5 Matching Annotations
  1. Jul 2021
    1. "The earlier systems of writing were extremely difficult to learn," says Schwartz, the Whiting Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. "There were thousands of symbols used in very complicated ways, which meant that only a very small group of people could ever learn how to write or read. With the invention of the alphabet, it meant that a much larger number of people could, in theory, learn how to read and write. And so it ultimately led to the democratization of writing. And of course it is the system that all Western European writing systems used because Greeks, who borrowed the Semitic alphabetic system, then used it to write their own language."

      Early writing systems used thousands of symbols and were thus incredibly complex and required heavy memorization. This may have been easier with earlier mnemonic systems in oral (pre-literate societies), but would have still required work.

      The innovation of a smaller alphabetic set would have dramatically decreased the cognitive load of massive memorization and made it easier for people to become literate at scale.

  2. Sep 2019