Portal:Writing

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WELCOME TO THE WRITING PORTAL


Introduction

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

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. In both ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica, writing may have evolved through calendric and a political necessity for recording historical and environmental events.

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Modernist poetry is a mode of writing that is characterized by two main features. The first is technical innovation in the writing through the extensive use of free verse. The second is a move away from the Romantic idea of an unproblematic poetic 'self' directly addressing an equally unproblematic ideal reader or audience.

Modernist poetry in English is generally considered to have emerged in the early years of the 20th century with the appearance of the Imagist poets. In common with many other modernists, these poets were writing in reaction to what they saw as the excesses of Victorian poetry, with its emphasis on traditional formalism and overly flowery poetic diction. In many respects, their criticism of contemporary poetry echoes what William Wordsworth wrote in the Preface to Lyrical Ballads to instigate the Romantic movement in British poetry over a century earlier.

In general, the modernists saw themselves as looking back to the best practices of poets in earlier periods and other cultures. Their models included ancient Greek literature, Chinese and Japanese poetry, the troubadours, Dante and the medieval Italian philosophical poets (such as Guido Cavalcanti), and the English Metaphysical poets.

Much of the early poetry produced by these writers took the form of short, compact lyrics. However, as modernist poetry in English developed, longer poems came to the fore. These long poems represent the main contribution of the modernist movement to the 20th century English poetic canon.


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An Ottoman Empire era ijazah written in Arabic certifying competence in calligraphy, 1206 AH / 1791 AD

Selected biography

Denise Schmandt-Besserat.jpg
Denise Schmandt-Besserat (born August 10, 1933) is a French-American archaeologist and retired professor of art and archaeology of the ancient Near East.

Schmandt-Besserat has worked on the origin of writing and counting, and the nature of information management systems in oral societies. Her publications on these subjects include:

  • Before Writing (2 vols), University of Texas Press 1992;
  • How Writing Came About, University of Texas Press 1996;
  • The History of Counting, Morrow Jr. 1999;
  • When Writing Met Art (University of Texas Press, 2007); and
  • numerous articles in major scholarly and popular journals among them Science, Scientific American, Archaeology, American Journal of Archaeology, and Archaeology Odyssey.

Her work has been widely reported in the public media (Scientific American, Time, Life, New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor.) She was featured in several television programs such as Out of the Past (Discovery Channel), Discover (Disney Channel); The Nature of Things (CBC), Search for Solutions (PBS), and Tell the Truth (NBC).

In her most recent book, When Writing Met Art (2007), Schmandt-Besserat investigated the impact of literacy on visual art. She showed that, before writing, art of the ancient Near East mostly consisted of repetitive motifs. But, after writing, conventions of the Mesopotamian script, such as the semantic use of form, size, order and placement of signs on a tablet was applied to images resulting in complex visual narratives. She also shows how, reciprocally, art played a crucial role in the evolution of writing from a mere accounting system to literature when funerary and votive inscriptions started to be featured on art monuments.


Did you know...

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...that screenwriter Richard Baer's writing credits for television included twenty-three episodes of Bewitched and five episodes of The Munsters?
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WritingCalligraphyPenmanshipWriting implementsInksAlphabetic writing systemsAbjadAbugidaKanjiLogographic writing systemsWriting systemsCyrillic alphabetsHellenic scriptsScript typefaces

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