Written communication today is an integral part of business as well as leisure activities. Reading and writing are presuppositions in our modern world of success and achievements. With the help of writing systems, such as the Latin alphabet or braille, we can capture utterances and ideas and make them retrievable. However, we have to keep in mind that natural languages always start out as something spoken, then a system of writing is developed and only then languages are understood and explained with the help of grammar.
Language means matching signs to a specific meaning. At first, pictographs were carved in stone to fulfill this purpose. When alphabets evolved, people had the possibility to create many more graphical signs for certain meanings. The origins of written language can be found in Mesopotamia where texts in cuneiform script were written on clay tablets. In ancient Egypt, hieroglyphs were written on papyrus rolls. During the Middle Ages, texts were hand written on parchment by monks and educated scholars, the majority of people however could not read or write. The use of paper in books and printing became popular in the 15th century through the invention of the printing press. Books became cheaper and more people learned to read and write, therefore the educational standard increased drastically. Technical development in recent times, such as the invention of internet services, smartphones and tablets, enables us to read written, or rather typed, texts on screens. This may save paper and time but it requires a lot of electricity to run such technical devices.
Written language has different characteristics compared to spoken texts. We usually finish our sentences, use correct grammar, adapt the language to special text types or a different readership. When we write, we have to know and follow the rules of orthography, which is not necessary when we communicate orally. Nevertheless, there are special cases of written communication where these rules do not apply.
Recent development of written communication is largely influenced by technical advancement. For instance the use of e-mail and short messages as well as social networks on the internet have made written language adopt more and more spoken features. The boundaries between oral and written texts are gradually fading.