Language and Linguistics

Different types of writing features history importance


Writing is a set of technologies for the representation of verbal language. It is a secondary representation system of thought, which is carried out by means of visual signs or characters inscribed on some support surface. In this article we will discuss about the different types of writing features history importance.

In simpler terms, writing is a set of information preservation techniques, inscribed in a system of signs that conventionally represent spoken language.

Writing, like all technology, is an exclusively human invention that serves as an extension or aid of the body or the mind. And serves as a screwdriver to remove the screws or put our hands can not, writing allows us to communicate with people who could not reach talking, as people absent or future, distant or even unknown. Writing its origin history and types

On the other hand, writing is a physical event, which involves the inscription or marking on a specific surface, and is a complementary technique to reading. This is: to write (inscribe) it is necessary to learn to read (decipher) first. In this sense, writing operates as a code, a secret key, which in current societies is learned from an early age.

General features

Language is inherent in every human community, and this fact can be regarded as an integral and defining characteristic of all humanity as a whole. However, the development of writing and the process of gradual replacement of traditional forms of oral communication were sporadic, irregular and slow.

Once established, writing in the general case undergoes less voluntary changes than oral speech, thus preserving specific features and expressions that are no longer characteristic of the current state of a living language. One of the most important advantages of using writing is the ability to create permanent records of information expressed in language. The appearance and existence of writing requires:

  • A group of certain components or basic symbols, individually called signs, and collectively, a writing system.
  • A set of rules and conditions (i.e. spelling), understood by the community and used by all or most of its participants, that determine the meaning of the basic elements (graphemes), their order and relationship to each other.
  • A common language in the community, whose constructions are reflected in these elements and rules, and can also be reconstructed from them, interpreting what is written;
  • Any physical means of representing symbols clearly so that they can be read in one way or another (visually or by touch).

Most writing systems are characterized by an arrangement of symbolic elements that allows them to be combined into larger groups (words, acronyms, and other lexemes) because significantly more meanings can be conveyed than is possible. symbols themselves.

For the most complete transfer of linguistic content in writing systems, concatenation of small groups of characters is also used. Many writing systems use a special set of characters (punctuation) through which additional structure and organization of written speech is provided, as well as the transmission of message features, which are conveyed in speech through pauses, tone, emphasis, intonation. , etc.

In addition, writing usually has a certain method of formatting written messages, which follows the rules of oral speech (grammar, syntax, etc.), so that the reader can perceive the meaning of the written message as accurately as possible.

Origin of writing

The first vestiges of writing arose approximately at the beginning of the Neolithic, in the year 6,000 a. C. They are known as proto-writing because they lacked link with the spoken language, being visual representations: drawings, pictograms, symbols. They are the immediate predecessors of hieroglyphic, cuneiform, and pictographic writing, characteristic of ancient Egyptian, Sumerian, and Chinese cultures, respectively. However, it can be said that writing itself was invented in many places at the same time and at different times in remote antiquity.

One of the best known as the Near East around 3500 BC. C., when the ancient Sumerians adopted a previous system of clay tokens with which goods and units of time were represented. The result was cuneiform writing: a series of inscriptions that were made on flexible clay. His first alphabet appeared at the time: a syllabary that reflected the phonology and syntax of his language, and was soon copied and reproduced in neighboring languages, such as Arcadian, Eblaite, Hittite, and Ugarite. Writing its origin history and types

Writing history

History, as we understand it today, begins precisely with the invention of writing and the ability to record events of civilization. All of the above is considered prehistory.

Shortly after the emergence of writing in Sumer, Egypt, and China (among others), the first model of the alphabet was developed, based on the Sumerian syllabary, and belonged to the Ugarites, Canaanite inhabitants of what is now Syria.

In this alphabet, only the consonants were represented, but it laid the foundations for the Aramaic and Greek alphabets to emerge later, the latter being the one that introduced the vowels.

The Greeks, a dominant culture at the time and in many later, spread it around the surrounding areas, giving rise to other different alphabets, including the Proto-Italic from which Latin would emerge. Writing its origin history and types

At the same time, the Indus Valley Culture, in the present Indian subcontinent, had already developed its own system of proto-writing and then writing, in which Aramaic had a role.

This gave rise to the Brahmic or Indic families, mothers of the modern languages ​​of Southeast Asia and South Asia, as well as parts of Central Asia: the Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, Mongolian, Dravidian, Tai, and probably Korean languages.

The Latin alphabet, as we know, was later imposed on Europe and North Africa during the Roman Empire.

The Latin alphabet was inherited by the Romance languages, many of them later imposed on their American colonies, all with more or less the same alphabet.

The latter would also be used by the Germanic languages: German, Polish, Anglo-Saxon, and Nordic languages. Writing its origin history and types

Writing media

Writing did not always require the same supports as in its early days. The clay tablets of the Sumerians soon became softer and more portable, more durable surfaces.

Wood was also used, the interior of animal skins and especially papyrus: a kind of paper made with the fibers of a very common aquatic plant in the Nile, an invention of the Egyptians. These papyri were rolled up and transported in cylindrical containers.

The invention of cellulose paper was, in this sense, a great revolution, since texts could be more portable, durable.

They could also be sewn along the edge, thus forming the first books, which would be the exclusive heritage of the Church during the European Middle Ages.

This was followed by the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, which allowed the massification of the book and its mechanical production, without the need for copyists or clerks, as was done until then.

The birth of the book industry that lasts to this day would not have been possible otherwise.

11 Types of Writing 

Writing is a means of communication between humans, used since very remote times. Over the years several were invented, depending on the time, place and culture where it was done, thus the following types of writing were generated:

  1. Ideogram
  2. alphabet writing
  3. pictographic
  4. Cuneiform
  5. Linear A
  6. Linear B writing
  7. Logographic
  8. Sumerian
  9. hieratic script
  10. demotics
  11. Hieroglyphic writing

Apart from evolving and perfecting writing, the instruments used for its practice also did so. At first it was written on rock, wood and clay. Then on parchment and papyrus, until today, which is done on paper and machines.

Writing is defined as a detailed medium, embodying a language through ideas. Although there is also talk of a written language, referring to it, as the way to tangibly capture the phonemes.

Now, written communication, in addition to having types, has methods, such as the one used by the blind, deaf and mute. They write through graphics, with symbols and characters, but it differs from the traditional because what they capture is not the exact representation of their dialect. It can be said that braille manages its own language, an abstract language.


It is a type of graphic writing used by the Egyptians and Babylonians. It is used only through drawing, typography is not established in its practice. Currently it is still managed in countries such as Taiwan, China and Vietnam.

alphabet writing

It is the one we commonly use, the purpose is to reproduce phonemes by joining a vowel and a consonant. This writing arose thanks to the Latin, Greek and Hebrew alphabets and scripts. It is divided into two parts.

pictographic writing

In this type of writing which is from the Neolithic period, the pictographic writing was written on rocks. it can be said that individually they write a brief sentence, which is made by symbols or signs.

Cuneiform writing

Cuneiform writing was done on a plant, called a reed, or on clay. It was used during the Mesopotamian period and consisted of making representations in the form of triangles. This type generated other writings based on symbols.


A graphic writing, which combines syllables to generate phonetic groups and is subdivided into the following:


Also called; Eskimo writing. Until now there is a record that only old Canadian communities implemented it.


It belongs to the Amerindian language, it was created by an illiterate American using fences and wood. It is about writing with small drawings, that is, each word has a drawing that represents it.


It belongs to the Vai language of Liberia. Its creation lies during the 30s of the 19th century with approximately 200 symbols.


Like the previous one, it belongs to Liberia, but from the Mendé language. It was devised to perfect the vai and to be able to translate the Koran.


It is a type of ancient writing, of what today in Africa is known as the Bamun language. During its development it had seven systems that modified, removed, created and added new characters, until it was a writing technique abandoned at the beginning of the 20th century.


It is also an African alpha syllabary, created at the end of the 20th century and is still in force. In fact, the schools of this continent include it in the educational curriculum. It has vowels and consonants. One of its rules is that a vowel can stand alone or form a syllable without using another character.

Linear A writing

It is a very old script, which lasted only two centuries; from XV to XVII before Christ and arose in Crete during the Minoan civilization.

Linear B writing

It is a form of Greek writing based on linear A, which was made on a wet clay tablet. His typography is fine curves that were then left to dry under the sun.

Logographic or ideographic writing

It is the writing used by the Chinese. It manifests itself with the combination of the symbols since one can mean something by itself and when combined it gives a very different meaning.

Sumerian script

It was used to keep accounts of the merchandise traded and was written on clay tablets, which were later converted into a cylinder with numerals.

hieratic script

It developed in parallel with hieroglyphs. Its difference is that hieratic writing was cursive with symbols joined by a ligature and sentences were built by separating them into pairs.

demotic script

It should be noted that this type of writing was done on papyrus, and on it was written in a mixed way. The writing was simplified hieroglyphics, on the other hand, it mixed the phonetic method with the ideographic one.

Hieroglyphic writing

Hieroglyphic writing is the best known ancient typography in our times. Its intention is to represent through symbols, words that could not be drawn and its evolution formed the hieratic script.

Writing and reading

These two are interrelated tools: in order to write it is necessary to first know the language, that is, to be able to read what is written and decipher its contents.

An illiterate person cannot write, since he cannot read.

Why is writing important?

Writing is probably the greatest of human inventions, which has enabled communication across distances and the preservation of knowledge throughout the centuries.

Thanks to writing, the accumulation of knowledge is possible, and that each new generation has greater knowledge available to them. Writing its origin history and types

Writing devices

As writing gained its importance in human civilization, more and better artifacts were invented for writing.

One of them is the quill pen dipped in a jar of vegetable ink: the stiff tip is used for writing in a western way while the other end is used for Asian calligraphy.

In normal use, they were replaced by the pencil (graphite wrapped in wood) and the ballpoint pen (a plastic device for gently pouring ink onto paper).

There are also much more complex inventions such as the teletype, the typewriter or the computer, which use keyboards made up of buttons.

Digital writing

The last step in the history of writing supports is the so-called electronic ink or virtual paper.

The new technology gave the possibility of writing on a virtual screen, on a cybernetic sheet of paper that does not physically exist until it is printed.

This revolution goes hand in hand with the emergence of computers, the Internet, and the digital culture born at the end of the 20th century. Writing its origin history and types

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