250-Writing-Systems

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Anthropology 250
Issues in Anthropology
Writing Systems
The Beginning of History
When: Writing began about 3,400 years
ago.
Where: The earliest evidence for writing
has been found in Mesopotamia,
located in what is now Iraq.
Who: The Sumerians
Why: The earliest evidence for writing
appears to be for recording quantities
and concepts, not for representing
speech.
Types of Writing
Non-Phonetic
Phonetic
1. Pictographs
1.Syllabic
2. Ideographs
2.Consonantal
3. Logographs
3.Alphabetic
Pictographic Writing
Pictographic
writing tells
stories through
pictures
Each picture
represents a
phrase , sentence
or part of a story
Pictographs
Minoan culture developed on the island of
Crete in the Aegean Sea south of Greece and
south west of Turkey at about 2000 BC.
Examples of Pictographs
Used Today
Ideograms
are symbols that
represent ideas – a less
literal representation
than pictographs, but
still a logical
connection between
the representation and
the thing it represents.
Examples:
1. Hittite Culture
that ruled
Anatolia (what is
now Turkey)
between 2000 and
1700 BC
2. Nigeria
in the early 20th
Century
3. Indus Valley
Modern
Idiograms
Logographs and Ideographs
• Logographs are graphics that represent a
word.
• Ideographs are graphics that represent an
idea, sometimes more than a word.
• Many symbols can be said to be both
ideographic and logographic
Chinese Characters as
Logograms/Ideograms
Chinese (Older Version)
Modern Korean
Easter Island Writing
The writing from Easter Island has not been decyphered.
It appears to be at least partially pictographic but may be
ideographic or logographic in nature.
Mixtec Logographic Script
• http://www.ancientscripts.com/mixtec.html
• Arabic Consonantal Alphabetic
• http://www.ancientscripts.com/arabic.html
Maya Glyphs
Syllabic Script from Cyprus
Japanese Writing Systems
• Kanji = characters of Chinese origin (combine
logographs and syllabary symbols) used for
nouns and verb stems
• Hirigana = a syllabary used for verb ending
and grammatical participles (on, to)
• Katakana = used for non-Japanese words or
loan words
Alphabetic Writing
• In Alphabetic writing, each symbol represents
a single sound. Words are made up of sounds,
and written words are made up of the
symbols for those sounds.
• Alphabetic writing has symbols for both
vowels and consonants.
• Consonantal writing has symbols for only
consonants, and readers have to fill in the
vowels from the context.
Runic Carving with Writing
The Evolution of Writing
• Egyptian Pictographs to Logographs
• Logographs combined with alphabetic
• Alphabetic evolves to be less pictographic and
more symbolic
Egyptian
Hieroglyphics
are a
mixture of
alphabetic
and
logographic
writing.
The Transition
from
Hieroglyphic to
Phonological
Script as the
Phoenicians
borrowed and
modified the
Egyptians’
writing system
Alphabetic
Writing is a
phonological
writing system
that has a
different
symbol for
each vowel
and
consonant
sound.
Consonantal Writing
The Phoenicians developed a
phonological writing system
based on consonants only,
depending on the reader to fill
in the vowels. This characteristic
was carried on in Hebrew until
diacritic marks were added to
consonants to fill in some of the
vowel sounds.
Bonobo Chimps and Writing
• http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/susan_sa
vage_rumbaugh_on_apes_that_write.html
Study Guide
Writing
Pictographs
Ideographs
Logographs
Hieroglyphics
Glyphs
Syllabic writing
Alphabetic writing
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