What is a text?

Mayan Symbols

I chose this picture because when answering the questions from the course ‘What is a text?’ and ‘What is technology?’, I wrote in my notes that normally we tend to perceive a text as being an organized group of letters that together make up words and sentences and in turn a coherent piece of ‘written’ content. However, far from this, I think a text can come in many forms, shapes, sizes and mediums. Then, on reading the Oxford Dictionary definition “The wording of anything written or printed; the structure formed by the words in their order; the very words, phrases, and sentences as written”, I didn’t agree with the use of the term ‘wording’ or ‘written’, because the Mayan scripts did not have words, but rather symbols, and they did not ‘write’ them. Then, regarding the question ‘What is technology’? I replied that technology nowadays is perceived as anything ‘electronic’ or modern; however, a pencil in its time or even chalk and blackboard were a form of technology, too. Hence, as the course materials rightly mention, we have to place everything in its context; for the Mayans, their technology was their slab and chisel. I could go on forever, but I’ll leave him for the Forum.

Regarding me, I am from Mexico and a recently landed immigrant in Canada; however, I still come and go between both countries depending on where there is work available. I have worked in ELT (English Language Teaching) since 1984 in teacher training, coordination posts, materials design, and teaching all ages and levels. In addition to ELT, I also onced worked in a film school, and teaching English Literature to ESL students in Mexico. I have also co-authored several EFL textbooks for the Mexican school market. This past year I taught at the International Entry Program at BCIT (Vancouver), but presently I am back in Mexico giving some teacher training workshops. I have an MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL, and I am on my 8th,9th and 10th MET course. My work has shown me the immense importance of language and communication, be it through image, spoken or written, which is why I am looking forward to learning and analyzing how ‘texts’ have changed over the years and how this has affected communication.

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1 Response to What is a text?

  1. joypenner says:

    The “organized group of letters” part of the definition stood out to me. Living in China where there are all kinds of English signs that make me laugh (I have a collection of them). The reason they make me laugh is precisely because they are not organized (either by letters or words) in the right order for the English language. I’m certainly glad no one is looking at my Chinese text because they would certainly laugh at it for the very same reason!

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