... 20. In the first lecture I spoke about the dependence of world-view and mood on language in the proper sense of the word, that is, on articulatory-auditory language. For in addition to language in this sense, there is, as a result of civilization, a graphic-visual aspect of language, that is, writing, literacy.
Writing, too, can exert an influence on world-view, on the capabilities and mood of the writer and reader, which is similar to that of the various forms of auditory language.
Let us consider first the differences in the mental processes of the literate person as opposed to those of the illiterate person.
Literacy weakens the memory of acoustically received and transmitted phenomena. A literate person is not capable of storing in his memory (on the basis of hearing alone) such great folk epics as the Russian byliny (even if we should agree with Rožneckij that they are Slavic reworkings of Scandinavian sagas) or the Serbian heroic songs. The memory of a literate person regresses and can no longer do without the aid of reading and writing.
The objectivization of linguistic representations, of what is thought and spoken by means of language, differs likewise in the literate and illiterate person. For example, when I, as a literate person, want to imagine something that can be expressed through language, I visualize, as it were, written words and phrases. I can no longer remember how I imagined the same thing in my childhood before I had learned to read and write. (Most likely I made no effort in this direction at all.) In this context we should also notice that aural hallucinations are far less frequent than visual hallucinations.
21. As for other questions concerning the relation of writing to world-view and mood, we must first distinguish two forms of writing:
1) writing that bears a more or less close relationship to the phonetic-acoustic side of language;
2) writing that bears a relationship to the extralinguistic concepts of the external world.
The second form of writing (e.g., ideograms, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Chinese writing) evidently influences the human mind differently than the alphabetic writings which were and are now dominant among most nations.
Ideographic writing can actually be read in any language, while our customary writing system mobilizes the phonetic-acoustic side of our particular linguistic thinking.
22. The simplest elements of a written language do not correspond at all to the simplest elements of sound language. As a rule, the simplest elements of writing are graphemes, that is, representations of letters or syllables, while the corresponding phonemes, that is, the representations of sounds, can be decomposed into more elementary phonetic and acoustic, psychologically determined elements. A letter, or sometimes a complex of letters, is itself indivisible, but represents the phonetic-acoustic aspect of language in such a way that it is associated with the phonetic-acoustic elements of a particular phonema and the phoneme as a whole.
The orthography of our written languages is based on two main principles: (1) phonemography and, (2) morphemography.
Phonemography is the one-sided, strictly phonetic way of writing, in which the division of the sentence into syntagms or syntactic elements and of the word into morphemes or morphological elements is not taken into consideration. Conversely, morphemography focuses on psychological affinity, on the associations of the sentence with other sentences and of the word with other words.
The grammatically regulated (normalized) method of writing in Sanskrit is a classic example of one-sided phonemography. But along with the phonemographic method of writing, or Samhita, we find in the texts of the Rigveda a parallel word-by-word commentary (Pada) which separates the individual words of the sentence (and the components of compounds) in approximately the European way. This method makes use of syntagmography, as opposed to morphemography in the narrow sense, which is based on the segmentation of words into etymologically different morphemes. The last method is alien to Sanskrit orthography which has no spellings such as German schreibt (with b, as in schreiben), gestrebt (with b as in streben), ragt (with g, as in ragen), Tod (with d, as in Todes), Sieb (with b, as in Siebe), alongside Stock (with ck, as Stockes), Lump (with p, as Lumpes), steckt (with ck, as in stecken), or Polish sad (with d, as in sadu), rog (with g, as in rogu), grob (with b, as in grobu), alongside kot (with t, as in kota), rok (with k, as in roku), chłop (with p, as in chłopa). Spelling within the <Sanskrit> word is based thoroughly on phonemography.
Phonemography is also the principle of Old Church Slavonic spelling, though here it is not applied consistently.
23. One-sided phonemographic writing reflects the tendency of our thinking toward monism and the selection of a single principle, while morphemography in combination with phonemography favors a dualism or even a pluralism of principles.
Pluralism of orthographic principles is found primarily in the writing systems of those people whose orthography (spelling) was created in ancient times on the basis of the orthography of a foreign language, and when the phonetic-acoustic aspect of the given language was still subject to serious gradual change.
Pluralism of orthographic principles characterizes, for example, French orthography, but a more typical case is written English. Side by side with phonemography, and to a somewhat lesser degree, morphemography, English spelling has some elements of syntagmography, and makes constant reference to the language’s past, to Old English, and to the languages that influenced English. Just as a country may issue special documents to aliens living in it temporarily, in order to set them apart from the natives and immigrants, the Englishman marks the words which appear to him as borrowings by a special spelling. This is why he distinguishes the letters k and c and the different pronunciations of the sequences gi, ge, etc. The discrimination of real, or supposed, borrowings by a special spelling is practiced in the orthographies of other languages as well (e.g., in French, German, Czech, and Polish), but nowhere is it applied with such consistency as in English.
When we read an English written (or printed) text, we associate the visual with extralinguistic concepts, i.e., representations of meaning, so that vision and hearing operate simultaneously. The extralinguistic representations are in part directly related to the visual ones without the intermediacy of pronunciation although in part, they depend on this intermediacy. In this respect, English orthography recalls to a certain extent ideographic and hieroglyphic systems of writing.
24. All writing systems exhibit, in addition, some elements of ideography. Here we refer primarily to punctuation marks, blanks between words, divisions into chapters, variations in the size and thickness of letters, etc.; but that form of ideography which is characteristic of English, namely the direct association of visual representations of words with extralinguistic concepts without the intermediacy of hearing, is evidently rare.
Differences in writing are in all probability connected with differences of world-view. But how this connection actually comes about I could not attempt to explain.
I shall venture to remark only that, for example, the English system of writing forces thought to move simultaneously in various directions, enhancing the activity of the mind. Impressions connected with both hearing and vision (and their corresponding associations) are aroused simultaneously.
25. The influence of orthography on world-view and mood also depends on whether it renders the speech-sounds clearly and accurately or leaves certain things incompletely expressed and to the reader’s conjecture.
Thus, in the Semitic systems of writing, only the consonants were originally indicated; the supplementation of vowels, that is, of the various syllable-forming elements of speech, was more or less left to the reader. This method is sometimes applied in the printing of European textbooks (for example, in Poland), in which letters are used to represent consonants, and dots vowels. It is left to the wit of the student to supply the missing letters.
Most orthographies do not mark stress (accent), which characterizes the spoken word in any language, or the singing quality that is carried by various types of intonation, or quantity (length or shortness) of vowels; in other words, all those quantitative elements of human speech that accompany the activity of the vocal cords. In order to pronounce correctly a written word of German, French, English, Danish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, Lithuanian, Latvian, or some other language, one must first understand the word. To the speaker of a given language this presents no special problem, but for the foreigner this is a difficult task.
Not all peoples are as considerate of outsiders as the Magyars, Czechs, or Slovaks, who designate vowel length employed by their language by special diacritical marks; and since stress in these languages is always bound to the first syllable, the foreigner confronted with a Hungarian, Czech, or Slovak text can generally pronounce the words correctly.
The Poles are rather fortunate in that their language completely ignores the quantitative differences mentioned above. And since stress plays no morphological role in the pronunciation of individual Polish words (that is, it does not serve to separate morphemes but pertains entirely to the field of sentence phonetics (Satzphonetik), where it serves to separate syntagms of more than one syllable within the sentence by stressing the penultimate syllable of these syntagms), the Poles can afford, without any orthographic effort, to be altruistic with respect to people speaking other languages.
Systems of writing in which important elements of pronunciation are left to the reader’s acumen probably have a positive influence on his ingenuity and ability to solve problems and crossword puzzles.
26. The history of the people accounts for a great deal in the writing systems of French, English, Swedish, Danish, and other languages that does not occur in the respective spoken languages. The French spelling est reflects the original Latin pronunciation; although the French word lost its consonants, the old spelling was preserved thanks to the written tradition and the influence of sentence phonetics (liaison). All the above-mentioned languages present two norms (die doppelten Sprachen): one of pronunciation, and the other of spelling, with numerous examples similar to the French one.
In the history of a given collective language, some phonemes may, furthermore, disappear, that is, not be reproduced by succeeding generations or survive only facultatively. In the latter case they may continue to exist as morphologized phonetic-acoustic representations, but they vary in their acoustic implementation: in careful speech they are pronounced and heard, but in rapid speech they are too weak to reach the periphery of the speech apparatus and to appear in the physical world of the speaker and listener.
Such facultativeness is of interest in the case of languages whose orthography makes use of the historical principle even when they are chiefly based on the principles of morphemography and phonemography (or contemporary pronunciation). For example, when the Polish words, written jabłko, szedł, rzekł, garnka, ziarnko are pronounced japko, šet, žek, garka, źarko, or in a higher style, japłko, šetł, garnka, źarnko, the speakers are primarily aware of the morphological connection of these forms with the forms jabłek, szła, rzekła, garnek, ziarnek, but the spelling as well as the careful, solemn pronunciation continue the earlier state of the Polish collective language. . . .
28. In systems of writing which combine the principle of phonemography with elements of morphemography, the parallelism or lack of parallelism between the chain of sounds and the chain of printed symbols, between the sequences of graphemes and the sequences of phonemes, generally exerts an influence upon the mode of thinking.
Thus, for example, in Russian phonemography, certain properties of the consonants are graphically rendered not by graphemes which usually stand for consonants but by the symbols for vowels that follow them or by the substitutes for vowels. In the Russian letter combinations ba/bja, tu/tju, sè/se, p”/p’, l”/l’, ly/li, etc., the symbols for the consonants are identical, but the symbols for the vowels differ; in pronunciation the reverse is the case: the consonants differ (l”/l’, p”/p’, etc.), but the following vowels (excluding the zero vowel) are identical.
This lack of parallelism leads to a confusion of concepts, to a confusion of letters with sounds, of graphemes with phonemes, so that one speaks <misleadingly> of the “soft” vowels ja, ju, je, ji and the “hard” vowels a, u, e, u.
A similar confusion affects the phonemography of Ukrainian, White Russian, and Bulgarian, as well as of Polish, Slovak, and Czech, which use the Latin alphabet.
Complete parallelism of the written and the pronounced word is found in the Serbian and Croatian orthographies, no matter whether they use the Cyrillic (Russian) or Latin alphabets.
A lack of graphic-phonetic parallelism, similar to that in the Russian system of writing, is found in French, Italian, and in general in the modern Romance languages (as well as in English and earlier in German). Cf. the pronunciation of the graphic sequences
ca co cu ga go gu vs. ce ci ... , ge gi . . .
French: que, qui, gue, gui ..., ça ço çu ... ja jo ...
Italian: che chi . . . ghe ghi . . . cia cio ciu . . . gia gio giu. . . .
The confusion of letters with sounds is paralleled in other areas of human thought (compare, for example, the confusion of religious denomination with nationality, citizenship, or personal qualities). . . .