Writing is actually a fascinating concept. I often ponder on how and why it evolved. What are the origins of writing? Why did we start? Was it to facilitate trading? Did authorship develop from that same source? Or was it an entirely different avenue? How did the two separate avenues of vocalization and sign language evolve? Did people listen to the trickles of a stream or the raging of a volcano and try to mimic them? In so doing, did they begin to build a language? Did signs, the separate consonants, and vowels evolve from the vocal sound of a whistling wind? A raging storm?
When I was writing my latest novel, it began as a historical suspense romance but changed to comedy which I’ve never aspired to write but did when faced with illness. The point is, in my story, an Immortal appears in the later chapters with his own language. As authors know full well, characters have a habit of just springing into a novel without prior planning or warning. Did the writer, true to their muse, not delete it? So I came to the point of this character, the immortal, who had his own language. Yes, he did have one, but how would it sound? How would I put it in writing in my novel?
This bought me to muse on our earliest ancestors and the origins of language. How would our ancestors have exchanged goods? Would it all be by action, not sounds? Taking it further, how would they vocalize the sound of the raging wind, the crackle of thunder, the howl of a wolf? Even more mysterious is how they would put it down in writing? Would they use signs that literally describe the wind? For example, if one looks at the letter ‘W,’ it gives the initial sound of the wailing of the wind. Now it’s the same interpretation in German – interesting. So in portraying the language of an ancestor, I imagined how they would vocalize the sound of space, nature, the elements, and animals. Although it was thought-provoking and made for exciting writing, I realized it may include signs and diagrams as part of the language. I realized I was endeavoring to introduce a new or different version of an ancient language. This was too complicated and far beyond the scope and length of my fictional novel. I would understand the worlds and composition because I’d made it up. Still, I couldn’t expect my reader to enjoy pages of signs, letters, and diagrams.
So I deleted hours of trying to dream up the origin and sounds of my fictitious ancestor.
Getting a Glimpse of the Origin of Writing
I appreciate that the system of writing varies; the Egyptian symbology is different from the Chinese, and so on. So I thought, maybe if I did a little research on each writing system, I might glimpse the source or origin of writing if not vocalization. Maybe with a fleeting thought might come some enlightenment? So for starters. The vowel ‘O’ simulates the howling of a wolf, as does the letter ‘w’ as it carries on the wind. So how did these vowels come about? How did our ancestors put them together?
There again, did singing come first? The high notes of the soprano emulating birds or raindrops or the base/baritone vocalizing the thunder of the storm. If I was just starting out in academia, I might have opted to research these fascinating concepts.
Another reason for the above is my interest in the history of the evolving presentations of the modern novel. I was fascinated with the presentation and language of the first novel in our literary history, entitled ‘Pamela, ‘created by Samuel Richardson, 1740. He used the epistolary style form, which was quite absorbing.
At university, amongst other subjects, I did study the etymology and formation of our modern language. I began my research from two primary roots of our Western language, the soft poetic lilt of Latin languages and the harsh pragmatism of the Teutonic. Of course, there are softer tones in the Germanic language, but that is another area of debate.
We were instructed to write one short story using the Teutonic roots and then another from Latin. I had to work through dictionaries for nearly every word. It was not tiring at all; it was fascinating. It appears a crime novel benefits from the Teutonic – Germanic languages while a romance needs Latin.
I see I’ve written enough for now but will return next time with more ideas, and hopefully, you will have some as well, I would welcome your input and comments.
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