Drawing upon scholarship in the classics and in anthropology, Kieran Egan traces the richness of oral forms of expression used in non-literate societies from ancient times to the present. In the absence of written records, these peoples have used a particular array of intellectual resources and strategies in order to make sense of their world and to preserve their cultural histories. All children, before they learn to read and write, also depend upon the spoken word for learning and communication; the author therefore suggests that a better understanding of orality may help us to gain a fuller sense of the cognitive tasks that children undertake during their transition from orality to literacy.

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