Monday, March 10, 2014
The History of Writing
This cover has four stamps issued by the erstwhile Republic of Venda which depict four different styles in The History of Writing as described in the following paragraphs.
(10c) stamp showing the Cuneiform script is one of the earliest known systems of writing, distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, made by means of a blunt reed for a stylus. The name cuneiform itself simply means "wedge shaped", from the Latin cuneus "wedge" andforma "shape," and came into English usage "probably from Old French cunéiforme."
Emerging in Sumer in the late 4th millennium BC (the Uruk IV period), cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs. In the third millennium, the pictorial representations became simplified and more abstract as the number of characters in use grew smaller, from about 1,000 in the Early Bronze Age to about 400 in Late Bronze Age (Hittite cuneiform).
The original Sumerian script was adapted for the writing of the Akkadian, Eblaite, Elamite, Hittite, Luwian, Hattic, Hurrian, and Urartian languages, and it inspired the Ugaritic and Old Persian alphabets. Cuneiform writing was gradually replaced by the Phoenician alphabet during the Neo-Assyrian Empire. By the 2nd century AD, the script had become extinct, and all knowledge of how to read it was lost until it began to be deciphered in the 19th century.
Between half a million and two million cuneiform tablets are estimated to have been excavated in modern times. Of these, only approximately 100,000 have been published.
(20c) Evolution of Chinese Characters. Written Chinese (Chinese: 中文; pinyin: zhōngwén) comprises Chinese characters used to represent the Chinese language, and the rules about how they are arranged and punctuated. Chinese characters do not constitute an alphabet or a compact syllabary. Rather, the writing system is roughly logosyllabic; that is, a character generally represents one syllable of spoken Chinese and may be a word on its own or a part of a polysyllabic word. The characters themselves are often composed of parts that may represent physical objects, abstract notions, or pronunciation.
Various current Chinese characters have been traced back to the late Shang Dynasty about 1200–1050 BC, but the process of creating characters is thought to have begun some centuries earlier. After a period of variation and evolution, Chinese characters were standardized under the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC). Over the millennia, these characters have evolved into well-developed styles of Chinese calligraphy.
Some Chinese characters have been adopted as part of the writing systems of other East Asian languages, such as Japanese and Korean. Literacy requires the memorization of a great many characters: Educated Chinese know about 4,000; educated Japanese perhaps about 3,000. The large number of Chinese characters has in part led to the adoption of Western alphabets as an auxiliary means of representing Chinese. Chinese speakers in disparate dialect groups are able to communicate through writing, because standard written Chinese is based on a standard spoken language ("Mandarin"). Although most other varieties of Chinese are not written, there is a well-developed Written Cantonese tradition.
(25c) Cretan hieroglyphs are undeciphered hieroglyphs found on artefacts of early Bronze Age Crete, during the Minoan era. It predates Linear A by about a century, but continued to be used in parallel for most of their history.
In addition to the possible evolution of the hieroglyphs into the linear scripts, relations to Anatolian hieroglyphs have been suggested.
(40c) Egyptian hieroglyphs (god's words) were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood. Less formal variations of the script, called hieratic and demotic, are technically not hieroglyphs.
Thank you very much Maria for this interesting FDC with these four wonderful stamps.