in this day and age when there is so much information


I find a comment such as

The terrifying truth is that all living writing systems in the world come from TWO inventions, one in Mesopotamia and one in China. Of course people have customized and extended and fiddled with these systems to produce Japanese, Arabic, Ge’ez, and many others but the truth is that to develop writing from scratch is an incredibly rare event — and even then it doesn’t always stick.

the question itself has racist undertones.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

38 thoughts on “in this day and age when there is so much information

  1. Tish Farrell says:

    Old argument: writing = civilisation; no writing = uncivilised. Rubbish thinking. And of course there are all manner of writing systems all over the world. There are probably writing systems we know nothing of because they’ve been lost – along with long lost kingdoms and empires, of which there were many across the African continent. Also with the kind of garbage I’m reading in mainstream warmongering media at the moment I might be inclined to say that the written word as a measure of civilisation is highly questionable.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. KIA says:

    By the way, Japanese doesn’t come from Chinese. It has been influenced by Chinese in the past, as has the korean language, mostly by oppressive occupation and conquest in the past, but neither japanese or korean come ‘from’ chinese. That person doesnt seem to know squat and is just making shit up.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      To be so willfully ignorant in this age is a sign of laziness

      Like

    • Barry says:

      While the Japanese language did not come from China, the writing system did. It was adapted to the Japanese language by retaining the symbolic meaning of some ideographs, while for others, the phonetic sound of the Chinese ideograph was used to represent similar sounds in Japanese. The hiragana syllabary was developed later in about the 5th century AD. Japanese today is a mixture of kanji (Chinese ideographs) hiragana (cursive phonetic syllabary) and katakana (phonetic syllabary for loan words).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. john zande says:

    What a silly comment. It’s akin to “If humans evolved from monkeys, while are there still monkeys???”

    Abstract thought is universal. Representation of abstract thought is also universal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Arkenaten says:

    Or to quote Life of Brian ( and, why not, eh?)
    ”Because it’s written, that’s why!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Swarn Gill says:

    Written languages have certain advantages depending on what you want to accomplish. But there are certainly other ways to pass down knowledge, and more importantly though, writing has very little to do with whether or not your people are surviving well and happy. Writing is an adaptation which fulfills a particular purpose, but there is nothing that says humans societies need to have that purpose to be happy. In fact one can argue that language is an advantage of people who have far too much time on their hands compared to those who are doing all the work, and can be just as easily used to keep people in the dark and illiterate, while you wield power arbitrarily through your writing which is now essentially a secret language which you are unwilling to share with everybody else.

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    • makagutu says:

      Written languages have the advantage chiefly that information can be passed over generations with precision compared to oral narratives that is subject to alteration and depends on memory

      Liked by 2 people

      • Swarn Gill says:

        I certainly agree on the advantages of written language, I was just simply saying that these things are developed because of particular goals that a culture has, and I don’t lack of development of a written language necessarily means that a culture isn’t thriving at least in a moralistic sense. It could be that they never develop the computer, but it seems to me that one doesn’t need to do that to have happiness, to be good to each other, or to live sustainably with one’s environment.

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        • makagutu says:

          Of course you are right and we agree. But just with the joke that nothing really exists until a white person finds it, so the argument must be that those who didn’t develop a writing system are lower in the progress scale

          Liked by 1 person

          • Swarn Gill says:

            Well it all depends on how you define progress. I was very fond of Guns, Germs, and Steel for pointing out that even if we want to define progress in this way, environmental factors play a much larger role in determining even the possibility of making “progress”. I understand the criticisms of Diamond in using a western standard of progress to make his argument, but I think there is valuing in demonstrating that even if we define progress according to technological advance it’s still a poor argument to suggest that there is something inherently better about your race that allowed you to make the progress as opposed to just being rather lucky geographically. And then even with that “civilized” history, there are a lot of non-white skinned people who made quite a lot of technological progress as well. The ignorance of Indian, Chinese, and Egyptian cultures as well as others, in favor of a history starting with Ancient Greece certainly demonstrates the racism embedded into western society.

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          • makagutu says:

            History was not always very racist. I think this happened from somewhere in the 16th century or thereabout and the white historians wanted to portray a world in which white meant progress, the beginning of history and so on while others were footnotes in the stage.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Swarn Gill says:

            That does seem to be about where it started large scale, but I do know that even at the time of the renaissance Greek philosophers were still heralded as the intellectual pinnacle of European civilization and their mistakes were actually a reason why scientists in the 16th century made mistakes as well. Of course prior to the 16th century it could be that the Greeks were revered simply because of geographical proximity and having enough scholars to translate writings as opposed to knowledge that would have been passed down by civilizations further away. I wonder too how much the timing of the development of the printing press played into this sort of mass white washing of history.

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          • makagutu says:

            I think the contributions of the printing press to white washing of history would make a good PhD dissertation

            Liked by 1 person

      • Nan says:

        I agree with you, Mak, to a point.

        The bible consists primarily of spoken words passed on through thousands of years, and as John Dominic Crossan said, ” … memory is creatively reproductive rather than accurately recollective.”

        So yes, the written word is generally seen as more “reliable,” but when it comes from “oral narratives,” there is still no guarantee of accuracy.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. JESUS!!! How idiotic is this dude?! ALL writing on earth comes ONLY from ONE place: The space aliens who built the pyramids! GOOD JESUS!! How hard is that to understand? UGH!

    Like

  7. basenjibrian says:

    Andean civilizations had no real “written language”* per se, yet they developed, over several cultures, some amazing empires and very well organized states that fed their peoples better than modern South American countries (let alone the Spanish looters) did.

    * they did have an amazing system of accounting record-keeping through knots.

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  8. renudepride says:

    Do the Egyptians factor into the original comment or are they somehow factored into the Mesopotamian or Chinese cultures? Yes, I agree, my Kenyan brother, the statement not only is racist but also historicall inaccurate. Naked hugs!

    Like

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