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history of writing



Human communication has two primary forms: the transient, e.g., speech and sign language; and the permanent or semipermanent, of which the most important is writing. Forerunners of writing are the used of carved sticks or knotted cords to convey information; but the earliest forms of writing was the pictography of ancient Sumeria and Egypt. Originally, the pictographs depicted objects, but some 5,000 years ago there developed ideograms (representing ideas) and logograms (words). Sumerian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics had complex word signs; as does Chinese to this day. The Hittites, Egyptians, and Mesopotamians derived symbols for specific sounds; that is, phonetic writing. During the 2nd millenium BC the Semitic alphabets emerged, and from these were derived the Greek and later Roman alphabets and so, in time, our own.