Writing has an origin, its history has an incredible story to tell but has continued to evolve over the years.
From the earliest scratches on stone and bone to the languages of computers and the internet, the history of writing offers a fascinating investigation into the origin and development of writing throughout the world,’’(Fisher S. aR., 2003).
The origins of writing can be traced back to 5 000 years ago. It has evolved over the years from the era of the pen, keyboard to the modern digital age. There is no shadow of a doubt the history of writing is a fascinating subject. It has transformed the world and reaped lasting benefits for humankind.
Why do humans write?
People have a general conception of writing as being a status symbol. Just being able to write gives our associates the impression that we are well educated. As they say, clear writing is a sign of clear thinking.
Today’s modern world has opened doors for all people to have access to great works written by artists of different genres. Undeniably, this has exposed us to an unprecedented level of information wealth.
Steven Fischer (2003) writes about the benefits stemming from writing. He states that writing used to be a specialised domain for only a few thousand. In sharp contrast, today writing has become a skill practised by almost 85% of the global population.
The significance of writing to the global society can better be appreciated through an understanding of the origins of writing.
History of writing timeline
Fisher, S.(2003) defines writing as the graphic counterpart of speech, the ‘fixing’ of spoken language in a permanent or semi-permanent.
Writing is one of the many forms of conveying human speech. Before the invention of writing, human beings made use of a wealth of graphic symbols and various kinds of memory tools.
For example, the use of the Egyptians’ consonantal n-sign to depict waves. Most writing systems and scripts that used to exist long back are now extinct.
Ancient writing system
Following a series of continuous developments, the Latin alphabet has become the world’s most important writing system.
The Latin alphabet in which English and other languages are conveyed today.
The realisation that we needed to store information and use it for communication led to the invention of writing.
Martin H. (1988), writes in his book that humans have always desired the means and media to preserve and reproduce expressions of their culture and history.
Art Historian, Michael Fitzgerald, writes about cave paintings in Zimbabwe which were used in the 19th century to record the bush men’s cultural practices. He says there’s a lot of literature available on these paintings.
Wayne Senne (1991) also writes that writing stemmed from the “Sign, Symbol, Script.” He also touched on the genesis of the world’s major writing systems including cuneiform, hieroglyphs, various alphabets, early Germanic runes and Celtic systems, Chinese characters, and ancient American symbols.
Development of writing in Mesopotamia
It is believed that both the writing of language and numbers started in two places namely Mesopotamia around 3200 BC and Mesoamerica around 900 BC.
How has writing changed over the years?
The Cuneiform writing system was the first form of communication beyond the use of pictograms. The earliest writing systems evolved roughly at the same time in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The Sumerian language is one of the earliest known written languages between c. 3300 to 3000 BC where records were purely logographic. This means they had no linguistic or phonological content.
- Cuneiform developed in Mesopotamia. It consisted of lines and dashes rather than an alphabet.
- Egypt had its famous hieroglyphs, many of which still survive today.
- The phoenician alphabet originated on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.
When were fountain pens invented?
The first fountain pen was invented in Paris in May 1827 and its production increased in the 1850s. The first patent on a ballpoint pen was issued in 1888.
Charles Babbage, an English mechanical engineer, conceptualised and invented the first mechanical computer in the early 19th century.
JD Bolter (1991) sees the computer as a new technology for reading and writing. And it’s the type of writing that interacts with the needs and desires of the reader.
The history of writing is broad including the writing of numbers. What I have written is just a tip of the iceberg.
It is thought that human beings developed language c. 35000 BCE as evidenced by cave paintings. (Bryn Mawr, 2013).
Language existed long before writing, emerging probably simultaneously at the site of the ancient torquoise mines at Serabit-al-Khadim in the Sinai. (Averil Cameron).
The history of literature begins with the invention of writing, in Bronze Age. Although the earliest Classics were in Ancient Greek, from the 3rd century BC, Greek 1100-800 BC date of the redaction of the extant text of the Rigveda
To continue reading the history of writing and its development, check The Invention of The Computer.
If you have any questions in relation to, Brief History of Writing please leave them below. I will be more than happy to respond as soon as I can.