How did man learn to write?

Nobody knows exactly where and when writing originated. But we do have an idea of how it developed from earliest times.

The man began by making pictures to serve as records of his hunting, wars, and tribal life. Pictures could also be used for messages. A picture of the sun meant a day. Two marks next to the sun meant two days. Such signs are called pictographs.

When civilization developed, this method of writing was speeded up by simplifying the pictures. The Egyptians used a wavy line to mean a body of water. The Chinese used an ear between two doors to mean "listen." Such signs are called ideographs or ideograms.

The ancient Egyptians used a system of signs that we call hieroglyphics. At first, it was entirely ideographic. But over the centuries the Egyptians de­veloped a phonetic system as well. This is writing where the signs represent sounds rather than objects or ideas.

As civilization further developed, men needed more and more signs. So they developed a method of spelling words according to sound. For example, in English, we would write the "belief by drawing a bee and a leaf. Such signs are called phonograms, and the writing is syllabic because it uses syllables.

The next stage in the development of writing was the idea of using an alphabet of single letters. Both the ancient Egyptians and the Babylonians knew how to write in the alphabetic way. From their method came the Greek and Latin alphabets which are used today by most people outside of Asia.