Demotic script—mid-600s BC – mid 400s AD
Hieroglyphic inscriptions are gorgeous to look at, but like all gorgeous art, they take a lot of time to produce. Meanwhile, there was official business that needed to be recorded—administrative and legal documents that were important but didn’t need all the fancy-pants pictures.
That’s what you call a ‘market demand.’ People needed a quick, easy and understandable way to write things down. Slow and complicated hieroglyphics didn’t meet that demand. So a second system of writing emerged: Demotic script.
Hieroglyphics used symbols that stood for things, ideas and syllables. Demotic script used symbols that stood for syllables and sounds. Those symbols simplified reading and writing. For a thousand years both writing systems were used, each for different purposes. Hieroglyphics are found in temples and tombs, where the message needed to look like it came from the gods. Demotic script is found in everyday documents, where people communicated with other people.
Demotic comes from Greek—the root word ‘demo’ means ‘people’ & can be found in bigger words like ‘democracy’ and ‘demographics.’
Yul Brynner knew what hieroglyphics were supposed to sound like:
Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.