Oasis Of Two Scimitars

A Gorean RP In The Tahari
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 Literacy and Illiteracy on Gor

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Join date : 2012-12-07
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Literacy and Illiteracy on Gor Empty
PostSubject: Literacy and Illiteracy on Gor   Literacy and Illiteracy on Gor Icon_minitimeTue Apr 02, 2013 1:50 pm

Illiteracy, or, more kindly, an inability to read and write, is not taken on Gor as a mark of stupidity.

Among the city cultures
Illiteracy is not taken to be a mark of stupidity on Gor.
In many cases, literacy tends to be associated with caste structure and cultural traditions.
Illiteracy, or, more kindly, an inability to read and write, is not taken on Gor as a mark of stupidity. These things tend rather, in many cases, to be associated with the caste structure and cultural traditions. Some warriors, as I have indicated earlier, seem to feel it is somewhat undignified for them to know how to read, or, at least, how to read well, perhaps because that sort of thing is more in the line of, say, the scribes. One hires a warrior for one thing, one hires a scribe for another. One does not expect a scribe to know the sword. Why, then, should one expect the warrior to know the pen?

Many of the Scarlet Caste take pride in their illiteracy, and several conceal their ability to read.
Others of the Scarlet Caste read and write well, and do not hide it.
In further defense I might point out that many warriors, for no reason that is clear to me, seem to take pride in a putative lack of literacy. Indeed, several fellows I have known, of the scarlet caste, take pains to conceal their literacy, seemingly ashamed of an expertise in such matters, regarding such as befitting scribes rather than warriors. Thus, somewhat to my embarrassment, I found I fitted in well with such fellows. I have known, incidentally, on the other hand, several warriors who were quite unapologetic about literacy interests and capacities, men who were, for example, gifted historians, essayists and poets.

Some Warriors feel it is undignified for them to know how to read well.
Some warriors, as I have indicated earlier, seem to feel it is somewhat undignified for them to know how to read, or, at least, how to read well, perhaps because that sort of thing is more in the line of, say, the scribes. One hires a warrior for one thing, one hires a scribe for another. One does not expect a scribe to know the sword. Why, then, should one expect the warrior to know the pen?

This guardsman (scarlet caste) can read the name on a coin sack
"These are my coins," said the conspirator. "My name is stitched into the leather of the sack." He shoved the sack under the nose of the guardsman.
"Ost," read the guardsman. It was also the name of a species of tiny, brightly orange reptile, the most venemous on Gor.
"I am not a thief," I said. "He gave me the coins."
"He is lying," said Ost.

Scribes are of a caste that is generally literate
The voice of the scribe droned on, reading the records of the council's last meeting.
I looked about myself, at the semicircles of curule chairs, at the five thrones. Although there were some one hundred and twenty captains in the council, seldom more than seventy or eighty, either in person or by proxy, made an appearance at its meetings. Many were at sea, and many saw fit to employ their time otherwise.

Initiates appear to be literate in general, having texts they refer to.
The initiates have their own laws, and courts, and certain of them are well versed in the laws of the initiates. Their education, generally, is of little obvious practical value, with its attention to authorised exegeses of dubious, difficult texts, purporting to be revelations of Priest-Kings, the details and observances of their own calendars, their interminable involved rituals and so on, but paradoxically, this sort of learning, impractical though it seems, has a subtle practical aspect. It tends to bind initiates together, making them interdependent, and muchly different from common men. It sets them apart, and makes them feel important and wise, and specially privileged. There are many texts, of course, which are secret to the caste, and not even available to scholars generally. In these it is rumoured there are marvelous spells and mighty magic, particularly if read backwards on certain feast days. Whereas initiates tend not to be taken with great seriousness by the high castes, or the more intelligent members of the population, except in matters of political alliance, their teachings and purported ability to intercede with Priest-Kings, and further the welfare of their adherents, is taken with great seriousness by many of the lower castes. And many men, who suspect that the initiates, in their claims and pretensions, are frauds, will nonetheless avoid coming into conflict with the caste. This is particularly true of civil leaders who do not wish the power of the initiates to turn the lower castes against them. And, after all, who knows much of Priest-Kings, other than the obvious fact that they exist. The invisible barrier about the Sardar is evidence of that, and the policing, by flame death, of illegal weapons and inventions. The Gorean knows that there are Priest-Kings. He does not, of course, know their nature. That is where the role of the initiates becomes most powerful, The Gorean knows there are Priest-Kings, whoever or whatever they maybe. He is also confronted with a socially and economically powerful caste that pretends to be able to intermediate between Priest-Kings and common folk. What if some of the claims of Initiates should be correct? What if they do have influence with Priest-Kings?
The common Gorean tends to play it safe and honour the Initiates.
He will, however, commonly, have as little to do with them as possible.
This does not mean that he will not contribute to their temples and fees for placating Priest-Kings.

This initiate is reading to the congregation/
Initiates do not eat meat, or beans. They are trained in the mysteries of mathematics. They converse among themselves in archaic Gorean, which is no longer spoken among the people. Their services, too, are conducted in this language. Portions of the services, however, are translated into contemporary Gorean. When I had first come to Gor I had been forced to learn certain long prayers to the Priest-Kings, but I had never fully mastered them, and had, by now, long forgotten them.
Still I recognized them when heard. Even now, on a high platform, behind the white rail, an Initiate was reading one aloud to the congregation.
I was never much fond of such meetings, the services and the rituals of initiates, but I had some special interest in the service which was being held today.

General Population
Man reading notice on message board in Ar is barely literate
“Greetings from Lurius of Jad, Ubar of Cos, to the people of Glorious Ar,” read a man, rather slowly, pointing to letters with his fingers, which led me to believe that his literacy was not likely to be much advanced over that of the other. To be sure, I myself did not read Gorean fluently, as the alternate lines changed direction. The first line is commonly written left to right, the second from right to left, and so on. Cursive script is, of course, at least for me, even more difficult. In particular I find it difficult to write.

Mincon, a Wagoner who supplies military with food, is illiterate
A number of dwellings along the way had been roped off. We could catch occasional glimpses within them, through opened doors, and sometimes, through windows. Too, we could hear shouts, and other sounds, such as furniture being broken. Within these buildings, soldiers were looting. From the high, opened windows of another building, some four or five feet below the sill, some forty feet or so above the street, its back against the stuccoed surface of the wall, there hung a body.
“What is that?” I asked Mincon.
“I cannot read,” said Mincon. “There is a sign on its neck, What does it say?”
“ ‘Looter,’ ” I said.

This she-urt in Port Kar cannot read
Outside I saw the guardsman unchaining the girl who had been the she-urt, Sasi. Her hands were now bound before her body, and she already had his strap on her throat.
I threw him a copper tarsk.
“She is yours,” he said.
He took his strap off her throat, and unbound her hands.
“Submit,” I told her.
She knelt before me, back on her heels, arms extended, head down, between her arms, wrists crossed, as though for binding.
“I submit to you, Master,” she said.
I tied her hands together; she then lowered her bound wrists; I pulled up her head. I held before her an opened collar, withdrawn from my sea bag. I had had one prepared.
“Can you read?” I asked her.
“No, Master,” she said.
“It says,” I said, “‘I am the girl of Tarl of Teletus.”’

Signs on Gor are often visual
Large wooden image of paga goblet indicates a paga tavern.
Hammer and anvil indicates a metal workers shop.
Needle and thread indicates a cloth workers shop.
Because there are many Goreans who cannot read, many stores , shops, and such, will utilize various signs and devices to identify their place of business. For example, a large, wooden image of a paga goblet may hang outside a tavern, a representation of a hammer and anvil outside a metal-worker’s shop, one of a needle and thread outside a cloth-worker’s shop, and so on.

Another example of a picture sign for the illiterate Goreans.
Ahead, and on the plateau of the inn, I saw the large wooden sign, on its chains, jerked in the wind, striking about, pelted with rain. It was in the form of a malformed tarn, its neck crooked, almost vulturelike, the right leg, with its talons, much larger than the left, and outstretched, grasping. Such signs are not untypical of Gorean hostelries, as many Goreans, particularly those of the lower castes, cannot read.

This Dock Worker is capable of at least reading a basic note.
Soon, she was surrounded by some nine or ten dock workers, who remembered her well. She had perhaps stolen from all of them, or taunted them. I saw one of them, the fellow who had first seized her, read the note tied on its string about her neck.
Then they parted, to let her pass, but in such a way that she must walk in one direction. Then, flanking her, and preventing her from going anywhere but where they wished, they escorted her to the shop of the baker. Later I saw her returning. The note, on its string, was no longer about her neck. But now, about her neck, tied with the baker’s knot, fastened behind the back of her neck, was a sack of two loaves of Sa-Tarna bread. She was escorted by the dock workers to the very foot of the gangplank of the Tesephone.

This free woman, asked if she can read, is given the bill of enslavement to read.
"Would you care to examine the bill of enslavement?" he asked.
"If I may," she said.
"Step forth," he said, "keeping your hands lifted." She did so, and went to stand near the paper on the floor, her hands lifted.
"You will make a lovely slave," he said. Then he said. "You may lower your hands, and kneel." The woman always examines the papers of enslavement on her knees. "Slave Girl," said the man, speaking to me, "remove the towel from about her head and permit her to dry her hands upon it."
"Yes, Master," I said.
I removed it carefully, lest it contain a needle or other device of which I might be unaware. The lovely cascade of dark hair which was Elicia’s fell down her back. "Yes," said the man, "a lovely slave." Elicia dried her hands and, miserably, broke the ribbon and seal and examined the paper.
"You are literate?" inquired the man.
"Yes," she said, acidly.
"Do you understand the document?" he asked.
"Yes," she said. "It is an order of enslavement"
"You understand further, of course," said he, "that under Gorean merchant law, which is the only law commonly acknowledged binding between cities, that you stand under separate permissions of enslavement. First, were you of Ar, it would be my right, could I be successful, to make of you a slave, for we share no Home Stone. Secondly, though you speak of yourself as the Lady Elicia of Ar, of Six Towers, you are, in actuality, Miss Elicia Nevins of the planet Earth. You are an Earth girl and thus stand within a general permission of enslavement, fair beauty quarry to any Gorean male whatsoever."
Earth girls had no Home Stones. No legalities, thus, were contravened in capturing them and making of them abject slave girls.
"The first to capture you owns you," he said. "Prepare to be leashed as a slave." He unlooped the long leash at his belt, with its slip ring and snap lock.
Slave Girl

Rence girls (free women) are commonly illiterate.
(The one here who can read, Telima, was taught in a slaver house in Port Kar)
I unknotted the binding fiber about her throat, and took from my pouch her collar.
I showed it to her.
In the dim light she read the engraving. "I belong to Bosk," she said.
"I did not know you could read," I said. Midice, Thura, Ula were all, as is common with rence girls, illiterate.

Again, mention that most rence girls are illiterate
"Please touch me again," she whispered. "Yes!"
Many women, of course, have high linguistic aptitudes. These may have been selected for, considering the high mobility of women, in virtue of practices in exogamous mating, enslavements, sales, captures, and such, assisting them to placate, and accommodate themselves to, foreign masters.
"And so," I said, "in spite of the pleasure which listening to your accent affords me I would rather forgo that pleasure temporarily, enjoyable though it may be, than risk impalement on its account."
"Of course," she said, tensely.
"You are then to be as a mute rence girl."
"Perhaps I can write in the sand," she said.
"No," I said. "Most rence girls are illiterate."
"How, then, am I to communicate?" she asked.
"By whimpers, moans, and such," I said.
"Then I shall be, in effect, only a pet animal!"
"Yes," I said. "And with respect to moans and whimpers, considering what is likely to be done to you, you will probably find such sounds appropriate enough."

Many of the north are taught to read the rune stones, but not expected to be fluent readers.
Many men of the north are passable readers.
Many men of the north are proud of their semi-illiteracy - it is expected of them, it honors them.
Ivar's reply was not a little belligerent. I knew him able to read some rune markings. I gathered that these, perhaps because of antiquity or dialect, were beyond him. Ivar's attitude toward reading was not unlike that of many of the north. He had been taught some rune signs as a boy, that he could understand important stones, for in these stones were the names of mighty men and songs of their deeds, but it had not been expected of him that he would be in any sense a fluent reader. Ivar, like many of those in the north, was a passable reader, but took care to conceal this fact. He belonged to the class of men who could hire their reading done for them, much as he could buy thralls to do his farming. It was not regarded as dignified for a warrior to be too expert with letters, such being a task beneath warriors. To have a scribe's skills would tend to embarrass a man of arms, and tend to lower his prestige among his peers. Many of the north, then, were rather proud of their illiteracy, or semi-illiteracy. It was expected of them. It honored them. His tools were not the pen and parchment, but the sword, the bow, the ax and spear. Besides simple runes, the boy in the north is also taught tallying, counting, addition and subtraction, for such may be of use in trading or on the farm. He is also taught weighing. Much of his education, of course, consists in being taken into a house, and taught arms, hunting and the sea. He profits, too, from the sagas, which the skalds sing, journeying from hall to hall. In the fest-season of Odin a fine skald is difficult to bring to one's hall. One must bid high. Sometimes they are kidnapped, and, after the season's singing, given much gold and freed. I had not, of course, intended to insult the Forkbeard.
"There is one sign here, of course," said the Forkbeard, "which any fool might read."

Cannot read all runes
The passage extended beyond us, disappearing in the dark-ness beyond the light of our torches. It was about eight feet in height and width. It was carved from the living rock. Along its edges, spaced some twelve feet from one another, on both sides, were torch rings, with unlit torches, which might be lit. The piles of tinder and flint and steel, or iron pyrites, lay now behind us, or to one side. I lifted the torch to the borders, running linearly down the chamber, disappearing into the darkness before us. The lettering was in the high, angular script of the north; the pictographs seemed primitive.
"These are old runes," said Ivar.
"Can you read them?" I asked.
"No," said Ivar.
My hair rose on the back of my neck. I looked at one of the pictographs. It was a man astride a quadruped.
"Look," said I to the Forkbeard.
"Interesting," said the Forkbeard. "It is a representation of a man riding a mythological beast, doubtless an illustration based upon some saga with which I am unfamiliar."
He continued on.
I lingered by the pictograph. I had seen nothing like it on Gor.
"Follow me," said the Forkbeard.

Few of the Wagon Peoples can read.
Those who can possibly learned far from the wagons.
Most of those of the Wagon Peoples have excellent memories, trained from birth. Few can read, though some can, perhaps having acquired the skill far from the wagons, perhaps from merchants or tradesmen. The Wagon Peoples, as might be expected, have a large and complex oral literature. This is kept by and occasionally, in parts, recited by the Camp Singers. They do not have castes, as Goreans tend to think of them.

Kamchak and Kutaituchik can read Gorean, though many wagon people cannot.

Kamchak handed the paper to Kutaituchik and he took it but looked at it, I thought, blankly. Saying nothing he handed it back to Kamchak, who seemed to study it with great care, and then, to my amazement, turned it sideways and then upside down. At last he grunted and handed it to me. I was suddenly amused, for it occurred to me that neither of the Tuchuks could read.
"Read," said Kutaituchik.
I smiled and took the piece of rence paper. I glanced at it and then I smiled no longer. I could read it, of course. It was in Gorean script, moving from left to right, and then from right to left on alternate lines. The writing was quite legible.
It was written in black ink, probably with a reed pen. This again suggested the delta of the Vosk.
"What does it say?" asked Kutaituchik.
The message was simple, consisting of only three lines.
I read them aloud.

Find the man to whom this girl can speak.
He is Tart Cabot.
Slay him.

"And who has signed this message?" asked Kutaituchik.
I hesitated to read the signature.
"Well" asked Kutaituchik.
"It is signed," I said, "Priest-Kings of Gor." Kutaituchik smiled. "You read Gorean well," he said.
I understood then that both men could read, though perhaps many of the Tuchuks could not. It had been a test.
Kamchak grinned at Kutaituchik, the scarring on his face wrinkling with pleasure. "He has held grass and earth with me," he said.
"Ah!" said Kutaituchik. "I did not know."
My mind was whirling. Now I understood, as I had only suspected before, why an English-speaking girl was necessary to bear the collar, that she might be the device whereby I would be singled out from the hundreds and thousands among the wagons, and so be marked for death.

Engraving on collars is often no more than a sign which is known to represent a certain man.
Kamchaks sign is the four bosk horns and two quivas.
Tarl is represented by the sign of the four bosk horns and the sign of Ko-ro-ba.
"Whose name is on your collar?" I asked.
"They showed me," she said, "but I do not know I cannot read"
What she said, of course, was true. She could speak Gorean but she could not read it. For that matter many Tuchuks could not, and the engraving on the collars of their slaves was often no more than a sign which was known to be theirs.
Even those who could read, or pretended to be able to, would affix their sign on the collar as well as their name, so that others who could not read could know to whom the slave belonged. Kamchak's sign was the four bosk horns and two quivas.
I walked about the fire bowl to approach the girl.
"Don't look at me," she cried, bending down, holding her face from the light, then covering it with her hands. I reached over and turned the collar somewhat. It was attached to a chain. I gathered the girl was in Sirik, the chain on the floor attached to the slave ring running to the twin ankle rings. She would not face me but stood covering her face, looking away. The engraving on the Turian collar consisted of the sign of the four bosk horns and the sign of the city of Ko-ro-ba, which I took it, Kamchak had used for my sign. There was also an inscription in Gorean on the collar, a simple one. I am Tart Cabot's girl. I restraightened the collar and walked away, going to the other side of the wagon, leaning my hands against it, wanting to think.
I could hear the chain move as she turned to face me.

The Alars
Alars do not read Gorean and are proud of the fact.
“Anything so simple as letters of safety could have been issued in the main hall,” I said.
Mincon spoke to the officer at the table, who, it seemed, recognized him.
“I would think so,” said Hurtha, righteously, adding “whatever a letter of safety might be.” He looked about, with his Alar distrust of bureaucracy and enclosed spaces. “I trust there will be no necessity for me to read such a letter,” he said, “as this would be difficult, as I cannot read.”
“You could learn,” I said, somewhat snappishly.
“Between now and when we receive the letters?” asked Hurtha, incredulously.
“Alars do not read,” said Boabissia, proudly. “And we are Alars.”
“I am an Alar,” said Hurtha.

Slaves in city cultures
Many slaves are illiterate.
Many are kept illiterate.
However, literacy commonly increases a slaves value somewhat on the auction block.
Many Gorean slaves, of course, are illiterate, and deliberately kept so. In that fashion, for example, she may be used to carry messages about, even having to do with herself. The common way in which a girl carries a Gorean message is on foot, with her hands braceleted behind her. The message is then inserted in a capped leather tube tied about her neck. Given the braceleting, of course, even a literate girl may be used to carry messages in this fashion, which may or may not have to do with herself. Some men feel that if a woman is taught to read and write, particularly after she has been made a slave, she may come to think that she is important. This delusion, of course, may be swiftly removed from her by the whip. For what it is worth, literacy commonly increases the value of a slave. It may usually be depended upon to add a few copper tarsks to her value

Many Masters keep slave girls illiterate, thinking it makes them easier to control and more at the Masters mercy.
Others differ and relish owning literate, well-educated girls.
Again, literate girls tend to bring higher prices.
Can you read this?" asked the man, pointing to the printing.
"No, Master," I said. I could not read Gorean. I was illiterate in the language. This was not uncommon. Many masters think it desirable to keep a girl illiterate in their language, thinking it makes them easier to control and puts them more at their mercy. Other masters differ in this, relishing the ownership and absolute domination of literate girls, preferably those who are well educated, highly intelligent and gifted. Such girls must be regarded as quite valuable; on the block they commonly bring the highest prices. It is also said they make the best slaves. Had I been sold on Earth I would have counted as such a girl; on Gor, however, I was only another piece of illiterate collar meat.
Slave Girl

Slaves are commonly kept illiterate (those who cannot read when enslaved, are seldom taught then to read)
Kenneth turned to me. "You cannot read," he said.
"No, Master," I said, "not Gorean." Slaves are commonly kept illiterate. It makes them more helpless. It gives the masters more control over them. Besides, it is said, why should a slave know how to read?
Fighting Slave

Slaves are seldom taught to read. If a slave is literate, she likely had been a free woman of a particular caste.
She looked at me. "Because," said she, "years ago, he was my master."
I was startled.
"I was taken slave at the age of seven in a raid,' she said, "and Samos, at a market, bought me. For years he treated me with great concern and care. I was treated well, and taught things that slaves are seldom taught. I can read, you know."
I recalled once, long ago, being puzzled that she, though a mere rence girl, had been literate.
"And I was taught many other things, too," said she, "when I could read, even to the second knowledge."

Here, a slave asking her Master to be taught to read Gorean
"Master," I said.
"Yes?" he said.
"Read me my collar," I begged, "please."
"I showed it to you before," he said. "You should have read it for yourself."
"You are teasing me," I pouted. "You know I cannot read."
"Not even your collar?" he asked.
"No," I said.
"Well," he said, "do not worry about it. It is not necessary for you to be able to read your collar. All that is necessary, from your point of view, is that it is locked on you, that you cannot remove it, and that it can be read by free men."
"Are you going to teach me to read?" I asked.
"Such skills would seem to have a very low priority," he said. "For example, can you play the kalika?"
"No," I said.
"Do you know the exercises and luscious movements of slave dance?" he asked.
"Not really," I said.
"So why should you be taught to read?" he asked.
"I could spy on your mail," I said.
"I had not considered that," he admitted "It could improve my price," I said.
"That is probably true," he said.
"Many men," I said, "enjoy having a girl who can read. It gives them pleasure to make her serve as well, or better, than an illiterate girl."
"I shall think about it," he said.
"Thank you, Master," I said. Whether I would learn to read or not was not up to me. In final analysis, it was up to masters. It would be done with me as they wished.

This slave had been a free woman of the Scribes, and had been taught to read.
I had discovered, to my pleasure, that the girl Luma, whom I had saved from Surbus, was of the Scribes. Her city had been Tor.
Being of the Scribes she could, of course, read and write.
"Can you keep accounts?" I had asked her.
"Yes, Master," she had responded.
I had made her the chief scribe and accountant of my house.
Each night, in my hall, before my master's chair, she would kneel with her tablets and give me an accounting of the day's business, with reports on the progress of various investments and ventures, often making suggestions and recommendations for further actions.

Literacy is noted in slave papers.
Elizabeth was much amused by the forged slave papers prepared for her, giving in detail an account of her capture and exchanges, complete with endorsements and copies of bills of sale. Some of the information such as Physicians' certifications and measurements and marks of identification had been compiled in the Nest and later transferred to the documents. In my compartment, Al-Ka fingerprinted her, adding her prints to the papers. Under a section on attributes I was interested to note that she was listed as literate. Without that, of course, it would be improbable that Caprus could have justified adding her to his staff. I kissed Elizabeth long one morning, and then, with Al-Ka, she, hidden in a wagon disguised to resemble a peddler's wagon, left the city.

The papers of this slave, read at an auction, note she is illiterate.
"She is Girl 128," he said to the crowd. From an assistant he took a board, with rings and papers. He read from that paper which was now first upon the board, others being loose and thrown back.
"128," he said, reading irritably, "is brown haired and brown eyed. She is 51 horts in height. Her weight is 29 stones. Her block measurements, certified, are 22 horts, 16 horts, 22 horts. She will take a number-two wrist ring and a number-two ankle ring. Her collar size is ten horts. She is illiterate, and, for most practical purposes, untrained. She cannot dance. Her brand is the Dina, the slave flower. Her ears are pierced." He looked down at me, and kicked me, lightly, with the side of his foot. "Stand, Slave," he said. Swiftly I stood.
I looked about myself, miserably. In the torchlight, I could see, in the rings of the amphitheater, ascending before me and above me, on three sides, the crowd. There were aisles at the side, and two aisles in the tiers, with steps. The tiers were crowded, and, on them, men ate and drank. Here and there, too, robed and veiled, I saw women among them, watching me. One woman sipped wine through her veil, staining it. All were fully clothed, save I, who wore only a light chain, locked, with its attached disk of sale.
"Stand straight," said the auctioneer.
Slave Girl

This slave is literate
He took a blunt marking stick from his pouch and wrote Gorean words on her left shoulder.
He then, to her amazement, and mine, removed his collar from her throat.
"Master?" she sobbed.
He replaced the collar and marking stick in his pouch. "Can you read?" he asked her.
"Yes," she said.
"Read then what I have inscribed upon your body," said he.
"I cannot well see it, Master," she said. "But from the feel of it in my flesh, I know what you have written."
"Speak it aloud," said he, "Slave."
"You have written ‘Collar me. Own me,’" she said.
"Yes," he said.
Slave Girl

"High slaves" are more likely to be able to read.
Absently, almost as though not aware of his surroundings, except for the now tiny figure of the slave, hurrying away, he opened the note. He could, apparently, read. I had counted on that. He was a high slave. Too, it would have been difficult for him, I supposed, as he was a well-known actor, to have learned parts without being able to read. To be sure, some actors do, having the parts read to them, and they memorizing them from the hearing of the lines. This is particularly the case with women, as most parts of women on the Gorean stage, other than those in high theater, which tend to be acted by boys or men, are acted by female slaves, many of whom cannot read. Also, of course, as is well known, singers, scalds in the north, and such, transmit even epics orally.

Reading as a leisure activity for slaves
"Most masters," I said, "own only one girl. Do not think you are likely to spend all your time squirming at the slave ring."
"I do not understand," she said.
"There is much for a girl to do," I pointed out. "She keeps his compartments. She dusts and cleans. When they do not use the public kitchens she must cook for him. If he does not wish to take advantage of the public laundries, she must do his washing and ironing. She shops for him, and bargains in the markets, and so on. There is much for her to do."
"Does it take long to clean compartments?" she asked.
"Only a few moments," I admitted. "Goreans live simply, and do not much approve of cumbersome furniture."
"It does not sound to me like the slave girl is overburdened with domestic labors," she said.
"I suppose, objectively, she is not," I said. "Still, there are things for her to do."
"Is she as occupied as the wife of Earth?" asked the girl.
"Of course not," I said. "That would be foolish. The wife of Earth is, from the Gorean point of view, much overworked. When the husband returns home she is often, actually, engaged in labors. How can she greet him properly? At night, so numerous and excessive have been her labors, she is often exhausted. That would be preposterous from the Gorean point of view. The Gorean master does not buy a girl with the primary objective of obtaining a domestic servant but with the intention of acquiring a marvelous slave. He wants the girl to be a wonder to him. He is quite cheerful about the sacrifice of domestic servitude in order to obtain what is far more important to him. When he returns to his compartments he does not want to find a worn chore woman there but a lovely slave, fresh, vital, eager and fully alive, kneeling before him, waiting to be commanded."
"What does the girl do in her free time?" asked Audrey.
"Much what she pleases," I said. "She will have friends among other slaves. She walks, she visits. She exercises, she reads. Within limits she does what she wants to do."

Illiterate girls are chosen for message delivery.
"The message girl is ready," said the man who wore the green of the physicians. He turned to the man beside him; he dropped the shaving knife into the bowl, wiped his hands on a towel.
The girl, bound, knelt between the guards. There were tears in her eyes. Her head had been shaved, completely. She had no notion what had been written there. Illiterate girls are chosen for such messages. Originally her head had been shaved, and the message tattooed into the scalp. Then, over months, her hair had been permitted to regrow. None but the girl would know she carried such a message, and she would not know what it might be. Even those for a fee delivering her to the house of Samos would have considered her only another wench, mere slave property.
I read the message. It said only "Beware Abdul." We did not know from whence the message came, or who had sent it.
"Take the girl to the pens," said Samos to the guards. "With needles remove the message from her scalp,"
The girl was jerked to her feet.
She looked at Samos. "Then," said Samos, to the guards, "use her as a low work-slave in the pens primarily as a cleaning slave. A month before her hair is regrown, and she is fit for sale, wash her and put her in a stimulation cage and train her extensively."

Literate girls often must reveal their deepest thoughts in writings to and for their Master
... the collar relationship, on the other hand, is an intensely personal one; it is not uncommon for masters to pride themselves on the depth with which they know their slave girls; this depth is far greater in my opinion than that with which the average husband of Earth knows his wife; the slave girl is not simply someone with whom the man lives; she is very special to him; she is a treasured possession; he owns her; he wants to know, profoundly and deeply, the background, history, the mind, the intelligence, the appetites, the nature and the dispositions of his lovely article of property; this knowledge, of course, puts her more at his mercy; by making it possible for him to manipulate her feelings, exploit weaknesses, drop asides, etc., she in the helpless condition of slavery, it gives him greater power over her. For example, it is common for a master to force his girl to speak at length and in detail to him of the secret sides of her nature, explaining and elaborating on her fantasies: if she is literate, she may be forced, naked, collared, on her knees at a small table, sometimes with her ankles shackled, to write them out; this supplies the master, of course, with abundant materials which may be used by him to make her further and more helplessly his; sometimes the girl attempts to deceive the master; it is not difficult to detect inauthenticity in such matters; she is then beaten; too, she may at times be ordered to invent fantasies, sometimes of a certain type; these, too, for she has invented them, are, to an astute master, instructive; these intellectual, emotional exercises, performed by the girl under a condition of slavery, particularly if coupled with an enforced exercise regime, posings under male surveillance, and such, can do much to sensitize her to her collar; ...

How Gorean is written and read

Gorean is written (and read) from left to right on the first row, then right to left on the next row, and so on.
(Scent dots are used by the Priest Kings. Their writing follows the same format.)
Scent-dots, incidentally, are arranged in rows constituting a geometrical square, and are read beginning with the top row from left to right, then right to left, and then left to right and so on again.
Priest Kings

Gorean, I might note, is somewhat similar, and though I speak Gorean fluently, I find it very difficult to write, largely because of the even-numbered lines which, from my point of view, must be written backwards. Torm, my friend of the Caste of Scribes, never forgave me this and to this day, if he lives, he undoubtedly considers me partly illiterate. As he said, I would never make a Scribe. "It is simple," he said. "You just write it forward but in the other direction."
Priest Kings
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Literacy and Illiteracy on Gor
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