The spoken language emerged because of strong need of communication. It existed together with other tools for transmitting information for a long period, but any of them didn’t allow capturing the communication permanently. This was possible only with the development of the script and from that moment on the history and the memory of the mankind started to be written.
The speech and script weren’t the only tools of communication that ever existed. Indians in North America didn’t have the script and their language existed in many dialects. They used a very sophisticated sign language that enabled them to overcome the language barrier.
The script didn’t emerged in Egypt
The first script wasn’t incurred by the need of keeping mythological narrations, but because of the effort to keep an accurate accounting. At first calculi (stones in Latin), pebbles stored in a clay container, were used for figure records. A pictogram was created at the moment someone painted the counted element on the container plug and later the script developed from it.
That kind of signs occurred in Sumer in Lower Mesopotamia in city of Uruk for the first time around 3300 BC. But this primitive script hadn’t been able to record abstract words yet. The characters were developing gradually, their shape had been changing. They had the shape of a wedge, so it was called cuneiform.
Egyptian hieroglyphs – the script „from scratch“
Egyptian hieroglyphs emerged around 3,100 BC. We don’t know, whether the script was a result of contacts between the Egyptians and Sumerians or it emerged independently. However, it was a coherent system that was able to express all language nuances. There were significant differences between the cuneiform and Egyptian script, we can suppose then that the Egyptian script wasn’t influenced by it.
The eldest records were written on plant materials by the Egyptians, e.g. wood, leaves or bark. These materials decayed very quickly, so the eldest preserved records were inscripted into stone, ivory tablets or clay objects.
Speaking of hieroglyphs, there are two different language layers:
- Classical (Middle) Egyptian
- Late Egyptian
The first one is called Classical or Middle Egyptian and it correspond to the language used in literary texts from the 12th dynasty period. The second layer is so-called Late Egyptian – the language of private letters, administrative and court documents, which was officially used from the 18th dynasty, when Amenhotep IV – Akhenaten implemented the language reform.