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The term rebus refers to the use of a pictogram to represent a syllabic sound. This adapts pictograms into phonograms. A precursor to the development of the alphabet, this process represents one of the most important developments of writing. Fully developed hieroglyphs read in rebus fashion were in use at Abydos in Egypt as early as 3400 BCE. 
The writing of correspondence in rebus form became popular in the 18th century and continued into the 19th century. Lewis Carroll wrote the children he befriended picture-puzzle rebus letters, nonsense letters, and looking-glass letters, which had to be held in front of a mirror to be read. Rebus letters served either as a sort of code or simply as a pastime.
The Rebus Principle
In linguistics, the Rebus Principle means using existing symbols, such as pictograms, purely for their sounds regardless of their meaning, to represent new words. Many ancient writing systems used the Rebus principle to represent abstract words, which otherwise would be hard to be represented by pictograms. An example that illustrates the Rebus principle is the representation of the sentence “I can see you” by using the pictographs of “eye—can—sea—ewe.” Some linguists believe that Chinese developed its writing system according to the rebus principle, and Egyptian hieroglyphs sometimes used a similar system. A famous rebus statue of Ramses II uses three hieroglyphs to compose his name: Horus (as Ra), for Ra; the child, mes; and the sedge plant (stalk held in left hand), su; the name Ra-mes-su is then formed.
Use in reading education
Form of word puzzle
A rebus is also a kind of word puzzle that uses pictures to represent words or parts of words. For example:
- H + picture of an ear = Hear, or Here.
- Fischer, Steven Roger, "A History of Writing", 2004, Reaktion Books, ISBN 1-86189-167-9, 9781861891679, at page 36
- The Languages of China. S. Robert Ramsey. Princeton University Press, 1987, p. 137.
- Create your own Rebus at myRebus.com.
- Lashon.net has Rebus puzzles in Hebrew.
- an example of using chinese-like characters to write English.
- Rebus-o-Matic.com, a french rebus generator based on phonetization, using a database of 500 images.
- MindsFullOfMusic.com offers 50s/60s song title "wordie" rebus puzzles...and more!
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