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Book: The Five-Minute Linguist

Chapter: 26. Where did Writing Come From?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.38145


Writing begins when a society has developed a complex enough culture (“urbanization”)—and when that culture’s language is “monosyllabic.” This happened, we know, in ancient Mesopotamia, China, and Mesoamerica. Once writing has developed, neighboring peoples (perhaps they didn’t meet the two criteria) can borrow, and often adapt, writing for their own.

Chapter Contributors

  • Peter Daniels ( - ptdaniels) 'Independent Scholar '