Handwriting History

1. Ancient Communication

Verbal to Pictographs

In the ancient days, communications were initiated in verbal form. Cultures adapting rituals and stories passing from one to another generation became the mode of retaining history. Written communication came into existence in the form of simple drawings that became pictorial inscriptions. These inscriptions developed into standard Pictographs. Mohan-jo-daro and Harrappan civilization adapted the pictorial form at its best in their daily use through Seals and Mudras, both as a mode of communication and historical documentation.

Written communication - The development of standardized symbols

Writing is a form of simply coded, standardized symbol of agreed upon shapes and sizes. Different symbols got developed in different cultural communities which are used to interact with each other by making repeated use of the same. The human beings started to write some 8000 years ago, in the form of symbols. This over centuries developed into a set pattern, which generally came to be known as “language”.

The major contributors in development

Historians are of the opinion that the three major contributors to the development of writing came from Sumerian-cuneiform in 3000 BC, Egyptian- hieroglyphs in 2800 BC and the Chinese-Kanji in 1800 BC.

Ideographs to Phonograms

Simple Pictographs were used to represent people, places and things which were later combined to express ideas and thus became the ideographs, evolving beyond the original drawings. Different cultures adapted different methods of writing the ideographs. The Sumerian Scribes were written from top to bottom and right to left.
Various Ideographs were combined to meet the Phonetic requirements of the developing languages. This combination of various shorter ideographs came to be known as Phonograms.

2. Modern Writing

The Use of ink

The use of ink is one of the greatest inventions that accelerated the development of modern written communication. This can be traced back to the use of “Papyrus and Reed Brush” by the Egyptians, which dates back to 2000 B.C. It is also known as Hierographs. These were further simplified in 1500 B.C. for Priestly Writing and came to be known as Hieratic Script. With more wide spread use among the common masses by 500 B.C., it was called the Demotic Script or the Script of People.

The progressive development of alphabets

22 Phonetically based symbols were accepted around 1500 B.C. and were widely used in Greece. Under Alexander the Great, these symbols spread across Egypt, Persia and India due to the expansion in 500 B.C.

By 600 A.D. Roman script came into existence and was widely accepted in both lower and upper cases. The space between words was also added to enhance readability.

During the reign of Charlemagne, Charles the Great, Emperor of the holy Romane Empire, writing was standardized. There were three additions of alphabets v, u and j. Then the existence of 26 alphabets in the Roman Script came into being between 700 A.D to 1500 A.D.

Institutions for development and mass awareness

Mid 1700 AD saw many institutions being established in order to spread the 26 alphabets, its usage and mass awareness. The growth of the British Empire proved to be one of the major contributors in the wide spread development and acceptance of the modern Roman script in the so called Common Wealth Countries.

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