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Writing system

writing systems, writing system of mesopotamia
A writing system is any conventional method of visually representing verbal communication While both writing and speech are useful in conveying messages, writing differs in also being a reliable form of information storage and transfer The processes of encoding and decoding writing systems involve shared understanding between writers and readers of the meaning behind the sets of characters that make up a script Writing is usually recorded onto a durable medium, such as paper or electronic storage, although non-durable methods may also be used, such as writing on a computer display, in sand, or by skywriting

The general attributes of writing systems can be placed into broad categories such as alphabets, syllabaries, or logographies Any particular system can have attributes of more than one category In the alphabetic category, there is a standard set of letters basic written symbols or graphemes of consonants and vowels that encode based on the general principle that the letters or letter pair/groups represent speech sounds In a syllabary, each symbol correlates to a syllable or mora In a logography, each character represents a word, morpheme, or other semantic units Other categories include abjads, which differ from alphabets in that vowels are not indicated, and abugidas or alphasyllabaries, with each character representing a consonant–vowel pairing Alphabets typically use a set of 20-to-35 symbols to fully express a language, whereas syllabaries can have 80-to-100, and logographies can have several hundreds of symbols

Most systems will typically have an ordering of its symbol elements so that groups of them can be coded into larger clusters like words or acronyms generally lexemes, giving rise to many more possibilities permutations in meanings than the symbols can convey by themselves Systems will also enable the stringing together of these smaller groupings sometimes referred to by the generic term 'character strings' in order to enable a full expression of the language The reading step can be accomplished purely in the mind as an internal process, or expressed orally A special set of symbols known as punctuation is used to aid in structure and organization of many writing systems and can be used to help capture nuances and variations in the message's meaning that are communicated verbally by cues in timing, tone, accent, inflection or intonation A writing system will also typically have a method for formatting recorded messages that follows the spoken version's rules like its grammar and syntax so that the reader will have the meaning of the intended message accurately preserved

Writing systems were preceded by proto-writing, which used pictograms, ideograms and other mnemonic symbols Proto-writing lacked the ability to capture and express a full range of thoughts and ideas The invention of writing systems, which dates back to the beginning of the Bronze Age in the late Neolithic Era of the late 4th millennium BC, enabled the accurate durable recording of human history in a manner that was not prone to the same types of error to which oral history is vulnerable Soon after, writing provided a reliable form of long distance communication With the advent of publishing, it provided the medium for an early form of mass communication Secure written communications were also made more reliable with the invention of encryption

The creation of a new alphabetic writing system for a language with an existing logographic writing system is called alphabetization, as when the People’s Republic of China studied the prospect of alphabetizing the Chinese languages with Latin script, Cyrillic script, Arabic script, and even numbers, although the most common instance of it, converting to Latin script, is usually called romanization


  • 1 General properties
  • 2 Basic terminology
  • 3 History
  • 4 Functional classification
    • 41 Logographic systems
    • 42 Syllabic systems: syllabary
    • 43 Segmental systems: Alphabets
    • 44 Featural systems
    • 45 Ambiguous systems
  • 5 Graphic classification
  • 6 Directionality
  • 7 On computers
  • 8 See also
  • 9 References
    • 91 Citations
    • 92 Sources
  • 10 External links

General properties

Chinese characters 漢字 are morpho-syllabic Each one represents a syllable with a distinct meaning, but some characters may have multiple meanings or pronunciations

Writing systems are distinguished from other possible symbolic communication systems in that a writing system is always associated with at least one spoken language In contrast, visual representations such as drawings, paintings, and non-verbal items on maps, such as contour lines, are not language-related Some symbols on information signs, such as the symbols for male and female, are also not language related, but can grow to become part of language if they are often used in conjunction with other language elements Some other symbols, such as numerals and the ampersand, are not directly linked to any specific language, but are often used in writing and thus must be considered part of writing systems

Every human community possesses language, which many regard as an innate and defining condition of humanity However, the development of writing systems, and the process by which they have supplanted traditional oral systems of communication, have been sporadic, uneven and slow Once established, writing systems generally change more slowly than their spoken counterparts Thus they often preserve features and expressions which are no longer current in the spoken language One of the great benefits of writing systems is that they can preserve a permanent record of information expressed in a language

All writing systems require:

  • at least one set of defined base elements or symbols, individually termed signs and collectively called a script;
  • at least one set of rules and conventions orthography understood and shared by a community, which assigns meaning to the base elements graphemes, their ordering and relations to one another;
  • at least one language generally spoken whose constructions are represented and can be recalled by the interpretation of these elements and rules;
  • some physical means of distinctly representing the symbols by application to a permanent or semi-permanent medium, so they may be interpreted usually visually, but tactile systems have also been devised

Basic terminology

A Specimen of typefaces and styles, by William Caslon, letter founder; from the 1728 Cyclopaedia

In the examination of individual scripts, the study of writing systems has developed along partially independent lines Thus, the terminology employed differs somewhat from field to field

The generic term text refers to an instance of written material The act of composing and recording a text may be referred to as writing, and the act of viewing and interpreting the text as reading Orthography refers to the method and rules of observed writing structure literal meaning, "correct writing", and particularly for alphabetic systems, includes the concept of spelling

A grapheme is a specific base unit of a writing system Graphemes are the minimally significant elements which taken together comprise the set of "building blocks" out of which texts made up of one or more writing systems may be constructed, along with rules of correspondence and use The concept is similar to that of the phoneme used in the study of spoken languages For example, in the Latin-based writing system of standard contemporary English, examples of graphemes include the majuscule and minuscule forms of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet corresponding to various phonemes, marks of punctuation mostly non-phonemic, and a few other symbols such as those for numerals logograms for numbers

An individual grapheme may be represented in a wide variety of ways, where each variation is visually distinct in some regard, but all are interpreted as representing the "same" grapheme These individual variations are known as allographs of a grapheme compare with the term allophone used in linguistic study For example, the minuscule letter a has different allographs when written as a cursive, block, or typed letter The choice of a particular allograph may be influenced by the medium used, the writing instrument, the stylistic choice of the writer, the preceding and following graphemes in the text, the time available for writing, the intended audience, and the largely unconscious features of an individual's handwriting

The terms glyph, sign and character are sometimes used to refer to a grapheme Common usage varies from discipline to discipline; compare cuneiform sign, Maya glyph, Chinese character The glyphs of most writing systems are made up of lines or strokes and are therefore called linear, but there are glyphs in non-linear writing systems made up of other types of marks, such as Cuneiform and Braille

Writing systems are conceptual systems, as are the languages to which they refer Writing systems may be regarded as complete according to the extent to which they are able to represent all that may be expressed in the spoken language


Main article: History of writing Table of scripts in the introduction to Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Monier Monier-Williams

Writing systems were preceded by proto-writing, systems of ideographic and/or early mnemonic symbols The best known examples are:

  • Jiahu symbols, carved on tortoise shells in Jiahu, c 6600 BC
  • Vinča symbols Tărtăria tablets, c5300 BC
  • Early Indus script, c 3500 BC
  • Nsibidi script, c before 500 AD

The invention of the first writing systems is roughly contemporary with the beginning of the Bronze Age in the late Neolithic of the late 4th millennium BC The Sumerian archaic cuneiform script and the Egyptian hieroglyphs are generally considered the earliest writing systems, both emerging out of their ancestral proto-literate symbol systems from 3400 to 3200 BC with earliest coherent texts from about 2600 BC It is generally agreed that Sumerian writing was an independent invention; however, it is debated whether Egyptian writing was developed completely independently of Sumerian, or was a case of cultural diffusion

A similar debate exists for the Chinese script, which developed around 1200 BC Chinese script are probably an independent invention, because there is no evidence of contact between China and the literate civilizations of the Near East, and because of the distinct differences between the Mesopotamian and Chinese approaches to logography and phonetic representation

The pre-Columbian Mesoamerican writing systems including among others Olmec and Maya scripts are generally believed to have had independent origins

It is thought that the first consonantal alphabetic writing appeared before 2000 BC, as a representation of language developed by Semitic tribes in the Sinai-peninsula see History of the alphabet Most other alphabets in the world today either descended from this one innovation, many via the Phoenician alphabet, or were directly inspired by its design

The first true alphabet is the Greek script which consistently represents vowels since 800 BC The Latin alphabet, a direct descendant, is by far the most common writing system in use

Functional classification

For lists of writing systems by type, see List of writing systems This textbook for Puyi shows the English alphabet Although the English letters run from left to right, the Chinese explanations run from top to bottom then right to left, as traditionally written

Several approaches have been taken to classify writing systems, the most common and basic one is a broad division into three categories: logographic, syllabic, and alphabetic or segmental; however, all three may be found in any given writing system in varying proportions, often making it difficult to categorise a system uniquely The term complex system is sometimes used to describe those where the admixture makes classification problematic Modern linguists regard such approaches, including Diringer's

  • pictographic script
  • ideographic script
  • analytic transitional script
  • phonetic script
  • alphabetic script

as too simplistic, often considering the categories to be incomparable Hill split writing into three major categories of linguistic analysis, one of which covers discourses and is not usually considered writing proper:

  • discourse system
    • iconic discourse system, eg Amerindian
    • conventional discourse system, eg Quipu
  • morphemic writing system, eg Egyptian, Sumerian, Maya, Chinese
  • phonemic writing system
    • partial phonemic writing system, eg Egyptian, Hebrew, Arabic
    • poly-phonemic writing system, eg Linear B, Kana, Cherokee
    • mono-phonemic writing system
      • phonemic writing system, eg Ancient Greek, Old English
      • morpho-phonemic writing system, eg German, Modern English

DeFrancis, criticizing Sampson's introduction of semasiographic writing and featural alphabets stresses the phonographic quality of writing proper

  • pictures
    • nonwriting
    • writing
      • rebus
        • syllabic systems
          • pure syllabic, eg Linear B, Yi, Kana, Cherokee
          • morpho-syllabic, eg Sumerian, Chinese, Mayan
          • consonantal
            • morpho-consonantal, eg Egyptian
            • pure consonantal, eg Phoenician
            • alphabetic
              • pure phonemic, eg Greek
              • morpho-phonemic, eg English

Faber categorizes phonographic writing by two levels, linearity and coding:

  • logographic, eg Chinese, Ancient Egyptian
  • phonographic
    • syllabically linear
      • syllabically coded, eg Kana, Akkadian
      • segmentally coded, eg Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopian, Amharic, Devanagari
    • segmentally linear
      • complete alphabet, eg Greco-Latin, Cyrillic
      • defective, eg Ugaritic, Phoenician, Aramaic, Old South Arabian, Old Hebrew
Classification by Daniels
Type Each symbol represents Example
Logographic morpheme Chinese characters
Syllabic syllable or mora Japanese kana
Alphabetic phoneme consonant or vowel Latin alphabet
Abugida phoneme consonant+vowel Indian Devanāgarī
Abjad phoneme consonant Arabic alphabet
Featural phonetic feature Korean hangul

Logographic systems

Main article: Logogram Early Chinese character for sun ri, 1200 BC Modern Chinese character ri meaning sun or day

A logogram is a single written character which represents a complete grammatical word Most Chinese characters are classified as logograms

As each character represents a single word or, more precisely, a morpheme, many logograms are required to write all the words of language The vast array of logograms and the memorization of what they mean are major disadvantages of logographic systems over alphabetic systems However, since the meaning is inherent to the symbol, the same logographic system can theoretically be used to represent different languages In practice, the ability to communicate across languages only works for the closely related varieties of Chinese, as differences in syntax reduce the crosslinguistic portability of a given logographic system Japanese uses Chinese logograms extensively in its writing systems, with most of the symbols carrying the same or similar meanings However, the grammatical differences between Japanese and Chinese are significant enough that a long Chinese text is not readily understandable to a Japanese reader without any knowledge of basic Chinese grammar, though short and concise phrases such as those on signs and newspaper headlines are much easier to comprehend

While most languages do not use wholly logographic writing systems, many languages use some logograms A good example of modern western logograms are the Hindu-Arabic numerals: everyone who uses those symbols understands what 1 means whether he or she calls it one, eins, uno, yi, ichi, ehad, ena, or jedan Other western logograms include the ampersand &, used for and, the at sign @, used in many contexts for at, the percent sign % and the many signs representing units of currency $, ¢, €, £, ¥ and so on

Logograms are sometimes called ideograms, a word that refers to symbols which graphically represent abstract ideas, but linguists avoid this use, as Chinese characters are often semantic–phonetic compounds, symbols which include an element that represents the meaning and a phonetic complement element that represents the pronunciation Some nonlinguists distinguish between lexigraphy and ideography, where symbols in lexigraphies represent words and symbols in ideographies represent words or morphemes

The most important and, to a degree, the only surviving modern logographic writing system is the Chinese one, whose characters have been used with varying degrees of modification in varieties of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and other east Asian languages Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and the Mayan writing system are also systems with certain logographic features, although they have marked phonetic features as well and are no longer in current use Vietnamese speakers switched to the Latin alphabet in the 20th century and the use of Chinese characters in Korean is increasingly rare The Japanese writing system includes several distinct forms of writing including logography

Syllabic systems: syllabary

Main article: Syllabary Bilingual stop sign in English and the Cherokee syllabary, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Another type of writing system with systematic syllabic linear symbols, the abugidas, is discussed below as well

As logographic writing systems use a single symbol for an entire word, a syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent or approximate syllables, which make up words A symbol in a syllabary typically represents a consonant sound followed by a vowel sound, or just a vowel alone

In a "true syllabary", there is no systematic graphic similarity between phonetically related characters though some do have graphic similarity for the vowels That is, the characters for /ke/, /ka/ and /ko/ have no similarity to indicate their common "k" sound voiceless velar plosive More recent creations such as the Cree syllabary embody a system of varying signs, which can best be seen when arranging the syllabogram set in an onset–coda or onset–rime table

Syllabaries are best suited to languages with relatively simple syllable structure, such as Japanese The English language, on the other hand, allows complex syllable structures, with a relatively large inventory of vowels and complex consonant clusters, making it cumbersome to write English words with a syllabary To write English using a syllabary, every possible syllable in English would have to have a separate symbol, and whereas the number of possible syllables in Japanese is around 100, in English there are approximately 15,000 to 16,000

However, syllabaries with much larger inventories do exist The Yi script, for example, contains 756 different symbols or 1,164, if symbols with a particular tone diacritic are counted as separate syllables, as in Unicode The Chinese script, when used to write Middle Chinese and the modern varieties of Chinese, also represents syllables, and includes separate glyphs for nearly all of the many thousands of syllables in Middle Chinese; however, because it primarily represents morphemes and includes different characters to represent homophonous morphemes with different meanings, it is normally considered a logographic script rather than a syllabary

Other languages that use true syllabaries include Mycenaean Greek Linear B and Indigenous languages of the Americas such as Cherokee Several languages of the Ancient Near East used forms of cuneiform, which is a syllabary with some non-syllabic elements

Segmental systems: Alphabets

Main article: Alphabet

An alphabet is a small set of letters basic written symbols, each of which roughly represents or represented historically a phoneme of a spoken language The word alphabet is derived from alpha and beta, the first two symbols of the Greek alphabet

The first type of alphabet that was developed was the abjad An abjad is an alphabetic writing system where there is one symbol per consonant Abjads differ from other alphabets in that they have characters only for consonantal sounds Vowels are not usually marked in abjads

All known abjads except maybe Tifinagh belong to the Semitic family of scripts, and derive from the original Northern Linear Abjad The reason for this is that Semitic languages and the related Berber languages have a morphemic structure which makes the denotation of vowels redundant in most cases

Some abjads, like Arabic and Hebrew, have markings for vowels as well However, they use them only in special contexts, such as for teaching Many scripts derived from abjads have been extended with vowel symbols to become full alphabets Of these, the most famous example is the derivation of the Greek alphabet from the Phoenician abjad This has mostly happened when the script was adapted to a non-Semitic language

The term abjad takes its name from the old order of the Arabic alphabet's consonants 'alif, bā', jīm, dāl, though the word may have earlier roots in Phoenician or Ugaritic "Abjad" is still the word for alphabet in Arabic, Malay and Indonesian

A Bible printed with Balinese script

An abugida is an alphabetic writing system whose basic signs denote consonants with an inherent vowel and where consistent modifications of the basic sign indicate other following vowels than the inherent one

Thus, in an abugida there may or may not be a sign for "k" with no vowel, but also one for "ka" if "a" is the inherent vowel, and "ke" is written by modifying the "ka" sign in a way that is consistent with how one would modify "la" to get "le" In many abugidas the modification is the addition of a vowel sign, but other possibilities are imaginable and used, such as rotation of the basic sign, addition of diacritical marks and so on

The contrast with "true syllabaries" is that the latter have one distinct symbol per possible syllable, and the signs for each syllable have no systematic graphic similarity The graphic similarity of most abugidas comes from the fact that they are derived from abjads, and the consonants make up the symbols with the inherent vowel and the new vowel symbols are markings added on to the base symbol

In the Ge'ez script, for which the linguistic term abugida was named, the vowel modifications do not always appear systematic, although they originally were more so Canadian Aboriginal syllabics can be considered abugidas, although they are rarely thought of in those terms The largest single group of abugidas is the Brahmic family of scripts, however, which includes nearly all the scripts used in India and Southeast Asia

The name abugida is derived from the first four characters of an order of the Ge'ez script used in some contexts It was borrowed from Ethiopian languages as a linguistic term by Peter T Daniels

Featural systems

Main article: Featural writing system

A featural script represents finer detail than an alphabet Here symbols do not represent whole phonemes, but rather the elements features that make up the phonemes, such as voicing or its place of articulation Theoretically, each feature could be written with a separate letter; and abjads or abugidas, or indeed syllabaries, could be featural, but the only prominent system of this sort is Korean hangul In hangul, the featural symbols are combined into alphabetic letters, and these letters are in turn joined into syllabic blocks, so that the system combines three levels of phonological representation

Many scholars, eg John DeFrancis, reject this class or at least labeling hangul as such The Korean script is a conscious script creation by literate experts, which Daniels calls a "sophisticated grammatogeny" These include stenographies and constructed scripts of hobbyists and fiction writers such as Tengwar, many of which feature advanced graphic designs corresponding to phonologic properties The basic unit of writing in these systems can map to anything from phonemes to words It has been shown that even the Latin script has sub-character "features"

Ambiguous systems

Most writing systems are not purely one type The English writing system, for example, includes numerals and other logograms such as #, $, and &, and the phonemic letter clusters are a complex match to sound As mentioned above, all logographic systems have phonetic components as well, whether along the lines of a syllabary, such as Chinese "logo-syllabic", or an abjad, as in Egyptian "logo-consonantal"

Some scripts, however, are truly ambiguous The semi-syllabaries of ancient Spain were syllabic for plosives such as p, t, k, but alphabetic for other consonants In some versions, vowels were written redundantly after syllabic letters, conforming to an alphabetic orthography Old Persian cuneiform was similar Of 23 consonants including null, seven were fully syllabic, thirteen were purely alphabetic, and for the other three, there was one letter for /Cu/ and another for both /Ca/ and /Ci/ However, all vowels were written overtly regardless; as in the Brahmic abugidas, the /Ca/ letter was used for a bare consonant

The zhuyin phonetic glossing script for Chinese divides syllables in two or three, but into onset, medial, and rime rather than consonant and vowel Pahawh Hmong is similar, but can be considered to divide syllables into either onset-rime or consonant-vowel all consonant clusters and diphthongs are written with single letters; as the latter, it is equivalent to an abugida but with the roles of consonant and vowel reversed Other scripts are intermediate between the categories of alphabet, abjad and abugida, so there may be disagreement on how they should be classified

Graphic classification

Perhaps the primary graphic distinction made in classifications is that of linearity Linear writing systems are those in which the characters are composed of lines, such as the Latin alphabet and Chinese characters Chinese characters are considered linear whether they are written with a ball-point pen or a calligraphic brush, or cast in bronze Similarly, Egyptian hieroglyphs and Maya glyphs were often painted in linear outline form, but in formal contexts they were carved in bas-relief The earliest examples of writing are linear: the Sumerian script of c 3300 BC was linear, though its cuneiform descendants were not Non-linear systems, on the other hand, such as braille, are not composed of lines, no matter what instrument is used to write them

Cuneiform was probably the earliest non-linear writing Its glyphs were formed by pressing the end of a reed stylus into moist clay, not by tracing lines in the clay with the stylus as had been done previously The result was a radical transformation of the appearance of the script

Braille is a non-linear adaptation of the Latin alphabet that completely abandoned the Latin forms The letters are composed of raised bumps on the writing substrate, which can be leather Louis Braille's original material, stiff paper, plastic or metal

There are also transient non-linear adaptations of the Latin alphabet, including Morse code, the manual alphabets of various sign languages, and semaphore, in which flags or bars are positioned at prescribed angles However, if "writing" is defined as a potentially permanent means of recording information, then these systems do not qualify as writing at all, since the symbols disappear as soon as they are used Instead, these transient systems serve as signals


Overview of the writing directions used in the world See also: Right-to-left, Horizontal and vertical writing in East Asian scripts, Bi-directional text, and Mirror writing

Scripts are also graphically characterized by the direction in which they are written Egyptian hieroglyphs were written either left to right or right to left, with the animal and human glyphs turned to face the beginning of the line The early alphabet could be written in multiple directions: horizontally side to side, or vertically up or down Prior to standardization, alphabetical writing was done both left-to-right LTR or sinistrodextrally and right-to-left RTL or dextrosinistrally It was most commonly written boustrophedonically: starting in one horizontal direction, then turning at the end of the line and reversing direction

The Greek alphabet and its successors settled on a left-to-right pattern, from the top to the bottom of the page Other scripts, such as Arabic and Hebrew, came to be written right-to-left Scripts that incorporate Chinese characters have traditionally been written vertically top-to-bottom, from the right to the left of the page, but nowadays are frequently written left-to-right, top-to-bottom, due to Western influence, a growing need to accommodate terms in the Latin script, and technical limitations in popular electronic document formats Chinese characters sometimes, as in signage, especially when signifying something old or traditional, may also be written from right to left The Old Uyghur alphabet and its descendants are unique in being written top-to-bottom, left-to-right; this direction originated from an ancestral Semitic direction by rotating the page 90° counter-clockwise to conform to the appearance of vertical Chinese writing Several scripts used in the Philippines and Indonesia, such as Hanunó'o, are traditionally written with lines moving away from the writer, from bottom to top, but are read horizontally left to right While Ogham is written bottom to top and read vertically, commonly on the corner of a stone

On computers

In computers and telecommunication systems, writing systems are generally not codified as such, but graphemes and other grapheme-like units that are required for text processing are represented by "characters" that typically manifest in encoded form There are many character encoding standards and related technologies, such as ISO/IEC 8859-1 a character repertoire and encoding scheme oriented toward the Latin script, CJK Chinese, Japanese, Korean and bi-directional text Today, many such standards are re-defined in a collective standard, the ISO/IEC 10646 "Universal Character Set", and a parallel, closely related expanded work, The Unicode Standard Both are generally encompassed by the term Unicode In Unicode, each character, in every language's writing system, is simplifying slightly given a unique identification number, known as its code point Computer operating systems use code points to look up characters in the font file, so the characters can be displayed on the page or screen

A keyboard is the device most commonly used for writing via computer Each key is associated with a standard code which the keyboard sends to the computer when it is pressed By using a combination of alphabetic keys with modifier keys such as Ctrl, Alt, Shift and AltGr, various character codes are generated and sent to the CPU The operating system intercepts and converts those signals to the appropriate characters based on the keyboard layout and input method, and then delivers those converted codes and characters to the running application software, which in turn looks up the appropriate glyph in the currently used font file, and requests the operating system to draw these on the screen

See also

  • Languages portal
  • Artificial script
  • Calligraphy
  • Digraphia
  • Formal language
  • ISO 15924
  • Pasigraphy
  • Penmanship
  • Transliteration
  • Written language



  1. ^ "Definitions of writing systems" Omniglot: The Online Encyclopedia of Writing Systems and Languages wwwomniglotcom Retrieved 2013-06-29 
  2. ^ Hessler, Peter 2006, "Artifact K: The Lost Alphabets", Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China's Past and Present, Harper Collins, pp 401–417, ISBN 9780060826581 
  3. ^ Coulmas, Florian 2003 Writing systems An introduction Cambridge University Press pg 35
  4. ^ David N Keightley, Noel Barnard The Origins of Chinese civilization Page 415-416
  5. ^ Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature By Dr Gwendolyn Leick Pg 3
  6. ^ Coulmas, Florian 1996 The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd ISBN 0-631-21481-X 
  7. ^ Millard 1986, p 396
  8. ^ Haarmann 2004, p 96
  9. ^ David Diringer 1962: Writing London
  10. ^ Archibald Hill 1967: The typology of Writing systems In: William A Austin ed, Papers in Linguistics in Honor of Leon Dostert The Hague, 92–99
  11. ^ John DeFrancis 1989: Visible speech The diverse oneness of writing systems Honolulu
  12. ^ Geoffrey Sampson 1986: Writing Systems A Linguistic Approach London
  13. ^ Alice Faber 1992: Phonemic segmentation as an epiphenomenon Evidence from the history of alphabetic writing In: Pamela Downing et al ed: The Linguistics of Literacy Amsterdam 111–134
  14. ^ See Primus, Beatrice 2004, "A featural analysis of the Modern Roman Alphabet" PDF, Written Language and Literacy, 7 2: 235–274, retrieved 2015-12-05 
  15. ^ Threatte, Leslie 1980 The grammar of Attic inscriptions W de Gruyter pp 54–55 ISBN 3-11-007344-7 


  • Cisse, Mamadou 2006 "Ecrits et écritures en Afrique de l'Ouest" Sudlangues n°6, http://wwwsudlanguessn/spipphparticle101
  • Coulmas, Florian 1996 The Blackwell encyclopedia of writing systems Oxford: Blackwell
  • Coulmas, Florian 2003 Writing systems An introduction Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Daniels, Peter T, and William Bright, eds 1996 The World's Writing Systems Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-507993-0
  • DeFrancis, John 1990 The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press ISBN 0-8248-1068-6
  • Haarmann, Harald 2004 Geschichte der Schrift in German 2nd ed München: C H Beck ISBN 3-406-47998-7 
  • Hannas, William C 1997 Asia's Orthographic Dilemma University of Hawaii Press ISBN 0-8248-1892-X paperback; ISBN 0-8248-1842-3 hardcover
  • Millard, A R 1986 "The Infancy of the Alphabet" World Archaeology 17 3: 390–398 doi:101080/0043824319869979978 
  • Nishiyama, Yutaka 2010 The Mathematics of Direction in Writing International Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics, Vol61, No3, 347-356
  • Rogers, Henry 2005 Writing Systems: A Linguistic Approach Oxford: Blackwell ISBN 0-631-23463-2 hardcover; ISBN 0-631-23464-0 paperback
  • Sampson, Geoffrey 1985 Writing Systems Stanford, California: Stanford University Press ISBN 0-8047-1756-7 paper, ISBN 0-8047-1254-9 cloth
  • Smalley, W A ed 1964 Orthography studies: articles on new writing systems London: United Bible Society

External links

  • Writing Systems Research Free first issue of a journal devoted to research on writing systems
  • Arch Chinese Traditional & Simplified Chinese character writing animations and native speaker pronunciations
  • Sensible Chinese A practical guide to approaching the Chinese writing system
  • decodeunicode Unicode Wiki with all 98,884 Unicode 50 characters as gifs in three sizes
  • African writing systems
  • Omniglot: The Online Encyclopedia of Writing Systems and Languages
  • Ancient Scripts Introduction to different writing systems
  • Alphabets of Europe
  • Elian script a writing system that combines the linearity of spelling with the free-form aspects of drawing
  • Russian Written of the World
  • Hungarian Ultrawebhu - főoldal

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