Writing Systems: Crash Course Linguistics #16 | Summary and Q&A

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January 22, 2021
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Writing Systems: Crash Course Linguistics #16

TL;DR

Writing systems, or orthographies, have evolved over time and can be categorized into alphabets, syllabaries, and logographic systems.

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Key Insights

  • 🤬 Writing systems involve symbols (graphemes) that represent linguistic information.
  • ✍️ Alphabets, syllabaries, and logographic systems are three types of writing systems.
  • 🔤 Alphabets like the Latin and Cyrillic alphabet represent individual sounds, while syllabaries like NāgarÄ« represent entire syllables, and logographic systems like Chinese represent whole words.
  • ✍️ Writing systems have been influenced by language structures, borrowing from other languages, tools used for writing, and cultural factors.
  • ✍️ The development of writing systems was a slow process that took place over generations, not a sudden invention.
  • 🔤 The Latin alphabet has been borrowed and adapted by various languages throughout history.
  • ✍️ Some writing systems, such as the Cherokee syllabary and Hangul, were created from scratch for specific languages.
  • ✍️ Writing systems continue to evolve, influenced by technology and communication platforms like the internet.

Transcript

Hi, I'm Taylor and welcome to the last episode of Crash Course Linguistics! All human societies have language, either spoken or signed or both. But writing is a technology that got invented in different ways in different places, so not all languages have a standardized written form. The development of writing is influenced by lots of things: the st... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is a writing system?

A writing system is a set of conventions used to represent a language in writing, consisting of symbols that stand for linguistic information such as sounds, syllables, or words.

Q: What is an alphabet?

An alphabet is a writing system where each grapheme represents a phoneme, or individual sound. Examples include the Latin alphabet used for English, Finnish, and other European languages, as well as the Cyrillic alphabet used for Bulgarian, Russian, and Greek.

Q: What is a syllabary?

A syllabary is a writing system where each grapheme represents a syllable. Examples include the Nāgarī syllabary used in writing systems around India and the Cherokee syllabary used for the Cherokee language.

Q: What is a logographic writing system?

A logographic writing system involves using graphemes that represent whole words or morphemes of any length. The Chinese writing system is an example of a logographic system.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • All societies have spoken or signed language, but not all languages have a standardized written form.

  • A writing system consists of symbols, or graphemes, that represent linguistic information such as sounds, syllables, or words.

  • Writing systems can be categorized as alphabets (one symbol per sound), syllabaries (one symbol per syllable), or logographic systems (one symbol per word or morpheme).

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