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A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal
communication Communication (from la, communicare, meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is usually defined as the transmission of information. The term may also refer to the message communicated through such transmissions or the field of inqu ...
, based on a script and a set of rules regulating its use. While both
writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Lan ...
and speech are useful in conveying messages, writing differs in also being a reliable form of information storage and transfer. Writing systems require shared understanding between writers and readers of the meaning behind the sets of characters that make up a script. Writing is usually recorded onto a durable medium, such as paper or electronic storage, although non-durable methods may also be used, such as writing on a computer display, on a blackboard, in sand, or by skywriting. Reading a text can be accomplished purely in the mind as an internal process, or expressed orally. Writing systems can be placed into broad categories such as
alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent language in this way; in a syllabary, each character represents a ...
s, syllabaries, or logographies, although any particular system may have attributes of more than one category. In the alphabetic category, a standard set of letters represent speech sounds. In a syllabary, each symbol correlates to a
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are on ...
or mora. In a logography, each character represents a semantic unit such as a word or morpheme.
Abjad An abjad (, ar, أبجد; also abgad) is a writing system in which only consonants are represented, leaving vowel sounds to be inferred by the reader. This contrasts with other alphabets, which provide graphemes for both consonants and vo ...
s differ from alphabets in that vowels are not indicated, and in
abugida An abugida (, from Ge'ez: ), sometimes known as alphasyllabary, neosyllabary or pseudo-alphabet, is a segmental writing system in which consonant-vowel sequences are written as units; each unit is based on a consonant letter, and vowel n ...
s or alphasyllabaries each character represents a consonant–vowel pairing. Alphabets typically use a set of less than 100 symbols to fully express a language, whereas syllabaries can have several hundred, and logographies can have thousands of symbols. Many writing systems also include a special set of symbols known as punctuation which is used to aid interpretation and help capture nuances and variations in the message's meaning that are communicated verbally by cues in timing, tone, accent,
inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation in which a word is modified to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person, number A number is a mathemat ...
or intonation. Writing systems were preceded by
proto-writing Proto-writing consists of visible marks communicating limited information. Such systems emerged from earlier traditions of symbol systems in the early Neolithic The Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, is an Old World archaeological peri ...
, which used
pictogram A pictogram, also called a pictogramme, pictograph, or simply picto, and in computer usage an icon An icon () is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other ...
s, ideograms and other mnemonic symbols. Proto-writing lacked the ability to capture and express a full range of thoughts and ideas. The invention of writing systems, which dates back to the beginning of the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze, the presence of writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a langu ...
in the late Neolithic Era of the late 4th millennium BC, enabled the accurate durable recording of human history in a manner that was not prone to the same types of error to which
oral history Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews. These interviews are conducted with people w ...
is vulnerable. Soon after, writing provided a reliable form of long distance communication. With the advent of
publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and distribution of printed works, such as book ...
, it provided the medium for an early form of
mass communication Mass communication is the process of imparting and exchanging information through mass media Mass media refers to a diverse array of media Media may refer to: Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver informatio ...
.


General properties

Writing systems are distinguished from other possible symbolic communication systems in that a writing system is always associated with at least one spoken language. In contrast, visual representations such as drawings, paintings, and non-verbal items on maps, such as contour lines, are not language-related. Some symbols on information signs, such as the symbols for male and female, are also not language related, but can grow to become part of language if they are often used in conjunction with other language elements. Some other symbols, such as numerals and the
ampersand The ampersand, also known as the and sign, is the logogram In a written language, a logogram, logograph, or lexigraph is a written character that represents a word A word is a basic element of language Language is a struc ...
, are not directly linked to any specific language, but are often used in writing and thus must be considered part of writing systems. Every human community possesses language, which many regard as an innate and defining condition of humanity. However, the development of writing systems, and the process by which they have supplanted traditional oral systems of communication, have been sporadic, uneven and slow. Once established, writing systems generally change more slowly than their spoken counterparts. Thus they often preserve features and expressions which are no longer current in the spoken language. One of the great benefits of writing systems is that they can preserve a permanent record of information expressed in a language. All writing systems require: * at least one set of defined base elements or symbols, individually termed ''signs'' and collectively called a ''script''; * at least one set of rules and conventions ( orthography) understood and shared by a community, which assigns meaning to the base elements ( graphemes), their ordering and relations to one another; * at least one language (generally spoken) whose constructions are represented and can be recalled by the interpretation of these elements and rules; * some physical means of distinctly representing the symbols by application to a permanent or semi-permanent medium, so they may be interpreted (usually visually, but tactile systems have also been devised).


Basic terminology

In the examination of individual scripts, the study of writing systems has developed along partially independent lines. Thus, the terminology employed differs somewhat from field to field.


Text, writing, reading and orthography

The generic term ''text'' refers to an instance of written or spoken material with the former having been transcribed in some way. The act of composing and recording a text may be referred to as ''
writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Lan ...
'', and the act of viewing and interpreting the text as '' reading''. '' Orthography'' refers to the method and rules of observed writing structure (literal meaning, "correct writing"), and particularly for
alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent language in this way; in a syllabary, each character represents a ...
ic systems, includes the concept of '' spelling''.


Grapheme and phoneme

A '' grapheme'' is a specific base unit of a writing system. They are the ''minimally significant'' elements which taken together comprise the set of "building blocks" out of which texts made up of one or more writing systems may be constructed, along with rules of correspondence and use. The concept is similar to that of the phoneme used in the study of spoken languages. For example, in the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
-based writing system of standard contemporary English, examples of graphemes include the majuscule and minuscule forms of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet (corresponding to various phonemes), marks of punctuation (mostly non-phonemic), and a few other symbols such as those for numerals (logograms for numbers). An individual grapheme may be represented in a wide variety of ways, where each variation is visually distinct in some regard, but all are interpreted as representing the "same" grapheme. These individual variations are known as '' allographs'' of a grapheme (compare with the term
allophone In phonology, an allophone (; from the Greek , , 'other' and , , 'voice, sound') is a set of multiple possible spoken soundsor '' phones''or signs used to pronounce a single phoneme in a particular language. For example, in English, (as in ...
used in linguistic study). For example, the minuscule letter ''a'' has different allographs when written as a cursive, block, or typed letter. The choice of a particular allograph may be influenced by the medium used, the writing instrument, the stylistic choice of the writer, the preceding and following graphemes in the text, the time available for writing, the intended audience, and the largely unconscious features of an individual's handwriting.


Glyph, sign and character

The terms ''
glyph 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 A typeface (or font family) is th ...
'', '' sign'' and ''character'' are sometimes used to refer to a grapheme. Common usage varies from discipline to discipline; compare cuneiform sign, Maya glyph,
Chinese character Chinese characters () are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. In addition, they have been adapted to write other East Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system The modern Japanese writ ...
. The glyphs of most writing systems are made up of lines (or strokes) and are therefore called linear, but there are glyphs in non-linear writing systems made up of other types of marks, such as Cuneiform and
Braille Braille (Pronounced: ) is a tactile writing system used by people who are visually impaired, including people who are blind, deafblind or who have low vision Visual impairment, also known as vision impairment, is a medical definition ...
.


Complete and partial writing systems

Writing systems may be regarded as ''complete'' according to the extent to which they are able to represent all that may be expressed in the spoken language, while a ''partial'' writing system is limited in what it can convey.


Writing systems, languages and conceptual systems

Writing systems can be independent from languages, one can have multiple writing systems for a language, e.g., Hindustani; and one can also have one writing system for multiple languages, e.g., the
Arabic script The Arabic script is the writing system used for Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration w ...
. Chinese characters were also borrowed by other countries as their early writing systems, e.g., the early writing systems of
Vietnamese language Vietnamese ( vi, tiếng Việt, links=no) is an Austroasiatic language originating from Vietnam where it is the national and official language. Vietnamese is spoken natively by over 70 million people, several times as many as the rest of th ...
until the beginning of the 20th century. To represent a conceptual system, one uses one or more languages, e.g., mathematics is a conceptual system and one may use first-order logic and a
natural language In neuropsychology, linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedalism and exceptional cognitive skills d ...
together in representation.


History

Writing systems were preceded by
proto-writing Proto-writing consists of visible marks communicating limited information. Such systems emerged from earlier traditions of symbol systems in the early Neolithic The Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, is an Old World archaeological peri ...
, systems of ideographic and/or early mnemonic symbols. The best-known examples are: * " Token system", a recording system used for accounting purposes in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of th ...
c. 9000 BC * Jiahu symbols, carved on tortoise shells in Jiahu, c. 6600 BC * Vinča symbols ( Tărtăria tablets), c. 5300 BC * Proto-cuneiform c. 3500 BC * Possibly the early Indus script, c. 3500 BC, as its nature is disputed * Nsibidi script, c. before 500 AD The invention of the first writing systems is roughly contemporary with the beginning of the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze, the presence of writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a langu ...
(following the late
Neolithic The Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, is an Old World archaeological period and the final division of the Stone Age. It saw the Neolithic Revolution, a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several p ...
) in the late 4th millennium BC. The Sumerian archaic cuneiform script closely followed by the
Egyptian hieroglyphs Egyptian hieroglyphs (, ) were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt, used for writing the Egyptian language. Hieroglyphs combined logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with some 1,000 distinct characters.There were about ...
are generally considered the earliest writing systems, both emerging out of their ancestral proto-literate symbol systems from 3400 to 3200 BC with earliest coherent texts from about 2600 BC. It is generally agreed that the historically earlier Sumerian writing was an independent invention; however, it is debated whether Egyptian writing was developed completely independently of Sumerian, or was a case of cultural diffusion. A similar debate exists for the Chinese script, which developed around 1200 BC. The Chinese script is probably an independent invention, because there is no evidence of contact between China and the literate civilizations of the Near East, and because of the distinct differences between the Mesopotamian and Chinese approaches to logography and phonetic representation. The pre-Columbian Mesoamerican writing systems (including among others Olmec and Maya scripts) are generally believed to have had independent origins. A hieroglyphic writing system used by pre-colonial Mi'kmaq, which was observed by missionaries from the 17th to 19th centuries, is thought to have developed independently. There is some debate over whether or not this was a fully formed system or just a series of mnemonic pictographs. It is thought that the first consonantal alphabetic writing appeared before 2000 BC, as a representation of language developed by Semitic tribes in the
Sinai Peninsula The Sinai Peninsula, or simply Sinai (now usually ) (, , cop, Ⲥⲓⲛⲁ), is a peninsula A peninsula (; ) is a landform that extends from a mainland and is surrounded by water on most, but not all of its borders. A peninsula is also ...
(see
History of the alphabet The history of the alphabet goes back to the conwriting system used for Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken by more than 330 million people across much of West Asia, the Ho ...
). Most other alphabets in the world today either descended from this one innovation, many via the
Phoenician alphabet The Phoenician alphabet is an alphabet (more specifically, an abjad) known in modern times from the Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions found across the Mediterranean region. The name comes from the Phoenician civilization. The Phoenician ...
, or were directly inspired by its design. The first true alphabet is the Greek script which consistently represents
vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in Vowel ...
s since 800 BC. The
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European ...
, a direct descendant, is by far the most common writing system in use.


Functional classification

Several approaches have been taken to classify writing systems, the most common and basic one being a broad division into three categories: ''logographic'', ''syllabic'', and ''alphabetic'' (or ''segmental''); however, all three may be found in any given writing system in varying proportions, often making it difficult to categorise a system uniquely. The term ''complex system'' is sometimes used to describe those where the admixture makes classification problematic. Modern linguists regard such approaches, including Diringer's * pictographic script * ideographic script * analytic transitional script * phonetic script * alphabetic script as too simplistic, often considering the categories to be incomparable. Hill split ''writing'' into three major categories of linguistic analysis, one of which covers discourses and is not usually considered writing proper: * ''discourse system'' ** ''iconic discourse system'', e.g. Amerindian ** ''conventional discourse system'', e.g. Quipu * ''morphemic writing system'', e.g. Egyptian, Sumerian, Maya, Chinese, Anatolian Hieroglyphs * ''phonemic writing system'' ** ''partial phonemic writing system'', e.g. Egyptian,
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, the Jews and Samaritans. It was largely preserv ...
,
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Watson; Walte ...
** ''poly-phonemic writing system'', e.g.
Linear B Linear B was a syllabic script used for writing in Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language Greek ( el, label= Mode ...
, Kana,
Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi or Anigiduwagi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are one of the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands of the United States. Prior to the 18th century, t ...
** ''mono-phonemic writing system'' *** ''phonemic writing system'', e.g.
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world Ancient history is a time period from the beginning of writing and recorded human history to as far as late antiquity. The s ...
,
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval ...
*** ''morpho-phonemic writing system'', e.g. German, Modern English Sampson draws a distinction between '' semasiography'' and ''glottography'' * semasiography, relating visible marks to meaning directly without reference to any specific spoken language * glottography, using visible marks to represent forms of a spoken language ** logography, representing a spoken language by assigning distinctive visible marks to linguistic elements of André Martinet's "first articulation" (Martinet 1949), i.e. morphemes or words ** phonography, achieving the same goal by assigning marks to elements of the "second articulation", e.g. phonemes, syllables DeFrancis, criticizing Sampson's introduction of ''semasiographic writing'' and ''featural alphabets'' stresses the phonographic quality of writing proper * ''pictures'' ** ''nonwriting'' ** ''writing'' *** ''
rebus A rebus () is a puzzle device that combines the use of illustrated pictures with individual letters to depict words or phrases. For example: the word "been" might be depicted by a rebus showing an illustrated bumblebee next to a plus sign (+ ...
'' **** ''syllabic systems'' ***** ''pure syllabic'', e.g. Linear B, Yi, Kana, Cherokee ***** ', e.g. Sumerian, Chinese, Mayan ***** ''consonantal'' ****** ''morpho-consonantal'', e.g. Egyptian ****** ''pure consonantal'', e.g. Phoenician ****** ''alphabetic'' ******* ''pure phonemic'', e.g. Greek ******* ''morpho-phonemic'', e.g. English Faber categorizes phonographic writing by two levels, linearity and coding: * ''logographic'', e.g. Chinese, Ancient Egyptian * ''phonographic'' ** ''syllabically linear'' *** ''syllabically coded'', e.g. Kana, Akkadian *** ''segmentally coded'', e.g.
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, the Jews and Samaritans. It was largely preserv ...
, Syriac,
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Watson; Walte ...
, Ethiopian,
Amharic Amharic ( or ; (Amharic: ), ', ) is an Ethiopian Semitic language, which is a subgrouping within the Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic languages. It is spoken as a first language by the Amharas, and also serves as a lingua franca for all ...
,
Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida An abugida (, from Ge'ez: ), sometimes know ...
** ''segmentally linear'' *** ''complete'' (alphabet), e.g. Greco-Latin, Cyrillic *** ''defective'', e.g. Ugaritic, Phoenician,
Aramaic The Aramaic languages, short Aramaic ( syc, ܐܪܡܝܐ, Arāmāyā; oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; tmr, אֲרָמִית), are a language family containing many varieties (languages and dialects) that originated i ...
, Old South Arabian,
Paleo-Hebrew The Paleo-Hebrew script ( he, הכתב העברי הקדום), also Palaeo-Hebrew, Proto-Hebrew or Old Hebrew, is the writing system found in Canaanite inscriptions from the region of biblical Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל ...


Logographic systems

A ''logogram'' is a single written character which represents a complete grammatical word.
Chinese characters Chinese characters () are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. In addition, they have been adapted to write other East Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are known as ''kanj ...
are type examples of logograms. As each character represents a single word (or, more precisely, a morpheme), many logograms are required to write all the words of language. The vast array of logograms and the memorization of what they mean are considered by some as major disadvantages of logographic systems over alphabetic systems. However, since the meaning is inherent to the symbol, the same logographic system can theoretically be used to represent different languages. In practice, the ability to communicate across languages works best for the closely related
varieties of Chinese Chinese, also known as Sinitic, is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family consisting of hundreds of local varieties, many of which are not mutually intelligible. Variation is particularly strong in the more mountainous southeast of ...
, and only to a lesser extent for other languages, as differences in syntax reduce the crosslinguistic portability of a given logographic system. Japanese uses Chinese logograms extensively in its writing systems, with most of the symbols carrying the same or similar meanings. However, the grammatical differences between Japanese and Chinese are significant enough that a long Chinese text is not readily understandable to a Japanese reader without any knowledge of basic
Chinese grammar The grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedalism and exceptional cognitive skills due ...
, though short and concise phrases such as those on signs and newspaper headlines are much easier to comprehend. Similarly, a Chinese reader can get a general idea of what a long Japanese text means but usually cannot understand the text fully. While most languages do not use wholly logographic writing systems, many languages use some logograms. A good example of modern western logograms are the Arabic numerals: everyone who uses those symbols understands what ''1'' means whether they call it ''one'', ''eins'', ''uno'', ''yi'', ''ichi'', ''ehad'', ''ena'', or ''jedan''. Other western logograms include the
ampersand The ampersand, also known as the and sign, is the logogram In a written language, a logogram, logograph, or lexigraph is a written character that represents a word A word is a basic element of language Language is a struc ...
''&'', used for ''and'', the at sign ''@'', used in many contexts for ''at'', the percent sign ''%'' and the many signs representing units of currency ( $, ¢, , £, ¥ and so on.) Logograms are sometimes called ideograms, a word that refers to symbols which graphically represent abstract ideas, but linguists avoid this use, as Chinese characters are often semantic
phonetic Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedalism and exceptional cognitive skill ...
compounds, symbols which include an element that represents the meaning and a phonetic complement element that represents the pronunciation. Some nonlinguists distinguish between lexigraphy and ideography, where symbols in lexigraphies represent words and symbols in ideographies represent words or morphemes. The most important (and, to a degree, the only surviving) modern logographic writing system is the Chinese one, whose characters have been used with varying degrees of modification in
varieties of Chinese Chinese, also known as Sinitic, is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family consisting of hundreds of local varieties, many of which are not mutually intelligible. Variation is particularly strong in the more mountainous southeast of ...
, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and other east Asian languages. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and the Mayan writing system are also systems with certain logographic features, although they have marked phonetic features as well and are no longer in current use. Vietnamese switched to the
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European ...
in the 20th century and the use of Chinese characters in Korean is increasingly rare. The
Japanese writing system The modern Japanese writing system uses a combination of logographic kanji are the logographic Chinese characters taken from the Chinese script and used in the writing of Japanese. They were made a major part of the Japanese writ ...
includes several distinct forms of writing including logography.


Syllabic systems: syllabary

''Another type of writing system with systematic syllabic linear symbols, the
abugida An abugida (, from Ge'ez: ), sometimes known as alphasyllabary, neosyllabary or pseudo-alphabet, is a segmental writing system in which consonant-vowel sequences are written as units; each unit is based on a consonant letter, and vowel n ...
s, is discussed below as well.'' As logographic writing systems use a single symbol for an entire word, a ''syllabary'' is a set of written symbols that represent (or approximate)
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are on ...
s, which make up
word A word is a basic element of 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 human Hu ...
s. A symbol in a syllabary typically represents a
consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are and pronounced with the lips; and pronounced with the front of the tongue; and pronounced ...
sound followed by a
vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in Vowel ...
sound, or just a vowel alone. In a "true syllabary", there is no systematic graphic similarity between phonetically related characters (though some do have graphic similarity for the vowels). That is, the characters for , and have no similarity to indicate their common "k" sound (voiceless velar plosive). More recent creations such as the Cree syllabary embody a system of varying signs, which can best be seen when arranging the syllabogram set in an onsetcoda or onset– rime table. Syllabaries are best suited to languages with relatively simple syllable structure, such as Japanese. The
English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval England. It is named after the Angles, one of the ancient Germanic peoples that migrated to t ...
, on the other hand, allows complex syllable structures, with a relatively large inventory of
vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in Vowel ...
s and complex consonant clusters, making it cumbersome to write English words with a syllabary. To write English using a syllabary, every possible syllable in English would have to have a separate symbol, and whereas the number of possible syllables in Japanese is around 100, in English there are approximately 15,000 to 16,000. However, syllabaries with much larger inventories do exist. The Yi script, for example, contains 756 different symbols (or 1,164, if symbols with a particular tone diacritic are counted as separate syllables, as in
Unicode Unicode, formally The Unicode Standard,The formal version reference is is an information technology standard for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. The standard, ...
). The Chinese script, when used to write
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese recorded in the '' Qieyun'', a rime dictionary first published in 601 and followed by several revised and expanded editions. The ...
and the modern
varieties of Chinese Chinese, also known as Sinitic, is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family consisting of hundreds of local varieties, many of which are not mutually intelligible. Variation is particularly strong in the more mountainous southeast of ...
, also represents syllables, and includes separate glyphs for nearly all of the many thousands of syllables in
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese recorded in the '' Qieyun'', a rime dictionary first published in 601 and followed by several revised and expanded editions. The ...
; however, because it primarily represents morphemes and includes different characters to represent homophonous morphemes with different meanings, it is normally considered a logographic script rather than a syllabary. Other languages that use true syllabaries include Mycenaean Greek (
Linear B Linear B was a syllabic script used for writing in Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language Greek ( el, label= Mode ...
) and
Indigenous languages of the Americas Over a thousand indigenous language An indigenous language, or autochthonous language, is a language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabu ...
such as
Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi or Anigiduwagi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are one of the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands of the United States. Prior to the 18th century, t ...
. Several languages of the
Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia (modern Iraq, southeast Turkey, southwest Iran and northeastern Syria), ancient Egypt, ancient Iran ( ...
used forms of
cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is named for the characteristic wed ...
, which is a syllabary with some non-syllabic elements.


Segmental systems: alphabets

An ''alphabet'' is a small set of ''letters'' (basic written symbols), each of which roughly represents or represented historically a segmental phoneme of a spoken
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 human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant ...
. The word ''alphabet'' is derived from
alpha Alpha (uppercase , lowercase ; grc, ἄλφα, ''álpha'', or ell, άλφα, álfa) is the first letter of the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language Greek ( el, label= Modern Greek, Ελλην ...
and beta, the first two symbols of the
Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language Greek ( el, label= Modern Greek, Ελληνικά, Elliniká, ; grc, Ἑλληνική, Hellēnikḗ) is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native t ...
. The first type of alphabet that was developed was the
abjad An abjad (, ar, أبجد; also abgad) is a writing system in which only consonants are represented, leaving vowel sounds to be inferred by the reader. This contrasts with other alphabets, which provide graphemes for both consonants and vo ...
. An abjad is an alphabetic writing system where there is one symbol per consonant. Abjads differ from other alphabets in that they have characters only for
consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are and pronounced with the lips; and pronounced with the front of the tongue; and pronounced ...
al sounds. Vowels are not usually marked in abjads. All known abjads (except maybe Tifinagh) belong to the Semitic family of scripts, and derive from the original Northern Linear Abjad. The reason for this is that
Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken by more than 330 million people across much of West Asia, the Horn of Africa, and latterly North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region en ...
and the related
Berber languages The Berber languages, also known as the Amazigh languages or Tamazight,, ber, label= Tuareg Tifinagh, ⵜⵎⵣⵗⵜ, ) are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family The Afroasiatic languages (or Afro-Asiatic), also known as Hamito-Semi ...
have a morphemic structure which makes the denotation of
vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in Vowel ...
s redundant in most cases. Some abjads, like Arabic and Hebrew, have markings for vowels as well. However, they use them only in special contexts, such as for teaching. Many scripts derived from abjads have been extended with vowel symbols to become full alphabets. Of these, the most famous example is the derivation of the
Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language Greek ( el, label= Modern Greek, Ελληνικά, Elliniká, ; grc, Ἑλληνική, Hellēnikḗ) is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native t ...
from the Phoenician abjad. This has mostly happened when the script was adapted to a non-Semitic language. The term ''abjad'' takes its name from the old order of the Arabic alphabet's
consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are and pronounced with the lips; and pronounced with the front of the tongue; and pronounced ...
s 'alif, bā', jīm, dāl, though the word may have earlier roots in Phoenician or Ugaritic. "Abjad" is still the word for alphabet in
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Watson; Walte ...
, Malay and Indonesian. An
abugida An abugida (, from Ge'ez: ), sometimes known as alphasyllabary, neosyllabary or pseudo-alphabet, is a segmental writing system in which consonant-vowel sequences are written as units; each unit is based on a consonant letter, and vowel n ...
is an alphabetic writing system whose basic signs denote consonants with an inherent vowel and where consistent modifications of the basic sign indicate other following vowels than the inherent one. Thus, in an abugida there may or may not be a sign for "k" with no vowel, but also one for "ka" (if "a" is the inherent vowel), and "ke" is written by modifying the "ka" sign in a way that is consistent with how one would modify "la" to get "le". In many abugidas the modification is the addition of a vowel sign, but other possibilities are imaginable (and used), such as rotation of the basic sign, addition of diacritical marks and so on. The contrast with "true syllabaries" is that the latter have one distinct symbol per possible syllable, and the signs for each syllable have no systematic graphic similarity. The graphic similarity of most abugidas comes from the fact that they are derived from abjads, and the consonants make up the symbols with the inherent vowel and the new vowel symbols are markings added on to the base symbol. In the Ge'ez script, for which the linguistic term ''abugida'' was named, the vowel modifications do not always appear systematic, although they originally were more so. Canadian Aboriginal syllabics can be considered abugidas, although they are rarely thought of in those terms. The largest single group of abugidas is the Brahmic family of scripts, however, which includes nearly all the scripts used in
India India, officially the Republic of India ( Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on th ...
and
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia, South-eastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical south-eastern region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographi ...
. The name ''abugida'' is derived from the first four characters of an order of the Ge'ez script used in some contexts. It was borrowed from Ethiopian languages as a linguistic term by Peter T. Daniels.


Featural systems

A ''featural'' script represents finer detail than an alphabet. Here symbols do not represent whole phonemes, but rather the elements (features) that make up the phonemes, such as voicing or its place of articulation. Theoretically, each feature could be written with a separate letter; and abjads or abugidas, or indeed syllabaries, could be featural, but the only prominent system of this sort is Korean
hangul The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, . Hangul may also be written as following South Korea's standard Romanization. ( ) in South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting t ...
. In hangul, the featural symbols are combined into alphabetic letters, and these letters are in turn joined into syllabic blocks, so that the system combines three levels of phonological representation. Many scholars, e.g. John DeFrancis, reject this class or at least labeling hangul as such. The Korean script is a conscious script creation by literate experts, which Daniels calls a "sophisticated grammatogeny". These include stenographies and constructed scripts of hobbyists and fiction writers (such as Tengwar), many of which feature advanced graphic designs corresponding to phonologic properties. The basic unit of writing in these systems can map to anything from phonemes to words. It has been shown that even the Latin script has sub-character "features".


Ambiguous systems

Most writing systems are not purely one type. The English writing system, for example, includes numerals and other logograms such as #, $, and &, and the written language often does not match well with the spoken one. As mentioned above, all logographic systems have phonetic components as well, whether along the lines of a syllabary, such as Chinese ("logo-syllabic"), or an abjad, as in Egyptian ("logo-consonantal"). Some scripts, however, are truly ambiguous. The semi-syllabaries of ancient Spain were syllabic for plosives such as ''p'', ''t'', ''k'', but alphabetic for other consonants. In some versions, vowels were written redundantly after syllabic letters, conforming to an alphabetic orthography. Old Persian cuneiform was similar. Of 23 consonants (including null), seven were fully syllabic, thirteen were purely alphabetic, and for the other three, there was one letter for /C''u''/ and another for both /C''a''/ and /C''i''/. However, all vowels were written overtly regardless; as in the Brahmic abugidas, the /C''a''/ letter was used for a bare consonant. The zhuyin phonetic glossing script for Chinese divides syllables in two or three, but into onset, medial, and rime rather than consonant and vowel. Pahawh Hmong is similar, but can be considered to divide syllables into either onset-rime or consonant-vowel (all consonant clusters and diphthongs are written with single letters); as the latter, it is equivalent to an abugida but with the roles of consonant and vowel reversed. Other scripts are intermediate between the categories of alphabet, abjad and abugida, so there may be disagreement on how they should be classified.


Graphic classification

Perhaps the primary graphic distinction made in classifications is that of ''linearity''. Linear writing systems are those in which the characters are composed of lines, such as the
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European ...
and
Chinese character Chinese characters () are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. In addition, they have been adapted to write other East Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system The modern Japanese writ ...
s. Chinese characters are considered linear whether they are written with a ball-point pen or a calligraphic brush, or cast in bronze. Similarly,
Egyptian hieroglyphs Egyptian hieroglyphs (, ) were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt, used for writing the Egyptian language. Hieroglyphs combined logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with some 1,000 distinct characters.There were about ...
and Maya glyphs were often painted in linear outline form, but in formal contexts they were carved in
bas-relief Relief is a sculptural method in which the sculpted pieces are bonded to a solid background of the same material. The term ''relief Relief is a sculptural method in which the sculpted pieces are bonded to a solid background of the same mater ...
. The earliest examples of writing are linear: the Sumerian script of c. 3300 BC was linear, though its
cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is named for the characteristic wed ...
descendants were not. Non-linear systems, on the other hand, such as
braille Braille (Pronounced: ) is a tactile writing system used by people who are visually impaired, including people who are blind, deafblind or who have low vision Visual impairment, also known as vision impairment, is a medical definition ...
, are not composed of lines, no matter what instrument is used to write them.
Cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is named for the characteristic wed ...
was probably the earliest non-linear writing. Its glyphs were formed by pressing the end of a reed stylus into moist clay, not by tracing lines in the clay with the stylus as had been done previously. The result was a radical transformation of the appearance of the script. Braille is a non-linear adaptation of the Latin alphabet that completely abandoned the Latin forms. The letters are composed of raised bumps on the writing substrate, which can be leather ( Louis Braille's original material), stiff paper, plastic or metal. There are also transient non-linear adaptations of the Latin alphabet, including
Morse code Morse code is a method used in telecommunication to encode text characters as standardized sequences of two different signal durations, called ''dots'' and ''dashes'', or ''dits'' and ''dahs''. Morse code is named after Samuel Morse, one ...
, the manual alphabets of various sign languages, and semaphore, in which flags or bars are positioned at prescribed angles. However, if "writing" is defined as a potentially permanent means of recording information, then these systems do not qualify as writing at all, since the symbols disappear as soon as they are used. (Instead, these transient systems serve as signals.)


Directionality

Scripts are graphically characterized by the direction in which they are written. Egyptian hieroglyphs were written either left to right or right to left, with the animal and human glyphs turned to face the beginning of the line. The early alphabet could be written in multiple directions: horizontally (side to side), or vertically (up or down). Prior to standardization, alphabetical writing was done both left-to-right (LTR or sinistrodextrally) and right-to-left (RTL or dextrosinistrally). It was most commonly written boustrophedonically: starting in one (horizontal) direction, then turning at the end of the line and reversing direction. The
Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language Greek ( el, label= Modern Greek, Ελληνικά, Elliniká, ; grc, Ἑλληνική, Hellēnikḗ) is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native t ...
and its successors settled on a left-to-right pattern, from the top to the bottom of the page. Other scripts, such as
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Watson; Walte ...
and
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, the Jews and Samaritans. It was largely preserv ...
, came to be written right-to-left. Scripts that historically incorporate
Chinese characters Chinese characters () are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. In addition, they have been adapted to write other East Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are known as ''kanj ...
(including Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese etc.) have traditionally been written vertically (top-to-bottom), from the right to the left of the page, but nowadays are frequently written left-to-right, top-to-bottom, due to Western influence, a growing need to accommodate terms in the
Latin script The Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic writing system based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet, derived from a form of the Greek alphabet which was in use in the ancient Greek city of Cumae Cumae ...
, and technical limitations in popular electronic document formats. Chinese characters sometimes, as in signage, especially when signifying something old or traditional, may also be written from right to left. The Old Uyghur alphabet and its descendants are unique in being written top-to-bottom, left-to-right; this direction originated from an ancestral Semitic direction by rotating the page 90° counter-clockwise to conform to the appearance of vertical Chinese writing. Several scripts used in the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...
and
Indonesia Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It consists of over 17,000 islands, including Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, and parts of Borneo and New Gu ...
, such as Hanunó'o, are traditionally written with lines moving away from the writer, from bottom to top, but are read horizontally left to right; however, Kulitan, another Philippine script, is written top to bottom and right to left.
Ogham Ogham ( Modern Irish: ; mga, ogum, ogom, later mga, ogam, label=none ) is an Early Medieval alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken la ...
is written bottom to top and read vertically, commonly on the corner of a stone. Left-to-right writing has the advantage that since most people are right-handed, the hand does not interfere with the just-written text, which might not yet have dried, since the hand is on the right side of the pen.


On computers

In computers and telecommunication systems, writing systems are generally not codified as such, but graphemes and other grapheme-like units that are required for text processing are represented by " characters" that typically manifest in encoded form. There are many character encoding standards and related technologies, such as ISO/IEC 8859-1 (a character repertoire and encoding scheme oriented toward the Latin script), CJK (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) and
bi-directional text A bidirectional text contains two text directionalities, right-to-left (RTL) and left-to-right (LTR). It generally involves text containing different types of alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (call ...
. Today, many such standards are re-defined in a collective standard, the ISO/ IEC 10646 " Universal Character Set", and a parallel, closely related expanded work, ''The Unicode Standard''. Both are generally encompassed by the term
Unicode Unicode, formally The Unicode Standard,The formal version reference is is an information technology standard for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. The standard, ...
. In Unicode, each character, in every language's writing system, is (simplifying slightly) given a unique identification number, known as its ''code point''. Computer
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, software resources, and provides common services for computer programs. Time-sharing operating systems schedule tasks for efficient use of the system and may al ...
s use code points to look up characters in the font file, so the characters can be displayed on the page or screen. A keyboard is the device most commonly used for writing via computer. Each key is associated with a standard code which the keyboard sends to the computer when it is pressed. By using a combination of alphabetic keys with modifier keys such as Ctrl, Alt, Shift and AltGr, various character codes are generated and sent to the CPU. The
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, software resources, and provides common services for computer programs. Time-sharing operating systems schedule tasks for efficient use of the system and may al ...
intercepts and converts those signals to the appropriate characters based on the
keyboard layout A keyboard layout is any specific physical, visual or functional arrangement of the keys, legends, or key-meaning associations (respectively) of a computer keyboard, mobile phone, or other computer-controlled typographic keyboard. is the actua ...
and input method, and then delivers those converted codes and characters to the running
application software Application may refer to: Mathematics and computing * Application software, computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks ** Application layer, an abstraction layer that specifies protocols and interface methods used in a ...
, which in turn looks up the appropriate
glyph 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 A typeface (or font family) is th ...
in the currently used font file, and requests the operating system to draw these on the screen.


See also

* List of writing systems * Constructed script *
Calligraphy Calligraphy (from el, link=y, καλλιγραφία) is a visual art related to writing. It is the design and execution of lettering with a pen, ink brush, or other writing instrument. Contemporary calligraphic practice can be defined ...
* Defective script * Digraphia *
Epigraphy Epigraphy () is the study of inscriptions, or epigraphs, as writing; it is the science of identifying graphemes, clarifying their meanings, classifying their uses according to dates and cultural contexts, and drawing conclusions about the ...
*
Formal language In logic Logic is the study of correct reasoning. It includes both formal and informal logic. Formal logic is the science of deductively valid inferences or of logical truths. It is a formal science investigating how conclusions foll ...
* Grammatology *
International phonetic alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent la ...
* ISO 15924 * Orthography * Pasigraphy *
Penmanship Penmanship is the technique of writing with the hand using a writing instrument. Today, this is most commonly done with a pen, or pencil, but throughout history has included many different implements. The various generic and formal hi ...
* Paleography *
Phonemic orthography A phonemic orthography is an orthography (system for writing a 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 ...
* Phonetic transcription * Numeral system *
Transliteration Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters (thus '' trans-'' + '' liter-'') in predictable ways, such as Greek → , Cyrillic → , Greek → the digraph , Armenian → o ...
*
Transcription (linguistics) Transcription in the linguistic sense is the systematic representation of spoken language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Langua ...
*
Writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Lan ...
* Written language * X-SAMPA


References


Sources

* Cisse, Mamadou. 2006. "Ecrits et écritures en Afrique de l'Ouest". Sudlangues n°6, https://web.archive.org/web/20110720093748/http://www.sudlangues.sn/spip.php?article101 * Coulmas, Florian. 1996. ''The Blackwell encyclopedia of writing systems''. Oxford: Blackwell. * Coulmas, Florian. 2003. ''Writing systems. An introduction''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Daniels, Peter T, and William Bright, eds. 1996. ''The World's Writing Systems''.
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press of the University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest unive ...
. . * DeFrancis, John. 1990. ''The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy''. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. * * Hannas, William. C. 1997. ''Asia's Orthographic Dilemma''. University of Hawaii Press. (paperback); (hardcover) * * Nishiyama, Yutaka. 2010. ''The Mathematics of Direction in Writing''. International Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics
Vol.61, No.3, 347-356.
* Rogers, Henry. 2005. ''Writing Systems: A Linguistic Approach''. Oxford: Blackwell. (hardcover); (paperback) * Sampson, Geoffrey. 1985. ''Writing Systems''. Stanford, California:
Stanford University Press Stanford University Press (SUP) is the publishing house of Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies , among the ...
. (paper), (cloth). * Smalley, W. A. (ed.) 1964. ''Orthography studies: articles on new writing systems''. London: United Bible Society.


External links


decodeunicode
Unicode Wiki with all 98,884 Unicode 5.0 characters as gifs in three sizes
The World’s Writing Systems
All 294 known writing systems, each with a typographic reference glyph and Unicode status



* ttp://www.ancientscripts.com/ws.html Ancient ScriptsIntroduction to different writing systems
Alphabets of Europe


a writing system that combines the linearity of spelling with the free-form aspects of drawing. {{Authority control Writing Typography