Ideas Evolve into Writing

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 in A Holistic Approach, ancient symbols

Ideas can evolve into writing symbols.

“Spoken words are the symbols of mental experience, and written words are the symbols of spoken words.” (Interpretation, Aristotle)

In a sense, phonetics may justly be called a study of symbols. The process we call speech is essentially a system of symbolization that has been built up to make negotiable from one individual to another his concept of certain objects, qualities, acts, ideas… (Source: Phonetics: An Introduction to the Principles of Phonetic Science, Claude E. Kantner, Robert West, 1960)


A human experience is an entirety of body, mind and spirit. Intelligence, values, belief, emotions and character are non-material aspects of a person, and his or her perceptions and experience of the world are thus more than just material, scholarly, historical or scientific, they are also non-material and spiritual. The essence of a human being and of Existence here on Earth are beyond words, and since the beginning of their existence, humans have resorted to symbolism and visual arts to express Ideas even before systems of writing came about.
As modern day people trying to accept the probabilities that any writing system can have deeper meaning, we need to realize that writings systems started first from many pre-existing symbols for objects and abstract concepts before they evolved further to represent all sounds of a language.
Symbols are the first source from which writing systems came from. Symbols, pictographs and icons were used initially to illustrate material objects and were also used to capture mental experience and abstract concepts, even deeper meanings.

For example, in China, this ancient pictograph represents a mother, and in it you can see the forms of a woman’s bosom by two dots and cradling arms by the lines encircling the dots.
We can see here how the pictograph evolved into the Chinese character for mother except the form was turned on its side. ( (

In both China and Japan, the written character for mother appears in another variation, that is, instead of two dots one stroke is used. (

The original pictograph no longer is similar to this version. But the meaning of “mother” has remained over the centuries.

This is my first example of the evolution of an icon or pictograph into a letter or symbol within a writing system and I hope to share others found around the world but also within baybayin. I’ve begun this with the fertility symbol that very well could have become the baybayin symbol of BA.
Koichi gives several examples in this post where kanji symbols look like their meaning.
If you want to share your own discoveries, please post a comment in the Baybayin Alive blog.

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