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Does Writing Have a Future?$
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Vilém Flusser

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816670222

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816670222.001.0001

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Letters of the Alphabet

Letters of the Alphabet

(p.23) Letters of the Alphabet
Does Writing Have a Future?

Vilém Flusser

Mark Poster

Nancy Ann Roth

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter reflects on the mode of thought that corresponds to the characters typically used in alphanumeric code. The alphanumeric code that has been adopted for linear notation over the centuries is a mixture of various kinds of signs: letters (signs for sounds), numbers (signs for quantities), and an inexact number of signs for the rules of the writing game (for example, stops, brackets, and quotation marks). Each of these types of signs demands that the writer think in the way that uniquely corresponds to it. Writing equations requires a different kind of thinking from writing rules of logic or the words of language. In alphanumeric code, letters have overpowered numbers. The question “What motivated people to write alphabetically and through a spoken language?” is a contemporary one. In it lies an awareness of the decision we are facing: to give up the alphabet in favor of a code that is no longer spoken. The alphabet is a clear rejection of ideographic writing. Despite all the ideogram’s advantages, writing was to be in letters.

Keywords:   alphanumeric code, linear notation, signs, letters, numbers, writing, spoken language, alphabet, ideographic writing, ideogram

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