Writing Systems

Evolution of Writing and Scripts

Created by,
Libby Harris

Curriculum Info  Meet the Author

Pedroni, Leilani. Child Writing. joewrite.jpg. 2004. My eCoach® eLibrary. Online. Available. 2 April 2004.


Donald Ryan states, "Language existed long before writing, emerging probably simultaneously with sapience, abstract thought and the Genus Homo. In my opinion, the signature event that separated the emergence of palaeohumans from their anthropoid progenitors was not tool-making but a rudimentary oral communication that replaced the hoots and gestures still used by lower primates. The transfer of more complex information, ideas and concepts from one individual to another, or to a group, was the single most advantageous evolutionary adaptation for species preservation. As long ago as 25,000-30,000 years BP, humans were painting pictures on cave walls. Whether these pictures were telling a "story" or represented some type of 'spirit house' or ritual exercise is not known."

Alphabetic Writing Systems
    •Cyrillic Alphabet
The Cyrillic alphabet has been influenced by both the Greek and Latin alphabets. The original is called Old Church Slavonic. It is used for several languages in Eastern Europe: Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Serbian and Macedonian
    •Etruscan Alphabet
The Etruscan alphabet was used for the language of the Etruscans. They were a pre-Roman people from ancient Italy. It is an adaptation of the Greek alphabet and later influenced the Latin alphabet.
    •Greek Alphabet
The Greek alphabet was the first alphabet to include vowels. It is over 2500 years old. It is used for all forms of Greek.
    •Latin Alphabet
The Latin alphabet was developed from the Greek and Etruscan alphabets for Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. This is now the most used writing system in the world. Hundreds of languages use it in Europe (English, French, German, Italian, Hungarian, Czech), Africa (Zulu, Swahili, Wolof), The Americas (Spanish, Portuguese, Nahuatl, Quechua) and Asia (Turkish, Malay, Vietnamese).
    •Phonecian Alphabet
Phonecian is one of the oldest alphabets in the world and the basis of most of the world's alphabets and syllabaries. The language was spoken by the Phonoecians around the Mediterranean Sea.
    •Ugarit Alphabet
Ugarit is the oldest alphabet. It was used on the coastal regions of modern day Syria and Lebanon .
Classroom Activity
    •Mayan Glyphs
Mayan glyphs were used to write the languages of the Mayan region in Mexico and Guatemala.
How to Write Your Name In Mayan Glyphs
    •Chinese Pictograms
Chinese Pictograms are the ancestor of modern Chinese writing.
    •Evolution of the Latin Alphabet
The Latin alphabet has evolved from Phonecian via Greek and Etruscan
    •Evolution of Writing and Scripts
The Evolution of Syllabaries and Alphabets
Logographic Writing Systems
    •Chinese Characters
Chinese script is made up of characters that represent a complete word. It is used for most of the languages of China (Mandarain, Cantonese, Wu, etc) as well as Japanese.
    •Chinese Harmonics
Words formed with the fact taken as the basis for pronunciation in simile and add other signs or words to form a new word.
    •Chinese Ideatives
Words formed to be understood easily after the pictograph and indicatives were formed.
    •Chinese Indicatives
Words formed from things cannot be drawn (directions, numbers.)
    •Chinese Pictographs
Words formed from things which can be drawn (animal, person, object.)
    •Chinese Transmissives
Words that are under one heading and in the same idea are jointly receptive.
Cuniform is a pictographic writing system used by many languages over several empires in ancient Mesopotamia and Persia.
    •Egyptian Heiroglyphics
The ancient Egyptian language is one of the very oldest languages of the world.
    •The Japanese Alphabets
The Japanese language is written with Chinese characters. It also uses two alphabets for word endings and for foreign words. These are called Hiragana and Katakana.
Syllabic Writing Systems
    •The Linear B Syllabary
Linear B is a script used to write an ancient form of Greek spoken on the island of Crete over 3000 years ago.
    •The Sanskrit Syllabary
The Sanskrit script was developed for the language of the same name spoken in North India over 2500 years ago. The Hindu holy books were written with this language. The script is the basis for most of the North Indian writing systems.

Last updated: April 04 2004, 3:12 am
Powered by