Writing evolution - Newport Paper House


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Writing evolution

It can be considered that the first attempts of the human being to represent information visually correspond to cave paintings, which date back at least 20,000 years and which we can consider as the primitive precursors of writing.

Some of the ways in which writing has evolved are:


Pictograms are signs that, through a figure or a symbol, allow the representation of something to be developed. Certain ancient alphabets were created around pictograms.

In prehistory, man recorded various events through pictograms. The figures that appear in cave paintings, for example, can be considered as pictograms. In the invention of writing, pictograms were essential.

Currently, pictograms are used to convey a message that is immediately understood. These symbols must be clear and precise, so that the person can understand them as soon as they look at them. The pictograms, in this way, dispense with details or ornamentation in pursuit of the message.

Pictograms help eliminate language barriers as they are universally understandable. That is why they are often used as signals, providing useful information or warnings.


Ideograms are a way of writing where a sign or a group of them are capable of representing an abstract idea, and not sounds. The ideograms are typical of some cultures such as the Japanese, the southern Nigerian or the Chinese culture, and it is one of the oldest modes of written expression, preserving its essential features for more than 3,700 years.

The concept of ideogram represents a being or an idea directly without the need to transcribe words or phrases that explain it. In certain languages, moreover, the ideogram symbolizes a word or lexeme, but does not describe each of its syllables or phonemes, because they are not logograms. It turns out that, for example, the Chinese people can read ideographic texts of their language from thousands of years ago without knowing how the corresponding words were pronounced then.

It differs from a pictogram in that it has partially or completely lost its iconic or figurative character: these are signs that are more elaborate and schematic than pictograms, on the way to becoming symbols themselves; it could be said that they are summarized pictograms.


A logogram (from the Greek logos, word, and gram, writing) is a grapheme, the smallest unit of a writing system that by itself represents a word, lexeme, or morpheme. This contrasts with other non-linguistic representation systems such as pictograms or ideograms, which embody messages, or linguistic systems such as syllabaries, where each symbol primarily represents a phoneme (sound) or a combination of them and not entire words, lexemes or morphemes.

Logograms should not be confused with ideograms or hieroglyphics; ideograms directly represent ideas rather than mere words or morphemes, and no logographic system is completely ideographic.

Logograms are made up of visual elements arranged in different ways instead of resorting to phoneme segmentation, the construction principle of alphabets. As a result, it can be said in general terms that it is relatively easier to remember or guess the sound of a word written with an alphabet, but it is relatively easier to remember or imagine the meaning of a logogram. Another characteristic of these symbols is that, because they are associated more with meanings than with sounds, very different languages ​​can share them to express similar meanings.


One way to use existing symbols to represent the sounds of a language is to use what is known as hieroglyphic writing.

Through this system, the symbol used to denote a certain entity becomes the symbol that denotes the sound of the word that is used in the spoken language to refer to said entity.

From then on, that particular symbol starts to be used whenever that sound appears in a word.

Syllabic writing

When a writing system makes use of a set of symbols that represent the way in which syllables are pronounced, it is called a syllabic writing system.

Syllabic writing is a set of written characters or symbols that represent (or approximate) syllables that make up words. A symbol in a syllabary usually represents a consonant sound followed by a vowel sound. In a true syllabary there are no graphic similarities between phonetically related characters, although some do have graphic similarities for vowels. This means that the characters representing "ke", "ka" and "ko" do not have a graphic similarity to indicate the "k" sound they share.


Alphabetic writing

When you have a set of symbols to represent syllables beginning with, say, the b sound or the m sound, you are, in fact, very close to being able to use symbols to represent the simple sounds of a language. This then is the basis for alphabetic writing.

An alphabet is a set of written symbols that each represent a unique sound.

The alphabet receives its name from the first two Greek letters alpha and beta, which originally, in Hebrew and Phoenician, meant "bull" and "house"; the Greek alphabet is an adaptation of the Hebrew-Phoenician alphabet.

The first to write the isolated consonants were the West Semitic peoples on the shores of the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, Hebrews and Phoenicians, between 1700 B.C. and 1500 B.C.

It is called North Semitic and appears as a combination of cuneiform and hieroglyphic symbols; some signs could come from other systems related to them such as Cretan and Hittite writing.

The Semitic alphabet only had 22 consonants. Vowel sounds had to be understood because they were predetermined. The Hebrew, Arabic and Phoenician alphabets have this origin and currently both the Hebrew alphabet, which has 22 characters, and the Arabic alphabet, which has 28, are based on this model, so they lack representation for their vowels, which are They can indicate by means of dots and dashes that they are placed above, below or next to the consonant. Writing is done from right to left.

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