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A P P E R A N C E  o f  W R I T T E N  L A N G U A G E
     That's how the written language appeared. Originally it was only symbol depiction. Notions were presented in a conventional manner. Gradually the signs lost the visible resemblance with initial images.

Beatrice Andrea - Salvini

     The written language as a system of symbols appeared in the middle of the fourth millenium BC in Mesopotamia. Some time later, at the beginning of the second millenium BC, in another part of the world there appeared the Chinese written language - also in the form of pictograms. The history of the descent of the drawn pictographic writing, which was used by Egyptians & Maya Indians, is still unknown.
     Different writing systems aimed at depicting speech & thought images appeared as a result of stylization & combining the initially existing symbols. For example, the earliest Shumerian logograms, as well as the most ancient Chinese pictograms, depicted the basic notions; a reader was to find their interpretation through deciphering the text.
     So what is the function of writing? In China, for example, it was used for ritual purposes in order to communicate with the beyond. Only the priests of Egyptians & Maya Indians knew secrets of writing. The writing gains the power of law. In spite of the fact that the print invention took control of the writing, the return to the image & the fact that more & more new ideograms & pictograms appeared are the evidence of the continuing evolution of the written language.

Ksavier Perre

     At first the Arabians used a limited number of letters for that. But already in the VII c with the Islam penetration the writing gained an exceptional significance because it served as a visual expression of Allah's words. The regulated cuphic writing represents lines crossing at right angles, which makes it strict & powerful. The words are simplified, the tokens in a line now do not follow each other but soar in the space as if they have obtained weightlessness or form spiral lines following the shape of the minaret's rounded base.

Hassan Massudi

     According to the ancient tradition, the Chinese writing consists of more or less figurative tokens depicting living beings, things or natural phenomena. The main elements forming their base were of iconic, i. e. drawn-graphic, origin. The most ancient of the tokens we know are human figures drawn or scratched on the rock surfaces. Eventually these pictograms have undergone considerable changes & become more schematic. From the simple tokens ideograms arose, allowing to express actions, ideas & more complicated notions.

Renee Tan-Loek & Pierre Colombelle

     In order to read the texts dealing mainly with astronomic observations or informing of the reigns' beginning & ending, one had to pass on from one wall to another. The pictographic writing of the Central America nationalities is a real picture film where each element is important. The picture was to be read as a whole, there was nothing unnecessary or decorative. The Maya, for example, followed line principle in arrangement of some tokens leaving vertical & horizontal margins free for other information. The documents of Aztecs & Mishtecs have retained landscapes & scenes where different topics, interweaving with each other, spread into a story. In each case the picture itself contains a prompt pointing out the direction of reading. Thus the text represents a combination of logography & iconography.

Hoakin Galarsa

     The origin of writing is traditionally explained by its sacral nature. When creating the Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, as well as some other writing systems of the West Africa native tribes, the divine inspiration might take place.

David Dalby

     "The sign of Happiness" on a wooden slab. Japan.
The materials used in this article were taken from "UNESKO-Courier" (June, 1995).

"the Book" project