Alisha Horne December 14, 2020 Alphabet Worksheet
Visual evolution of writing Evolution of writing is reflected in its visual characteristics. We can easily see the salient visual distinction between alphabets and pictographs. Alphabet is a standardized set of letters. They usually comprise tens of letters, and are derived from complex pictographic scripts. Pictographs are complex and huge in amount. It is understandable to think that they have not evolved visually. If evolved visually, why becoming simpler instead of more complex? If writing is taken as visual art, it should evolve towards greater complexity. However, writing is a means of communication, representing and recording knowledge. The clarity, convenience, efficiency and suitability for reading thus become main concern. At the beginning, drawings were to depict something directly, as pictures. They were arranged usually in lines to represent meaning continuously. Apparently, the complex pictographs are not easy to recognize, lowering reading accuracy. It affects the reading fluency since more time is spent fixating at one pictograph before moving to the next. Complex symbols are discarded or simplified to facilitate linear reading. Some symbols had simpler and clearer visual pattern and were more frequently used. Long time passed, only a set of symbols are left and standardized. We call them alphabets. The reduction in number, simplification and standardization facilitate visual manipulation and memorization, leading the alphabets to supersede pictographs. Alphabetic writing is more suitable for reading than pictographic systems. We use the word legibility to denote the concept fit for reading, which we think is the central in evolution.
Government studies confirm that children who are read to and and who recognize the letters of the alphabet have an easier time learning how to read and thus do better in school, so maximize your childrens exposure to the letters of the alphabet. Give them alphabet books, alphabet blocks, alphabet magnets and clothing decorated with the alphabet. Here are some ideas for using such objects in simple alphabet and spelling games that you can play with your young children, to help them get off on the right foot, and do it all while making it an enjoyable part of everyday life. Make a game of naming the letters of the alphabet and pronouncing the sounds that they make. Practice them in alphabetical order and, later, in random order. Sing the alphabet song, while pointing to the letters of the alphabet. Go around the room and hang signs on common objects with simple one and two-syllable names: "table," "bed," "lamp," and such. Help your children name the letters in them and spell and pronounce the words. Later, once the spellings are known, remove the signs, but continue to have the children spell the words for you. Look at pictures of everyday objects and use movable letters, such as alphabet magnets or blocks or flash cards, to form the words and practice their spellings.
I have considered that alphabet is a result of visual refinement. However, in its thousands of years history, albeit undergoing changes, Chinese didnt develop into alphabet. Characters <1> remain complex over thousands of years development. Major simplification process hadnt occurred until last century. Number of characters was increasing. The question is: why did simplification occur so late? What kept Chinese characters complex for thousands of years? Was legibility principle not taking effect on Chinese system? It should. There should be something that prevented Chinese from developing into alphabet. Lets elaborate the concept of legibility.
When symbols are arranged vertically, each symbol grows internally in accordance with the larger horizontal visual span then turns to next symbol. Conflict between text direction and stronger visual direction exists. Symbols are restricted into blocks, leading to logographic system. Top-down reading failed to lead to simplification of Chinese characters. On the contrary, characters were allowed to go more complex (Simple characters were also allowed to exist). The limit of complexity is constrained by recognizability during reading. Although characters failed to simplify, by utilizing horizontal visual span, one can maximize the amount of visual info-being-read while maintaining sufficient acuity. Although characters are read as units, internal detail is needed to recognize a character and distinguish between characters. Characters are composed of smaller structural units, such as strokes and radicals, which are not as standardized as alphabets do. There is also no standardized order of combining them since visual span goes to any direction inside a character frame. Not towards alphabet, Chinese characters did evolve into their modern form that facilitates reading. They are square-shaped with to-some-extent standardized components and rules for their formation.
Legibility principle operates starting from individual symbols, then throughout entire writing system. The recognizability of symbol/word forms, inter-differentiability of symbols, and inter-differentiability of words are the basis of a scripts legibility. Symbols/words are elementary. The strength of a writing system is usually judged on its entirety  - its all written works, the area and people it covers, all knowledge it represents etc. The dominant system is not necessarily the most legible. But legibility will exhibit its power as more-legible writing system grows faster. Individual symbols/words are building units of whole system and, basically determine how the whole system looks like and the potential it can expand. Legible symbols/words can be organized better and expand further. Legible system possesses more written works or has the potential to be such. It can grow bigger and thus represent more knowledge, leading to its success. Symbols form words, sentences and eventually a whole system. Rules/grammar develops for word formation and arranging words together. There are also recommended ways of formatting and writing paragraphs, thesis and book, but they havent become rules. These rules and recommendations imply the characteristics of larger linguistic units, facilitating reading and expanding legibility from symbol level to phrase, sentence levels and throughout the entire system. As time goes on, more-legible system overpowers/replaces less-legible system.
We use the alphabet to imply simplicity, yet knowing the alphabet is crucial to your childs education. Letters are the building blocks of words and knowing the letters of the alphabet are the first step to learning to read, and your child will need to know the alphabet for using the index of a book, finding one in a library or using a dictionary. (Yes, your child will still be using books at school for the foreseeable future!) Children learn best through play, so you should never try to teach your child letters in any formal way. Include the alphabet in your childs usual games and reading time and they will happily absorb this knowledge without any pressure.