary Orality

Primary Orality:

Primary orality is a way for societies without writing systems to pass along their history, laws, and general knowledge from generation to generation. In oral societies, all knowledge is confined to the human memory within a localized community. Due to the evanescent quality of sound, as soon as a word is spoken, it goes out of existence and cannot be called back. Because of this quality, members of an oral society must depend on repetition, rhythm, rhyme and narratives to aid in their memory. In a primary oral society, people look with reverence to their elders because of their memories and experiences, however information is shared throughout the entire community, because once a piece of information is forgotten it is gone forever.

An example of an old sailor rhyme is “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning”.

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