chapter  8
29 Pages

The impact of literacy

Literacy, more than virtually any other phenomenon, illustrates the impact of an introduced mode of behaviour on the linguistic ecology of the Pacific. It has led over the years to an almost total transformation of most Pacific societies and most languages spoken in the area. Whereas the use of literacy as an instrument of social change was often deliberate and whilst much has been written on the social effects of the ‘literary revolution’, its linguistic consequences remain much less well charted. In the popular view, which is also widely shared by the linguistic profession, writing is a form of representing spoken language rather than a mode of behaviour that can radically affect the linguistic structures and practices of language use in a community.