Home > Uncategorized > Generative work of language and rhetoric-Blog Post #2

Generative work of language and rhetoric-Blog Post #2

“Writing is a technology that restructures thought,” by Walter Ong, S.J., does a really good job of explaining the generative work of language in the form of written language.  He distinguishes between high-technological/literacy cultures and oral cultures.  I think that Org makes a strong statement regarding the generative abilities of writing when he states, “Without writing, the literate mind would not and could not think as it does, not only when engaged in writing but even when it is composing its thoughts in oral form” (Org, 24).  He discusses the drastic possession that writing has taken upon our consciousness in contrast to the previously, oral culture of all humankind.  Written language is now generative of all of our thoughts, both written and spoken.  Org emphasizes that writing and language are not the same thing, but for our highly literate, technological culture, writing has become so ingrained within our natural, human existence, that it has become generative of our thoughts and ideas.  This idea is summed up nicely when Org states, “The fact that we do not commonly feel the influence of writing on our thoughts shows that we have interiorized the technology so deeply that without tremendous effort we cannot separate it from ourselves or even recognize its presence and influence” (Org, 24).  I also thought Plato’s idea of writing as a technology was an interesting concept that ties into this course on technical writing.  At one point, writing was considered foreign and inhuman just like modern-day computers.  However, writing uses instruments (pen and paper) to generate thoughts and ideas just like other, more modern technologies do today which also indicates another generative function of written language.

I think the piece by Slack, Miller and Doak also sums up the generative function of language when it states, “Technical communicators, whether it is acknowledged or not, contribute to the articulation of meaning” (Slack et al, 161).  This article also illustrates the generative work of rhetoric and language.  When discussing the articulation view, Slack et al describe the co-generative work of language and rhetoric between sender, receiver and mediator.  It is described as an ongoing process of communication in which each involved (sender, receiver and mediator) encodes and processes information based upon various, often differing, frameworks of knowledge.  Thus, language and rhetoric are both generative processes of negotiation at which individuals arrive at co-produced meanings or ideas.

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  1. September 13, 2011 at 4:23 AM

    I really like the way that you explain how rhetoric and language are processes of negotiation. I don’t think that senders can just inject a receiver with a message and expect action. It really is about a shared meaning and one that people come to together. They may not always agree, but it is important that we use language to have those conversations. I agree that they are “co-produced” ideas because you can never really be sure if they sender and the receiver will interpret the message in the same way. Each person may have completely different interpretations, or they may end up coming to the same conclusion. Rhetoric plays an important role in determining what the results of a message will be.

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