Unit 2: English Language The Origins and Development of Handwriting
The Story of Handwriting: Origins and Development • To ancient people, the invention of handwriting appeared to be magical in nature – a gift from the Gods. • The Egyptian people believed that the Gods Thoth and Isis had given them the knowledge of writing. • Other civilisations, of course, believed that other Gods gave them this understanding. For example, Greek – Hermes and the Hindus – Brahma.
The Story of Handwriting: Origins and Development • Primitive man made paintings and carvings some 20,000 years before Christ in caves. (The beginnings of writing are in simple pictures). • ‘A system of writing was not achieved until the visual signs represented the sounds of the language, thus linking speech and writing’. • ‘The stages of development of writing did not run in a straight line of descent from pictures to an alphabet’. For example, the Egyptians did not devise an alphabet although they reached a stage where letters (elements of an alphabet) were used – hieroglyphics.
Sumerian Writing • Sumer: a small part of Mesopotamia lying at the head of the Persian Gulf between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris and within what is now Iraq. • First language written – largely monosyllabic (consisting of one syllable: brief words) • Started as simple pictures • Traced back to 3100BC (may have gone back further?) • The Sumerians had established a full system of writing by approximately the third millennium BC • Cuneiform - style
Egyptian Writing In Egypt there were three scripts in use: • Hieroglyphic – used principally for sacred inscriptions on buildings and monuments either carved in stone or painted (symbols) • Hieratic – derived from hieroglyphic. Used by priests in existence in the first dynasty. It changed from vertical columns to horizontal strips and was then directed from right to left. • Demotic – evolved from hieratic. It was the script of everyday affairs. It has not been traced to before the 7th century BC. Egyptians created papyrus (paper) which was made from the pith of reeds and could be written on by rush and reed pen.
Hieroglyphs Hieratic demotic
Chinese Calligraphy • The father of Chinese writing is Ts’angChieh. • The writing of China began with pictures and then evolved into symbols. • The earliest inscriptions (scratched on bones and tortoise shells) were made in the Shang-Yin Dynasty by astrologers for the purposes of divination (the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means) • ‘By the beginning of the Christian era a highly developed script had been formed which has hardly changed’. • Chinese calligraphers – emperors, court and government officials (highly esteemed) • Chinese language – mainly monosyllabic. Each character represents a whole word (we use a number of signs or letters to make words.
Medieval Scripts – Gothic Writing • Cuneiform and the alphabet spread • Cuneiform – related to the wedge-shaped characters used in the ancient writing systems of Mesopotamia, Persia and Ugarit in Syria.
The Alphabet • ‘A collection of letters each one indicating one of the sounds used in speech’. • SOUNDS – phonemes – some sounds are indicated by two letters. For example, sh, th (dipgraphs) • The circumstances of the origin of the first alphabet are complex. • The Phoenician alphabet was influenced by Egyptian writing and this alphabet influenced the writing of Greece and Rome. • The Phoenicians were sea traders and did business around the Mediterranean. Their alphabet may have been adopted by Greece in about 1000BC (22 letters – no vowels) • Alpha + beta = alphabet
Scripts of the Italian Renaissance • The proportions and shapes of letters began to change through the avoidance of pen lifts and the use of joins. • PRINTING – imitated Gothic script but did not destroy handwriting (Italic)
Copperplate Writing • Copperplate is a word that refers to any careful, neat and disciplined handwriting, yet this definition is too wide. • Engraving – a sharply pointed pen was necessary to imitate the engraved letters. • The width and variations of the pen strokes depended on how heavy or how light the pressure put on the pen’s point. • The father of copperplate is the italic hand. • The aim was to write words with one continued line (without pen lifts)
Print - Script • The simplification of letter forms was needed to teach beginners to write. • 1916 – print script was used to teach infants in London.
Formal Calligraphy Revived • Despite the invention of printing there is a need for calligraphy today. • Printing is for making numerous copies.
Illuminated Manuscripts • Papyrus (paper like material derived from papyrus plant) – superseded by parchment (animal skin) and vellum (calf skin) • Painted pictures • Manuscripts were made for kings and queens and other noble persons – intended for private worship
Legibility • ‘...the upper parts of words is of more importance to legibility than the lower part, due to movements of the eyes when reading’. • Differences in writing styles – no two people write alike. • In the time of the Romans, writing was on papyrus, wax tablets and parchment and on walls and bricks. • Writing can appear different depending on how the writing implement is held and the speed in which one is writing.
Motions and Shapes in Writing • Handwriting – a system of movements involving touch Patterns and Spacing • Pens: two types – those that require ink and ball point • Quills • Commercial production of fountain pens (1880) Ink • Carbon inks: mixture of soot and gum or glue with water. Egyptians used this for writing on papyrus. • Iron-gall inks: extract of thorn wood.
Motions and Shapes in Writing Paper, Vellum and Papyrus • The oldest paper is dated to AD 406 made by the Chinese. • The forerunner of paper was papyrus made in ancient Egypt – it dates back to the first dynasty. • Paper: made of vegetable fibres • Vellum (fine parchment made from animal skin)
The Teaching of Handwriting • Medieval times – priests taught the young scholars.ese scholars were mostly males as females were not considered equal in having an education. • Left-handed writers: All throughout history left-handed peoplehave been completely neglected and even scorned. Left-handed people were once thought to be evil in some cultures. Words like "Sinister", meaning left hand side and "Kjevhendt", meaning crooked-handed or left-handed, are just a sample of the disparaging words used in other languages to describe a left-handed person. Most of the languages of the world have words in their vocabulary defining left-handedness as being clumsy.