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Writing Systems.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Chandan Narayan

Writing: link between sounds and symbols Logographic: logos + graphos (words +writing)  Egyptian hieroglyphics, Mesopotamian cuneiform Phonographic: phonos + graphos (sound + writing)  Syllabic writing  Alphabetic writing Pictographic – pictograms: symbols for objects and concepts Origins Three kinds of brand new writing  Sumerians in Mesopotamia (3000 BC)  Chinese (1500 BC)  Mayan (500 BC) Cuneiform  Developped by Sumerians and Akkadians  Means ‘wedge shaped’ because of the shape of its original pictograms o Made by pressing a stylus into soft clay o Combination of straight lines because curved lines are hard to make with stylus  Some words were morphographic: represented morphemes. Other phonographic, syllables usually. Egyptain (Afro-Asiatic) hieroglyphics  May have been influenced by cuneiform  Hieroglyphics = pictograms  System a mixture of morphographic pictograms and phonographic symbols Semitic  Influenced by Egyptian and Akkadian  Abjad: Main symbols represent consonants only o Later diatrics added vowels  Completely phonographic  Writing spread throughout the area as Aramaic (Northwest Semitic) become the lingua franca across the Middle East (Assyrians, Akkadians, Babylonians, and Persians adopted Aramaic as the official language of their empires.)  Modern Hebrew and Arabic continue to be abjads; which are well-suited to the structures of Semitic languages Other syllabics  Cherokee  Syllabic Chinese  Logographic  About 4000 years old  Symbols represent words, not syllables o Different from Sumerian  Originally pictographic/icographic morphed to become morphographic as well, with words for a morpheme  Expanded in certain order o Phonetic extension – provides info abo
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