Why do we write things down?

We write things down as a way of transmitting information and as a way of recording information for the future.

Before it can happen you need a shared spoken language and a shared knowledge of how the writing reflects the spoken language. Once you have that, everything can start.

This very simple explanation of the reason for the existence of writing shows us how writing is different from the recording of other issues through symbols. We can have road signs, paintings, maps, and mathematical symbols – but the point here is generally you don’t need to know the spoken language to read them.

Indeed with road signs the idea is that you ought to be able to read them instantly, even if you don’t speak the language of the person who devised the sign.

But written language is different – more than anything it is the formal recording of our words and thoughts in a permanent way.

And permanent is the key point here, as I’ll try to explain.

Turning an oral system of communication into a written system is not natural. In some societies it doesn’t happen, and where it does it can be a slow erratic process. It seems obvious and natural to us in the 21st century – but it hasn’t been for most of the time that we have been speaking to each other.

What’s more, once written language starts it tends to develop much more slowly than spoken language. Most of us can still make sense of the language of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Ben Jonson etc, even after 400 years. And although the original writing of Chaucer looks strange 700 years later, if we work at it most of us can still get the hang of what is going on without turning to a modern translation from the original Middle English.

Which is why the storage of printed documents is so important – not just because they record agreements and contracts, but also because they give us a record of matters that happened in the past, in a way that we know we will be able to understand next year or the year after (which is not always the case with speech!)

That in turn is part of the reason why we store printed materials – because it remains understandable.

And that’s why people continue to use storage systems – for the safe keeping of their written records.

Which is also why we provide our safe storage system for documents.

There are more details on our website or give us a call on 0800 783 9516.

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