Friday, January 24, 2020

Hieroglyphs to Emojis

New York Times – "Emojis Meet Hieroglyphs: If King Tut Could Text"

"Hieroglyphics was a complete written language, and while even an illiterate person could recognize and understand some basic symbols, the scribes worked according to strict rules and had to be highly skilled. Ancient Egyptian inscriptions eventually morphed into the dry efficiency of the first alphabet of around 20 characters, which could be more easily taught and executed, leading to an explosion in communications.

“What’s happened now,” said Ms. Ben Dor Evian, who has a hieroglyph app on her cellphone, “is that it is easier to click on an emoji than to write a whole word.”

Emojis often serve as emotional shorthand — think smiley blowing a heart kiss to soften a message or send love, or a winking face to signal sarcasm — filling an expressive void that text messages may fail to convey.

In ancient Egyptian writing and art, the image of a scarab, or dung beetle, expressed a whole concept of the afterlife and rebirth and was used in inscriptions as the verb “to become.” Hieroglyphics also had ways of adding context in the form of a set of mute symbols known as “classifiers.” A Libyan throw stick could, for example, be used to denote foreignness."

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