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Conlang literacy in concultures [was: Re: Happy Conlang day!]

From:Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Friday, July 20, 2001, 8:28
Yoon Ha Lee wrote:

> What are literacy standards in any associated concultures with your conlangs? > How is writing/reading taught, if at all?
Literacy in Phaleran is really a complex subject, because it depends on what you mean by Phaleran. Phaleran is, in its official form, is highly regulated by an official Academy, and misuse can lead to severe penalties, especially but not limited to when misuse involves criticism of the current regime, including death, torture or some kind of exile. ("Misuse" is thus construed extremely broadly.) For this reason, among others, the publishing industry in most parts of Phalera has for centuries not been a very prosperous business, and consequently the population as a whole lacks the basic essentials to produce the kind of mass-literacy that most of us take for granted in our experience of the world: the aggregate supply of printed materials is low enough that these things sell at an equilibrium level effectively out of the range of most of the population. A countervailing tendency is also a result of government intervention: government sinecures are in effect distributed according to class, but not institutionally. Members of the elite that want such positions have to compete according to mass examinations, and any advancement up the social ladder requires service in the the bureacracy. Imagine the examination system of Imperial China imposed on top of that of Tsarist Russia, and you approximate something like the Twolyeo bureacracy. This means that those with the most ambition also have to be most "educated", even if that education is quite incidental to the functioning of their position. The result of all this is that in Twolyeo lands, you have a hyperliterate elite with a meagerly educated proletariat. Standard Phaleran is not, however, the only kind of Phaleran that is spoken. There is a very broad range of local dialects and related languages that do not fall into this category. This is partly a result of the fragmented Phaleran political and economic system: there are hundreds of individual governments and economic systems that are effectively independent of hegemonic powers like those run out of Twolyeo or the C|'ali regions. Among these, regulations vary greatly, and in many places, especially small principalities and republican city-states, literacy in the local variation of Phaleran is quite general, approaching what we might consider Latin American levels: between 70 and 90 percent. None of these varieties of Phaleran or related languages have the prestige or the currency of the official version, however, and so the highly educated in these communities are usually conversant in Standard Phaleran as well. =================================== Thomas Wier | AIM: trwier "Aspidi men Saiôn tis agalletai, hên para thamnôi entos amômêton kallipon ouk ethelôn; autos d' exephugon thanatou telos: aspis ekeinê erretô; exautês ktêsomai ou kakiô" - Arkhilokhos