How long have we been writing? What sorts of character systems do we use? In this week’s episode, we look at our written languages: where they came from, the varieties of systems that we developed, and how different alphabets have evolved over time.
Also, happy April Fool’s Day! Watch out for octopi. All the information’s good, though – no April Fool’s jokes there. And let us know what you think!
Happy April Fool’s! You can never trust cephalopods. They’re tricksy.
Writing is super weird! Like, at some point in most of our lives, usually fairly early, we figure out how to interpret symbols to have linguistic meaning, and then how to use those symbols for ourselves. I’ve been a voracious reader, from a family of voracious readers, since way before elementary school, and writing stories since my teens (the stories tended to just hang out in my brain before that, content to not be shared with the world), so writing – how we do it, why we do it, and how it evolved – is something I’ve thought about a lot.
It’s sort of like magic. It doesn’t make sense. It’s taking aptitudes and faculties we’re born with and applying our willpower to them until we can do this thing that is really fundamentally unnatural, and yet that gets internalized by most of us to the point that we don’t even think about it anymore when we do it. Plus, we can use it to do so much more than just convey information. We can make people cry, through writing. Make them dream, and hope, and fear.
You sit down and read, and your brain is more than happy to take that journey into what might as well be another world. And from the comfort of your armchair or your city bus or your waiting room, you see new sights, expand your knowledge, and form deep emotional connections with people and places that were born in other people’s imaginations.
Writing is weird. But it might be the best weird I know. ❤