The first words a child learns are words denoting visual objects, and he
retains his first concepts visually. Observe that the visual form he gives
them is reduced to those essentials which distinguish the particular kind of
entities from all others—for instance, the universal type of a child’s drawing
of man in the form of an oval for the torso, a circle for the head, four sticks
for extremities, etc. Such drawings are a visual record of the process of
abstraction and concept-formation in a mind’s transition from the perceptual
level to the full vocabulary of the conceptual level.
There is evidence to suppose that written language originated in the form of
drawings—as the pictographic writing of the Oriental peoples seems to
indicate. With the growth of man’s knowledge and of his power of abstraction, a
pictorial representation of concepts could no longer be adequate to his
conceptual range, and was replaced by a fully symbolic code.