“The written form of Sign Language is the picture-writing also called Pictography and Ideography, because it represents ideas and not words or letters. It is widely believed that Sign Language is the oldest of all languages; that indeed it existed among animals before man appeared on earth. It is universally accepted that the ideography is the oldest of all writing. The Chinese writing for instance is merely picture-writing done with as few lines as possible.

Thus, their curious character for “Hearing” was once a complete picture of a person listening behind a screen, but in time it was reduced by hasty hands to a few scratches; and “War,” now a few spider marks, was originally a sketch of “two women in one house.”

To come a little nearer home, our alphabet is said to be descended from hieroglyphic ideographs.

“A” or “Ah,” for example, was the sound of an ox represented first by an outline of an ox, then of the head, which in various modifications, through rapid writing, became our “A”.

“O” was a face saying “Oh,” now simplified into the round shape of the mouth.”

by Ernest Thompson Seton