Handwriting evolution

February 24, 2017

It’s very interesting to learn about the handwriting evolution or written communication. As humans we highly nomadic folks long ago, there was hardly a need for sophisticated communication method. Oral communication used to do the job, just fine. Over thousands of years humans settled down to a different life style of agriculture and primordial economy began.

It was at this time they needed a better, sophisticated method of communication other than oral communication. They needed something that could last over a period of time.

They already were carving paintings to identify places and cutting stones for their daily needs. So over some years they possibly figured out to minimize these paintings till they became drawings or pictures. Well, we all know a picture speaks thousand words and so it seems it did. Thousands of different kind of words (they weren’t words then!) started coming out when they realized the kind of understanding a picture generated. We can, thus, say that writing began.

Early references of some sort of writing date back to Clay Bullae
8000–3100 B.C.E. Mesopotamia. It appears that it was created to have some kind of accounting system instead of a writing system. Nevertheless, we can all agree that a codification of symbols that forms the essential basis of writing system had its beginning in Clay Bullae. The Cuneiform – coming around 3000 B.C.E. – was a form of writing that fundamentally evolved from pictograms. Cuneiform looked like pictograms rotated on sides and abstracted as symbols and written horizontally from left to right since it would help a right-handed person to read what is being written. However, the real link with the modern alphabetic system can be said to have come from Hieroglyphics

2613–2160 B.C.E. from Egyptian civilization. This system of writing was a mixture of explicit depiction of observations and also phonograms. There were ideograms that depicted the things as it is and there were phonograms that were more about the general idea of the word and what would the word “spell like”. Build on this foundation of mixed writing system from Egyptians, the Greek in early 5th Century B.C developed an alphabet system, phonetic of course, with 22 letters. Rest is a part of history that is quite well known. The Roman Empire rose to power in 2nd century B.C and by 150 B.C they had conquered the Greeks.

Romans adopted the alphabetic system of Greeks and also developed transcriptions for daily use and book keeping. With the advent of Christianity – becoming a major religion – the bible started getting copied extensively and the language started developing rapidly. Charlemagne, the ruler who controlled most of Europe, standardized writing throughout the continent and it evolved into Gothic style writing under his rule. From 10th Century to 15th Century, letters u, i and w were introduced and the Roman alphabetic system had 26 letters that could serve most of the conversation that people had.

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