Definition of preliterate in US English:



  • Relating to or denoting a society or culture that has not developed the use of writing.

    • ‘In a preliterate world, there's no distinction between children and adults.’
    • ‘In a systematic study of more than a dozen cultures, including a preliterate culture in New Guinea, he found a nearly universal language of facial expression for the emotions of anger, sadness, disgust, enjoyment, and surprise.’
    • ‘‘He had taken a very early portable video camera to film the Yanomami Healing, a preliterate Amazonian tribe,’ says Talen.’
    • ‘For example, Hutchins showed that the preliterate Micronesians employed an abstract navigational system that used the stars symbolically.’
    • ‘In the preliterate days and among the peasants much later, folk songs, legends, poetry, jokes, and riddles were important artistic expressions.’
    • ‘In ancient times, even in preliterate times, they must have been recorded in some form or another.’
    • ‘The Greek myths evolved a long time before they were ever written down, and originated in the preliterate cultures pre-2300 BC.’
    • ‘The remarkable funeral seems to emerge from a collective preliterate tradition whose origins are African and whose inspiration to freedom arises from the natural world.’
    • ‘In preliterate agricultural societies, religion suffuses every aspect of life, from the family to the workplace.’
    • ‘The answer is a resounding no - preliterate people classify animals and plants into crude categories like ‘big’ and ‘small.’’
    • ‘A cross-cultural survey of the use of ethanol in 139 largely preliterate human societies, showed that in all societies in which drinking was present in one sex but not in the other, it was present in males.’
    • ‘It is instructive to look at preliterate societies, where literacy and standardization have been more recently introduced, to see how different languages begin to acquire prestige and others are devalued.’
    • ‘He travelled to a remote, preliterate culture (the Fore, in New Guinea) to ensure that the subjects had not seen Western photographs or films, and so could never have learned Western emotions.’
    • ‘Their individual and collective endeavors were thwarted by the machinations of powerful men, institutions, and a tradition-bound, preliterate society.’
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