Written language certainly started as representations of the things themselves,


gradually reduced to abbreviations used for their phonetic value, three figures necessary for the main consonants in the typical Semitic word, vowels inherent if defined at all. Only the Chinese failed to get hooked on phonics, thus allowing the mutually unintelligible Chinese ‘dialects’ to share a common written language to this day, as if all Romance languages still had to be written in classical Latin regardless of their contemporary pronunciations. This probably was the case for several hundred years, and certainly Old Church Slavonic was still considered the correct literary language for much of the Slavic world until modern times. Could Europe have foregone two World Wars if they felt bound to Roman tradition? Certainly both the Church itself and the Holy Roman Empire paid at least lip service to just such a concept, but would we be surfing the Internet and shuttling through Space if we’d played it that safe? Evolution, both biological and cultural, reaches many dead ends, but the choice made is always the inevitable one.

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