Written language
   HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural
language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languages are the primary means by which humans communicate, and may be conveyed through a variety of met ...
by means of a
writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication, based on a script and a orthography, set of rules regulating its use. While both writing and spoken language, speech are useful in conveying messages, writing differs i ...
. Written language is an
invention An invention is a unique or novelty (patent), novel machine, device, method, composition, idea or process. An invention may be an improvement upon a machine, product, or process for increasing efficiency or lowering cost. It may also be an ent ...
in that it must be taught to children, who will pick up
spoken language A spoken language is a language produced by articulate sounds or (depending on one's definition) manual gestures, as opposed to a written language. An oral language or vocal language is a language produced with the vocal tract in contrast with a si ...
or
sign language Sign languages (also known as signed languages) are languages that use the visual-manual modality to convey meaning, instead of spoken words. Sign languages are expressed through manual articulation in combination with non-manual markers. Sign l ...
by exposure even if they are not formally instructed. Written languages can be formed by an
alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letter (alphabet), letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent language in this way; in a syllabary, each character ...
, or using other writing systems to give words and graphical counterpart.


History

The first writing can be dated back to the Neolithic era, with clay tablets being used to keep track of livestock and commodities. However, the first example of written language can be dated to
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka or Warkah, was an ancient city of Sumer (and later of Babylonia) situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern Samawah, Muthanna Governorate, Al ...
, at the end of the 4th millennium BCE. An ancient Mesopotamian poem tells a tale about the invention of writing.
"Because the messenger's mouth was heavy and he couldn't repeat, the Lord of Kulaba patted some clay and put words on it, like a tablet. Until then, there had been no putting words on clay." —''
Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta ''Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta'' is a legendary Sumerian language, Sumerian account, preserved in early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts ...
,'' circa 1800 BCE.
Scholars mark the difference between
prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history between the use of the first stone tools by hominins 3.3 million years ago and the beginning of recorded history with the invention of writing systems. The use of ...
and
history History (derived ) is the systematic study and the documentation of the human activity. The time period of event before the invention of writing systems is considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term comprising past events as we ...
with the invention of the first written language. However, that leaves the argument of what is and isn't a written language. An argument over the transition of history to pre-history being whether a piece of writing in proto-writing, or genuine writing, making the matter largely subjective. Leaving the line in a gray-area. A general consensus is that writing is a method of recording information, composed of
graphemes In linguistics, a grapheme is the smallest functional unit of a writing system. The word ''grapheme'' is derived and the suffix ''-eme'' by analogy with ''phoneme'' and other names of emic units. The study of graphemes is called ''graphemics' ...
, which also may be
glyphs A glyph () is any kind of purposeful mark. In typography, a glyph is "the specific shape, design, or representation of a character". It is a particular graphical representation, in a particular typeface, of an element of written language. A g ...
, and it should represent some form of spoken language as well, falling hand in hand with containing information. Allowing
numbers A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in language with number words. More u ...
to be counted as writing as well.


Origins of Writing

Many thought writing originated in one civilization, the theory being called, " monogenesis." Scholars believing that all writing originated in ancient Mesopotamia, specifically in ancient
Sumer Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of ...
, and then spread throughout the world from there.


Compared to spoken language

Written languages change more slowly than corresponding spoken languages. When at least one register of a language is strongly divergent from spoken language, the resulting situation is called
diglossia In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature a ...
. However, that is still often considered one language between
literary language A literary language is the Register (sociolinguistics), form (register) of a language used in written literature, which can be either a nonstandard dialect or a standard language, standardized variety of the language. Literary language sometimes ...
and other registers, especially if the
writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication, based on a script and a orthography, set of rules regulating its use. While both writing and spoken language, speech are useful in conveying messages, writing differs i ...
reflects its
pronunciation Pronunciation is the way in which a word or a language is spoken. This may refer to generally agreed-upon sequences of sounds used in speaking a given word or language in a specific dialect ("correct pronunciation") or simply the way a particular ...
. Native readers and writers of English are often unaware that the complexities of
English spelling English orthography is the writing system used to represent spoken English language, English, allowing reading, readers to connect the graphemes to sound and to meaning. It includes English's norms of spelling, hyphenation, capitalisation, word ...
make written English a somewhat artificial construct. The traditional spelling of English, at least for inherited words, preserves a late
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) is a form of the English language that was spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest of 1066, until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments ...
phonology Phonology is the branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds or, for sign languages, their constituent parts of signs. The term can also refer specifically to the sound or sign system of a ...
that is never used as a speech dialect. The artificial preservation of that form of the language, in writing, might make much of what is now written intelligible to
Geoffrey Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer (; – 25 October 1400) was an English poet, author, and civil servant best known for ''The Canterbury Tales''. He has been called the "father of English literature", or, alternatively, the "father of English poetry". He wa ...
(1343–1400) even if the medieval writer's speech could no longer be understood.


See also

*
Graphocentrism Graphocentrism or scriptism is a typically unconscious interpretative bias in which writing is privileged over speech. Biases in favor of the written or printed word are closely associated with the ranking of sight above sound, the eye above the ea ...
*
Foreign language writing aid A foreign language writing aid is a computer program or any other instrument that assists a non-native language user (also referred to as a foreign language learner) in writing decently in their target language. Assistive operations can be classifie ...
*
History of writing The history of writing traces the development of expressing language by systems of markings and how these markings were used for various purposes in different societies, thereby transforming social organization. Writing systems are the foundati ...
*
History of writing ancient numbers Number systems have progressed from the Finger-counting, use of fingers and tally marks, perhaps more than 40,000 years ago, to the use of sets of glyphs able to represent any conceivable number efficiently. The earliest known unambiguous notat ...
*
List of languages by first written accounts This is a list of languages arranged by age of the oldest existing writing, text recording a complete sentence in the language. It does not include undeciphered scripts, though there are various claims without wide acceptance, which, if substant ...
*
List of language disorders The following is a list of language disorders. A language disorder is a condition defined as a condition that limits or altogether stops natural speech. A language disorder may be neurological, physical, or psychological in origin. List of langu ...
*
List of writing systems This is a list of writing systems (or scripts), classified according to some common distinguishing features. The usual name of the script is given first; the name of the language(s) in which the script is written follows (in brackets), particula ...
*
Literary language A literary language is the Register (sociolinguistics), form (register) of a language used in written literature, which can be either a nonstandard dialect or a standard language, standardized variety of the language. Literary language sometimes ...
*
Standard language A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a variety (linguistics), language variety that has undergone substantial Codification (linguistics), codification of grammar and usage, although occasionally the term ...
* Text linguistics *
Writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a language through a system of physically Epigraphy, inscribed, Printing press, mechanically transferred, or Word processor, digitally represented Symbols (semiot ...


References


Further reading

* {{Authority control Writing Language varieties and styles