What is a hieroglyph?

Oksana Logunova
Oksana Logunova
March 15, 2013
What is a hieroglyph?

Those people who think that a hieroglyph is a drawing or an image of something are totally wrong thinking. Naturally, more than three thousand years ago, people began to write with drawings. They drew what they saw and the hieroglyphs were more like narrative pictures than letters.

The appearance of hieroglyph

Simple concepts, such as man or animal or tree, were easy to portray. And something like feelings, actions or desires is much more complicated. Therefore, they began to create complex hieroglyphs, which could consist of three pictures. Later they realized that this was a difficult path and began to create hieroglyphs on the phonetic principle. They differ cardinally from letters, in our letter a letter only in combination with others can indicate something when a word is formed, a hieroglyph sometimes can even denote a concept by itself without the help of another hieroglyph.

Let us consider in more detail what a hieroglyph is. The hieroglyph is (ancient-Greek. Ἱερογλύφος) - a written sign.They can mean morphemes, concepts and words, as well as individual sounds and syllables. The term itself of Greek origin, such inscriptions, carved on stone, called ερογλυφικὰ γράμματα (hieroglyphics literacy), which means— "sacred-cut letters."


Varieties of hieroglyphs

Hieroglyphs are of three types:

  • Chinese characters. In Chinese, there are only 400 syllables and all of them are distinguished by intonation, therefore there are a lot of homonyms in this language, the sound is the same, and the meaning is different.
  • Japanese hieroglyphs. They are called Kanji and represent the main part of Japanese writing.
  • Egyptian hieroglyphs. In ancient Egypt, the writing system was formed at the turn of the 4th and 3rd millennium BC. The oldest are the inscriptions on the pharaoh Narmer's palette.


Now you know what are hieroglyphs, photos of all of them can be found on the global Internet. But in order to learn how to write with them, follow the special courses.


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