The Rise and Progress of WRITING
Next to speech, writing is the most useful art that we posess. Writing is an improvement upon speech, and therefore must have been subsequential to it at one time. At first we thought nothing more than communicating to one another on a face to face basis. Afterwards , a method was derived for communication by means of marks or characters which we now term as writing.
Written characters are of two kinds; either a sign for things, or signs for words. The signs for things are, the pictorial hieroglyphics and symbols employed by the ancient nations; the signs for words are, the alphabetical characters now used by most of us.
Pictures were , the first attempt toward writing, and as we are naturally prone to imitation , methods of obtaining, copying and tracing the likeness of sensible objects. These methods were soon used for giving information to others explaining what had happened, or for creating a record of some fact.
To tell of a murder, a figure would have been painted ,stretched out upon the ground, with another standing by him holding a weapon.
Pictures could only depict events, they could not show connections nor describe effectively the words of man.
From this defect, there arose, with the passing of time, the invention of hieroglyphic characters ,which may be considered as the second stage of the art of writing.
Hieroglyphics are symbols which were made to represent invisible objects. They were created as an analogy or resemblance to the object they wanted to represent; eg the eye is the symbol for knowledge; the circle was for eternity with neither a beginning nor an end.
Pictures described the external visible objects, wheras, hieroglyphics depicted the invisible objects, by analogies taken from the external world.
Egypt was where this type of writing was most studied and brought it into a regular art. All the boasted wisdom of the priests was conveyed through hieroglyphics. They used animals as the emblems to describe moral qualities:- viper=ingratitude, ant=wisdom, imprudence by a fly.
As the foundations for these hieroglyphics were merely imaginary , translating became very confusing and not an ideal solution for communication.
The Chinese have no alphabet of letters, or simple sounds of which our words are composed.Every single character that they use are an expression of an idea, each mark stands one thing or object, and it thought that their characters amount to a total of some seventy thousand- Can you imagine learning it?
As to the origins there have been several opinions, but the most probable one is ,that the chinese writing came about as a kind of evolution from the hieroglyphics, abbreviations of the original form for the sake of writing them with greater speed. As the format reduced so the number increased into those marks or characters that the chinese now use.
Our arithmetical figures - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, give a good example of this writing. they have no dependance on words and the figures stand , understood by all nations who have agreed the use of them.
Over the passage of time, different nations regarded these methods as tedious , and began to consider, the possibility of signs that should not be 'for things' but for the words by which things were distinguished. The first invention of this sort seems to have been an alphabet of syllables rather than one of letters. This method , although improved still made reading and writing very complex.
Time passes until a man ,a genius sought to trace the sounds made by the human voice back to their simplest elements reducing them to vowels and consonants, and by fixing these sounds to signs which we call letters, taught others how to combine these sounds and signs to form the written word that we all use today.
It is uncertain who this man was, however ,the alphabet was first brought to Greece by Cadmus, a Phoenician. At this point the alphabet only had 16 letters and the rest added as the sounds left unstated were assigned their symbols.
The letters we use today can be traced back to Cadmus, who lived in the times of King David.
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