The emergence of writing system further known as script, characters or orthography is regarded as one of the most significant achievements to humankind. According to Perfetti and Harris (2013), the art of primitive tool making to the days of contemporary expertise, it has been believed that homo sapiens have travelled a long way in order to reinstate ancient stones and bricks to pen and paper and even advanced electronic gadgets in recent times. Eminent authors like Saiegh-Haddad and Henkin-Roitfarb (2014) mentioned that without the emergence of writing, the development of human civilization and knowledge would not have been achievable have mentioned it. This paper will intend to focus on two of the major writing systems of the world namely, the Arabic writing system and the Chinese writing system. In addition to this, the report will further shed light on the origin, characteristics of these two writing system by evaluating their respective phonetics, logograms, segments as well as signs in order to implicitly understand the two writing systems.
Arabic Writing System
According to Sahlolet al. (2014), the foundation of the Arabic writing system can be traced to the conceptualization of inscription and writing of the people belonging to the semi-nomadic Nabataean tribal community, who colonized the southern region of Syria and Jordan, along with other areas such as Northern Arabia as well as the Sinai Peninsula. It has been believed that the stone inscriptions existing in writings of Nabataean reveal immense likenesses to the contemporary form of Arabic writing method. As per Blucheet al. (2014), Arabic scripting system comprises mostly of consonants and vowel along with the certain level of modifications on the similar fundamental letter shapes utilized to create a representation of a varied number of resonance and sounds. The alphabetical range of Arabic system includes eighteen figures and shapes that express around twenty-eight phonetic sounds by the aid of diacritical symbols. Arabic is written from the right hand side continuing to the left. While the figures or numbers are written from left to right. However, Perfetti and Harris (2013) noted that until the beginning of twentieth century, the concept of punctuation marks was not implemented. Furthermore, short vowels, which are signified by a range of symbols and marks, positioned below or above the letters facilitate in the process of pronunciation as well as articulation of a word. They further stated that these set of symbols are only present in the Quran, ‘the holy book of Islam’, whereby there is immense significance of proper recitation and citations are essential for the beginners or novice readers. The alphabets of the Arab language according to Saiegh-Haddad and Henkin-Roitfarb (2014), further regarded as ‘Arabiyyah’ is referred as scripts or writings used to inscribe a large numbers of languages in varied geographical regions. However, the Modern Standard Arabic Method of Writing is regarded as a standardized as well as literary form of the language that is used in majority of the formal speech across the Arab region in order to facilitate effective communication. According to Rojo (2014), the Modern Standard Arabic is considered as an esteemed variety. Brierleyet al.(2016) formulate the concept of Diglossia that is a term used for two different variations of similar language is characteristically regarded as a division in purpose and utilization between MSA and the nationwide spoken range of Arabic language. However, being employed in formal as well as official contexts, MSA is not widely used by the Arabic speakers during a regular means of interpersonal communication.
Chinese Writing System
The Chinese writing system is regarded as the most complex form of language, which does not comprise an alphabet that is a set of figures and characters representing several units of sound and resonance. As per Henderson (2013),this type of writing system comprises an unrestricted set of symbols and fonts representing a word. Chinese writing system requires several set of characters, symbols and fonts in order to represent each of its distinctive morphemes. This writing system has been considered as the oldest form of writing system existing in the world. However, Wei (2014) noted that according to old Chinese legendary scripts, Cangjie a historian official was responsible for its invention under the regime of legendary emperor Huangdi during 2600BC. Andersonet al. (2013) conceptualized that written Chinese inscriptions are regarded as a script of ideograms, which can be characterized into six broad categories such as pictogram or figures, ideograph, logical collective, pictophonetic compounds as well as associate alteration. Williams (2016), noted that the scripted form of Chinese characters are regarded as ‘h?nz?’ which are considered to be formerly images of humans, animals and several other things. However,these Chinese characters have transformed gradually into a more stylized form and do not have comprised any resemblance of the things, which they used to represent. Tianet al. (2015) mentioned in his writing that among the 56,000 Chinese fonts and symbols that are in existence, the major section of these characters would be incomprehensible and vague to the classic and typical Chinese reader. He further mentioned that a distinctive Chinese who reads would only require acquiring 3000 fonts and characters in order to learn Chinese language. There lies a dispute in learning the ways to read as well as inscribe thousands of characters comprising the Chinese language. As per Perfetti and Harris (2013), this has further led to the generalization of Chinese writing method initiated by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1956, which has been recognized in the process of colonization as well as translation industry called “Chinese”. Tranter (2013) took into account that in this process around 2000 fonts of Chinese writing system had been simplified to read as well as write. However, in recent times, Chinese is consideredas a standardized form of writing by the PRC barring Hong Kong and Singapore, whereby the conventional or traditional form of Chinese method is still regarded as the standard language system for regions such as Hong Kong, Taiwan along with Macau.
Arabic Writing System
(I) Phonetics- According to Sahlolet al. (2014), Arabic writing system comprises of almost 30 phonetically unique consonant segments along with six vowels. However, in terms of the range of consonants, the Arabic writing system can be positioned within the range of 20- 37 subdivisions whereas, other languages are likely to be varying towards 20-27 resonance. However, Perfetti and Harris (2013) noted if more than 20 Arabic geminates can be incorporated, the overall sections in Arabic writing system reaches a range of 53 that is considered to be more twice the means for the language system across the world.
(II) Logograms- It has widely understood that Arabic script is not only implemented to write the language of Arab. Brierley et al.(2016) noted mentioned that several other languages namely, Urdu, Persian, Sindhi as well as Malay can be sited as instances that use Arabic scripts in their writing method. However, this language system does not reveal any logographic signs.
(III) Syllabary- According to Rojo (2014), Arabic characters can be written in two varied alphabetic orthographies, a voweled intensely swallow and the other one that in unvoweled that has immense depth because of the deficientphonological detailed information when short vowels are absent or being omitted.
(IV) Segments- As per Saiegh-Haddad (2014), Segmentation of Urdu script while scripting in Nasta’liq writing technique is considered a comprehensive task because of the complexities of writing techniques in comparison to the Naskh writing technique.It must be noted that the Arabic writing recognition has gathered the awareness because of its challenging nature.
(V) Signs and Symbols- Vowels and symbols belonging to the Arabic language, resemble dashes and symbols positioned below or above the Arabic letters to articulate the pronunciation of the language in a correct manner. Saiegh-Haddad provided an instance, “the word ‘Shariba’that is to drink or consume is similar to /shrb/ but have incorporated distinctive symbols to the readers and listeners to simplify the words”.
Chinese Writing System
(I) Phonetics- The most popular Chinese phonetic systems are the Zhuyin alphabet and Hanyu Pinyin. As per Henderson (2013), it must be noted that Chinese employ these two phonetic methods primarily to learn the enunciation and pronunciation of the language and not in form of a writing system. Among these two Pinyin is regarded as the most commonly used phonetics in Mainland China. This phonetic system immensely aids the complex form of language easier to comprehend for meaning of the characters to foreigners and the ones unknown to the language.
(II) Logograms- Anderson et al. (2013) mentioned that Chinese language can be sited as an exceptional example of logographic system whereby each of the Chinese symbols and characters signifies a single unit of meaning or morpheme along with a sole segment of speech. However, Chinese has eventually adapted a characteristic progress of logographic writing method. Initially images were used in order to comprehend thoughts and ideas, however recently, symbols and characters are used to demonstrate specific connotations and ideas. For example, a sword symbol can be used to express anger.
(III) Syllabary- As per Tranter (2013), the systematic method of sound in Chinese language is manifested by the use of tones and resonance in order to specify the differences of connotations between words or syllables. Chinese words generally comprises of one syllable, however contemporary Chinese style employs compound language with higher numbers of suffixes.
(IV) Segments- Tianet al. (2015) stated that Chinese character segmentation is referred as a key factor of recognition. The rate of accuracy of segmentation of Chinese fonts and characters plays a vital role for the performance of Chinese font’s recognition method.
(V) Signs and Symbols- Wei 2014 acknowledged that signs and symbols are regarded as innovative technique of communication because of its magnificence as well as functionality. This form of language is taken through characters and symbols. In recent times, almost 4000 signs and symbols are used in the process of conveying messages through Chinese language.
Therefore, from the above discussion it can be concluded that an individual’s illiteracy incorporates the parallel growth of scripted forms of the language known as upper and lower. The fundamental symbolic concepts of each writing system describe the words of the similar spoken language. The above discussion has evaluated those essential symbolic concepts vary so implicitly that knowing a single writing system will not facilitate the ability of speaking the particular language. The report has focused on the Chinese and Arabic writing systems by evaluating the origin, characteristics, logograms, signs, symbols, Syllabary and segmentation of each of these writing systems.
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