Pictograms and Alphabet

I must have missed the class in school where they taught us about word types (Nouns and Pronouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs, Prepositions, Articles and Conjunctions) because, apart from Nouns and Verbs, I have no clear idea of the meaning of all this stuff. But here’s the thing – it never stopped me from writing these articles!

That aside, I decided to read around a bit, and it seems that these word types thingies are all aspects of the Alphabetic System, which is about units of speech being represented by letterforms. This is probably way more than any of us needs to know about it – right?

It’s not as if there isn’t an alternative because there is: Pictograms!

Now, you might be thinking to yourself ‘sheesh, surely no-one uses those anymore!’ But you’d be wrong. Drive down any road and you will see Pictograms literally at every turn. Boot up your PC or Smartphone and they are omnipresent! And you might get some very funny looks if you don’t understand the language of pictograms when it comes to a visit to your local public convenience (yeah – that means the toilet).

It seems that your humble pictogram can be divided up into types too, but only Nouns and Verbs (yay!). If you want to get clever (i.e. abstract), then you’ll have to start combining pictograms into Ideograms. But that’s about as far as my interest took me – sorry and all that.

Back in the familiar camp of Alphabetics, I found this gorgeous piece of writing that seems to wrap it all up very nicely:”

If writing were architecture, then books would be buildings, pages floors, paragraphs rooms, sentences walls, words furniture, letterforms bricks, phonemes clay and grammar mortar.” (Type and Typography by Phil Baines & Andrew Haslam)

Now ain’t that grand!


9 thoughts on “Pictograms and Alphabet

  1. I’m really glad we invented the alphabet. It’s ever so much easier than figuring out all of those picture things that they still use in Chinese. Imagine a Chinese typewriter. I don’t have to as I found pictures of them on line. YIKES! They have lots of keys. Pictograms are quite useful, of course. We see them on signs all the time. Chinese pictograms are like beautiful works of art but I’m ever so happy I don’t have to write them. Three cheers for the 26 letter alphabet! Oh, by the way, I have learned a lot of Greek letters and the Russian alphabet as well. The Russians have a lot of cool characters in their alphabet.

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    • I’m also glad that the alphabetic system was developed. It makes it so much easier to say: Hiya Orpha – I’m so happy that you dropped by!
      Or, if I were Chinese:
      此外,我很高興字母系統的開發。這使得它容易得多地說:你好俄珥巴 – 我很高興你下降了!


      • As I said… very pretty and very artistic but I’m ever so happy I don’t have to use them. LOL I give thanks to whoever invented the alphabet. By the way… just a small bit of trivia for you. The first two letters in the Greek alphabet are alpha and beta. You can easily see where the word “alphabet” came from. Apparently the first “true alphabet” was the Greek one. The Cyrillic or Russian alphabet is based on the Greek one with added letters for sound specific to Russian. (Slavic) Russian is an interesting language and translating Russian into English is like unraveling a puzzle. That’s all I will say about it right now. I’m fascinated by languages and words. I kind of collect words.

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      • I find Greek to be interesting. Once I had remembered the sound of each letter of the Greek alphabet, it became easy to see how many English words are the same or similar to the Greek (and the other way around). It became fun to read the signs in Greece and find that the words are a lot more familiar to my ears than they are to my eyes. 🙂


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