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Writing may refer to two activities:
Written language is the system of signs and symbols, the inscribing of characters on a medium, with the intention of forming words and other constructs that represent language or record information. aAticles included in this area are:
- Cursive handwriting
- Handwriting legibility
Written communication is an aspect of verbal communication and is the expression of information in written form, the creation of material to be conveyed through written language. (There are some exceptions; for example, the use of a typewriter to record language is generally called typing, rather than writing.) Related articles include;
Writing refers to both activities equally, and both activities may often occur simultaneously.
Means for recording information
The major Writing systems, i.e. methods of inscription, broadly fall into four categories: logographic, syllabic, alphabetic, and featural. Another category, ideographic (symbols for ideas), has never been developed sufficiently to represent language. A sixth, pictographic, is insufficient to represent language on its own, but often forms the core of logographies.
A logogram is a written character which represents a word or morpheme. The vast array of logograms needed to write a language, and the many years required to learn them, are the major disadvantage of the logographic systems over alphabetic systems. However, the efficiency of reading logographic writing once it is learned is a major advantage.
No writing system is wholly logographic: all have phonetic components as well as logograms ("logosyllabic" components in the case of Chinese, cuneiform, and Mayan, where a glyph may stand for a morpheme, a syllable, or both; "logoconsonantal" in the case of hieroglyphs), and many have an ideographic component (Chinese "radicals", hieroglyphic "determiners".) For example, in Mayan, the glyph for "fin", pronounced ka', was used to represent the syllable ka whenever clarification was needed. However, such phonetic elements complement the logographic elements, rather than vice versa.
The main logographic system in use today is Chinese, used with some modification for various languages of China, Japanese, and, to a lesser extent, Korean in South Korea. Another is the classical Yi script.
A syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent (or approximate) syllables. A glyph in a syllabary typically represents a consonant followed by a vowel, or just a vowel alone, though in some scripts more complex syllables (such as consonant-vowel-consonant, or consonant-consonant-vowel) may have dedicated glyphs. Phonetically related syllables are not so indicated in the script. For instance, the syllable ka may look nothing like the syllable ki, nor will syllables with the same vowels be similar.
Syllabaries are best suited to languages with relatively simple syllable structure, such as Japanese. Other languages that use syllabic writing include the Linear B script for Mycenaean Greek; Cherokee; Ndjuka, an English-based creole language of Surinam; and the Vai script of Liberia. Most logographic systems have a strong syllabic component.
- See also: History of the alphabet
An alphabet is a small set of symbols, each of which roughly represents or historically represented a phoneme of the language. In a perfectly phonological alphabet, the phonemes and letters would correspond perfectly in two directions: a writer could predict the spelling of a word given its pronunciation, and a speaker could predict the pronunciation of a word given its spelling. As languages often evolve independently of their writing systems, and writing systems have been borrowed for languages they were not designed for, the degree to which letters of an alphabet correspond to phonemes of a language varies greatly from one language to another and even within a single language.
In most of the alphabets of the Mid-East, only consonants are indicated, or vowels may be indicated with optional diacritics. Such systems are called abjads. In other, vowels are indicated through diacritics or modification of the shape of the consonant. These are called abugidas. Some abugidas, such as Ethiopic and Cree, are learned by children as syllabaries, and are often called "syllabics". However, unlike true syllabaries, there is not an independent glyph for each syllable.
Sometimes the term "alphabet" is restricted to systems with separate letters for consonants and vowels, such as the Latin alphabet.
A featural script notates the building blocks of the phonemes that make up a language. For instance, all sounds pronounced with the lips ("labial" sounds) may have some element in common. In the Latin alphabet, this is accidentally the case with the letters b and p; however, labial m is completely dissimilar, and the similar-looking q is not labial. In Korean Hangul, however, all four labial consonants are based on the same basic element. However, in practice, Korean is learned by children as an ordinary alphabet, and the featural elements tend to pass unnoticed.
Another featural script is SignWriting, the most popular writing system for many sign languages, where the shapes and movements of the hands and face are represented iconically. Featural scripts are also common in fictional or invented systems, such as Tolkien's Tengwar.
Historical significance of writing systems
Historians draw a distinction between prehistory and history, with history defined by the advent of writing. The cave paintings and petroglyphs of prehistoric peoples can be considered precursors of writing, but are not considered writing because they did not represent language directly.
Writing systems always develop and change based on the needs of the people who use them. Sometimes the shape, orientation and meaning of individual signs also changes over time. By tracing the development of a script it is possible to learn about the needs of the people who used the script as well as how it changed over time.
Creation of text or information
- Main article: Creativity
In order to write a creative essay or short story, there are several tools one can employ:
dialogue (conversation and your thoughts) sensory imagery (the five senses and your feelings) dialect concrete details (as opposed to abstract ideas) literary devices (such as similes, metaphors, metonymia such as personification, hyperbole, and understatement)
- Main article: Author
Writers will often search out others to evaluate or critique their work. This can give the writer a better product in the end. To this end, many writers join writing circles, often found at local libraries or bookstores. With the evolution of the internet, writing circles have started to go online.
- Boustrophedon text
- Composition studies
- Creative writing
- Mirror writing
- Scientific communication
- Word processing
- Writing disorders
- Writing process
- Writing systems
- A History of Writing: From Hieroglyph to Multimedia, edited by Anne-Marie Christin, Flammarion (in French, hardcover: 408 pages, 2002, ISBN 2080108875)
- Das "Anrennen gegen die Grenzen der Sprache" Diskussion mit Roland Barthes, André Breton, Gilles Deleuze & Raymond Federman by Ralph Lichtensteiger
- Origins of writing on AncientScripts.com
- History of Writing
- Writing.Com: Online Writing: A site for writers to exchange feedback
- On ERIC Digests: Writing Instruction: Current Practices in the Classroom; Writing Development; Writing Instruction: Changing Views over the Years
- MyWritingGroup.Com: A writing group site run by writers. Get private feedback, discuss the writing life.
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