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Volume 11, Issue 3-4
  • ISSN: 1539-7785
  • E-ISSN: 2048-0717



Walter J. Ong presented secondary orality as the stage of human communication following the age of print. But while Ong mentioned secondary orality in several significant publications, his scholarship on the concept was scattered, introductory and incomplete. This article synthesizes a definition of secondary orality from the entirety of Ong’s scholarship, in an effort to unify, develop and produce a comprehensive theory of secondary orality. Gathering references to secondary orality across decades of Ong’s scholarship reveals secondary orality to be defined by the merger of the dynamics of primary orality and typographic literacy, the re-emergence of the social and participatory nature of sound and a tension between planning and spontaneity. Such a cohesive definition enables scholars of sound to test the secondary orality thesis against emerging sound innovations, like Apple’s newly introduced voice-activated assistant, Siri.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): secondary orality; Siri; sound; technology; voice; Walter Ong
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