Difference between revisions of "Written Language"

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'''Writing''' is a way of putting down language in a symbolic form in some medium, usually with an alphabet but also possible with hieroglyphs or other characters.  Unlike unrecorded [[speech]], it is a form of [[communication]] that has a continuing nature in that it still exists or can be seen after it is completed.
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'''Written Language''' is the symbolic representation of language in some physical medium, often with an alphabet but also possible with hieroglyphs or other pictographic characters.  Unlike unrecorded [[speech]], it is a form of [[communication]] that has a lasting nature, in that it still exists or can be seen after it is completed. This makes it much easier to share knowledge with other people, since many people can read the same book and there is no danger of the author's original intention being misunderstood through transfer of knowledge by word of mouth.
  
 
==History==
 
==History==
:''For more information, see [[History of Writing]].''
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:''For more information, see [[History of Written Language]].''
 
The forerunners to writing were carved sticks or knotted cords that conveyed information.  Prehistoric writing took the form of cave art such as found in [[France]].  The cultures that developed in [[Egypt]] and [[Sumeria]] both started with pictorial forms which led to Egyptian [[hieroglyphics]] and Sumerian [[cuneiform]].  The [[Hittites]], Egyptians and Mesopotamians all devised symbols for specific sounds known as phonetic writing.  During the 2nd millennium B.C., Semitic [[alphabet]]s emerged allowing writing as know it.  The [[Greeks]] and the [[Roman]]s both copied these earlier alphabets.
 
The forerunners to writing were carved sticks or knotted cords that conveyed information.  Prehistoric writing took the form of cave art such as found in [[France]].  The cultures that developed in [[Egypt]] and [[Sumeria]] both started with pictorial forms which led to Egyptian [[hieroglyphics]] and Sumerian [[cuneiform]].  The [[Hittites]], Egyptians and Mesopotamians all devised symbols for specific sounds known as phonetic writing.  During the 2nd millennium B.C., Semitic [[alphabet]]s emerged allowing writing as know it.  The [[Greeks]] and the [[Roman]]s both copied these earlier alphabets.
  
===Proto-Script===
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Writing in Mesoamerica had developed into a fully articulated system by 900 BC.
[[File:Cave art at Lascaux.jpg|right|thumb|150px|Cave art at Lascaux.]]
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The forerunners to writing systems are universally pictograms.  When early people wished to convey an idea in a permanent medium, they simply drew the concept.  Examples of drawings by the first human beings can be found all over the world in the form of cave art.  However, as certain symbols became more and more common, it became unnecessary to draw the concept precisely - broad strokes would convey the idea sufficiently.
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This lead to development of pictographs, small, common pictures used to describe a series of ideas.  For example, to write "The man ran to catch the mammoth," it sufficed to draw a man running with a spear next to a mammoth.  However, such a system lacks the preciseness of modern writing.
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In India, the Indus Valley civilization used a logographic writing system over 35 hundred years ago.
  
In some cultures, the symbols which once represented a concept would begin to also represent the sound that the word for that concept began with.  This development allowed for a series of pictograms to convey a concept not easily drawn (like "love"), but for which the spoken language had a word for.  Such cultures are said to write with an alphabet.
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==Kinds of Writing==
[[Image:Pictographs.png|150px|left|thumb|Pictographs.]]
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In other cultures, abstract symbols were developed for verbs and for nouns not easily drawn. Such a culture is frequently said to write with hieroglyphs, although this word is generally not used for the Chinese system, although it fits this description.
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Once a pictogram system developed to the point of being able to express all or most of the concepts which could be expressed through vocal language, it ceased to be a pictogram system and became a writing system.
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There are two primary kinds of writing: '''alphabetic''' and '''logographic'''.  Alphabetic systems use a single symbol to express a single sound, and thus by writing these symbols next to each other, a string of sounds is described which create a word in the language being written.  In a logographic system, a single symbol can be used to refer to an idea or a syllable, depending on the context, and frequently the syllables or other sound symbols will provide the intangible framework (i.e., thinking, when?, etc.) for the concrete ideas (tree, house, etc.) which are expressed by single symbols.
  
===Sumer===
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'''Alphabetic Writing Systems:'''
===Egypt===
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*Latin Alphabet
[[Image:EgyptianHieroglyphs.jpg|150px|thumb|Hieroglyphs from the Greco-Roman period.]]
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*Cyrillic Alphabet
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs form the basis for many modern writing systems, due to the influence of Egypt in the ancient Mediterranean.
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*Greek Alphabet
[[Image:Rosetta stone.jpg|left|100px|thumb|The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum.]]
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*Arabic Alphabet
Egyptian hieroglyphs were mostly forgotten by the Western world until Napoleons exploits in Egypt brought back many inscriptions.  They were finally deciphered upon the discovery of the [[Rosetta stone]], a single stone document which contained the same inscription in Greek, heiroglyphs, and cuneiform.
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*Korean Alphabet
  
===China===
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'''Logographic Writing Systems:'''
===India===
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*Chinese Writing
[[Image:IndusScript.jpg|150px|right|thumb|A Harrapan royal seal.]]
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*Japanese Writing
 
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===Mesoamerica===
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The oldest writing in the Western Hemisphere is from approximately 900 BC, and of Olmec origin.<ref>http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5347080.stm</ref><ref>http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/313/5793/1610</ref>  However, the writing sample that has been found from this time appears to show a fully developed alphabetical system with 28 different symbols, so it is certain that writing had been discovered more than three thousand years ago in that region. 
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===Mediterranean===
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==References==
 
==References==

Latest revision as of 17:18, 16 September 2016

Written Language is the symbolic representation of language in some physical medium, often with an alphabet but also possible with hieroglyphs or other pictographic characters. Unlike unrecorded speech, it is a form of communication that has a lasting nature, in that it still exists or can be seen after it is completed. This makes it much easier to share knowledge with other people, since many people can read the same book and there is no danger of the author's original intention being misunderstood through transfer of knowledge by word of mouth.

History

For more information, see History of Written Language.

The forerunners to writing were carved sticks or knotted cords that conveyed information. Prehistoric writing took the form of cave art such as found in France. The cultures that developed in Egypt and Sumeria both started with pictorial forms which led to Egyptian hieroglyphics and Sumerian cuneiform. The Hittites, Egyptians and Mesopotamians all devised symbols for specific sounds known as phonetic writing. During the 2nd millennium B.C., Semitic alphabets emerged allowing writing as know it. The Greeks and the Romans both copied these earlier alphabets.

Writing in Mesoamerica had developed into a fully articulated system by 900 BC.

In India, the Indus Valley civilization used a logographic writing system over 35 hundred years ago.

Kinds of Writing

There are two primary kinds of writing: alphabetic and logographic. Alphabetic systems use a single symbol to express a single sound, and thus by writing these symbols next to each other, a string of sounds is described which create a word in the language being written. In a logographic system, a single symbol can be used to refer to an idea or a syllable, depending on the context, and frequently the syllables or other sound symbols will provide the intangible framework (i.e., thinking, when?, etc.) for the concrete ideas (tree, house, etc.) which are expressed by single symbols.

Alphabetic Writing Systems:

  • Latin Alphabet
  • Cyrillic Alphabet
  • Greek Alphabet
  • Arabic Alphabet
  • Korean Alphabet

Logographic Writing Systems:

  • Chinese Writing
  • Japanese Writing

References


Sources

The New American Desk Encyclopedia, Penguin Group, 1989