In the two previous parts of this article, we talked about the origins of writing in Asia, India, cuneiform writing in the Middle East, and hieroglyphic writing in Egypt, and the gradual switch from graphic representation of objects to the use of sound symbols, then letters. The first alphabet, created by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, was borrowed by the Greek then adapted by the Romans, and imposed through their conquest all over Europe. We now had the power of writing almost anything, any language, with an infinity of possibilities.
During the dark ages and the early Middle Ages in Europe, only the clergy, nobles, and government officials could read and write. Educating the masses was considered dangerous and sometimes evil. Only the clergy was allowed to read the Bible, for fear of misinterpretation. Most religious and political documents were penned in Latin, which, after the downfall of Rome, was still understood, if not fluently spoken, by the nobility and the literate elite throughout the Christian world. Books were handwritten in calligraphy on parchment and heavily decorated, usually by monks. These books were labor intensive, very costly, and not available to the population at large.
The layman’s knowledge, however, was still imparted through oral tradition from elders to younger members of society. The intricacies of seasonal planting, weaving, sewing, tanning, preserving food, and other everyday activities were often condensed into how-to songs, learned in childhood and later taught to children and grandchildren. The rhyming and the melody made the task description easy to remember.
Storytellers memorized and retold in songs epic battles and important moments in history, like the song of Roland. Many African and Polynesian tribes still use song and dance to impart knowledge of historic events and storytelling.
But the Latin alphabet also allowed writing in one’s native tongue. With the advent of commerce, trading and shipping companies required written records in everyday language. So did transmission of orders to armies far from home, and communication with conquered territories in the East during the Crusades. Hand writing on parchment spread among the higher middle class.
In 1440, thanks to Gutenberg in Germany, and his invention of the printing press with removable characters, books could be mass-produced, and the written word became affordable.
Soon, the Italian Renaissance saw the creation of many new schools and rich patrons financed the arts. Then Europe saw an explosion of knowledge, culture, arts, and considerable advancement of science, engineering, mathematics, and philosophy.
|Writing and designs of Leonardo da Vinci|
Nowadays, most everyone can read and write and has access to books on every topic, but we are left with a different problem. We have come a long way from writing only the most important truths of our time. Writing has gone from sacred, to important, to artistic, to sometimes frivolous and trivial.
With basic education, anyone can express thoughts and opinions about everything in writing. We are dealing with an overload of information from an infinity of individual sources. Fortunately, our sophisticated computers can handle that immense load, and when someone cusses on social media in Canada, someone in Japan can let them know it’s not okay. 😊
Since the advent of Social Media, we also have derived other forms of written communication in abbreviations for texting, and emojis to express feelings. Universal binary language uses zeros and ones. Computers invent their own languages to communicate with each other. Someone even wrote an entire story in emoji symbols.
I also heard that some law-makers are thinking about getting rid of cursive and lowercase in schools to keep only block letters. Can’t wait to hear my characters screaming at me in ALL CAPS. What’s next? Getting rid of punctuation? Shakespeare must be turning in his grave. 😊
As a writer of sci-fi and fantastic legends, I predict that one day, if we do not destroy ourselves first, Earth will have only one language made up of mixed words and abbreviations and writing styles from various old countries, with one unified alphabet of simple characters everyone will understand.
|alien writing on an I-beam fragment found at the Roswell crash site.|
I only hope that despite this unification, we manage to keep the wonderful variety of cultures, and the colorful traditions of all the people of Earth, along with their best recipes, dances, costumes, and favorite games.
In the meantime, you are welcome to check out my books. Here is my Celtic Legend series, CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE. Find it everywhere in eBook or paperback.
From history shrouded in myths, emerges a family of immortal Celtic Ladies, who roam the medieval world in search of salvation from a curse. For centuries, imbued with hereditary gifts, they hide their deadly secret, stirring passions in their wake as they fight the Viking hordes, send the first knights to the Holy Land, give birth to kings and emperors... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake.
5 stars on Amazon "Edgy Medieval. Yay!"
|CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE - MEDIEVAL CELTIC LEGENDS - SERIES by Vijaya Schartz|