A brief history of communication: hieroglyphics to emojis
A brief history of communication: hieroglyphics to emojis

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.


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 L101 Introducing English language studies [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371