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Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols (known as a writing system). It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and the recording of language via a non-textual medium such as magnetic tape audio.

In Eurasia writing began as a consequence of the burgeoning needs of accounting. Around the 4th millennium BC, the complexity of trade and administration outgrew the power of memory, and writing became a more dependable method of recording and presenting transactions in a permanent form (Robinson, 2003, p. 36). In Mesoamerica writing may have evolved through calendrics and a political necessity for recording historical events.

Contents

Writing as a category

Writing, more particularly, refers to two things: writing as a noun, the thing that is written; and writing as a verb, which designates the activity of writing. It refers to the inscription of characters on a medium, thereby forming words, and larger units of language, known as texts. It also refers to the creation of meaning and the information thereby generated. In that regard, linguistics (and related sciences) distinguishes between the written language and the spoken language. The significance of the medium by which meaning and information is conveyed is indicated by the distinction made in the arts and sciences. For example, while public speaking and poetry reading are both types of speech, the former is governed by the rules of rhetoric and the latter by poetics.

A person who composes a message or story in the form of text is generally known as a writer or an author. However, more specific designations exist which are dictated by the particular nature of the text such as that of poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, journalist, and more. A translator is a specialized multilingual writer who must fully understand a message written by somebody else in one language; the translator's job is to produce a document of faithfully equivalent message in a completely different language. A person who transcribes or produces text to deliver a message authored by another person is known as a scribe, typist or typesetter. A person who produces text with emphasis on the aesthetics of glyphs is known as a calligrapher or graphic designer.

Writing is also a distinctly human activity. It has been said that a monkey, randomly typing away on a typewriter (in the days when typewriters replaced the pen or plume as the preferred instrument of writing) could re-create Shakespeare-- but only if it lived long enough (this is known as the infinite monkey theorem). Such writing has been speculatively designated as coincidental. It is also speculated that extraterrestrial beings exist who may possess knowledge of writing. At this point in time, the only confirmed writing in existence is of human origin.[citation needed]

Means for recording information

Wells argues that writing has the ability to "put agreements, laws, commandments on record. It made the growth of states larger than the old city states possible. The command of the priest or king and his seal could go far beyond his sight and voice and could survive his death" (Wells in Robinson, 2003, p. 35).

Writing systems

The major writing systems – methods of inscription – broadly fall into four categories: logographic, syllabic, alphabetic, and featural. Another category, ideographic (symbols for ideas), has never been developed sufficiently to represent language. A sixth category, pictographic, is insufficient to represent language on its own, but often forms the core of logographies.

Logographies

A logogram is a written character which represents a word or morpheme. The vast number of logograms needed to write a language, and the many years required to learn them, are the major disadvantage of the logographic systems over alphabetic systems. However, the efficiency of reading logographic writing once it is learned is a major advantage.[citation needed] No writing system is wholly logographic: all have phonetic components as well as logograms ("logosyllabic" components in the case of Chinese characters, cuneiform, and Mayan, where a glyph may stand for a morpheme, a syllable, or both; "logoconsonantal" in the case of hieroglyphs), and many have an ideographic component (Chinese "radicals", hieroglyphic "determiners"). For example, in Mayan, the glyph for "fin", pronounced "ka'", was also used to represent the syllable "ka" whenever the pronunciation of a logogram needed to be indicated, or when there was no logogram. In Chinese, about 90% of characters are compounds of a semantic (meaning) element called a radical with an existing character to indicate the pronunciation, called a phonetic. However, such phonetic elements complement the logographic elements, rather than vice versa.

The main logographic system in use today is Chinese characters, used with some modification for various languages of China, Japanese, and, to a lesser extent, Korean in South Korea. Another is the classical Yi script.

Syllabaries

A syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent (or approximate) syllables. A glyph in a syllabary typically represents a consonant followed by a vowel, or just a vowel alone, though in some scripts more complex syllables (such as consonant-vowel-consonant, or consonant-consonant-vowel) may have dedicated glyphs. Phonetically related syllables are not so indicated in the script. For instance, the syllable "ka" may look nothing like the syllable "ki", nor will syllables with the same vowels be similar.

Syllabaries are best suited to languages with relatively simple syllable structure, such as Japanese. Other languages that use syllabic writing include the Linear B script for Mycenaean Greek; Cherokee; Ndjuka, an English-based creole language of Surinam; and the Vai script of Liberia. Most logographic systems have a strong syllabic component. Ethiopic, though technically an alphabet, has fused consonants and vowels together to the point that it's learned as if it were a syllabary.

Alphabets

An alphabet is a small set of symbols, each of which roughly represents or historically represented a phoneme of the language. In a perfectly phonological alphabet, the phonemes and letters would correspond perfectly in two directions: a writer could predict the spelling of a word given its pronunciation, and a speaker could predict the pronunciation of a word given its spelling. As languages often evolve independently of their writing systems, and writing systems have been borrowed for languages they were not designed for, the degree to which letters of an alphabet correspond to phonemes of a language varies greatly from one language to another and even within a single language.

In most of the alphabets of the Mid-East, only consonants are indicated, or vowels may be indicated with optional diacritics. Such systems are called abjads. In most of the alphabets of India and Southeast Asia, vowels are indicated through diacritics or modification of the shape of the consonant. These are called abugidas. Some abugidas, such as Ethiopic and Cree, are learned by children as syllabaries, and so are often called "syllabics". However, unlike true syllabaries, there is not an independent glyph for each syllable.

Sometimes the term "alphabet" is restricted to systems with separate letters for consonants and vowels, such as the Latin alphabet. Because of this use, Greek is often considered to be the first alphabet.

Featural scripts

A featural script notates the building blocks of the phonemes that make up a language. For instance, all sounds pronounced with the lips ("labial" sounds) may have some element in common. In the Latin alphabet, this is accidentally the case with the letters "b" and "p"; however, labial "m" is completely dissimilar, and the similar-looking "q" is not labial. In Korean hangul, however, all four labial consonants are based on the same basic element. However, in practice, Korean is learned by children as an ordinary alphabet, and the featural elements tend to pass unnoticed.

Another featural script is SignWriting, the most popular writing system for many sign languages, where the shapes and movements of the hands and face are represented iconically. Featural scripts are also common in fictional or invented systems, such as Tolkien's Tengwar.

Historical significance of writing systems

, tympanum representing Writing, above exterior of main entrance doors, Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington DC, 1896.]]

Historians draw a distinction between prehistory and history, with history defined by the advent of writing. The cave paintings and petroglyphs of prehistoric peoples can be considered precursors of writing, but are not considered writing because they did not represent language directly.

Writing systems always develop and change based on the needs of the people who use them. Sometimes the shape, orientation and meaning of individual signs also changes over time. By tracing the development of a script it is possible to learn about the needs of the people who used the script as well as how it changed over time.

Tools and materials

The many tools and writing materials used throughout history include stone tablets, clay tablets, wax tablets, vellum, parchment, paper, copperplate, styluses, quills, ink brushes, pencils, pens, and many styles of lithography. It is speculated that the Incas might have employed knotted threads known as quipu (or khipu) as a writing system. [1]

The typewriter and various forms of word processors have subsequently become widespread writing tools, and various studies have compared the ways in which writers have framed the experience of writing with such tools as compared with the pen or pencil. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] For more information see writing implements.

History of early writing

By definition, the modern practice of history begins with written records; evidence of human culture without writing is the realm of prehistory.

The writing process evolved from economic necessity in the ancient near east. Archaeologist Denise Schmandt-Besserat determined the link between previously uncategorized clay "tokens" and the first known writing, cuneiform.[7] The clay tokens were used to represent commodities, and perhaps even units of time spent in labor, and their number and type became more complex as civilization advanced. A degree of complexity was reached when over a hundred different kinds of tokens had to be accounted for, and tokens were wrapped and fired in clay, with markings to indicate the kind of tokens inside. These markings soon replaced the tokens themselves, and the clay envelopes were demonstrably the prototype for clay writing tablets.[7]

Mesopotamia

The original Mesopotamian writing system was derived from this method of keeping accounts, and by the end of the 4th millennium BC,[8] this had evolved into using a triangular-shaped stylus pressed into soft clay for recording numbers. This was gradually augmented with pictographic writing using a sharp stylus to indicate what was being counted. Round-stylus and sharp-stylus writing was gradually replaced by writing using a wedge-shaped stylus (hence the term cuneiform), at first only for logograms, but evolved to include phonetic elements by the 29th century BC. Around the 26th century BC, cuneiform began to represent syllables of spoken Sumerian. Also in that period, cuneiform writing became a general purpose writing system for logograms, syllables, and numbers, and this script was adapted to another Mesopotamian language, Akkadian, and from there to others such as Hurrian, and Hittite. Scripts similar in appearance to this writing system include those for Ugaritic and Old Persian.

Turkmenistan

Archaeologists have recently discovered that there was a civilization in Central Asia using writing 4,000 years ago. An excavation near Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, revealed an inscription on a piece of stone that was used as a stamp seal. [9]

China

In China historians have found out a lot about the early Chinese dynasties from the written documents left behind. From the Shang Dynasty most of this writing has survived on bones or bronze implements. Markings on turtle shells (used as oracle bones) have been carbon-dated to around 1500 BC. Historians have found that the type of media used had an effect on what the writing was documenting and how it was used.

There have recently been discoveries of tortoise-shell carvings dating back to c. 6000 BC, but whether or not the carvings are of sufficient complexity to qualify as writing is under debate.[10][11] If it is deemed to be a written language, writing in China will predate Mesopotamian cuneiform, long acknowledged as the first appearance of writing, by some 2000 years.

Egypt

The earliest known hieroglyphic inscriptions are the Narmer Palette, dating to c.3200 BC, and several recent discoveries that may be slightly older, though the glyphs were based on a much older artistic tradition. The hieroglyphic script was logographic with phonetic adjuncts that included an effective alphabet.

Writing was very important in maintaining the Egyptian empire, and literacy was concentrated among an educated elite of scribes. Only people from certain backgrounds were allowed to train to become scribes, in the service of temple, pharaonic, and military authorities. The hieroglyph system was always difficult to learn, but in later centuries was purposely made even more so, as this preserved the scribes' status.

The world's oldest known alphabet was developed in central Egypt around 2000 BC from a hieroglyphic prototype, and over the next 500 years spread to Canaan and eventually to the rest of the world.

Indus Valley

(perhaps 5,000 years old)]]

Indus script refers to short strings of symbols associated with the Indus Valley Civilization used between 2600–1900 BC. In spite of many attempts at decipherments and claims, it is as yet undeciphered. The script generally refers to that used in the mature Harappan phase, which perhaps evolved from a few signs found in early Harappa after 3500 BC,[12], and was followed by the mature Harappan script. The script is written from right to left,[13] and sometimes follows a boustrophedonic style. Since the number of principal signs is about 400-600,[14] midway between typical logographic and syllabic scripts, many scholars accept the script to be logo-syllabic[15] (typically syllabic scripts have about 50-100 signs whereas logographic scripts have a very large number of principal signs). Several scholars maintain that structural analysis indicates an agglutinative language underlies the script. However, this is contradicted by the occurrence of signs supposedly representing suffixes at the beginning or middle of words.

Phoenician writing system and descendants

The Phoenician writing system was adapted from the Proto-Caananite script in around the 11th century BC, which in turn borrowed ideas from Egyptian hieroglyphics. This writing system was an abjad — that is, a writing system in which only consonants are represented. This script was adapted by the Greeks, who adapted certain consonantal signs to represent their vowels. The Cumae alphabet, a variant of the early Greek alphabet gave rise to the Etruscan alphabet, and its own descendants, such as the Latin alphabet and Runes. Other descendants from the Greek alphabet include the Cyrillic alphabet, used to write Russian, among others. The Phoenician system was also adapted into the Aramaic script, from which the Hebrew script and also that of Arabic are descended.

The Tifinagh script (Berber languages) is descended from the Libyco-Berber script which is assumed to be of Phoenician origin.

Mesoamerica

A stone slab with 3,000-year-old writing was discovered in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and is an example of the oldest script in the Western Hemisphere preceding the oldest Zapotec writing dated to about 500 BC. [16] [17] [18] It is thought to be Olmec.

Of several pre-Columbian scripts in Mesoamerica, the one that appears to have been best developed, and the only one to be deciphered, is the Maya script. The earliest inscriptions which are identifiably Maya date to the 3rd century BC, and writing was in continuous use until shortly after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century AD. Maya writing used logograms complemented by a set of syllabic glyphs, somewhat similar in function to modern Japanese writing.

Creation of text or information

Composition

Creativity

Author

Writer

Critiques

Writers sometimes search out others to evaluate or criticize their work. To this end, many writers join writing circles, often found at local libraries or bookstores. With the evolution of the Internet, writing circles have started to go online.

See also

References

  1. ^ The Khipu Database Project, http://khipukamayuq.fas.harvard.edu/index.html
  2. ^ Chandler, Daniel (1990). "Do the write thing?". Electric Word 17: 27-30. 
  3. ^ Chandler, Daniel (1992). "The phenomenology of writing by hand". Intelligent Tutoring Media 3 (2/3): 65-74. 
  4. ^ Chandler, Daniel (1993). "Writing strategies and writers' tools". English Today: The International Review of the English Language 9 (2): 32-8. 
  5. ^ Chandler, Daniel (1994). "Who needs suspended inscription?". Computers and Composition 11 (3): 191-201. 
  6. ^ Chandler, Daniel (1995). The Act of Writing: A Media Theory Approach. Aberystwyth: Prifysgol Cymru. 
  7. ^ a b Rudgley, Richard (2000). The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 48–57. 
  8. ^ The Origin and Development of the Cuneiform System of Writing, Samuel Noah Kramer, Thirty Nine Firsts In Recorded History pp 381-383
  9. ^ "Ancient writing found in Turkmenistan.". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/1330705.stm. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. "A previously unknown civilisation was using writing in Central Asia 4,000 years ago, hundreds of years before Chinese writing developed, archaeologists have discovered. An excavation near Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, revealed an inscription on a piece of stone that seems to have been used as a stamp seal." 
  10. ^ China Daily, 12 June 2003, Archaeologists Rewrite History, http://www.china.org.cn/english/2003/Jun/66806.htm
  11. ^ "'Earliest writing' found in China.". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2956925.stm. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. "Signs carved into 8,600-year-old tortoise shells found in China may be the earliest written words, say archaeologists." 
  12. ^ Whitehouse, David (1999) 'Earliest writing' found BBC
  13. ^ (Lal 1966)
  14. ^ (Wells 1999)
  15. ^ (Bryant 2000)
  16. ^ "Writing May Be Oldest in Western Hemisphere.". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/15/science/15writing.html. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. "A stone slab bearing 3,000-year-old writing previously unknown to scholars has been found in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and archaeologists say it is an example of the oldest script ever discovered in the Western Hemisphere." 
  17. ^ "'Oldest' New World writing found". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5347080.stm. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. "Ancient civilisations in Mexico developed a writing system as early as 900 BC, new evidence suggests." 
  18. ^ "Oldest Writing in the New World". Science. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/313/5793/1610. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. "A block with a hitherto unknown system of writing has been found in the Olmec heartland of Veracruz, Mexico. Stylistic and other dating of the block places it in the early first millennium before the common era, the oldest writing in the New World, with features that firmly assign this pivotal development to the Olmec civilization of Mesoamerica." 

Further reading

External links


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Most common English words: expected « considered « proper « #758: writing » allowed » per » result

Pronunciation

Verb

writing

  1. Present participle of write.

Noun

Singular
writing

Plural
countable and uncountable; plural writings

writing (countable and uncountable; plural writings)

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Wikipedia

  1. (uncountable) Graphism of symbols such as letters that express some meaning.
  2. (uncountable) Something written, such as a document, article or book.
  3. (uncountable) The process of representing a language with symbols or letters.
  4. (countable) A work of an author.
  5. (countable) The style of writing of a person.
    I can't read your writing.
  6. (as a modifier) Intended for or used in writing.
    a writing table

Synonyms

  • (written letters or symbols that express some meaning): text
  • (something written): document, text
  • (process of representing a language with symbols or letters):
  • (work of an author): work
  • (the style of writing of a person): hand, handwriting
  • (intended for or used in writing):

Derived terms

Translations


Simple English

File:Edwin Smith Papyrus
The Edwin Smith papyrus, the world's oldest surviving surgical document. Written in hieratic script in ancient Egypt around 1600 B.C., the text describes anatomical observations and the examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of 48 types of medical problems in exquisite detail. Plate 6 and 7 of the papyrus, pictured here, discuss facial trauma.

Writing is the act of recording language on a visual medium using a set of symbols. The symbols must be known to others, so that the text may be read.

A text may also use other visual systems, such as illustrations and decorations. These are not called writing, but may help the message work. Usually, all educated people in a country use the same writing system to record the same language. To be able to read and write is to be literate.

Writing differs from speech because the readers need not be present at the time. We can read writing from long ago, and from different parts of the world. It works across time and space. It stores and communicates knowledge. Writing is one of the greatest inventions of the human species. It was invented after people had settled in towns, and after agriculture had started. Writing dates from about 3,300BC, which is over 5000 years ago, in the Middle East. [[File:|thumb|right|200px|Scribe at work.]]

A variety of writing materials were invented, long before paper. Clay, papyrus, wood, slate and parchment (prepared animal skins) have all been used. The Romans wrote on waxed tablets with a pointed pen; this was popular for temporary notes and messages. The later invention of paper by the Chinese was a big step forward.[1][2][3][4]

The medium used today is usually paper, though there is technology to print on almost any surface. Media such as television and movie screens can also be used to display writing, and so can computer screens.

Writing is traditionally done using a hand tool such as a pencil, a pen, or a brush. More and more, however, text is created by input on a computer keyboard.

Contents

History of writing

Writing was invented independently a number of times. The Sumerian, the Ancient Egyptian, the Chinese and the Mayan writings are separate in their invention.[5][6]p85 All these writing systems started with pictographs, symbols that stood for things. Then they developed a mixture of methods. Our own alphabetic system is different. It is based on the sounds of spoken language. All alphabets are modified versions of the first one, which originated with the Phoenicians and the Ancient Greeks.

Sumer

The Sumerians lived in Mesopotamia,[7] between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. 5000 years ago this was a fertile region and is now mostly in Iraq. The Sumerians developed a form of writing called cuneiform.[8] Triangular marks were pressed into soft clay tablets. After the clay had dried in the sun the tablets were baked. Then they were carried somewhere else for others to read. We know that its first uses were for trade, accounting and administration.

The earliest signs were mostly pictorial, but soon they stood as symbols for objects, ideas and sounds. This writing system was extremely successful, and outlasted the Sumerian empire. It was then used by other civilisations in the Middle East, such as the Old Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Elamite, Hittite, Old Persian and Ugaritic empires. The last cuneiform inscription was dated as AD75. Thus the system had lasted for more than 3000 years.[1]p71 Each version of cuneiform had to be deciphered separately, because all the languages were different. Documents (including stone objects) written in more than one language provided the clues.

Ancient Egypt

[[File:|thumb|right|200px|Hieroglyphs on stone; Ramses II statue behind]] This is the most famous of the old forms of writing, or scripts. It was invented at roughly the same time as cuneiform, yet was quite different in style, and used different materials. Egyptians ended up with three writing systems for the same language. They were:

1. Hieroglyphic: the famous pictorial language on stone monuments.
2. Hieratic: a cursive (writing) script used by the priests.
3. Demotic: a cursive script used by the people.

The two cursive scripts were written with reed pens and carbon inks onto papyrus, also by brush onto cloth. Many examples survive. The hieroglyphs were carved into stone or painted onto stone surfaces. Many survive, some with the original colours intact. The key event in the decipherment of hieroglyphic writing was the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. This is a granite slab with the same message written in hieroglyphic, demotic and in Greek. Ancient Greek is well understood, and made possible the interpretation of the other two scripts.

Chinese

Chinese is the language with the largest number of native speakers. Its history dates back to about 1400BC.[1]p183 The Chinese writing system is idio-syllabic, a mixed method using characters which may have one or more of these elements:

1. Pictographic: representing objects.
2. Visual logic: the number '3' is three horizontal strokes.
3. Complex logic: the sun is a box with a horizontal mid-stroke.
4. Rebus: "sounds like..." the character for wheat is also used for 'come' because the words are homophonous (sound alike).
5. Semantic-phonetic: combination of a character for meaning with another for sound (pronunciation).

s. The black are in traditional Chinese, and the red are in simplified Chinese.]]

Chinese has a huge number of characters: in the region of 50,000.[1]p186 Because of this, printing methods were never really successful in China, despite their early invention. In the 14th century, Wang Tzhen, had sixty thousand wood block characters cut, a huge investment in time and money. He printed 100 copies of a local gazette, and was author of a treatise on agriculture and other technical works. Even with printing machines from Europe in the 19th century, the process was hampered by the huge number of characters, which slowed the composition to a snail's pace.[9]

China has eight regional languages that are mutually unintelligible, and many true dialects. The system appears to work mainly because as many as 70% speak Mandarin. Fluency in Chinese reading and writing is undoubtedly difficult to achieve, and this must act as a brake on the drive for literacy. There have been a number of attempts to reform or simplify the system. The most radical in Pinyin, which is a program to replace Chinese characters with an alphabetic system. This was supported by Mao, but faltered after his death.

Alphabets

It seems that the idea of an alphabet – a script based entirely upon sound – arose only once, and has been copied and adapted to suit many different languages. Although no alphabet fits its language perfectly, it is flexible enough to fit any language approximately. It was a unique invention.[10]p12

File:Causa
13th century calligraphy & illustration

Our alphabet is called the Roman alphabet, as compared with the Cyrillic and other alphabets. All of these come from the ancient Greek alphabet, which dates back to about 1100 to 800BC.[1]p167 The Greek alphabet was probably developed from the Phoenician script, which appeared somewhat earlier, and had some similar letter-shapes.

The Phoenicians spoke a Semitic language, usually called Canaanite. The Semitic group of languages includes Arabic, Maltese, Hebrew and also Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. We do not know much about how the alphabetic idea arose, but the Phoenicians, a trading people, came up with letters which were adapted by the early Greeks to produce their alphabet. The one big difference is that the Phoenician script had no pure vowels. Arabic script has vowels which may, but do not have to be, shown by diacritics (small marks above or below the line).[11] The oldest Qu'ran manuscripts had no diacritics,[12] and Israeli children to about the third grade use texts with vowel 'dots' added.[6]p89

No ancient script, alphabetic or not, had pure vowels before the Greeks. The Greek alphabet even has two vowels for 'e' and two for 'o', to distinguish between the long and short sounds.[13] It is fairly clear from this that careful thought went into both the Phoenician invention and the Greek adaptation. However, no details survive of either process.[4]

Semitic scripts apparently derive from Proto-Sinaitic, a script of which only 31 inscriptions (plus 17 doubtful) are known. It is thought by some researchers that the original source of this script was the Egyptian hieratic script. By the late Middle Kingdom (about 1900BC) hieratic had added some alphabetic signs for representing the consonants of foreign names. Egyptian activity in Sinai was at its height at that time.[14] A similar idea had been suggested many years previously.[15]

Undeciphered scripts

There are a number of scripts which have never been deciphered,[16] despite much effort.[1]p145 Perhaps the most famous are the script of the Indus Valley civilization, and the Etruscan script. The Indus River[17] civilisation predates other literate civilisations on the Indian subcontinent, going back to about 2500BC. Their cities of Mohenjo-Daru and Harappa were well-planned, with good drainage. The script is found on seal stones,[18] terracotta,[19] bronze, bone and ivory. All are brief, and the language is unknown.

The Etruscan language used Greek letter-forms, and is found mainly on Etruscan tombs, from Tuscany through to Venice. They were an empire before the Romans, who defeated them, and absorbed their ideas. All knowledge of their language was lost, except that some of the names on tomb memorials can be read from the Greek letters.

Literacy

It is only in the last 150 years that most people have been able to read and write in Europe and North America. In many other parts of the world this did not happen until the 20th century. Until then, literacy was mainly for clerics, that is, people who had training as priests. Even wealthy people were often illiterate, and used scribes to write for them. The invention of printing came before mass literacy. Before 1500, each book had to be created by hand, so there were few books available compared to the billions in the world today. Mass literacy needed cheap books.

Even now, there is still widespread illiteracy.[20]

Handwriting

The ordinary use of writing by means of a pen and paper. Can refer to writing for oneself, as in a diary, but mostly it refers to sending letters. Once it was almost the only means of communication between people who were separated. Now, the telephone and e-mail are the most common means of distance communication.

Other pages

References

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Robinson. Andrew 1995. The story of writing. Thames & Hudson, London.
  2. Christin, Anne-Marie (ed) A history of writing. Flammarion, Paris.
  3. Gaur, Albertine 1992. A history of writing. 3rd ed.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Diringer, David 1968. The alphabet: a key to the history of mankind. 2 vols, Hutchinson, London.
  5. Some authorities have suggested that Egyptian hieroglyphs arose from Sumeriam writing. There is no direct evidence for this, and their scripts and methods of writing are entirely different.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ong, Walter J. 1982. Orality and literacy: the technologising of the word. Methuen, London.
  7. Meaning 'between the rivers'.
  8. 'Cuneus' being Latin for 'wedge', hence cuneiform = wedge-shaped.
  9. Composition: the arrangement of the individual characters on a frame for the purpose of printing.
  10. Man, John 2000. Alpha Beta: how our alphabet shaped the western world. Headline, London.
  11. The modern practice in printed Arabic is not to use diacritics
  12. enWP Arabic diacritics
  13. Short 'e' is ε epsilon, long 'e' is η eta. Short 'o' is o o micron; long 'o' is ω o mega. Languages other than Semitic have copied the Greek or Roman alphabets, making such changes as seem right for their particular language.
  14. Sass B. 1988. The genesis of the alphabet, and its development in the 2nd millenium. Wiesbaden.
  15. Gardiner, Alan 1916. The Egyptian origin of the alphabet. J. Egyptian Archaeology III.
  16. Decipher: to translate an unknown text into a known language.
  17. Sindh/Gujarat
  18. Stones used for making a personal mark.
  19. Earthenware
  20. The UN estimated that, in 1998, about 16% of the world's population were illiterate.


Citable sentences

Up to date as of November 30, 2010

Here are sentences from other pages on Mary Shelley, which are similar to those in the above article.








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