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Ideography or -graphy (also idea writing ; Greek for conceptual writing) is a writing in which the characters are  not abstract characters, but stylized images, which do not represent the depicted object, but an associated idea / conception. An example of ideographic signs is the European number system . The ideographs also include the writings of the Indians (as picture scripts ) and elements of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing . In the cuneiform such elements are also available.

A script is called ideographic if it does not represent the concept of an action or an object through the individual sounds of a word , but uses a separate symbol for the entire concept . If the action or the object itself is represented as an image, it is a pictogram , otherwise, if the shape of the sign is arbitrary, it is an ideogram. Pictograms are mostly viewed as a subgroup of ideograms, so ideograms are either pictograms or "arbitrary / conventional" ( arbitrary ) signs with no resemblance to the term represented.

Research into ideograms and ideography has been carried out in Germany since the twentieth years in ideologically loaded symbol research; after 1945 it belongs to epigraphy (inscription) and symbol research.


An ideogram (also conceptual sign , ideographic sign , pictorial sign ) is a sign that stands for entire words or concepts and thus forms the basis of an ideographic script. Ideograms can, however, only make up parts of fonts, for example in German the number signs such as “1” or “2” and the characters “%” ( percent ), “§” ( paragraph ) or “€” ( euro symbol ).

Conventionalized ideograms, such as those used for traffic signs , are not restricted to a single language use, as these are not signs that systematically express the meaning of linguistic utterances .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Ideography  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Linke, Angelika; Markus Nussbaumer; Paul R. Portmann: Study book linguistics . 5th edition. Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen 2004, p. 55.
  2. Hadumod Bußmann (Ed.): Lexicon of Linguistics. 3rd updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 (ideography).