Philology is derived from the Greek terms φίλος (love) and λόγος (word, reason) and literally means a love of words. It is the study of language in literary sources and is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics. Philology is generally associated with Greek and Classical Latin in which it is termed philologia. The study of philology originated in European Renaissance Humanism in regards to Classical Philology but this has since been combined to include in its definition the study of both European and non-European languages. The idea of philology has been carried through the Greek and Latin literature into the English language around the sixteenth century through the French term philologie meaning a ‘love of literature’.

Generally philology has a focus on historical development. It helps establish the authenticity of literary texts and their original form and with this the determination of their meaning. It is a branch of knowledge that deals with the structure, historical development and relationships of a language or languages.

The historical importance of words is akin to the significance of the wheel. Though philology is said to be a love of words, the etymology from the late Middle English (in the Greek sense): current usage (late 17th century) from French philologie, via Latin from Greek philologia means love of learning’. Thus the nexus between words and learning is made. As I once heard it said, it is impossible to know everything; but everything that is known is written. By this observation we affirm the connection of knowledge and print.

Getting things into print is however no easy task. Books (often ornately bound and beautifully illustrated) were the privilege of few – specifically those who could read and those who could afford them. The pinnacle of entitlement was as usual a blend of power and religion. But just like the monks who printed the first copies of the bible, those today who are awakening to the power of the internet for communication have discovered alternate manners of print. The original Eastern Civilization composed its own rendition of print in an extremely complicated manner. Similarly the evolution of print in 2022 will be different from its historical derivatives, Arabic or otherwise.

Arabic is written from right to left in a characteristic cursive script of twenty-eight consonants, the vowels being indicated by additional signs. The script has been adapted for various languages, including Persian, Urdu, Malay, and (formerly) Turkish.

My earliest acquaintance with the mutability and uniqueness of print was James Joyce’s so-called “stream of consciousness”.

stream of con·scious·ness| strim əv | noun Psychology a person’s thoughts and conscious reactions to events, perceived as a continuous flow. The term was introduced by William James in his Principles of Psychology (1890);

a literary style in which a character’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions are depicted in a continuous flow uninterrupted by objective description or conventional dialogue. James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Marcel Proust are among its notable early exponents.

In literary criticism, stream of consciousness is a narrative mode or method that attempts “to depict the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind” of a narrator. The term was coined by Daniel Oliver in 1840 in First Lines of Physiology: Designed for the Use of Students of Medicine, when he wrote,

If we separate from this mingled and moving stream of consciousness, our sensations and volitions, which are constantly giving it a new direction, and suffer it to pursue its own spontaneous course, it will appear, upon examination, that this, instead of being wholly fortuitous and uncertain, is determined by certain fixed laws of thought, which are collectively termed the association of ideas.

Just as we would consider it unthinkable to create a book today in the manner of ancient printing press or calligraphy, likewise the nature of print and the knowledge we derive therefrom has catapulted to a new dynamic as a result of modern technology. Technology has insinuated every level of intellectual society, make no mistake.

The religious zealots were not the only ones consumed by a love of words and learning. The arresting preoccupation was as well capital for a more flagrantly commercial purpose; namely, the practice of law. It is no accident that both lawyers and religious leaders have a history of robes, pedestals and ornament generally. Professions devoted to words and their communication, including interpretation and refinement, putatively afforded a civilized arena for combatants.

Much of current technology is devoted to the restriction or control of words on the internet. No longer is the source of the written word conveniently aligned with a particular author such as Salman Rushdie. Rushdie epitomized the significance not only of the written word but also of the transition of thought from Eastern to Western culture, not to mention the celebration of religious superstition worldwide.

(born 1947), Indian-born British novelist; full name Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie. His work, chiefly associated with magic realism, includes Midnight’s Children (Booker Prize, 1981) and The Satanic Verses(1988). The latter, regarded by Muslims as blasphemous, caused Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa in 1989 condemning Rushdie to death. In 1998 the Iranian government dissociated itself from the fatwa.

While the internet represents literary improvement by making books available on demand throughout the world, there is a competing entanglement from purely diverting/entertaining sources such as You Tube and similar productions. The written word continues to afford the only lingering resource of knowledge. The construction of words and the congestion of them with one another demands clarity and authenticity. Meanwhile there are those who – most often unwittingly – persist to accentuate their own inadequacies by parading themselves as illiterates or unintelligent by virtue of their failing mental acuity. Books and learning are clearly not meant for everyone. The clown is nonetheless best suited for centre-stage.