preliterate

Someone who's preliterate hasn't learned how to read or write yet. Your two year-old cousin is probably preliterate.

Small children are preliterate, and some people with learning difficulties remain preliterate for much longer. There are even entire preliterate societies, in which no one knows how to read or write. In these cultures, people speak and communicate perfectly well — they just don't have a written version of their language. When you're literate, you can read and write, and both words have a Latin root, literatus, "educated," or literally, "one who knows the letters."

Definitions of preliterate
  1. adjective
    not yet having acquired the ability to read and write
    Synonyms:
    illiterate
    not able to read or write
  2. adjective
    used of a society that has not developed writing
    synonyms: nonliterate
    noncivilised, noncivilized
    not having a high state of culture and social development
Word Family