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 non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio
Writing most likely began as a consequence of political expansion in ancient cultures, which needed reliable means for transmitting information, maintaining financial accounts, keeping historical records, and similar activities.
After being Turned Down by numerous Publishers, he had decided to write for Posterity.
Every writer hopes or boldly assumes that his life is in some sense exemplary, that the particular will turn out to be universal.
The aspiring writer must not merely be persistent, but relentless. If you are persistent and your manuscript is rejected, you send it out again. But if you are relentless, you make ten copies of the rejected manuscript and send them all out simultaneously.
Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent
I am a galley slave to pen and ink.
The free-lance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.
It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
The tendinous part of the mind, so to speak, is more developed in winter; the fleshy, in summer. I should say winter had given the bone and sinew to literature, summer the tissues and the blood.
Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason; they made no such demand upon those who wrote them.
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 non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio
Writing most likely began as a consequence of political expansion in ancient cultures, which needed reliable means for transmitting information, maintaining financial accounts, keeping historical records, and similar activities. 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. In both Ancient Egypt
writing may have evolved through calendrics and a political necessity for recording historical and environmental events.
Writing as a categoryWriting, 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
, 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
or typesetter. A person who produces text with emphasis on the aesthetics
s is known as a calligrapher or graphic designer
Writing is also a distinctly human
activity. Such writing has been speculatively designated as coincident
al. At this point in time, the only confirmed writing in existence is of human origin.
Means for recording informationWells 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".
Writing systemsThe major writing system
s – 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.
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.
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
is a set of written symbols that represent (or approximate) syllable
s. 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.
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 writing systems of the Middle East, it is usually only the consonants of a word that are written, although vowels may be indicated by the addition of various diacritical marks. Writing systems based primarily on marking the consonant phonemes alone date back to the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt. Such systems are called abjad
's, derived from the Arabic word for "alphabet".
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 abugida
s. 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
, although abugidas and abjads may also be accepted as alphabets. Because of this use, Greek
is often considered to be the first alphabet.
Featural scriptsA 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" and "d" are 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
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 materialsThe many tools and writing materials used throughout history include stone tablets, clay tablet
s, wax tablet
, copperplate, stylus
s, ink brush
s, 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.
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.
The beginning of writingBy definition, the modern practice of history
begins with written records; evidence of human culture without writing is the realm of prehistory
The writing process first 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
. 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.
Writing is an extension of human language across time and space. Writing most likely began as a consequence of political expansion in ancient cultures, which needed reliable means for transmitting information, maintaining financial accounts, keeping historical records, and similar activities. 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. In both Mesoamerica
and Ancient Egypt
writing may have evolved through calendrics and a political necessity for recording historical and environmental events. There is however evidence in the Dispilio Tablet
, which was carbon dated to the 6th millennium BC, that writing was used even earlier than that.
MesopotamiaThe original Mesopotamian writing system was derived from this method of keeping accounts, and by the end of the 4th millennium BC
, this had evolved into using a triangular-shaped stylus pressed into soft clay for recording numbers. This was gradually augmented with using a sharp stylus, indicating what was being counted by means of pictographs. Round-stylus and sharp-stylus writing was gradually replaced by writing using a wedge-shaped stylus (hence the term cuneiform
), at first only for logogram
s, 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
Cretan and Greek scriptsCretan hieroglyphs are found on artifacts of Crete
(early-to-mid-2nd millennium BC, MM I to MM III, overlapping with Linear A from MM IIA at the earliest). Linear B, the writing system of the Mycenaean Greeks, has been deciphered while Linear A has yet to be deciphered. The sequence and the geographical spread of the three overlapping, but distinct writing systems can be summarized as follows:
|Writing system||Geographical area||Time spanBeginning date refers to first attestations, the assumed origins of all scripts lie further back in the past.|
Cretan hieroglyphs are hieroglyphs found on artifacts of Bronze Age Minoan Crete . Symbol inventories have been compiled by Evans , Meijer , Olivier/Godart...
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...
|ca. 1625−1500 BC|
Linear A is one of two scripts used in ancient Crete before Mycenaean Greek Linear B; Cretan hieroglyphs is the second script. In Minoan times, before the Mycenaean Greek dominion, Linear A was the official script for the palaces and religious activities, and hieroglyphs were mainly used on seals....
The Aegean Islands are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast...
Kea , also known as Gia or Tzia , Zea, and, in Antiquity, Keos , is an island of the Cyclades archipelago, in the Aegean Sea, in Greece. Kea is part of the Kea-Kythnos peripheral unit. Its capital, Ioulis, is inland at a high altitude and is considered quite picturesque...
, Kythera, Melos, Thera
Santorini , officially Thira , is an island located in the southern Aegean Sea, about southeast from Greece's mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera...
), and Greek mainland (Laconia
Laconia , also known as Lacedaemonia, is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the southeastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. Its administrative capital is Sparti...
|ca. 18th century−1450 BC|
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...
Knossos , also known as Labyrinth, or Knossos Palace, is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and probably the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. The palace appears as a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and store rooms close to a central square...
), and mainland (Pylos
Pylos , historically known under its Italian name Navarino, is a town and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Pylos-Nestoras, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It was the capital of the former...
Mycenae is an archaeological site in Greece, located about 90 km south-west of Athens, in the north-eastern Peloponnese. Argos is 11 km to the south; Corinth, 48 km to the north...
Ancient Thebes (Boeotia)
See Thebes, Greece for the modern city built on the ancient ruins.Ancient Thebes was a Boeotian city-state , situated to the north of the Cithaeron range, which divides Boeotia from Attica, and on the southern edge of the Boeotian plain...
Tiryns is a Mycenaean archaeological site in the prefecture of Argolis in the Peloponnese, some kilometres north of Nauplion.-General information:...
|ca. 1375−1200 BC|
ChinaFrom the Shang Dynasty
most writing has survived on bones or bronze implements. Markings on turtle
shells (used as oracle bone
s) 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. 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.
EgyptThe 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 scribe
s. 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
appears to have been developed by Canaanite turquoise miners in the Sinai desert around the mid nineteenth century BC. Around 30 crude inscriptions have been found at a mountainous Egyptian mining site known as Serabit el-Khadem. This site was also home to a temple of Hathor, the "Mistress of turquoise". A later, two line inscription has also been found at Wadi el-Hol in Central Egypt. Based on hieroglyphic prototypes, but also including entirely new symbols, each sign apparently stood for a consonant rather than a word: the basis of an alphabetic system. It was not until the twelfth to the ninth centuries, however, that the alphabet took hold and became widely used.
Indus ValleyIndus script refers to short strings of symbols associated with the Indus Valley Civilization
(which spanned modern-day Pakistan
and North India
) 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, and was followed by the mature Harappan script. The script is written from right to left, and sometimes follows a boustrophedonic style. Since the number of principal signs is about 400-600, midway between typical logographic and syllabic scripts, many scholars accept the script to be logo-syllabic (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.
TurkmenistanArchaeologists 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.
Phoenician writing system and descendantsThe Phoenician writing system was adapted from the Proto-Caananite script sometime before the 14th century BC, which in turn borrowed principles of representing phonetic information from Egyptian hieroglyphics. This writing system was an odd sort of syllabary 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.
script (Berber languages) is descended from the Libyco-Berber script which is assumed to be of Phoenician origin.
MesoamericaA 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 by approximately 500 years. 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 textual or written information
Interactive fiction, often abbreviated IF, describes software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment. Works in this form can be understood as literary narratives and as video games. In common usage, the term refers to text...
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...
describes the structure and development of Chinese and Japanese narratives. It was originally used in Chinese poetry as a four-line composition, such as Qijue, and is also referred to as . The first Chinese character refers to the introduction or , the next: development, , the third: twist, ,...
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...
A literary award is an award presented to an author who has written a particularly lauded piece or body of work. There are awards for forms of writing ranging from poetry to novels. Many awards are also dedicated to a certain genre of fiction or non-fiction writing . There are also awards...
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...
A literary festival, also known as a book festival or writers' festival, is a regular gathering of writers and readers, typically on an annual basis in a particular city...
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...
A mechanical pencil or a propelling pencil is a pencil with a replaceable and mechanically extendable solid pigment core called a lead . It is designed such that the lead can be extended as its point is worn away...
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...
A pencil is a writing implement or art medium usually constructed of a narrow, solid pigment core inside a protective casing. The case prevents the core from breaking, and also from marking the user’s hand during use....
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....
Publishing is the process of production and dissemination of literature or information—the activity of making information available to the general public...
Scriptorium, literally "a place for writing", is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the copying of manuscripts by monastic scribes...
Teaching Writing in the United States
Teaching Writing in the United States has progressed through several approaches during the history of education in the United States.- Background :At its most basic level, writing is how we keep track of the thoughts that are important to us...
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading , adjusting the spaces between groups of letters and adjusting the space between pairs of letters...
Word processing is the creation of documents using a word processor. It can also refer to advanced shorthand techniques, sometimes used in specialized contexts with a specially modified typewriter.-External links:...
A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....
Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some "blocked"...
A writing circle is a group of like-minded writers needing support for their work, either through writing peer critiques, workshops or classes, or just encouragement...
Writing in Space
Several instruments have been used to write in outer space, including different types of pencils and pens. Some of them have been unmodified versions of conventional writing instruments; others have been invented specifically to counter the problems with writing in space conditions.-Pre-existing...
A writing slate is a piece of flat material used as a medium for writing.In the 19th century, writing slates were made of slate, which is more durable than paper and was cheap at the time when paper was expensive. It was used to allow children to practice writing...
Writing style is the manner in which an author chooses to write to his or her audience. A style reveals both the writer's personality and voice, but it also shows how she or he perceives the audience, and chooses conceptual writing style which reveal those choices by which the writer may change the...
Writer's voice is the literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author. Voice was generally considered to be a combination of a writer's use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text . Voice can be thought of in terms...
- A History of Writing: From Hieroglyph to Multimedia, edited by Anne-Marie Christin, Flammarion (in French, hardcover: 408 pages, 2002, ISBN 2-08-010887-5)
- In the Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language. By Joel M. Hoffman, 2004. Chapter 3 covers the invention of writing and its various stages.
- Origins of writing on AncientScripts.com
- Museum of Writing: UK Museum of Writing with information on writing history and implements
- On ERIC Digests: Writing Instruction: Current Practices in the Classroom; Writing Development; Writing Instruction: Changing Views over the Years
- Children of the Code: The Power of Writing – Online Video
- Powell, Barry B. 2009. Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization, Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-14051-6256-2
- Rogers, Henry. 2005. Writing Systems: A Linguistic Approach. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-23463-2 (hardcover); ISBN 0-631-23464-0 (paperback)
- Robinson, Andrew "The Origins of Writing" in David Crowley and Paul Heyer (eds) Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society (Allyn and Bacon, 2003).
- Language, Writing and Alphabet: An Interview with Christophe Rico Damqatum 3 (2007)
- Why write? – a history of writing and the alphabet from the British Library