An Exploration of Writing - Peter T. Daniels

An Exploration of Writing - Peter T. Daniels

Origins and Characteristics

An Exploration of Writing - Peter T. Daniels

Peter T. Daniels [+-]
Independent Scholar
Peter T. Daniels, the world’s leading expert on writing systems, holds degrees in linguistics from Cornell University and the University of Chicago. His first interests were in Comparative Semitic linguistics, which built to the study of writing and decipherment. His challenge to his teacher I. J. Gelb’s influential theories of the evolution of scripts has led to a persistent search for legitimate principles of the nature and development of writing. He is co-editor (with William Bright) of and principal contributor to The World’s Writing Systems (1996) and is hte author of An Exploration of Writing (Equinox, 2018).


Chapter 11 is where the author sets forth the overall view of writing that they have developed on the basis of the highly varied data presented in the first eight chapters, as well as features that characterize all writing systems and so are better treated together rather than atomistically. In this chapter are found what the author believes to be explanations for the wide variety seen in the world’s writing systems that have usually been interpreted as evidence that writing system development has been haphazard. The older, misguided view was summarized by Florian Coulmas: “The history of writing, therefore, cannot rely much on universal tendencies, but has to investigate the spread and transmutation of every script in its own right” (Writing Systems [2003], 208).

Notify A Colleague


Daniels, Peter . Origins and Characteristics. An Exploration of Writing. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 132-154 Feb 2018. ISBN 9781781795293. Date accessed: 20 Sep 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30872. Feb 2018

Dublin Core Metadata