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Of, relating to, or being a culture not having a written language.
A person belonging to such a culture.


(Anthropology & Ethnology) relating to a society that has not developed a written language
preliteracy n


(priˈlɪt ər ɪt)

1. lacking a written language; nonliterate: a preliterate culture.
2. occurring before the development or use of writing.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.preliterate - not yet having acquired the ability to read and write
illiterate - not able to read or write
2.preliterate - used of a society that has not developed writing
noncivilised, noncivilized - not having a high state of culture and social development
References in periodicals archive ?
Which is why the preliterate cultures (which is a terrible thing to call anybody) are principally oral cultures.
In preliterate societies, the generation and reception of language happens at the same time and place, says Orton, but when writing appears, it dissolves that unity because the texts are usually read distant in time and place from where they are written.
2012: Scientists find that the brains of preliterate kids respond like a reader's brain when they write their ABCs, but not when they type or trace the letters; another research team reports that college students who transcribed lectures on their laptops recalled more information than those who took notes by hand.
6) Among preliterate groups living a Stone Age way of life in New Guinea, 20% to 30% of men were killed by other men.
Punning to overthrow the orderly social control of proper names, playing in the mire and throb of preliterate society's margins (from bearbaiting to theatricality to Welshness), Hawkes dismantled forms of "literary" institutionalization that may no longer matter so much to the twenty-first-century's multinational robber barons, as both McLuskie and Griffiths observe; each sees work yet to be done, changes of focus needed in order to extend the Hawkesian spirit and legacy of meaningful contestation.
How do we reconcile the juxtaposition of violent, macabre, and politically charged subject matter for adult readers in the text with the employment of a physical form that is used for some of the most playful, didactic, and seemingly innocuous books for preliterate youth?
Unlike Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy has historically been much more open to translating liturgy and other religious texts into various languages, though Roudometof admits that it was "far more common in premodern or preliterate cultures.
She also provided the preliterate society she studied on Alor with a grammar and a written vocabulary.
Preliterate children whose brains inefficiently process speech against a background of noise are more likely than their peers to have trouble with reading and language development when they reach school age, the researchers found.
When they considered other factors linked to reading difficulty in the past--genetic risk, environmental factors, preliterate language ability, and overall cognitive capacity--they found only one thing that consistently predicted how well a child would learn to read: the change in volume of white matter in one specific area of the brain (the left temporoparietal region) between kindergarten and 3rd grade.
Cowgill and Holmes (1972) argued along similar lines: a fixed and higher status is accorded to older adults in preliterate societies; in modern societies the opposite holds true.
As Ramazani argues in this section, "postcolonial poetry in English is far from being some preliterate African oral essence," but is rather "something new, formally interstitial, and specifically literary" (208).