Writing Beyond the Letter
The ability to write, hence to preserve and share arbitrary words and thoughts, was one of the most important breakthroughs in the history of mankind. It laid the technological basis for what we perceive today as culture, science and, in good part, economy. Nonetheless, writing can encompass much more than just words, and this is an integral, but often overlooked part of it. Until very recently, writing was necessarily bound to the physical medium on which it was written or into which it was inscribed. The physicality of the medium interacted with and often enhanced the purely textual message. These features, which go beyond the encoding of words, are the secondary characteristics of writing systems. They include, but are not limited to typography, and often serve, consciously or not, the transmission of additional messages beyond the purely textual content.If the study of writing itself is still largely in its infancy, this is even more true for the study of secondary characteristics, which is an integral part of grammatology. Beginning with a taxonomy of these secondary characteristics, this article looks in more detail at two non-typographical characteristics, namely ordering and punctuation. This short sketch of a cultural history of ordering and punctuation begins with the role of ordering in the initial invention of writing over its use across the millennia. It ends with the contemporary use of special punctuation marks to encode emotions.
|Keywords||grammatology, ordering, writing, punctuation, emoji|
|Publisher||Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision|
|Journal||Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis|
|Rights||Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).|
|Note||TMG Journal for Media History; Vol 19, No 2 (2016): Typografie in mediahistorisch perspectief; 1-17|
Küster, Marc Wilhelm. (2016). Writing Beyond the Letter. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 19(2), 1–17. doi:10.18146/2213-7653.2016.262