In this free course, A brief history of communication: hieroglyphics to emojis, you’ve looked at what writing enables humans to do that spoken language does not. To summarise, writing allows people to preserve their messages in a permanent form. This, in turn, allows knowledge to accumulate and be passed on from generation to generation. As we’ve seen, language always has a very close relationship with the technologies we use to communicate, and that as these technologies develop, so the nature of language itself and the way we use it also does. Although the concept of writing might seem an intrinsic element of language for us today, its invention came tens of thousands of years after the evolution of spoken language in humans – and there are still a great number of communities which don’t have a written element to their language. Equally noteworthy is the fact that writing as we know it today didn’t appear fully-formed, but developed over several centuries. Today, we have access to a vast range of different communications technologies – including such things as emojis – and can choose these as best fits our purpose.
This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course.