Talk:History of writing

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Contents

Confusing Chronology[edit]

This articles discussion of the origins of writing is confusing. For instance, People write on walls cus it is fun we have the text:

..symbols carved into 8,600-year-old tortoise shells were discovered in China. The shells were found buried with human remains in 24 Neolithic graves..

As we are not told how old the human remains were, it would be natural to think that the writing of a similar antiquity as the shells.

In stark contrast, we are later told that writing began in Mesopotamia around four thousand years ago.

It's a matter of definition,there are other older scripts as old as Chinese ones,but we are not sure whether they are writings.So Before there is a concluded answer, Mesopotamia is a ideal candidate.--Ksyrie 01:32, 11 January 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, as Ksyrie points out, its not clear the markings are really writing. They could be purely ornamental with no purpose in encoding language or to communicate any particular meaning. It could also be simply a label for identifying ownership (since one "musical instrument" might be indistinguishable from another and they might have been possessive). The writing in Mesopotamia can be shown to be a very clear purposeful communication and can also be accurately dated because its origins from Proto-writing can also be accurately traced back thanks to the fantastic efforts of Denise Schmandt-Besserat. Perhaps this should be clarified by explaining that what exactly the symbols are is not exactly known, as there has as yet been insufficient archaeological context to build a story about what those symbols are. Qed (talk) 08:00, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

From numbers to pictographs to written language -- without commenting on what triggered those big steps. I've long suspected that written languages were created because they were needed to govern large areas... such as at the creation of an empire or kingdom (as in Thailand or Japan). Written scripts had to serve a purpose but tell me what the purposes were. Potratz 9 September 2014 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jim Potratz (talkcontribs) 07:59, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Origin of the Alphabet[edit]

The very brief entry on the origins of the alphabet, while not wrong exactly, does an injustice by not mentioning the Phonecian (Hebrew) alphabet dveloped in parallel/in conjunction with the hieroglyphic alphabet. Unlike the Egyptians though, the Phonecians made wide use of the new invention (simple sailors needed to keep trade records and couldn't spare time for the years of study typically required to master an ideographic writing system).

In fact the idea of the alphabet was only invented once in human history, so that practically all alphabets in existence today are direct descendents of Phonecian. (There have been a couple of independent alphabets using unrelated character schemes - most notably Hangul (Korea) and Irish. But these developments were undertaken by people who were already very familiar with one of the descendents of Phonecian.

I shan't emend the entry in this regard. Possibly this is better taken up under a heading for origin of the alphabet (?)

--Philopedia 01:37, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Related articles[edit]

I think this article should be a subsection of history of communication, just as history of alphabet should be a subsection of this article.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 07:10, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

expand[edit]

so far, the article discusses only the evolution of writing systems. It should also describe the evolution of writing materials as well as of the evolution of the applications of writing (letters, epitaphs, annals, hymns, etc.). dab () 16:54, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Historical history[edit]

So far the article only covers the pre-history of writing, up to the Iron Age. There's lots of material from the historical era yet to be added. -- Beland 03:20, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Jiroft civilization!!![edit]

No one has mentioned the Jiroft civilization! It is probably where writing began! Some one stop this madness!!!!!!!!!!!!! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Manu kian maheri (talkcontribs) 15:43, 29 April 2007 (UTC).

I just checked out the article on the Jiroft civilization, which I had never heard of. There is indeed a claim for ancient writing made in connection of this. Could someone with more knowledge of this take a look into this? Martijn Faassen 01:02, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Nope! This madness called Wikipedia will go on and on and on ... (Bouahahaaah!) Said: Rursus 10:12, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Independent development of writing[edit]

How is it that isolated populations of humans developed agriculture and then writing very close in time? Man had existed in very close to our modern form for tens of thousands of years. Cave paintings date back at least 40,000 years. And yet, agriculture and writing seem to have appeared in completely isolated populations within a period of perhaps a few thousand years? How is this possible?


Writing upon a seal, dated to be 7000 years old During excavations that are taking place in the town of Giannitsa, a very ancient seal was unearthed that bore a sample of writing in its inside curved side. The dimensions of the seal are 2.5 x 5.5 cm. The linear elements are aligned onto three rows, which are divided by horizontal carvings that run along its length. According to the archeologist in charge, Panikos Chrysostomou, the linear symbols of writing of the aforementioned inscription are similar to the ones found in the Dispilio inscription, and others that have been found on vessels, statuettes and on spindle flywheels that were unearthed in the central Balkans. Contrary to the other findings that bear similar linear writing symbols however always in a disorderly arrangement, the Giannitsa inscription, with the etched elements arranged in an organized manner, indicates that it constitutes part of a complicated system of writing.

Its chronological placement establishes the Giannitsa inscription as the most ancient sample of writing in the world.

http://www.hellenicway.ca/may03/periscope.htm

In answer to your question: "How is it that isolated populations of humans developed agriculture and then writing very close in time?"

Agriculture was probably invented and reinvented thousands of time by individual subsistence farmers, but they left no artifacts attesting to their efforts until agriculture on a massive scale in Mesopotamia required written records for accounting. Such writing then spread quickly by travelers and traders to distant agricultural populations. Greensburger (talk) 02:47, 24 July 2011 (UTC)

vandalism?[edit]

I just saw Sirkad revert 3 edits by an anonymous user as vandalism. While I'm sure there may be something wrong with these edits, it doesn't look like vandalism to me. I'm going to revert the revert until it's explained why this is vandalism, or whether there are other reasons to remove these edits. Martijn Faassen (talk) 17:43, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

My apologies to Sirkad, I looked wrong and the edits are indeed clear vandalism. Sorry for the false alarm. Martijn Faassen (talk) 17:45, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

Chronology problem (unless time went backwards)[edit]

This is a quote from the article:

"Round-stylus and sharp-stylus writing was gradually replaced about 2700-2500 BCE by writing using a wedge-shaped stylus (hence the term cuneiform), at first only for logograms, but developed to include phonetic elements by the 29th century BCE."

This is problematic since the 29th century BCE obviously preceded 2700-2500 BCE.

Marty8 (talk) 19:57, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

Vinča "script" not that undisputed[edit]

The text is a little too positive to the Vinča "script" being a proper protowriting, while the Jiahu Shells are (by proper scientific scepticism) dismissed by some authorities. Some criticism against Vinča symbols being a script is also needed. Said: Rursus 10:18, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Rongorongo[edit]

Rongorongo is on the Main Page, but there is no mention of it here. 70.51.10.38 (talk) 10:14, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

Fixed (not by me). Physchim62 (talk) 17:31, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

Mesoamerican systems[edit]

There is no mention in this article of Mesoamerican writing systems. At the very least the Maya script deserves discussion. Also the fact that these systems were developed independently of Afro-Eurasian traditions is very important. — 72.234.26.68 (talk) 05:44, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Completely true!·Maunus·ƛ· 16:34, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

Cuneiform is Persian?[edit]

Is it just me or is there obviously someone who edited this page to bring glory to Iran at the expense of the general understanding of cuneiform as originating what is now Iraq? ChikeJ (talk) 09:33, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

need of attention from an expert?[edit]

Please state the particular part that need attention so that they can be addressed. Otherwise, the tag should be removed. J. D. Redding 17:41, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

  • Round-stylus and sharp-stylus; phonetic elements ... 29th century BCE obviously preceded 2700-2500 BCE.

J. D. Redding 17:46, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

complete rewrite?[edit]

Please state the particular issues so that they can be addressed. Otherwise, the tag should be removed. J. D. Redding 17:41, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

From the above discussion [though may not call for a complete rewrite, just modifcations]

J. D. Redding 17:43, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

proper attribution of public domain material[edit]

was "plagiarism"

Large portions of the article read as though they were written a century ago: and indeed they were; much turns out to have been taken verbatim from the source referenced in note 1, McClintock/Cyclopaedia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature (1889) ("Bronze Age Writing" section from p 992, etc., see Google Books) Quite aside from the issue of propriety is the fact that the information presented is rather... dated. Zhaonach (talk) 23:00, 23 August 2009 (UTC)

See public domain. J. D. Redding 16:10, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

The material is ambiguously attributed and hopelessly outdated. As per the recommendations at public domain sources, it would seem one of these would be in order:

Zhaonach (talk) 05:32, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

Having a book from clergymen as the main source is of course inappropriate, when not ridiculous. It is good it was used to at least create a stub article, but now it's time to find better source.--Sum (talk) 13:10, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

indecipherable section[edit]

The various methods — the ideographic and the phonographic or phonetic — has its attendant advantages and disadvantages; but the advantages of the latter method greatly preponderate. The principal recommendation of the former method, in which the depicted idea is caught up immediately by the mind, is that it addresses itself to a much wider circle than the latter, being intelligible, so far as it is intelligible, alike by all classes and in all countries; whereas the latter, in which the idea is depicted, not the idea, is of course intelligible only to those who are acquainted with the language to which the depicted word belongs. On the other hand, the very serious drawbacks attendant upon the direct method are: that it is capable of giving distinct expression only to a very limited range of ideas, viz. the ideas of sensible objects and qualities, and if it attempts to go beyond that range at once becomes arbitrary and obscure; and that in its representation even of the limited class of ideas to which it is capable of giving distinct expression, it is cumbrous and altogether unfitted for general use.

I claim some degree of familiarity with the convolutions of academic english, but I can understand neither meaning nor the purpose of the above paragraph. Is this intended to show the historical development, or the psychological significance, or the correlation with philosophy? I doubt it is being asserted that in adopting a writing system, people paid conscious attention to the advantages and disadvantages of syllabic versus pictographic writing. Or is this a later hypothetical framework, or perhaps an actual linguistic understanding based upon scientific evidence?

Is it being stated , and on what evidence, that the ideographic method is intelligible in all countries and all classes, presumably without actual instruction? (If so, why do we have such immense difficulty deciphering ideographic or partially ideographic scripts? ) What is the meaning of a "depicted idea being immediately caught up in the mind"? What is the meaning of "the idea is depicted, not the idea" in the following phrase of that sentence. Are there possibly some words omitted or confused there? Is it actually true that ideographic writing can only represent sensible object and quantities, but not actions as well.? How can something be simultaneously understandable "alike by all classes and in all countries; " and also be "altogether unfitted for general use."

I see this section is from the 19th century encyclopedia. Given that many scripts have been deciphered since then, can it be possibly said to represent a modern view? DGG ( talk ) 23:50, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Seems as if most if not all your concerns have been addressed. J. D. Redding

On the contrary, none if any of DGG's concerns appear to have been addressed, as the centenarian digression at issue, with its shiveringly quaint notion of the ideogram, somehow persists here under the guise of NPOV. Zhaonach (talk) 06:00, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

The World's oldest and preserved written paper (or cloth)[edit]

From Article History of paper...

The world's earliest known printed book (using woodblock printing), the Diamond Sutra of 868 CE, shows the widespread availability and practicality of paper in China.

But I am not finding world's oldest written paper or cloth written by hand. It is hard to believe that oldest known written document is printed and all documents written by hand are destroyed.

I would like to know how historians calculated dates of empires, kings, events etc when no written document exist. For example, how historians know that Chandragupta Maurya was born in 340BCE if there is no written evidence? I am sure many readers want to know answers to such question and I am not finding any article which answer this question. Thanks! Rāmā (talk) 10:43, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

It is of not the earliest known writing on paper--but it is of block printing. I do not see where it is claimed otherwise. ANd of course, there was writing on many surfaces long before either paper or papyrus: clay, metal, stone, plaster. DGG ( talk ) 19:28, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Isn't it strange that article about 'history of writing' is missing most important things like oldest preserved written papers in each culture? Detailed stories about kings, society, religions is given in articles about history. Certainly such detailed stories are not written on stones, metals, clay, plaster, paper. Then where from historians learned so much knowledge? It seems when paper was invented, people wrote their own stories about history which was transferred to them through orally by their ancestors. And historians picked up most detailed stories to fit in timeline of history. How much true are those stories, nobody knows. Historians should have put disclaimers and sources. But history is taught in schools and colleges as if it is absolute truth. And same thing is happening on wikipedia. Articles like Alexander the Great makes some sense because it starts with sources. Otherwise almost all history articles on wikipedia are unsourced because primary sources are missing. Anyway thanks for your reply. Rāmā (talk) 11:41, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Cloth predates paper by many centuries. An obvious example: the inscriptions (by brush and black ink) on Egyptian funerary bandages. Quite common, but we seem to lack any illustration in Commons. Macdonald-ross (talk) 18:03, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

number of times invented[edit]

The last sentence of the intro is problematic: "True writing, or phonetic writing, records were developed independently in four different civilizations in the world, namely Mesopotamia, China, Egypt, and Mesoamerica."

We simply don't know this to be the case. It is widely suspected that Egyptian was not independent of Sumerian; even though the system appears to be unrelated, they were part of a single trading culture, and contact is suspected of resulting in cultural diffusion of phonetic writing. (This could well have been pre-cuneiform pictographic logograms, adopted into Egypt's elaborate artistic tradition.) The fact that China took another 2000 years to come up with writing, despite contact with the Mideast, has lead to suspicions that it may also have been due to contact diffusion once the political situation was favorable. And if we're going to claim that those three systems are independent inventions of writing, why not the several others in the area? Proto-Elamite, anyone? Anatolian hieroglyphs? Indus, assuming that's writing at all? What, do famous civilizations get credit for inventing writing, but obscure ones do not? And what of the possibility that rongorongo is true writing? kwami (talk) 19:49, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

You are implying that rongorongo may or may not be actual writing - but wikipedia already insists that is is a consistent system of glyphs in the first paragraph on that page. Is not any system of glyphs an actual written language if it is consistent system based on what we see today? Can you imagine today why you would ever want to carve a bunch of consistent glyphs on a cave wall or stone if it were not for the purpose of communicating? I disagree very much with a lot of people on the talk page for this article, but I really think they are too far up their own asses when it comes to research. For wikipedia, it's a matter of citing references... and this single topic has a severe lack of those, but an over-abundance of experts on the talk page.75.134.26.34 (talk) 09:12, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

It is common to count all known scripts as derived from one of four proto-writng systems, i.e. those of Bronze Age Egypt, Mesopotamia or China, plus the Mesoamerican scripts. That is not discounting the very likely possibility of cross-pollination between the three Bronze Age systems, but this cannot be traced in detail today and likely happened still during the proto-writing phase. So it is correct to say that proto-writing developed into writing proper in four places, even if the proto-writiting itself didn't arise independently. --dab (𒁳) 13:59, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Fundamentally Untrue Statement[edit]

"Language expresses thought, preserves thought, and also suggests or creates thought. It has been considered obvious that, so long as language is unwritten, it can accomplish these ends only in a very imperfect measure."

I'm not going to argue about whether or language can only express, preserve, or create through imperfectly without writing. But I will absolutely argue that this has been "considered obvious". If you'll examine the article on Logocentrism, you can see that perhaps all of the Western philosophical canon (before Postmodernism anyway) held exactly the opposite view---that writing was just a bastardized form of speech that sacrificed the kind of meaning only speech can convey for the sake of preservation. I think the part about writing "preserving" thought is acceptable---that is probably obvious---but whether or not it can be considered superior for expressing or suggesting thought is a matter of contention and should by no means be called obvious. Corbmobile (talk) 12:11, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

I'd say the statement is patently false. I'll delete it. kwami (talk) 20:16, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
The thing was actually ref'd, so I'm preserving it here (wow, these letter thingies are handy!):
Language expresses thought, preserves thought, and also suggests or creates thought. It has been considered obvious that, so long as language is unwritten, it can accomplish these ends only in a very imperfect measure. Hence it may well be supposed that, at a very early stage of man's history, attempts were made to present in some way to the eye the thought which spoken language conveyed to the ear, and thus give it visible form and permanence.[1] However, this understanding does not necessarily go unquestioned.
The statement is nonsense - it should be removed or at th very least relegated to an unimportant footnote. Fig (talk) 20:16, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

Unsound Intro[edit]

I hate to be a gadfly, but I think that first statement in this article just isn't true. "The history of writing follows the art of expressing thought by letters or other marks". What it should say is "The history of writing follows the art of expressing words by letters or other marks". While it is true that words convey though (or try to convey thought, depending on who you ask), writing itself has to use language as an intermediary. Would this change be acceptable? Corbmobile (talk) 08:08, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

Yes, of course. Knock yourself out. The current wording reflects medieval myths of esoteric Egyptian. kwami (talk) 11:09, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

Definition of writing/proto-writing[edit]

quote from the article:

proto-writing, systems of ideographic and/or early mnemonic symbol. True writing, or phonetic writing

So according to this definition, Are Chinese characters classified as proto-writing? 128.250.5.245 (talk) 06:29, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

No, Chinese characters are writing, and there is nothing in the above quote to suggest that they are proto-writing. Perhaps you've been confused by the common myth that Chinese characters are somehow ideographic? Ergative rlt (talk) 22:13, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

Well, they are "somehow ideographic" even if they aren't purely ideographic. It is true that they aren't proto-writing, but it is also true that more accuracy is needed to delineate them from proto-writing than the case would be with the world's other modern writing systems.

The problem with this article is that people keep shifting about terminologically difficult statements without basing their edits on any sort of reference. --dab (𒁳) 09:42, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Dubious[edit]

There is a dubious tag in the intro. What exactly is dubious about it? the Discuss link went to nothing relating to it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 121.54.41.121 (talk) 13:28, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

The reconfirmation & reinforcement of the Indus script thesis: why the indus script was logo-syllabic!![edit]

my published paper 'The reconfirmation and reinforcement of the Indus script thesis' . this was published in a scienfitic journal recently. This shows why longer texts certainly existed in the Indus and why the Indus script was logo-syllabic. This is a complete refutation of Farmers thesis and refutes sproat's smoking gun completely. If Farmer disagrees, he has to reply to me point by point

http://www.scribd.com/doc/46387240/Sujay-Indus-Script-Final-Version-Final-Final


Sujay Rao Mandavilli — Preceding unsigned comment added by 124.30.112.154 (talk) 08:23, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

simple prrof addressed to mainstream researchers why the indus script was logo-syllabic, longer texts certainly existed--[edit]

Why longer insciptions certainly existed in the Indus Facts about the Dholavira signboard (f) It is one of the most famous of Harappan inscriptions. (g) It was very large in size. (h) It was located in Far from Mesopotamia Dholavira and in one of the furthest sites from Mesopotamia. (i) It hung over the citadel there. (j) It must have represented the name of the place and must have been closely tied to speech: note the sign repetition. (k) The sign which was used as a determinative was a very common Indus sign. (l) The sign used as a determinative appears to have been also similar to determinatives in other writing systems. (m) The Indus script was also related to Proto-Elamite which means it probably had a linguistic component. (n) The other signs with which the determinative was used were also common Indus signs. (o) Few sensible scholars will now dispute the fact that the Indus script was a logo-syllabic script on the basis of this evidence. (p) Few sensible scholars will deny the fact that speech encoding was one of the major functions of the Indus script and had this feature had reached a very precocious maturity. (q) This inscription was apparently more closely tied to speech than most proto-Elamite inscriptions. (r) Dholavira was not even the most important of sites. (s) The fact that it was hung over the citadel meant it was meant to be read by elites. (t) It was put to the most frivolous use. (u) Speech encoding would have been a prized possession: no one would have used it just for a decorative signboard at far-from-Mesopotamia Dholavira. Why would a man who had inscribed this, done so (a) if nobody else could read it (b) why would he have learnt to encode speech only to inscribe this signboard? This automatically implies the existence of longer texts. It also shows that the Indus elites used more complex forms of communication. (v) Even if we assume that speech-encoding was added in Mature Harappan 3B, this logic would still hold good. (w) This logic is already accepted by mainstream Indus archaeologists as a precursor to the existence of longer texts Facts about the Dholavira signboard (f) It is one of the most famous of Harappan inscriptions. (g) It was very large in size. (h) It was located in Far from Mesopotamia Dholavira and in one of the furthest sites from Mesopotamia. (i) It hung over the citadel there. (j) It must have represented the name of the place and must have been closely tied to speech: note the sign repetition. (k) The sign which was used as a determinative was a very common Indus sign. (l) The sign used as a determinative appears to have been also similar to determinatives in other writing systems. (m) The Indus script was also related to Proto-Elamite which means it probably had a linguistic component. (n) The other signs with which the determinative was used were also common Indus signs. (o) Few sensible scholars will now dispute the fact that the Indus script was a logo-syllabic script on the basis of this evidence. (p) Few sensible scholars will deny the fact that speech encoding was one of the major functions of the Indus script and had this feature had reached a very precocious maturity. (q) This inscription was apparently more closely tied to speech than most proto-Elamite inscriptions. (r) Dholavira was not even the most important of sites. (s) The fact that it was hung over the citadel meant it was meant to be read by elites. (t) It was put to the most frivolous use. (u) Speech encoding would have been a prized possession: no one would have used it just for a decorative signboard at far-from-Mesopotamia Dholavira. Why would a man who had inscribed this, done so (a) if nobody else could read it (b) why would he have learnt to encode speech only to inscribe this signboard? This automatically implies the existence of longer texts. It also shows that the Indus elites used more complex forms of communication. (v) Even if we assume that speech-encoding was added in Mature Harappan 3B, this logic would still hold good. (w) This logic is already accepted by mainstream Indus archaeologists as a precursor to the existence of longer texts

British archeologist Jane Mcintosh states

"Farmer also draws attention to the absence of long Harappan inscriptions onpotsherds. If the Harappan signs were a script, he contends, this absence would make it unique among the scripts of literate cultures, who all used potsherds often like scrap paper.This need only, imply however, that the Harappans had other media that were easier toscribble on, such as cotton cloth or wooden boards, or that the writing medium was not wellsuited for use on sherds. Likewise the absence of long monumental inscriptions seems significant to Farmer, but the Harappans did not create monumental art or architecture onwhich such inscriptions might have been written; the nearest they came to this is theDholavira signboard, which is quite possibly the tip of an iceberg of a now vanished publicinscriptions.” “He (Farmer) also considers that the proportion of singleton and rare signs is unusually high; other scholars such as Parpola (2005) demonstrate that this is not so, sincein general logo-syllabic scripts contain a small corpus of frequently used signs and a largenumber of much less common ones. Moreover, new signs are continuously added, evenwhen the writing system is a fully developed one, something Farmer also denies. Statistically the Harappan script does not differ significantly in its sign proportions from other logographicscripts. A further point regarding the singletons is that Wells (n.d.) has demonstrated thatmany are variants or ligatures of basic signs, rather than completely different signs; again,this is something to be expected in a genuine script”“Perhaps more significantly, the brevity of the majority of the Harappan texts (four to fivesigns on average) makes it less likely that signs would repeat within them than it is in the longer texts with which Farmer compares them

Farmers arguments fail to account convincingly for the structural regularity analysis have revealed in the usage of Harappan signs. These support the hypothesis that the indus script is a writing system (McIntosh 2008, p. 374). — Preceding unsigned comment added by 124.30.112.154 (talk) 08:26, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

The science of writing systems?[edit]

In French, we have a word for the science that studies writing systems and their evolution through history, it's etymographie. Do you use such a word (etymography) in English? From a quick look on Google, it seems rather uncommon, how do you refer to this field of study then? I see no entry in en.Wikipedia that might put me on the track. Please follow discussion here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal_talk:Linguistics#The_science_of_writing_systems.3F knd (talk) 16:54, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

Please clarify what you mean by "writing systems". Do you mean penmanship systems such as the Palmer and Spencerian systems used in elementary schools to teach handwriting to first graders? Greensburger (talk) 03:34, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

No I meant writing system as defined in wikipedia as "A writing system is a symbolic system used to represent elements or statements expressible in language." knd (talk) 08:41, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
There is no common term. In English, the OED only records etymography as a 'nonce term' for historically accurate spelling: that is, spelling that reflects the etymology of a word. For the study, I've seen Grammatology, which Daniels defines as 'the discipline that studies writing systems'. That's not specifically their evolution, though. (Grammatogeny is then the invention of writing.) Daniels says, "No name for this field of study has even become widely accepted; 'grammatology', proposed in the mid twentieth century, is better than most." — kwami (talk) 04:48, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

POV tag[edit]

We have an editor, who doesn't understand the difference between an ideogram and a logogram, revert warring over the claim that ideographic systems are "writing". We're very careful in that section not to call them writing or scripts, apart from the new nsibidi section. I've tagged it as POV. This is being discussed at the writing systems project. — kwami (talk) 04:42, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

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Nsibidi?[edit]

This article completely omits the Nsibidi Script independently developed in Nigeria during Late Antiquity; thus, I shall write a section on said script.

自教育 (talk) 04:42, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

Nsibidi isn't writing; also, we don't know that it's very old. — kwami (talk) 04:44, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Have a look at the sources I gave (here and here, in case they have been lost) to see the evidence that Nsibidi is in fact a complete and pristine writing system. Furthermore, Wikipedia articles themselves here and here. It seems pretty clear that Nsibidi is in true writing. Could you please provide some sources refuting this proposition? Thanks.

自教育 (talk) 18:53, 11 August 2012 (UTC)

I would like some discussion and alternate opinions before I recreate the Nsibidi section, which I think was unjustly deleted and so deleted without any discussion or debate. It would be most desirable get some input from anyone knowledgeable on the topic of Nsibidi, or on the topic of Pre-colonial Subsahelian African writing and writing systems in general.

自教育 (talk) 21:52, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

Defining Writing[edit]

From the response my no longer extant section on Nsibidi got, I think that it would be best to come to some consensus on the definition of writing. Systems like Nsibidi or the various khipu systems of the Andean Civilizations seem to be immediately rejected without actual investigation of and dialogue about them.

I suggest the following definition for "Writing": Any symbolic system capable of recording any meaningful utterance in one or more given languages so that a well-formed text in this system is intelligible to anyone else acquainted with said system. This would include not only the Arabic Abjad, Chinese Characters, Hangeul, the Latin Alphabet but also Nsibidi, Blissymbols and arguably (until further knowledge comes through about them) some or all of the khipu systems but not tally sticks, emoticons, the Andinkra symbols and arguably not Rongorongo either.

To support my argument, I shall point my fellow Wikipedians to noted Precolumbian studies professor Gary Urton has written many fine works on symbol studies, semantics, writing and the Inka Khipu. With regards to the latter, I personally find his arguments supporting the theory that the khipu (or at least the Inka Khipu) are a complete writing system and can be deciphered highly persuasive; of course, in the spirit of constructive dialogue, I would like others who are knowledgeable in this field to give their input. Also, here is a link to a list of Prof. Urton's publications. Furthermore, in the spirit of multiples sources, I would like to point the skeptic to Elizabeth Hill Boone's and Walter D. Mignolo's wonderful book, "Writing without Words: Alternative Literacies in Mesoamerica and the Andes."

I would really like a clarification of "The 26 specific signs" mentioned in the third paragraph of the "Recorded history" section in this article. It is clear by looking at the talk history that this subject is an area of much contention, and I am not qualified to even step into it, but surely if there are 26 common elements among prehistoric pictograms across the globe, then clearly wikipedia would either have a list of them or not mention them at all. It is a claim based on one persons research and is not sufficiently sourced. I don't think the claim that there are 26 common paleolithic elements of a proto-language belongs on wikipedia at all without sources - and press releases or news articles are not sufficient.75.134.26.34 (talk) 08:44, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

自教育 (talk) 21:52, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

It isn't our role to define writing, we can only go on what reliable sources have to say, and even then we would probably want to attribute what they say directly to them, eg we can use Urton but we should make it clear it's his opinion. Read WP:NOR. Dougweller (talk) 18:13, 17 August 2012 (UTC)

I agree with the section author, but only in how it is relevant to defining the historical period. There seems to be an overemphasis on 'writing', but no regard to the record keeping that his existed in the past. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 209.16.113.3 (talk) 19:56, 8 April 2013 (UTC)


Thank your for your commentary and, while I understand and appreciate your point but, with that said, we must have some definition to draw the line at what is and is not writing; if we have no more or less unified definition to go by, then how are we, as Wikipedians, to decide what is and what is not to be placed in each and every article? Using a biological example, look at all the ways people classify unicellular and photosynthetic Eukaryotes: Many highly reliable sources disagree on their classification, some lumping most or all of them together as Protists, others creating any of a variety of taxa for them. Furthermore, while the Protist system would seem to be the most widely agreed upon taxonomic scheme to choose from, it is more or less completely abandoned by more recent sources.

I see your point and I respect and admire that Wikipedia that is supposed to be neutral but I would like to point out that to build an encyclopedia we obviously need to make decisions, often inherently subjective, just to function: I would also like to note that it is normal for Wikipedia's article to define the subject of the article in the introduction, usually the first sentence in fact, and that someone must decide what that definition is.

自教育 (talk) 19:46, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

Is the term "historicity" correctly used?[edit]

In Part 3, "Recorded history", the article contains this passage: "With the presence of coherent texts (from the various writing systems and the systems' associated literature), historians mark the "historicity" of that culture.[6]" Footnote (6) reads: "a b Shotwell, James Thomson. An Introduction to the History of History. Records of civilization, sources and studies. New York: Columbia University Press, 1922." The term "historicity" appears to be traceable in its current accepted meaning (the existentially defining role of life and social experience to a human individual) to philosopher Martin Heidegger in his landmark treatise, Being and Tine (1928), as part of his effort to reconstruct our perception of the notion of a quasi-objective yet personal history of "dasein" (a term usually used in referring to a human individual). It is thus readily distinguishable from the term "historicality", which may be the word the author intended to use. The reference to the 1922 essay by Shotwell (which I admit I have not read) was written before Being and Time and I would therefore venture to say that its usage seems anachronistic. There may have been a prior usage in the hermeneutic philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911), but nothing about Dilthey's work would seem to suggest itself in the context of this article. I do not understand how a culture's historicity is so marked. Was an exception made for the oral tradition of Homer in pre-Hellenic culture? Perhaps either the author or Dr. Shotwell has misspoken. Paul L. Ness (paullness@aol.com) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.90.12.31 (talk) 16:48, 21 September 2012 (UTC)

Chronology problem again[edit]

Article currently says: "... invented independently in at least two places: Mesopotamia (specifically, ancient Sumer) around 3200 BCE ... It is believed that writing used in an inscription discovered in Jiroft, Iran came into existence at around the same time as that of Mesopotamia; carbon-14 tests conducted on the layers in which the Jiroft inscription was discovered have dated it to around 2500 BCE.[citation needed] Although such tests have not yet been carried out on Mesopotamian inscriptions, archaeologists believe that Mesopotamia's script goes back to 2600-2700 BCE at most.[citation needed]"

  • I think archaeologists believe that Mesopotamia's script goes back to around 3200 BCE, not 2600-2700. So the Jiroft inscription was written well after the invention of writing?

Also, the article states, somewhat buried in the text: " In 1999, Archaeology Magazine reported that the earliest Egyptian glyphs date back to 3400 BCE which "...challenge the commonly held belief that early logographs, pictographic symbols representing a specific place, object, or quantity, first evolved into more complex phonetic symbols in Mesopotamia."

  • If this is a serious claim shouldn't it be much higher up, i.e. discussing whether writing first appeared in Sumer or Egypt? Aarghdvaark (talk) 03:44, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

why the indus script was true writing and why a lost corpus existed in the indus:simple proof addressed to mainstream researchers[edit]

INDUS SCRIPT WAS TRUE WRITING

Please find my two papers below and circulate amongst the skeptics, particularly!

To state the obvious, the Indus script was a logo-syllabic script and a lost corpus did exist.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/46387240/Sujay-Indus-Script-Final-Version-Final-Final

Published in the ICFAI journal of history and culture, January 2011

http://www.scribd.com/doc/111707419/Sujay-Indus-Reintroducing-Lost-Manuscript-Hypothesis

Published in International journal of philosophy and journal sciences , November 2012

I am also introducing logo-syllabic thesis B in this paper

The paper is very self-explanatory! does anybody still beg to differ?

Sujay Rao Mandavilli 70.242.121.167 (talk) 23:19, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

Origin of Brahmi : new paper[edit]

i am pleased to announce the publication of my fifth research paper in a peer-reviewed journal

this deals with the origin of Brahmi . this is a logical and self-explanatory paper and is written using a multi-disciplinary approach. it is written in such a way that anybody can cross-verify the conclusions.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/127306265/Sujay-Post-Harappan-Literacy-Final-Final-Final

sujay rao mandavilli

182.72.239.115 (talk) 09:45, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

Literacy in Pre-Buddhist India[edit]

Literacy in pre-Buddhist India (before 600 BC)

Please find my collection of papers on literacy in Pre-Buddhist India

Before mature phase of Indus valley civilization (before 2600 BC)

- There are some potters marks but none qualify as full writing

Indus valley civilization (2600 BC to 1900 BC)

1. The reconfirmation and reinforcement of the Indus script thesis (very logical and self explanatory paper)


http://www.scribd.com/doc/46387240/Sujay-Indus-Script-Final-Version-Final-Final

2. The reintroduction of the lost manuscript hypothesis (the case for this thesis has obviously become much stronger in the recent past)


http://www.scribd.com/doc/111707419/Sujay-Indus-Reintroducing-Lost-Manuscript-Hypothesis

Post-Harappan India (1600 BC to 600 BC)

1. Literacy in post-Harappan india (obviously literacy in post-Harappan India existed in certain pockets & were limited to very small sections of society- alphabetic scripts were brought from West Asia and the Indus script also continued – this a very logical and self-explanatory paper and anyone can cross-verify the conclusions)

http://www.scribd.com/doc/127306265/Sujay-Post-Harappan-Literacy-and-origin-of-Brahmi

Sujay Rao Mandavilli

182.72.239.115 (talk) 07:10, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Inclusion of relevant information regarding origin of Token system.[edit]

I've included the line referring to the origin of tokens as Iran, which is entirely relevant, and which are based off of a reliable academic source. Please do not remove the line. I have also removed the lines that are completely unsourced, which refer to the Jiroft civilization. Jiroft may certainly be relevant to the development of writing, but at this point, that idea is speculative. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 209.16.113.3 (talk) 19:02, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Tags[edit]

This article or section appears to contradict itself.[edit]

This article or section appears to contradict itself? What part so someone can address the issue ... read it, but didn't seem to catch the contradiction, If not an issue, should remove the tag. --J. D. Redding 18:48, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

I can't read the mind of whoever placed the tag either, but perhaps it is this part which was meant:
"It is debated whether writing systems were developed completely independently in Egypt around 3200 BCE and China around 1200 BCE, or whether the appearance of writing in either or both places were due to cultural diffusion (i.e. the concept of representing language using writing, if not the specifics of how such a system worked, was brought by traders from an already-literate civilization).
Chinese characters are an independent invention, because there is no evidence of a common proto-language nor of contact between China and the literate civilizations of the Near East,[3] and because of the distinct differences between the Mesopotamian and Chinese approaches to logography and phonetic representation."
At first it says it is debated whether Chinese script was developed independently or due to cultural diffusion, only to say in the next line that "Chinese characters are an independent invention".
By the way I noticed it was you who changed the wording in that last part and inserted the citation. However the citation given for the statement (this one) that "Chinese characters are an independent invention" actually says no such thing, but discusses the possibility that they may have been and the ramifications of that, without coming to such a clear cut conclusion. --Saddhiyama (talk) 19:30, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
I have reinserted the old wording which said "probably", and it is also in accordance with the cited source. Now there is no more need for the contradiction tag, so I removed that as well. --Saddhiyama (talk) 22:46, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

Cave painting symbols[edit]

On the website of the Guardian, I just stumbled upon this. Could these Paleolithic symbols actually constitute a form of proto-writing? I was surprised to find no mention on Wikipedia about this subject at all. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 01:13, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Inconsistency[edit]

Text states "... used by cave painters of the Neolithic Age. "...von Petzinger and Nowell were surprised by the clear patterning of the symbols across space and time – some of which remained continually in use for over 20,000 years". This is inconsistent as the Neolithic Age until present time only represents approximately 12,000 years. The remaining 8000 years are unaccounted for. 69.165.134.171 (talk) 04:44, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

Errors[edit]

The Greek alphabet may have been in use in 6000 BC. Also bear in mind that the Phoenician "alphabet" is a syllabary, NOT an alphabet was not the origin of the Greek alphabet and originates from the oldest writing systems, the Pelasgian, Minoan and Achaean writing systems. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 92.118.186.11 (talk) 18:47, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

Blacklisted Links Found on History of writing[edit]

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Noting this has been done. Dougweller (talk) 10:16, 28 September 2014 (UTC)