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 Thus they often preserve features and expressions which are no longer current in the spoken language.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. 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 or spoken material with the latter having been transcribed in some way.
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. 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 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, while a partial writing system is limited in what it can convey.
Writing systems can be independent from languages, one can have multiple writing systems for a language, e. Chinese characters were also borrowed by variant countries as their early writing systems, e.
To represent a conceptual system , one uses one or more languages, e. The best known examples are:. The invention of the first writing systems is roughly contemporary with the beginning of the Bronze Age in the late Neolithic [ dubious — discuss ] 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 to BC with earliest coherent texts from about 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 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. A hieroglyphic writing system used by pre-colonial Mi'kmaq , that was observed by missionaries from the 17th to 19th centuries, is thought to have developed independently. Although, there is some debate over whether or not this was a fully formed system or just a series of mnemonic pictographs.
It is thought that the first consonantal alphabetic writing appeared before 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 BC. Several approaches have been taken to classify writing systems, the most common and basic one is a broad division into three categories: The term complex system is sometimes used to describe those where the admixture makes classification problematic.
Modern linguists regard such approaches, including Diringer's . Hill  split writing into three major categories of linguistic analysis, one of which covers discourses and is not usually considered writing proper:. Sampson draws a distinction between semasiography and glottography. DeFrancis,  criticizing Sampson's  introduction of semasiographic writing and featural alphabets stresses the phonographic quality of writing proper. Faber  categorizes phonographic writing by two levels, linearity and coding:.
A logogram is a single written character which represents a complete grammatical word. Most traditional 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: 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. 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.
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 , in English there are approximately 15, to 16, However, syllabaries with much larger inventories do exist.
The Yi script , for example, contains different symbols or 1,, 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.
Several languages of the Ancient Near East used forms of cuneiform , which is a syllabary with some non-syllabic elements. 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. 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. 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. John DeFrancis , reject this class or at least labeling hangul as such. 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".
Most writing systems are not purely one type. 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. 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. Perhaps the primary graphic distinction made in classifications is that of linearity.
I read a post from writer B. Not only were the elements of the mystery in a mess, but the transitions between scenes were either extremely choppy or missing altogether.
It worked last time. Pros to Linear Writing: You have a better sense of where you are in the story. Transitions are usually neater. Pros to Writing Scenes Out of Order: I make a note…either on my outline or in Track Changes right there in the margin…mapping out the scene or noting the ideas I had for it.
Then I continue with the story in my linear fashion. Hilary—It definitely makes me feel a lot more organized when I write the book straight through. And I really do write it straight through…not even stopping for chapter breaks. Really interesting post as ever! I tend to be a linear writer must be my non-fiction background?
But on the other, it can be limiting. Still, in general, I think linear writing works best for me. I typically write linearly, because it just seem logical. My linear first drafts always feel that way. Likewise it helps that the non-sequential scenes are typically major scenes which helps me write tighter transition scenes to join them. Kathy—You know, you bring up a great point. The times that I wrote out of order with such messy results , I did not have an outline.
I was a pantster for the first 5 or 6 books or so. It seems it really would be less choppy writing out of order with a finished outline. Some are mostly linear, with me going back and sticking some scenes in. I commonly have a few scenes that drafted that are a book or two ahead. In an in-progress novella series, these future scenes are so far proving to end up the openings.
And some… Well, the core plot or simple outline might be jotted down in a linear fashion, but I then end up expanding and hopping around in as I feel like it. I write mostly in a linear way now, especially since I started outlining. Start at the beginning of the story and progress through it.
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.
In narrative writing, you tell a story because you are, literally, narrating a story for your reader. You can present the story in two basic ways: as a linear narrative or a non-linear narrative.
Pros to Linear Writing: You’re writing it as the reader will be reading it. You have a better sense of where you are in the story. Transitions are (usually) neater. If you’re writing a complicated story (like a mystery), it can be less confusing for you to edit later. Writing is a process both linear and recursive. It is linear because effective writers construct documents in well-defined and ordered stages. It is also recursive, however, because at any point an author may need to return to a previous stage.
"Writing and learning and thinking are the same process." —William Zinsser. As with most things, it would be nice if the process of writing could be divided so neatly into a linear .