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The Evolution of Writing

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Have you ever wondered how writing began? The words, alphabets, numbers? Most epigraphers and paleographers agree that the historical evolution of writing occurred in basically four stages 1. Ideographic 2. Logographic 3. Syllabic 4. Alphabetic. The development of writing is unidirectional. Meaning that it will pass through the above four stages in that order and no other. No system of writing can begin naturally with the syllabic stage or alphabet stage. No writing system ever studied has skipped through a stage.

The ideographic stage is basically composed of pictures and readily symbols, designed so that the message will be obvious. This state says there is no relationship between what is written and how actually speech sounds. In the logographic stage each written sign stands for an actual word in the spoken language maintaining basically a one-to-one relationship to the spoken words. If one wanted to say “tree”, a picture or a symbol of a tree would be enough. Now we arrive at the next major stage the syllabic. This vital step occurred when complex words were “sounded out” using separate signs. In this stage each sign represents a single syllable consonantal sound followed by vowel sounds, and on occasion ending with another consonantal sound. Last the alphabetic stage of writing. It is to the Greeks that the credit must go for the invention of a true alphabet. Since the additions of a few more signs that represent true vowel-sounds, which enabled them to follow each initial consonantal sound with the appropriate vowel-sound accomplishing the final result of a single character for every single sound, this is the definition of a true alphabet.

The first forms of writing are result of the ancient Sumerian and Egyptian civi...

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...et, any word can be communicated in writing. We may have our way on our own thoughts and how we do communicate but all of that we can do came from the imagination of the Sumerians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, and Greeks.

Works Cited
R. Cedric Leonard “The Evolution of Writing” http://www.atlantisquest.com/evolution.html

Senner, Wayne, Ed. The Origins of Writing. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

Ullman, B.J. Ancient Writing and its Influence: Our Debt to Greece and Rome. New York: Cooper Square Publishers, Inc., 1963.

Woodard, Roger D. Greek writing from Knossos to Homer: A linguistic interpretation of the origin of the Greek alphabet and the continuity of ancient Greek literacy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Peters, John P. “Notes on Recent Theories of the Origin of the Alphabet.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 1901
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