Writing is a medium of human communication that represents language and emotion with signs and symbols. In most languages, writing is a complement to speech or spoken language. Writing is not a language, but a tool used to make languages be read. Within a language system, writing relies on many of the same structures as speech, such as vocabulary, grammar, and semantics, with the added dependency of a system of signs or symbols. The result of writing is called text, and the recipient of text is called a reader. Motivations for writing include publication, storytelling, correspondence, record keeping and diary. Writing has been instrumental in keeping history, maintaining culture, dissemination of knowledge through the media and the formation of legal systems.

As human societies emerged, the development of writing was driven by pragmatic exigencies such as exchanging information, maintaining financial accounts, codifying laws and recording history. Around the 4th millennium BC, the complexity of trade and administration in Mesopotamia outgrew human memory, and writing became a more dependable method of recording and presenting transactions in a permanent form.[1] In both ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica, writing may have evolved through calendric and a political necessity for recording historical and environmental events.

Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone, with writing in three different scripts, was instrumental in deciphering Ancient Egyptian.

Means of recording information

H.G. Wells argued that writing has the ability to "put agreements, laws, commandments on record. It made the growth of states larger than the old city states possible. It made a continuous historical consciousness possible. The command of the priest or king and his seal could go far beyond his sight and voice and could survive his death".[2]

Writing systems

The major writing systems—methods of inscription—broadly fall into five categories: logographic, syllabic, alphabetic, featural, and ideographic (symbols for ideas). A sixth category, pictographic, is insufficient to represent language on its own, but often forms the core of logographies.


Comparative evolution of Cuneiform, Egyptian and Chinese characters
Comparative evolution from pictograms to abstract shapes, in Mesopotamian cuneiforms, Egyptian hieroglyphs and Chinese characters.

A logogram is a written character which represents a word or morpheme. A vast number of logograms are needed to write Chinese characters, cuneiform, and Mayan, where a glyph may stand for a morpheme, a syllable, or both—("logoconsonantal" in the case of hieroglyphs). Many logograms have an ideographic component (Chinese "radicals", hieroglyphic "determiners"). For example, in Mayan, the glyph for "fin", pronounced "ka", was also used to represent the syllable "ka" whenever the pronunciation of a logogram needed to be indicated, or when there was no logogram. In Chinese, about 90% of characters are compounds of a semantic (meaning) element called a radical with an existing character to indicate the pronunciation, called a phonetic. However, such phonetic elements complement the logographic elements, rather than vice versa.

The main logographic system in use today is Chinese characters, used with some modification for the various languages or dialects of China, Japan, and sometimes in Korean despite the fact that in South and North Korea, the phonetic Hangul system is mainly used.


A syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent (or approximate) syllables. A glyph in a syllabary typically represents a consonant followed by a vowel, or just a vowel alone, though in some scripts more complex syllables (such as consonant-vowel-consonant, or consonant-consonant-vowel) may have dedicated glyphs. Phonetically related syllables are not so indicated in the script. For instance, the syllable "ka" may look nothing like the syllable "ki", nor will syllables with the same vowels be similar.

Syllabaries are best suited to languages with a relatively simple syllable structure, such as Japanese. Other languages that use syllabic writing include the Linear B script for Mycenaean Greek; Cherokee; Ndjuka, an English-based creole language of Surinam; and the Vai script of Liberia. Most logographic systems have a strong syllabic component. Ethiopic, though technically an abugida, has fused consonants and vowels together to the point where it is learned as if it were a syllabary.


An alphabet is a set of symbols, each of which represents or historically represented a phoneme of the language. In a perfectly phonological alphabet, the phonemes and letters would correspond perfectly in two directions: a writer could predict the spelling of a word given its pronunciation, and a speaker could predict the pronunciation of a word given its spelling.

As languages often evolve independently of their writing systems, and writing systems have been borrowed for languages they were not designed for, the degree to which letters of an alphabet correspond to phonemes of a language varies greatly from one language to another and even within a single language.

In most of the writing systems of the Middle East, it is usually only the consonants of a word that are written, although vowels may be indicated by the addition of various diacritical marks. Writing systems based primarily on marking the consonant phonemes alone date back to the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt. Such systems are called abjads, derived from the Arabic word for "alphabet".

In most of the alphabets of India and Southeast Asia, vowels are indicated through diacritics or modification of the shape of the consonant. These are called abugidas. Some abugidas, such as Ethiopic and Cree, are learned by children as syllabaries, and so are often called "syllabics". However, unlike true syllabaries, there is not an independent glyph for each syllable.

Sometimes the term "alphabet" is restricted to systems with separate letters for consonants and vowels, such as the Latin alphabet, although abugidas and abjads may also be accepted as alphabets. Because of this use, Greek is often considered to be the first alphabet.

Featural scripts

A featural script notates the building blocks of the phonemes that make up a language. For instance, all sounds pronounced with the lips ("labial" sounds) may have some element in common. In the Latin alphabet, this is accidentally the case with the letters "b" and "p"; however, labial "m" is completely dissimilar, and the similar-looking "q" and "d" are not labial. In Korean hangul, however, all four labial consonants are based on the same basic element, but in practice, Korean is learned by children as an ordinary alphabet, and the featural elements tend to pass unnoticed.

Another featural script is SignWriting, the most popular writing system for many sign languages, where the shapes and movements of the hands and face are represented iconically. Featural scripts are also common in fictional or invented systems, such as J.R.R. Tolkien's Tengwar.

Historical significance of writing systems

Olin Levi Warner, tympanum representing Writing, above exterior of main entrance doors, Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington DC, 1896.

Historians draw a sharp distinction between prehistory and history, with history defined by the advent of writing. The cave paintings and petroglyphs of prehistoric peoples can be considered precursors of writing, but they are not considered true writing because they did not represent language directly.

Writing systems develop and change based on the needs of the people who use them. Sometimes the shape, orientation, and meaning of individual signs changes over time. By tracing the development of a script, it is possible to learn about the needs of the people who used the script as well as how the script changed over time.

Tools and materials

The many tools and writing materials used throughout history include stone tablets, clay tablets, bamboo slats, papyrus, wax tablets, vellum, parchment, paper, copperplate, styluses, quills, ink brushes, pencils, pens, and many styles of lithography. The Incas used knotted cords known as quipu (or khipu) for keeping records.[3]

The typewriter and various forms of word processors have subsequently become widespread writing tools, and various studies have compared the ways in which writers have framed the experience of writing with such tools as compared with the pen or pencil.[4][5][6][7][8]


Neolithic writing

Tărtăria Amulet
Amulet of the Tărtăria tablets, the earliest found example of the Old European script and of human writing in the world generally, dating to 5500–5300 BC.[9] It is a product of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture that was in Romania and neighbouring regions.

By definition, the modern practice of history begins with written records. Evidence of human culture without writing is the realm of prehistory. The Dispilio Tablet (Greece), Jiahu symbols (China) and Tărtăria tablets (Romania), which have been carbon dated to the 6th millennium BC, are recent discoveries of the earliest known neolithic writings.


While neolithic writing is a current research topic, conventional history assumes that the writing process first evolved from economic necessity in the ancient Near East. Writing most likely began as a consequence of political expansion in ancient cultures, which needed reliable means for transmitting information, maintaining financial accounts, keeping historical records, and similar activities. Around the 4th millennium BC, the complexity of trade and administration outgrew the power of memory, and writing became a more dependable method of recording and presenting transactions in a permanent form.[1]

The invention of the first writing systems is roughly contemporary with the beginning of the Bronze Age 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.

Accountancy clay envelope Louvre Sb1932
Globular envelope with a cluster of accountancy tokens, Uruk period, from Susa. Louvre Museum

Archaeologist Denise Schmandt-Besserat determined the link between previously uncategorized clay "tokens", the oldest of which have been found in the Zagros region of Iran, and the first known writing, Mesopotamian cuneiform.[10] In approximately 8000 BC, the Mesopotamians began using clay tokens to count their agricultural and manufactured goods. Later they began placing these tokens inside large, hollow clay containers (bulla, or globular envelopes) which were then sealed. The quantity of tokens in each container came to be expressed by impressing, on the container's surface, one picture for each instance of the token inside. They next dispensed with the tokens, relying solely on symbols for the tokens, drawn on clay surfaces. To avoid making a picture for each instance of the same object (for example: 100 pictures of a hat to represent 100 hats), they 'counted' the objects by using various small marks. In this way the Sumerians added "a system for enumerating objects to their incipient system of symbols".

The original Mesopotamian writing system was derived around 3200 BC from this method of keeping accounts. By the end of the 4th millennium BC,[11] the Mesopotamians were using a triangular-shaped stylus pressed into soft clay to record numbers. This system was gradually augmented with using a sharp stylus to indicate what was being counted by means of pictographs. Round-stylus and sharp-stylus writing was gradually replaced by writing using a wedge-shaped stylus (hence the term cuneiform), at first only for logograms, but by the 29th century BC also for phonetic elements. Around 2700 BC, cuneiform began to represent syllables of spoken Sumerian. About that time, Mesopotamian cuneiform became a general purpose writing system for logograms, syllables, and numbers. This script was adapted to another Mesopotamian language, the East Semitic Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian) around 2600 BC, and then to others such as Elamite, Hattian, Hurrian and Hittite. Scripts similar in appearance to this writing system include those for Ugaritic and Old Persian. With the adoption of Aramaic as the 'lingua franca' of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–609 BC), Old Aramaic was also adapted to Mesopotamian cuneiform. The last cuneiform scripts in Akkadian discovered thus far date from the 1st century AD.


Narmer Palette serpopard side
Narmer Palette, with the two serpopards representing unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, circa 3100 B.C.

The earliest known hieroglyphic date back to the second half of the 4th millennium BC, such as the clay labels of a Predynastic ruler called "Scorpion I" (Naqada IIIA period, c. 32nd century BC) recovered at Abydos (modern Umm el-Qa'ab) in 1998 or the Narmer Palette, dating to c. 3100 BC, and several recent discoveries that may be slightly older, though these glyphs were based on a much older artistic rather than written tradition. The hieroglyphic script was logographic with phonetic adjuncts that included an effective alphabet. The world's oldest deciphered sentence was found on a seal impression found in the tomb of Seth-Peribsen at Umm el-Qa'ab, which dates from the Second Dynasty (28th or 27th century BC). There are around 800 hieroglyphs dating back to the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom Eras. By the Greco-Roman period, there are more than 5,000.

Writing was very important in maintaining the Egyptian empire, and literacy was concentrated among an educated elite of scribes. Only people from certain backgrounds were allowed to train to become scribes, in the service of temple, pharaonic, and military authorities. The hieroglyph system was always difficult to learn, but in later centuries was purposely made even more so, as this preserved the scribes' status.

The world's oldest known alphabet appears to have been developed by Canaanite turquoise miners in the Sinai desert around the mid-19th century BC.[12] Around 30 crude inscriptions have been found at a mountainous Egyptian mining site known as Serabit el-Khadem. This site was also home to a temple of Hathor, the "Mistress of turquoise". A later, two line inscription has also been found at Wadi el-Hol in Central Egypt. Based on hieroglyphic prototypes, but also including entirely new symbols, each sign apparently stood for a consonant rather than a word: the basis of an alphabetic system. It was not until the 12th to 9th centuries, however, that the alphabet took hold and became widely used.

Elamite scripts

Over the centuries, three distinct Elamite scripts developed. Proto-Elamite is the oldest known writing system from Iran. In use only for a brief time (c. 3200–2900 BC), clay tablets with Proto-Elamite writing have been found at different sites across Iran. The Proto-Elamite script is thought to have developed from early cuneiform (proto-cuneiform). The Proto-Elamite script consists of more than 1,000 signs and is thought to be partly logographic.

Linear Elamite is a writing system attested in a few monumental inscriptions in Iran. It was used for a very brief period during the last quarter of the 3rd millennium BC. It is often claimed that Linear Elamite is a syllabic writing system derived from Proto-Elamite, although this cannot be proven since Linear-Elamite has not been deciphered. Several scholars have attempted to decipher the script, most notably Walther Hinz and Piero Meriggi.

The Elamite cuneiform script was used from about 2500 to 331 BC, and was adapted from the Akkadian cuneiform. The Elamite cuneiform script consisted of about 130 symbols, far fewer than most other cuneiform scripts.

Cretan and Greek scripts

Cretan hieroglyphs are found on artifacts of Crete (early-to-mid-2nd millennium BC, MM I to MM III, overlapping with Linear A from MM IIA at the earliest). Linear B, the writing system of the Mycenaean Greeks,[13] has been deciphered while Linear A has yet to be deciphered. The sequence and the geographical spread of the three overlapping, but distinct writing systems can be summarized as follows:[13][A 1] Cretan hieroglyphs were used in Crete from c. 1625 to 1500 BC; Linear A was used in the Aegean Islands (Kea, Kythera, Melos, Thera), and the Greek mainland (Laconia) from c. 18th century to 1450 BC; and Linear B was used in Crete (Knossos), and mainland (Pylos, Mycenae, Thebes, Tiryns) from c. 1375 to 1200 BC.


The earliest surviving examples of writing in China—inscriptions on so-called "oracle bones", tortoise plastrons and ox scapulae used for divination—date from around 1200 BC in the late Shang dynasty. A small number of bronze inscriptions from the same period have also survived.[14] Historians have found that the type of media used had an effect on what the writing was documenting and how it was used.

In 2003, archaeologists reported discoveries of isolated tortoise-shell carvings dating back to the 7th millennium BC, but whether or not these symbols are related to the characters of the later oracle-bone script is disputed.[15][16]

Indus Valley

Indus script refers to short strings of symbols associated with the Indus Valley Civilization (which spanned modern-day Pakistan and North India) used between 2600 and 1900 BC. In spite of many attempts at decipherments and claims, it is as yet undeciphered. The term 'Indus script' is mainly applied to that used in the mature Harappan phase, which perhaps evolved from a few signs found in early Harappa after 3500 BC,[17] and was followed by the mature Harappan script. The script is written from right to left,[18] and sometimes follows a boustrophedonic style. Since the number of principal signs is about 400–600,[19] midway between typical logographic and syllabic scripts, many scholars accept the script to be logo-syllabic[20] (typically syllabic scripts have about 50–100 signs whereas logographic scripts have a very large number of principal signs). Several scholars maintain that structural analysis indicates that an agglutinative language underlies the script.

Central Asia

In 2001, archaeologists discovered that there was a civilization in Central Asia that used writing c. 2000 BC. An excavation near Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, revealed an inscription on a piece of stone that was used as a stamp seal.[21]

Phoenician writing system and descendants

The Proto-Sinaitic script, in which Proto-Canaanite is believed to have been first written, is attested as far back as the 19th century BC. The Phoenician writing system was adapted from the Proto-Canaanite script sometime before the 14th century BC, which in turn borrowed principles of representing phonetic information from Egyptian hieroglyphs. This writing system was an odd sort of syllabary in which only consonants are represented. This script was adapted by the Greeks, who adapted certain consonantal signs to represent their vowels. The Cumae alphabet, a variant of the early Greek alphabet, gave rise to the Etruscan alphabet and its own descendants, such as the Latin alphabet and Runes. Other descendants from the Greek alphabet include Cyrillic, used to write Bulgarian, Russian and Serbian, among others. The Phoenician system was also adapted into the Aramaic script, from which the Hebrew and the Arabic scripts are descended.

The Tifinagh script (Berber languages) is descended from the Libyco-Berber script, which is assumed to be of Phoenician origin.


A stone slab with 3,000-year-old writing, known as the Cascajal Block, was discovered in the Mexican state of Veracruz and is an example of the oldest script in the Western Hemisphere, preceding the oldest Zapotec writing by approximately 500 years.[22][23][24] It is thought to be Olmec.

Of several pre-Columbian scripts in Mesoamerica, the one that appears to have been best developed, and the only one to be deciphered, is the Maya script. The earliest inscription identified as Maya dates to the 3rd century BC.[25] Maya writing used logograms complemented by a set of syllabic glyphs, somewhat similar in function to modern Japanese writing.

South America

The Incas had no known script. Their quipu system of recording information—based on knots tied along one or many linked cords—was apparently used for inventory and accountancy purposes and could not encode textual information.


Three stone slabs were found by Romanian archaeologist Nicolae Vlassa, in the mid-20th century (1961) in Tărtăria (present-day Alba County, Transylvania), Romania, ancient land of Dacia, inhabited by Dacians, which were a population who may have been related to the Getaes and Thracians. One of the slabs contains 4 groups of pictographs divided by lines. Some of the characters are also found in Ancient Greek, as well as in Phoenician, Etruscan, Old Italic and Iberian. The origin and the timing of the writings are disputed, because there are no precise evidence in situ, the slabs cannot be carbon dated, because of the bad treatment of the Cluj museum. There are indirect carbon dates found on a skeleton discovered near the slabs, that certifies the 5300–5500 BC period.

Modern importance

In the 21st century, writing has become an important part of daily life as technology has connected individuals from across the globe through systems such as e-mail and social media. Literacy has grown in importance as a factor for success in the modern world. In the United States, the ability to read and write are necessary for most jobs, and multiple programs are in place to aid both children and adults in improving their literacy skills. For example, the emergence of the writing center and community-wide literacy councils aim to help students and community members sharpen their writing skills. These resources, and many more, span across different age groups in order to offer each individual a better understanding of their language and how to express themselves via writing in order to perhaps improve their socioeconomic status.

Other parts of the world have seen an increase in writing abilities as a result of programs such as the World Literacy Foundation and International Literacy Foundation, as well as a general push for increased global communication.

See also


  1. ^ Beginning date refers to first attestations, the assumed origins of all scripts lie further back in the past.


  1. ^ a b Robinson 2003, p. 36.
  2. ^ Wells, H. G. (1922). A Short History of the World. p. 41.
  3. ^ "The Khipu Database Project".
  4. ^ Chandler, Daniel (1990). "Do the write thing?". Electric Word. 17: 27–30.
  5. ^ Chandler, Daniel (1992). "The phenomenology of writing by hand". Intelligent Tutoring Media. 3 (2/3): 65–74. doi:10.1080/14626269209408310.
  6. ^ Chandler, Daniel (1993). "Writing strategies and writers' tools". English Today: The International Review of the English Language. 9 (2): 32–38. doi:10.1017/S0266078400000341.
  7. ^ Chandler, Daniel (1994). "Who needs suspended inscription?". Computers and Composition. 11 (3): 191–201. doi:10.1016/8755-4615(94)90012-4.
  8. ^ Chandler, Daniel (1995). The Act of Writing: A Media Theory Approach. Aberystwyth: Prifysgol Cymru.
  9. ^ Haarmann, Harald (2002). Geschichte der Schrift, C.H. Beck, ISBN 3-406-47998-7, p. 20
  10. ^ Rudgley, Richard (2000). The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 48–57.
  11. ^ The Origin and Development of the Cuneiform System of Writing, Samuel Noah Kramer, Thirty Nine Firsts in Recorded History pp. 381–383
  12. ^ Goldwasser, Orly. "How the Alphabet Was Born from Hieroglyphs", Biblical Archaeology Review, Mar/Apr 2010
  13. ^ a b Olivier 1986, pp. 377f.
  14. ^ Boltz, William (1999). "Language and Writing". In Loewe, Michael; Shaughnessy, Edward L. (eds.). The Cambridge History of Ancient China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 74–123. ISBN 978-0-521-47030-8.
  15. ^ "Archaeologists Rewrite History". China Daily. 12 June 2003. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  16. ^ Rincon, Paul (17 April 2003). "'Earliest writing' found in China". BBC News. Retrieved 4 January 2012. Signs carved into 8,600-year-old tortoise shells found in China may be the earliest written words, say archaeologists
  17. ^ Whitehouse, David (1999). "'Earliest writing' found" BBC
  18. ^ (Lal 1966)
  19. ^ (Wells 1999)
  20. ^ (Bryant 2000)
  21. ^ "Ancient writing found in Turkmenistan". BBC. 15 May 2001. Retrieved 30 March 2008. A previously unknown civilisation was using writing in Central Asia 4,000 years ago, hundreds of years before Chinese writing developed, archaeologists have discovered. An excavation near Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, revealed an inscription on a piece of stone that seems to have been used as a stamp seal.
  22. ^ Wilford, John Noble (15 September 2006). "Writing May Be Oldest in Western Hemisphere". New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2008. A stone slab bearing 3,000-year-old writing previously unknown to scholars has been found in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and archaeologists say it is an example of the oldest script ever discovered in the Western Hemisphere.
  23. ^ Briggs, Helen (14 September 2006). "'Oldest' New World writing found". BBC. Retrieved 30 March 2008. Ancient civilisations in Mexico developed a writing system as early as 900 BC, new evidence suggests.
  24. ^ Rodríguez Martínez, Maria del Carmen; et al. (2006). "Oldest Writing in the New World". Science. 313 (5793): 1610–1614. Bibcode:2006Sci...313.1610R. doi:10.1126/science.1131492. PMID 16973873. Retrieved 30 March 2008. A block with a hitherto unknown system of writing has been found in the Olmec heartland of Veracruz, Mexico. Stylistic and other dating of the block places it in the early first millennium before the common era, the oldest writing in the New World, with features that firmly assign this pivotal development to the Olmec civilization of Mesoamerica.
  25. ^ Saturno, William A.; David Stuart; Boris Beltrán (3 March 2006). "Early Maya Writing at San Bartolo, Guatemala". Science. 311 (5765): 1281–1283. Bibcode:2006Sci...311.1281S. doi:10.1126/science.1121745. PMID 16400112.

Further reading

  • A History of Writing: From Hieroglyph to Multimedia, edited by Anne-Marie Christin, Flammarion (in French, hardcover: 408 pages, 2002, ISBN 2-08-010887-5)
  • In the Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language. By Joel M. Hoffman, 2004. Chapter 3 covers the invention of writing and its various stages.
  • Origins of writing on AncientScripts.com
  • Museum of Writing: UK Museum of Writing with information on writing history and implements
  • On ERIC Digests: Writing Instruction: Current Practices in the Classroom; Writing Development; Writing Instruction: Changing Views over the Years
  • Angioni, Giulio, La scrittura, una fabrilità semiotica, in Fare, dire, sentire. L'identico e il diverso nelle culture, il Maestrale, 2011, 149–169. ISBN 978-88-6429-020-1
  • Children of the Code: The Power of Writing – Online Video
  • Powell, Barry B. 2009. Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization, Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-6256-2
  • Reynolds, Jack 2004. Merleau-Ponty And Derrida: Intertwining Embodiment And Alterity, Ohio University Press
  • Rogers, Henry. 2005. Writing Systems: A Linguistic Approach. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-23463-2 (hardcover); ISBN 0-631-23464-0 (paperback)
  • Ankerl, Guy (2000) [2000]. Global communication without universal civilization. INU societal research. Vol.1: Coexisting contemporary civilizations: Arabo-Muslim, Bharati, Chinese, and Western. Geneva: INU Press. pp. 59–66, 235s. ISBN 978-2-88155-004-1.
  • Robinson, Andrew (2003). "The Origins of Writing". In Crowley, David; Heyer, Paul (eds.). Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society. Allyn and Bacon.
  • Falkenstein, A. 1965 Zu den Tafeln aus Tartaria. Germania 43, 269–273
  • Haarmann, H. 1990 Writing from Old Europe. The Journal of Indo-European Studies 17
  • Lazarovici, Gh., Fl. Drasovean & Z. Maxim 2000 The Eagle – the Bird of death, regeneration resurrection and mesenger of Godds. Archaeological and ethnological problems. Tibiscum, 57–68
  • Lazarovici, Gh., Fl. Drasovean & Z. Maxim 2000 The Eye – Symbol, Gesture, Expression.Tibiscum, 115–128
  • Makkay, J. 1969 The Late Neolithic Tordos Group of Signs. Alba Regia 10, 9–50
  • Makkay, J. 1984 Early Stamp Seals in South-East Europe. Budapest
  • Masson, E. 1984 L'écriture dans les civilisations danubiennes néolithiques. Kadmos 23, 2, 89–123. Berlin & New York.
  • Maxim, Z. 1997 Neo-eneoliticul din Transilvania. Bibliotheca Musei Napocensis 19. Cluj-Napoca
  • Milojcic, Vl. 1963 Die Tontafeln von Tartaria (Siebenbürgen), und die Absolute Chronologie des mitteleeuropäischen Neolithikums.Germania 43, 266–268
  • Paul, I. 1990 Mitograma de acum 8 milenii. Atheneum 1, p. 28
  • Paul, I. 1995 Vorgeschichtliche untersuchungen in Siebenburgen. Alba Iulia
  • Vlassa, N. 1962 – (Studia UBB 2), 23–30.
  • Vlassa, N. 1962 – (Dacia 7), 485–494;
  • Vlassa, N. 1965 – (Atti UISPP, Roma 1965), 267–269
  • Vlassa, N. 1976 Contribuții la Problema racordării Neoliticul Transilvaniei, p. 28–43, fig. 7-8
  • Vlassa, N. 1976 Neoliticul Transilvaniei. Studii, articole, note. Bibliotheca Musei Napocensis 3. Cluj-Napoca
  • Winn, Sham M. M. 1973 The Sings of the Vinca Culture
  • Winn, Sham M. M. 1981 Pre-writing in Southeast Europe: The Sign System of the Vinca culture. BAR
  • Merlini, Marco 2004 La scrittura è natta in Europa?, Roma (2004)
  • Merlini, Marco and Gheorghe Lazarovici 2008 Luca, Sabin Adrian ed. "Settling discovery circumstances, dating and utilization of the Tărtăria Tablets"
  • Merlini, Marco and Gheorghe Lazarovici 2005 "New archaeological data referring to Tărtăria tablets", in Documenta Praehistorica XXXII, Department of Archeology Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. Ljubljana:2005–2019.

External links

A Song of Ice and Fire

A Song of Ice and Fire is a series of epic fantasy novels by the American novelist and screenwriter George R. R. Martin. He began the first volume of the series, A Game of Thrones, in 1991, and it was published in 1996. Martin, who initially envisioned the series as a trilogy, has published five out of a planned seven volumes. The fifth and most recent volume of the series published in 2011, A Dance with Dragons, took Martin six years to write. He is currently writing the sixth novel, The Winds of Winter.

A Song of Ice and Fire takes place on the fictional continents Westeros and Essos. The point of view of each chapter in the story is a limited perspective of a range of characters growing from nine, in the first novel, to 31 characters by the fifth novel. Three main stories interweave: a dynastic war among several families for control of Westeros, the rising threat of the supernatural Others in the northernmost reaches of Westeros, and the ambition of Daenerys Targaryen, the deposed king's exiled daughter, to assume the Iron Throne.

Martin's inspirations included the Wars of the Roses and the French historical novels The Accursed Kings by Maurice Druon. A Song of Ice and Fire received praise for its diverse portrayal of women and religion, as well as its realism. An assortment of disparate and subjective points of view confronts the reader, and the success or survival of point of view characters is never assured. Within the often morally ambiguous world of A Song of Ice and Fire, questions concerning loyalty, pride, human sexuality, piety, and the morality of violence frequently arise.

As of August 2016, the books have sold more than 70 million copies worldwide and, as of January 2017, have been translated into 47 languages. The fourth and fifth volumes reached the top of The New York Times Best Seller lists upon their releases. Among the many derived works are several prequel novellas, a TV series, a comic book adaptation, and several card, board, and video games.


An alphabet is a standard set of letters (basic written symbols or graphemes) that represent the phonemes (basic significant sounds) of any spoken language it is used to write. This is in contrast to other types of writing systems, such as syllabaries (in which each character represents a syllable) and logographic systems (in which each character represents a word, morpheme, or semantic unit).

The first fully phonemic script, the Proto-Canaanite script, later known as the Phoenician alphabet, is considered to be the first alphabet, and is the ancestor of most modern alphabets, including Arabic, Greek, Latin, Cyrillic, Hebrew, and possibly Brahmic. Peter T. Daniels, however, distinguishes an abugida or alphasyllabary, a set of graphemes that represent consonantal base letters which diacritics modify to represent vowels (as in Devanagari and other South Asian scripts), an abjad, in which letters predominantly or exclusively represent consonants (as in the original Phoenician, Hebrew or Arabic), and an "alphabet", a set of graphemes that represent both vowels and consonants. In this narrow sense of the word the first "true" alphabet was the Greek alphabet, which was developed on the basis of the earlier Phoenician alphabet.

Of the dozens of alphabets in use today, the most popular is the Latin alphabet, which was derived from the Greek, and which many languages modify by adding letters formed using diacritical marks. While most alphabets have letters composed of lines (linear writing), there are also exceptions such as the alphabets used in Braille. The Khmer alphabet (for Cambodian) is the longest, with 74 letters.Alphabets are usually associated with a standard ordering of letters. This makes them useful for purposes of collation, specifically by allowing words to be sorted in alphabetical order. It also means that their letters can be used as an alternative method of "numbering" ordered items, in such contexts as numbered lists and number placements.


Calligraphy (from Greek: καλλιγραφία) is a visual art related to writing. It is the design and execution of lettering with a broad tip instrument, brush, or other writing instruments. A contemporary calligraphic practice can be defined as "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious, and skillful manner".Modern calligraphy ranges from functional inscriptions and designs to fine-art pieces where the letters may or may not be readable. Classical calligraphy differs from typography and non-classical hand-lettering, though a calligrapher may practice both.Calligraphy continues to flourish in the forms of wedding invitations and event invitations, font design and typography, original hand-lettered logo design, religious art, announcements, graphic design and commissioned calligraphic art, cut stone inscriptions, and memorial documents. It is also used for props and moving images for film and television, and also for testimonials, birth and death certificates, maps, and other written works.

Chinese characters

Chinese characters (simplified Chinese: 汉字; traditional Chinese: 漢字; pinyin: hànzì; literally: 'Han characters') are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write a number of other Asian languages. They remain a key component of the Japanese writing system (where they are known as kanji) and are occasionally used in the writing of Korean (where they are known as Hanja). They were formerly used in Vietnamese (in a system known as chữ Nôm) and Zhuang (in a system known as Sawndip). Collectively, they are known as CJK characters. Vietnamese is sometimes also included, making the abbreviation CJKV.

Chinese characters constitute the oldest continuously used system of writing in the world. By virtue of their widespread current use in East Asia, and historic use throughout the Sinosphere, Chinese characters are among the most widely adopted writing systems in the world by number of users.

Chinese characters number in the tens of thousands, though most of them are minor graphic variants encountered only in historical texts. Studies in China have shown that functional literacy in written Chinese requires a knowledge of between three and four thousand characters. In Japan, 2,136 are taught through secondary school (the Jōyō kanji); hundreds more are in everyday use. Due to post-WWII simplifications of Kanji in Japan as well as the post-WWII simplifications of characters in China, the Chinese characters used in Japan today are distinct from those used in China in several respects. There are various national standard lists of characters, forms, and pronunciations. Simplified forms of certain characters are used in mainland China, Singapore, and Malaysia; the corresponding traditional characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and to a limited extent in South Korea.

In Japan, common characters are written in post-WWII Japan-specific simplified forms (shinjitai), while uncommon characters are written in Japanese traditional forms (kyūjitai), which are virtually identical to Chinese traditional forms. In South Korea, when Chinese characters are used, they are in traditional form, essentially identical to those used in Taiwan and Hong Kong where the official writing system is traditional Chinese. Teaching of Chinese characters in South Korea starts in the 7th grade and continues until the 12th grade; a total of 1,800 characters are taught, though these characters are used only in certain cases (on names, signs, academic papers, historical writings, etc.) and are slowly declining in use as native alphabetical hangul supplanted them in most aspects of Korean society.

In Old Chinese including Classical Chinese, most words were monosyllabic and there was a close correspondence between characters and words. In modern Chinese, the majority of Chinese words today consist of two or more characters. Rather, a character almost always corresponds to a single syllable that is also a morpheme.

However, there are a few exceptions to this general correspondence, including bisyllabic morphemes (written with two characters), bimorphemic syllables (written with two characters) and cases where a single character represents a polysyllabic word or phrase.Modern Chinese has many homophones; thus the same spoken syllable may be represented by many characters, depending on meaning. A single character may also have a range of meanings, or sometimes quite distinct meanings; occasionally these correspond to different pronunciations. Cognates in the several varieties of Chinese are generally written with the same character. They typically have similar meanings, but often quite different pronunciations. In other languages, most significantly today in Japanese and sometimes in Korean, characters are used to represent Chinese loanwords, to represent native words independently of the Chinese pronunciation (e.g., kunyomi in Japanese), and as purely phonetic elements based on their pronunciation in the historical variety of Chinese from which they were acquired. These foreign adaptations of Chinese pronunciation are known as Sino-Xenic pronunciations and have been useful in the reconstruction of Middle Chinese.


Cuneiform or Sumerian cuneiform, one of the earliest systems of writing, was invented by the Sumerians. It is 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".Emerging in Sumer in the late fourth millennium BC (the Uruk IV period) to convey the Sumerian language, which was a language isolate, cuneiform writing began as a system of pictograms, stemming from an earlier system of shaped tokens used for accounting. In the third millennium, the pictorial representations became simplified and more abstract as the number of characters in use grew smaller (Hittite cuneiform). The system consists of a combination of logophonetic, consonantal alphabetic and syllabic signs.

The original Sumerian script was adapted for the writing of the Semitic Akkadian (Assyrian/Babylonian), Eblaite and Amorite languages, the language isolates Elamite, Hattic, Hurrian and Urartian, as well as Indo-European languages Hittite and Luwian; it inspired the later Semitic Ugaritic alphabet as well as Old Persian cuneiform. Cuneiform writing was gradually replaced by the Phoenician alphabet during the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–612 BC). By the second century AD, the script had become extinct, its last traces being found in Assyria and Babylonia, and all knowledge of how to read it was lost until it began to be deciphered in the 19th century.

Geoffrey Sampson stated that Egyptian hieroglyphs "came into existence a little after Sumerian script, and, probably [were], invented under the influence of the latter", and that it is "probable that the general idea of expressing words of a language in writing was brought to Egypt from Sumerian Mesopotamia". There are many instances of Egypt-Mesopotamia relations at the time of the invention of writing, and standard reconstructions of the development of writing generally place the development of the Summerian proto-cuneiform script before the development of Egyptian hierogplyphs, with the suggestion the former influenced the latter.Between half a million and two million cuneiform tablets are estimated to have been excavated in modern times, of which only approximately 30,000–100,000 have been read or published. The British Museum holds the largest collection (c. 130,000), followed by the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin, the Louvre, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, the National Museum of Iraq, the Yale Babylonian Collection (c. 40,000) and Penn Museum. Most of these have "lain in these collections for a century without being translated, studied or published", as there are only a few hundred qualified cuneiformists in the world.

Egyptian hieroglyphs

Egyptian hieroglyphs () were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphs combined logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with a total of some 1,000 distinct characters.Cursive hieroglyphs were used for religious literature on papyrus and wood. The later hieratic and demotic Egyptian scripts were derived from hieroglyphic writing, as was the Proto-Siniatic script that later evolved into the Phoenician alphabet. Through the Phoenician alphabet's major child systems, the Greek and Aramaic scripts, the Egyptian hieroglyphic script is ancestral to the majority of scripts in modern use, most prominently the Latin and Cyrillic scripts (through Greek) and the Arabic script and Brahmic family of scripts (through Aramaic).

The use of hieroglyphic writing arose from proto-literate symbol systems in the Early Bronze Age, around the 32nd century BC (Naqada III), with the first decipherable sentence written in the Egyptian language dating to the Second Dynasty (28th century BC). Egyptian hieroglyphs developed into a mature writing system used for monumental inscription in the classical language of the Middle Kingdom period; during this period, the system made use of about 900 distinct signs. The use of this writing system continued through the New Kingdom and Late Period, and on into the Persian and Ptolemaic periods. Late survivals of hieroglyphic use are found well into the Roman period, extending into the 4th century AD.With the final closing of pagan temples in the 5th century, knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was lost. Although attempts were made, the script remained undeciphered throughout the Middle Ages and the early modern period. The decipherment of hieroglyphic writing would only be accomplished in the 1820s by Jean-François Champollion, with the help of the Rosetta Stone.


An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument — but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a paper, an article, a pamphlet, and a short story. Essays have traditionally been sub-classified as formal and informal. Formal essays are characterized by "serious purpose, dignity, logical organization, length," whereas the informal essay is characterized by "the personal element (self-revelation, individual tastes and experiences, confidential manner), humor, graceful style, rambling structure, unconventionality or novelty of theme," etc.Essays are commonly used as literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. Almost all modern essays are written in prose, but works in verse have been dubbed essays (e.g., Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man). While brevity usually defines an essay, voluminous works like John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population are counterexamples.

In some countries (e.g., the United States and Canada), essays have become a major part of formal education. Secondary students are taught structured essay formats to improve their writing skills; admission essays are often used by universities in selecting applicants, and in the humanities and social sciences essays are often used as a way of assessing the performance of students during final exams.

The concept of an "essay" has been extended to other media beyond writing. A film essay is a movie that often incorporates documentary filmmaking styles and focuses more on the evolution of a theme or idea. A photographic essay covers a topic with a linked series of photographs that may have accompanying text or captions.


Hiragana (平仮名, ひらがな, Japanese pronunciation: [çiɾaɡana]) is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system, along with katakana, kanji, and in some cases rōmaji (Latin script). It is a phonetic lettering system. The word hiragana literally means "ordinary" or "simple" kana ("simple" originally as contrasted with kanji).Hiragana and katakana are both kana systems. With one or two minor exceptions, each sound in the Japanese language (strictly, each mora) is represented by one character (or one digraph) in each system. This may be either a vowel such as "a" (hiragana あ); a consonant followed by a vowel such as "ka" (か); or "n" (ん), a nasal sonorant which, depending on the context, sounds either like English m, n, or ng ([ŋ]), or like the nasal vowels of French. Because the characters of the kana do not represent single consonants (except in the case of ん "n"), the kana are referred to as syllabaries and not alphabets.Hiragana is used to write okurigana (kana suffixes following a kanji root, for example to inflect verbs and adjectives), various grammatical and function words including particles, as well as miscellaneous other native words for which there are no kanji or whose kanji form is obscure or too formal for the writing purpose. Words that do have common kanji renditions may also sometimes be written instead in hiragana, according to an individual author's preference, for example to impart an informal feel. Hiragana is also used to write furigana, a reading aid that shows the pronunciation of kanji characters.

There are two main systems of ordering hiragana: the old-fashioned iroha ordering and the more prevalent gojūon ordering.


Kanji (漢字; [kã̠ɴʑi] listen) are the adopted logographic Chinese characters that are used in the Japanese writing system. They are used alongside the Japanese syllabic scripts hiragana and katakana. The Japanese term kanji for the Chinese characters literally means "Han characters". It is written with the same characters in the Chinese language to refer to the character writing system, hanzi (漢字).


Katakana (片仮名, かたかな, カタカナ, Japanese pronunciation: [katakana]) is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji and in some cases the Latin script (known as rōmaji). The word katakana means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana characters are derived from components or fragments of more complex kanji. Katakana and hiragana are both kana systems. With one or two minor exceptions, each syllable (strictly mora) in the Japanese language is represented by one character or kana, in each system. Each kana represents either a vowel such as "a" (katakana ア); a consonant followed by a vowel such as "ka" (katakana カ); or "n" (katakana ン), a nasal sonorant which, depending on the context, sounds either like English m, n or ng ([ŋ]) or like the nasal vowels of Portuguese.

In contrast to the hiragana syllabary, which is used for Japanese words not covered by kanji and for grammatical inflections, the katakana syllabary usage is quite similar to italics in English; specifically, it is used for transcription of foreign language words into Japanese and the writing of loan words (collectively gairaigo); for emphasis; to represent onomatopoeia; for technical and scientific terms; and for names of plants, animals, minerals and often Japanese companies.

Katakana are characterized by short, straight strokes and sharp corners. There are two main systems of ordering katakana: the old-fashioned iroha ordering and the more prevalent gojūon ordering.

Latin alphabet

The Latin or Roman alphabet is the writing system originally used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin language.

Musical composition

Musical composition, or simply composition, can refer to an original piece or work of music , either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece, or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called composers. Composers of primarily songs are usually called songwriters; with songs, the person who writes lyrics for a song is the lyricist. In many cultures, including Western classical music, the act of composing typically includes the creation of music notation, such as a sheet music "score," which is then performed by the composer or by other instrumental musicians or singers. In popular music and traditional music, songwriting may involve the creation of a basic outline of the song, called the lead sheet, which sets out the melody, lyrics and chord progression. In classical music, orchestration (choosing the instruments of a large music ensemble such as an orchestra which will play the different parts of music, such as the melody, accompaniment, countermelody, bassline and so on) is typically done by the composer, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a pop or traditional songwriter may not use written notation at all, and instead compose the song in their mind and then play, sing and/or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable sound recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written or printed scores play in classical music.

Although a musical composition often uses musical notation and has a single author, this is not always the case. A work of music can have multiple composers, which often occurs in popular music when all of the members of a band collaborates to write a song, or in musical theatre, when one person writes the melodies, a second person writes the lyrics, and a third person orchestrates the songs. A piece of music can also be composed with words, images, or, since the 20th century, with computer programs that explain or notate how the singer or musician should create musical sounds. Examples range from 20th century avant-garde music that uses graphic notation, to text compositions such as Karlheinz Stockhausen's Aus den sieben Tagen, to computer programs that select sounds for musical pieces. Music that makes heavy use of randomness and chance is called aleatoric music, and is associated with contemporary composers active in the 20th century, such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Witold Lutosławski. A more commonly known example of chance-based music is the sound of wind chimes jingling in a breeze. The study of composition has traditionally been dominated by examination of methods and practice of Western classical music, but the definition of composition is broad enough to include the creation of popular music and traditional music songs and instrumental pieces, and to include spontaneously improvised works like those of free jazz performers and African percussionists such as Ewe drummers.

Although in the 2000s, composition is considered to consist of the manipulation of each aspect of music (harmony, melody, form, rhythm, and timbre), according to Jean-Benjamin de Laborde (1780, 2:12):

Composition consists in two things only. The first is the ordering and disposing of several sounds...in such a manner that their succession pleases the ear. This is what the Ancients called melody. The second is the rendering audible of two or more simultaneous sounds in such a manner that their combination is pleasant. This is what we call harmony, and it alone merits the name of composition.


Non-fiction or nonfiction is content (sometimes, in the form of a story) whose creator, in good faith, assumes responsibility for the truth or accuracy of the events, people, or information presented. In contrast, a story whose creator explicitly leaves open if and how the work refers to reality is usually classified as fiction. Nonfiction, which may be presented either objectively or subjectively, is traditionally one of the two main divisions of narratives (and, specifically, prose writing), the other traditional division being fiction, which contrasts with nonfiction by dealing in information, events, and characters expected to be partly or largely imaginary.

Non-fiction's specific factual assertions and descriptions may or may not be accurate, and can give either a true or a false account of the subject in question. However, authors of such accounts genuinely believe or claim them to be truthful at the time of their composition or, at least, pose them to a convinced audience as historically or empirically factual. Reporting the beliefs of others in a nonfiction format is not necessarily an endorsement of the ultimate veracity of those beliefs, it is simply saying it is true that people believe them (for such topics as mythology). Nonfiction can also be written about fiction, typically known as literary criticism, giving information and analysis on these other works. Nonfiction need not necessarily be written text, since pictures and film can also purport to present a factual account of a subject.

Rod Serling

Rodman Edward Serling (December 25, 1924 – June 28, 1975) was an American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, and narrator known for his live television dramas of the 1950s and his science-fiction anthology TV series, The Twilight Zone. Serling was active in politics, both on and off the screen, and helped form television industry standards. He was known as the "angry young man" of Hollywood, clashing with television executives and sponsors over a wide range of issues including censorship, racism, and war.


The SAT ( ess-ay-TEE) is a standardized test most widely used for college admissions in the United States. Since it was debuted by the College Board in 1926, its name and scoring have changed several times; originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, it was later called the Scholastic Assessment Test, then the SAT I: Reasoning Test, then the SAT Reasoning Test, and now, simply the SAT.

The SAT is wholly owned, developed, and published by the College Board, a private, non-profit organization in the United States. It is administered on behalf of the College Board by the Educational Testing Service, which until recently developed the SAT as well. The test is intended to assess students' readiness for college. The SAT was originally designed not to be aligned with high school curricula, but several adjustments were made for the version of the SAT introduced in 2016, and College Board president, David Coleman, has said that he also wanted to make the test reflect more closely what students learn in high school with the new Common Core standards.On March 5, 2014, the College Board announced that a redesigned version of the SAT would be administered for the first time in 2016. The current SAT, introduced in 2016, takes three hours to finish, plus 50 minutes for the SAT with essay, and as of 2017 costs US$45 (US$57 with the optional essay), excluding late fees, with additional processing fees if the SAT is taken outside the United States. Scores on the SAT range from 400 to 1600, combining test results from two 800-point sections: mathematics, and critical reading and writing. Although taking the SAT, or its competitor the ACT, is required for freshman entry to many colleges and universities in the United States many colleges and universities are experimenting with test-optional admission requirements and alternatives to the SAT and ACT. Starting with the 2015–16 school year, the College Board began working with Khan Academy to provide free SAT preparation.


A screenplay writer (also called screenwriter for short), scriptwriter or scenarist, is a writer who practices the craft of screenwriting, writing screenplays on which mass media, such as films, television programs and video games, are based.


A songwriter is a professional that writes lyrics or composes musical compositions for songs. A songwriter can also be called a composer, although the latter term tends to be used mainly for individuals from the classical music genre and film scoring, but is also associated with writing and composing the original musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter that writes the lyrics/words are referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that songwriting is often an activity for which the tasks are distributed between a number of people. For example, a songwriter who excels at writing lyrics might be paired with a songwriter with the task of creating original melodies. Pop songs may be written by group members from the band or by staff writers – songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers.The old-style apprenticeship approach to learning how to write songs is being supplemented by university degrees and college diplomas and "rock schools". Knowledge of modern music technology (sequencers, synthesizers, computer sound editing), songwriting elements and business skills are now often necessary requirements for a songwriter. Several music colleges offer songwriting diplomas and degrees with music business modules. Since songwriting and publishing royalties can be substantial sources of income, particularly if a song becomes a hit record; legally, in the US, songs written after 1934 may be copied only by the authors. The legal power to grant these permissions may be bought, sold or transferred. This is governed by international copyright law.Songwriters can be employed to write either the lyrics or the music directly for or alongside a performing artist, or they present songs to A&R, publishers, agents and managers for consideration. Song pitching can be done on a songwriter's behalf by their publisher or independently using tip sheets like RowFax, the MusicRow publication and SongQuarters. Skills associated with song-writing include entrepreneurism and creativity.

Stephen King

Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, many of which have been adapted into feature films, miniseries, television series, and comic books. King has published 58 novels (including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman) and six non-fiction books. He has written approximately 200 short stories, most of which have been published in book collections.

King has received Bram Stoker Awards, World Fantasy Awards, and British Fantasy Society Awards. In 2003, the National Book Foundation awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has also received awards for his contribution to literature for his entire oeuvre, such as the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement (2004), and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America (2007). In 2015, King was awarded with a National Medal of Arts from the United States National Endowment for the Arts for his contributions to literature. He has been described as the "King of Horror".

Writing system

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, on a blackboard, 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.

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.

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