Writing and Script: A Very Short Introduction
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Writing is the defining marker of civilization, without which there could be no records, no history, no books, no accumulation of knowledge. But when did this essential part of our lives begin? Why do we all write differently and how did writing evolve into what we use today? All of these questions are answered in this Very Short Introduction. Andrew Robinson tells the fascinating story of the history of writing, shedding light on its development and examining the enormous variety of writing and scripts we use today. Starting with the origins of writing five thousand years ago, with cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs, Robinson explains how these early forms developed into hundreds of scripts, including the Roman alphabet and Chinese characters. He reveals how the modern writing symbols and abbreviations we take for granted today--including airport signage and text messaging--resemble ancient ones much more closely than we might think. The book also includes a chronology of events from 3300 BC to AD 2000, a list of titles for further reading, and an index.
About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
19. All full writing systems mix phonetic symbols with logograms, but the proportions vary. See the text for a fuller explanation 75 How writing systems work Among the writing systems used to write spoken languages, the Finnish script on the left has the highest proportion of phoneticism, while the Japanese on the right has the lowest proportion. Hebrew and Arabic, which in their original forms did not mark vowels (though their modern forms do), lie in the middle. Japanese is adjudged to be
Knossos in 1900). Even more controversial is why the alphabetic script suddenly appeared. It is certainly extraordinary that there are no economic documents at all among the early Greek inscriptions. Instead the early alphabet users from all parts of Greece display private, almost literary concerns; the above-mentioned inscription of 730 BC, written on a vase, which was probably a prize, refers to ‘him who dances most delicately’. If economic inscriptions once existed on impermanent materials and
‘mother’ is really derived from the combination of two ideas, with no phonetic element involved. In other words, woman þ horse ¼ mother (‘female horse’) – rather than its being derived from the combination of one idea with a phonetic symbol. But this ‘ideographic’ explanation, appealing as it is (not least to overworked mothers), has no foundation and is a good example of the misunderstandings of Chinese characters that abound. It is incorrect to think of Chinese characters as ideographic (or
holes standing for 30 and 7 small depressions enclosed in the sign for ‘month’. Immediately beneath this ‘month’ sign are two signs for the name of the responsible ofﬁcial or the name of an institution/ofﬁce – a sort of Sumerian signature. On the basis of the two signs’ resemblance to later cuneiform signs of known phonetic value, the ofﬁcial’s name may have been ‘Kushim’. Some other signs in the bottom right-hand corner are less clear in meaning, but may refer to the function of the document and
IRELAND Senia Pasˇeta MODERN JAPAN Christopher Goto-Jones MOLECULES Philip Ball MORMONISM Richard Lyman Bushman MUSIC Nicholas Cook MYTH Robert A. Segal NATIONALISM Steven Grosby NELSON MANDELA Elleke Boehmer THE NEW TESTAMENT AS LITERATURE Kyle Keefer NEWTON Robert Iliffe NIETZSCHE Michael Tanner NINETEENTH-CENTURY BRITAIN Christopher Harvie and H. C. G. Matthew NORTHERN IRELAND Marc Mulholland NOTHING Frank Close NUCLEAR WEAPONS THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION S. A. Smith SCHIZOPHRENIA Joseph