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n. The idea that sounds and speech are inherently superior to (or more natural than) written language.


Phonocentrism is the belief that sounds and speech are inherently superior to, or more primary than, written language. Those who espouse phonocentric views maintain that spoken language is the primary and most fundamental method of communication whereas writing is merely a derived method of capturing speech. Many also believe that spoken language is inherently richer and more intuitive than written language. These views also impact perceptions of sign languages – especially in the United States. Oralism is the belief that deaf students should use sounds, speech reading, and primarily English instead of signs in their education. Alexander Graham Bell is a well known proponent for oralism of the deaf – such phonocentristic views are rejected by the Deaf community. Phonocentrisim in the context of deafness is referred to as audism.

Some writers have argued that philosophers such as Plato, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Ferdinand de Saussure have promoted phonocentric views. Walter Ong, who has also expressed support for the idea of phonocentrism, has argued that the culture of the United States is particularly non-phonocentric.

Some philosophers and linguists, notably including the philosopher Jacques Derrida, have used the term "phonocentrism" to criticize what they see as a disdain for written language. Derrida has argued that phonocentrism developed because the immediacy of speech has been regarded as closer to the presence of subjects than writing. He believed that the binary opposition between speech and writing is a form of logocentrism.