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A Short History of Writing: Ouaknin

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1 A Short History of Writing: Ouaknin
A presentation by David Tscheschke and Sam Fletcher

2 Basic Definitions “Writing only started when an organized system of signs or symbols was created that could record and fix all that the writer was thinking, feeling, and capable of expressing.” “The alphabet can be defined as a system consisting of a limited number of signs expressing the basic sounds of the language, through which it is possible to record in writing whatever the user wishes to express.”

3 Cuneiform: the oldest form of writing
Signs imprinted on clay with wedge shaped stylus Developed from pictures (unlike “Tokens, A New Theory”) Invented by Sumerians, then adapted by Akkadians (Assyrian & Babylonian), Elamites, and Hittites Eventually, Sumerian died as a common language but remained “the language of scholars”. Babylonian became the international language of the Near East.

4 Egyptian hieroglyphs (third millennium)
The Four types The formal kind found on stone monuments A linear form written on wood or papyrus A hieratic form which was less formal and used for everyday writing by priests A demotic form: more stylized and less figurative

5 Other hieroglyphic scripts (third millennium B. C. to second century A
Other hieroglyphic scripts (third millennium B.C. to second century A.D.) Hittite: both ideographic and phonetic, boustrophedon direction Proto-Indian: never deciphered Cretan: also used stylus/clay tablet, four types have been identified Chinese: always pictographic & ideographic, never phonetic Pre-Columbian American: represent words or symbols

6 Alphabetic Scripts (second millennium B.C.)
Unlike hieroglyphs, emerged from a common Semitic origin Two systems: Ugaritic & Proto-Sinaitic Ugaritic Included consonants and three vowels: a, e, u Obsolete

7 Proto-Sinaitic Origin of western scripts, modern Hebrew, and modern Arabic Came from Hebrews at the time of the Exodus Abandoned pictographs as a result of discovering monotheism Ugaritic script & Canaanite people were heavily influenced by Proto- Sinaitic Proto-Sinaitic developed into Proto-Phoenician, then Phoenician (origin of Greek, Latin, and modern western scripts) Greek introduced vowels, which became a part of all western writing Meanwhile, Phoenician developed into Aramaic (origin of modern “square” Hebrew script & Arabic) which never adopted vowels

8 Questions Why do you think hieroglyphs were eventually replaced by alphabetic scripts? What do you think about Ouknin’s claim that monotheism changed Hebrew writing into a less pictographic and more symbolic script? Is it true? What are some of the drawbacks to alphabetic scripts which don’t include vowels?

9 Activities Write a brief sentence on a piece of paper without including vowels (like Hebrew or Arabic). Then, trade papers with a partner. How does this vowel omission affect your ability to understand accurately? Look at the chart on pgs of the reading. Do you think that this pictographic evolution of cuneiform is correct? Do you agree with the token theory instead? Explain

10 The End Thank you for listening

11 Quiz Have you taken the Plagiarism training that Dr. Adkins has sent to your ? What does Bergmann caution researchers about at the onset of the chapter? Name one web resource for researchers that Bergmann discusses in chapter 5 Describe the “flow chart” for keyword searches that Bergman uses (very similar to the process Martin described)

12 About Ouakin

13 Brief Bio Born in 1957 Son of a Rabbi PhD in Paris
Rabbi and Philosopher Examines Levinas

14 Write a brief note using one of the alphabets here.
Pass to the person next to you to decode



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