Logographic writing systems are writing systems that utilize symbols to represent whole words. Although this type of writing system is much less common than alphabetic writing systems, it is still used in some parts of the world today. This article will explore the history and usage of logographic writing systems, including some of the most well-known examples.

The earliest known logographic writing system is the cuneiform script of ancient Mesopotamia, which dates back to around 3200 BC (Oates, 1976). This system was used throughout the Middle East for thousands of years and is an example of an ideographic script, meaning that each symbol was intended to represent an idea or concept rather than a single word. This system was adapted by other cultures, including the Egyptians who used hieroglyphs.

Chinese is the most widely used logographic writing system today. This system was developed around 1300 BC and is based on characters that represent both words and ideas (Wang, 2008). Chinese characters are composed of two basic components: radicals, which suggest the meaning of the character, and phonetics, which suggest the pronunciation. This system is also used in Japanese and Korean, although both languages also use phonetic writing systems.

The Mayan script is another example of a logographic writing system. This system dates back to 600 BC and consists of symbols that represent syllables or words (D’zibanche, 2020). The Mayan script was used to record many aspects of Mayan culture, including their calendars, astronomy, and religious rituals.

Logographic writing systems are not as widespread as alphabetic writing systems, but they are still used today in certain parts of the world. Examples of logographic writing systems include cuneiform, Chinese, and Mayan. These writing systems are an important part of the history and culture of many societies and continue to be used in some areas today.


D’zibanche, D. (2020). Mayan Writing System. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Mayan_Writing_System/

Oates, J. (1976). A Study of Cuneiform. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Wang, J. (2008). Chinese Writing System. Retrieved from https://www.omniglot.com/writing/chinese.htm

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