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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Text comes from the Classical Latin term “texere” which means to weave. The meaning the word evolved when a Roman rhetorician, Quintillianus (c.35-c.100), coined the term the “tissue of a literary work”. By the 15th century, the word had evolved in both spelling and meaning to “textus”, which referred to the Roman Catholic Gospel in Medieval Latin. As a result of its historical ties to Roman Catholicism, today, the word text often refers to the Holy Scriptures among many religions. Due to the fundamental nature of sacred texts within the context of human history, according to the OED, its current meaning is “that portion of the contents of a manuscript or printed book, or of a page, which constitutes the original matter, as distinct from the notes or other critical appendages.”
            Text refers to all written and read language. It is a system of communication invented by human beings to not only convey, but also, keep record of human thought and information. This is why most historical accounts we have kept record of to-date are in the form of text; we possess the most historical information on civilizations that were literate and thus, had the ability to record their history via written systems of communication. Ancient, orally extinct languages, such as Latin, can remain in existence in textual form. However, unlike spoken word, the reading and writing of text is not something that can be learned by listening to others speak, but rather, must be taught. Most, but not all spoken languages have alphabets and a written means of communication. The text of a language encompasses the characters, words, phrases and syntax through which these elements are organized and assembled. However, since a body of text is that which helps to systematically communicate information, a text is not restricted to the body of words in a book or a newspaper. A text can be any set of symbols that can be written and read. For example, a STOP sign is a form of text because it is a symbol that helps to form part of a set of instructions within the system of communication that drivers use on the road.
            More colloquial forms of the term include its use as a short form for text-book as well as the verb to text. Texting involves communicating through text-messages via cell phone. It has developed its own systematic set of symbols, characters, abbreviations, words and emoticons that are constantly evolving. Texting now has its own kind of special culture where new forms of text are continuously being introduced to the system as others become quickly out-dated. For people who use texting as a form of communication for business or formal means, their texting vocabulary is perhaps not so extensive as those who are constantly participating in it for leisure (i.e.: young adults).

 1.  "text, n.1". OED Online. September 2012. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/200002?rskey=fIdidx&result=1&isAdvanced=false (accessed November 21, 2012).

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