Within a language system, writing relies on many of the same structures as speech, such as vocabulary, grammar, and semantics, with the added dependency of a system of signs or symbols. Wells argued that writing has the ability to "put agreements, laws, commandments on record.
The result of writing is called text, and the recipient of text is called a reader. It made the growth of states larger than the old city states possible.
For languages that utilize a writing system, inscriptions can complement spoken language by creating a durable version of speech that can be stored for future reference or transmitted across distance.
Writing, in other words, is not a language, but a tool used to make languages readable.
In most of the writing systems of the Middle East, it is usually only the consonants of a word that are written, although vowels may be indicated by the addition of various diacritical marks.
Writing systems based primarily on marking the consonant phonemes alone date back to the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt.
Ethiopic, though technically an abugida, has fused consonants and vowels together to the point where it is learned as if it were a syllabary.
An alphabet is a set of symbols, each of which represents or historically represented a phoneme of the language.
Many logograms have an ideographic component (Chinese "radicals", hieroglyphic "determiners").
For example, in Mayan, the glyph for "fin", pronounced "ka", was also used to represent the syllable "ka" whenever the pronunciation of a logogram needed to be indicated, or when there was no logogram.