Writing system

A writing system is a 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.[1] Writing systems require 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, on a blackboard, in sand, or by skywriting. Reading a text can be accomplished purely in the mind as an internal process, or expressed orally.

Writing systems can be placed into broad categories such as alphabets, syllabaries, or logographies, although any particular system may have attributes of more than one category. In the alphabetic category, a standard set of letters represent speech sounds. In a syllabary, each symbol correlates to a syllable or mora. In a logography, each character represents a semantic unit such as a word or morpheme. Abjads differ from alphabets in that vowels are not indicated, and in abugidas or alphasyllabaries each character represents a consonant–vowel pairing. Alphabets typically use a set of less than 100 symbols to fully express a language, whereas syllabaries can have several hundred, and logographies can have thousands of symbols. Many writing systems also include a special set of symbols known as punctuation to help capture nuances and variations in the message's meaning that are communicated verbally by cues in timing, tone, accent, inflection or intonation.

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.

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;[2]
  • 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).
Other Languages
Afrikaans: Skryfstelsel
Alemannisch: Schrift
العربية: نظام كتابة
Aymar aru: Qillqa
azərbaycanca: Yazı sistemi
Bân-lâm-gú: Bûn-jī hē-thóng
башҡортса: Яҙма (Әлифба)
беларуская: Пісьменства
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Пісьменства
भोजपुरी: लिखाई
Bikol Central: Sistema nin pagsusurat
български: Писменост
Boarisch: Schrift
bosanski: Pismo (jezik)
brezhoneg: Doare-skrivañ
Чӑвашла: Çырулăх
čeština: Písmo
dansk: Skrift
Deutsch: Schrift
Diné bizaad: Saad bee álʼíní
Ελληνικά: Σύστημα γραφής
Esperanto: Skribsistemo
Frysk: Skrift
ГӀалгӀай: Йоазув
한국어: 문자
հայերեն: Գիր
हिन्दी: लिपि
hrvatski: Pismo
Bahasa Indonesia: Aksara
íslenska: Skrifletur
עברית: כתב
Jawa: Aksara
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಲಿಪಿ
къарачай-малкъар: Джазма
ქართული: დამწერლობა
қазақша: Жазу
Kiswahili: Maandishi
latviešu: Rakstība
Lëtzebuergesch: Schrëft
lietuvių: Rašto sistema
Limburgs: Sjrifsysteem
Lingua Franca Nova: Sistemes de scrive
Livvinkarjala: Kirjutussistiemu
मैथिली: लिपि
македонски: Писмо
മലയാളം: ലിപി
मराठी: लिपी
მარგალური: ჭარალუა
مازِرونی: خط
Bahasa Melayu: Sistem tulisan
Nederlands: Schrift
नेपाली: लिपि
नेपाल भाषा: लिपि
日本語: 文字
Nordfriisk: Skraft
norsk nynorsk: Skriftsystem
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Yozuv
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਲਿਪੀ
پنجابی: لپی
polski: System pisma
português: Sistema de escrita
Runa Simi: Qillqa
русский: Письменность
संस्कृतम्: लिपयः
shqip: Shkrimi
Simple English: Writing system
slovenčina: Písmo (jazykoveda)
slovenščina: Pisava
српски / srpski: Писмо
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Pismo (znakovi)
Basa Sunda: Aksara
svenska: Skrift
татарча/tatarça: Язу системасы
ತುಳು: ಲಿಪಿ
Türkçe: Yazı sistemi
українська: Писемність
Vahcuengh: Cihsaw
Tiếng Việt: Hệ chữ viết
文言: 文字
吴语: 文字
ייִדיש: שריפט
粵語: 文字
中文: 文字