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Moreover, simple writing was not a desirable thing in their eyes, since 11 they enjoyed greater power, because of the very fact that they alone were able to interpret the writings of past ages. The great task of abstracting the simple alphabet from the mass of ideograms and syllabic signs in which it was embedded was accomplished by the Semites during their tenure of power in Egypt. The alphabet spread from them over the whole Mediterranean basin, changed a little by the Greeks, and again by the Romans. All alphabets in use in the world to-day have come, as Taylor has shown, in direct line of descent through the Semites from the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. We may now summarize the development of the art of writing from the psychological standpoint. It makes a begin- ning with the pictures of concrete objects, a device natural to man in an age and environment when thought was confined to the external and concrete, and did not yet embrace the more difficult ideas of relationships. As the mental process grew wider in its scope, so the ideograms took on a symbolic mean- ing. Up to this point it is obvious that ideograms are entirely independent of best paper writers language. A Kaffir chieftain or an English settler might interpret an Indian ideogram just as well as the Indian himself. But as best paper writers soon as the tendency to convention- alize and simplify ideograms appears, and they become fixed in a definite form which perhaps retains only a faint resem- blance to the original picture, a system of writing arises which is no longer self-explanatory. Very few of the savage races of to-day or the ancient nations of the past reached even this point in the invention of writing. As soon as the graphic symbols are connected with sounds rather than meanings, it is evident that the interpretation of the writing depends at once upon the spoken language, ,and the path to a simple and plain representation of phonetic values, and, consequently, of the whole spoken language, lies wide open. Yet of all the races in the world not more than five or six have been able to pass from the ideographic to the phono- graphic stage. Only two or three have been able to carry the process to its logical end and evolve a simple alphabet. The Persians succeeded in developing an alphabet out of the 12 cuneiform Proto-Medic syllabary, which in turn goes back to Assyrian phonograms, and they in their turn to Acadian best paper writers pic- tography. It is believed that the Mayas of Yucatan were suc- cessful in developing an alphabet from ideograms. The im- portant alphabet is the Semitic one originating in Egyptian hieroglyphs. We may note, first of all, that the whole process is analytic. The symbol stands first for an idea, then for a whole word, then for the first syllable of that word, lastly for the single initial sound. To quote Isaac Taylor : "To invent and bring to perfection the score or so of handy symbols for the expression of spoken sounds which we call our alphabet, has proved to be the most arduous enterprise on which the human intellect has ever been engaged. Its achieve- ment tasked the genius of the three most gifted races of the ancient world.
At what point in the development of the race does writing arise? The oldest writing we possess is that on a tablet erected by King Sent in memory of Shera, his grandson.
Professor Sayce places the origin of the Accadian cuneiforms at circ. All other writings, of which records re- main, are modern compared to the vast antiquity of these. But when we consider that man has existed as man for at least 250,000 years, and perhaps twice as long upon the earth, we see that writing comes late in the development of the race. The same point is made even more clearly if we consider 13 the relative time of the development of writing and of the other arts.
The taming of animals, the cultivation of cereals, the art of home-building, the working of metals, the weaving of cloth, the ceramic art, the organization of society and law in some settled form precede the development of writing. It is true that a very definite and rather low limit is set to the de- velopment of civilization until some better method of handing down from generation to generation the fruits of human effort than oral tradition is devised or acquired. It is none the less true that the basic arts of human life antedate by innumer- able centuries that of writing, essential as we moderns con- ceive it to be. We may now ask certain questions which our historical sketch suggests : (1) Since the evolving of a simple system of phonetic symbols has been shown to be a tremendously difficult process, should we not expect tremendous difficulties to face us in the teaching of that system? The child in learn- ing to write to-day has only to reap the benefits of the labour that evolution has cost. It would be as foolish to say that to drive an automobile and to invent one are tasks of equal diffi- culty. We have shown the enormous difficulties conquered in analyzing the sounds of words and evolving a suitable set of symbols for them. We should now add best paper writers a word regarding the amazing rapidity with which the use of these symbols has spread over the world. Eight hundred years ago the knight was proud of his inability to read or write. To-day the most ignorant and poverty-stricken labourer has cause for shame if he cannot do both.
The analysis needed consists mainly in the analysis of the forms of letters, so that the child can see them clearly and note the difference between them. Without such help a reasonably close reproduction of their forms is diffi- cult for the beginner.
We have seen that writing was a late achievement of the race, belonging to a period in racial development which those who see a close parallelism between race and individual would certainly place much later than the period corresponding to adolescence in the individual. Too close an application here will not be just, but we have an indi- cation at least that writing should be begun later than is usu- ally the case in our schools just now.