The Writing System

Go to the relevant discussion by clicking on the section headings below.

A. General

B. The rise of writing

C. Early English writing

D. English writing after 1100


When you’re ready to take the quiz based on this topic, go to the IVLE page and click on ‘Assessment’ on the left, and then on ‘Writing’.

Additional references

O’Grady, William et al. (1996), Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction (London: Longman), Ch. 5

Pyles, Thomas and John Algeo (1993), The Origins and Development of the English Language, 4th edn, Ch. 3.


Web Links

In Kazakhstan in October 2017, the President announced a switch from the Cyrillic alphabet to the Latin alphabetic, and the changeover is to be official by 2025. Here is the BBC report.


In Azerbaijan, they changed from Cyrillic to Latin script on 1 August 2001. Read the report from the BBC.


Evolution of Alphabets -
Site details the evolution of many of the world’s major alphabets.

Ancient Scripts of the World -
Lawrence Lo describes the origins, types and families of writing systems. Sections on phonetics, historical linguistics. Bibliography and links.


Indian Alphabet Comparison -
A comparison of written Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali and Gujarati by Eden Golshani.

Omniglot -
Guide to all major alphabets, syllabaries and other writing systems. Also includes information on languages and links to other online language resources.

African Writing Systems -
An examination of the writing systems of Africa, including Amharic (Ethiopian).

Introduction to Linguistics: Writing Systems Resources -
Links to information about graphemics.

Impact of the Dravidian Culture on the Writing Systems in India. -
A paper which examines the development of scripts in India.

A Study of Chinese Writing Systems -
Academic paper which examines Chinese orthography .

Orthography Examples -
Samples of non-Latin writing systems, including Cyrillic, Aramaic, a syllabary, and a phonetic system.

Shavian Alphabet -
An alternative alphabet developed for English by George Bernard Shaw. This site introduces Shavian script, and offers fonts and applications for the scholar.

Non-Roman Writing Systems and the Internet. -
Links of use to students of non-Latin languages and graphemics.


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