Writing systems — the ways in which we write down a language — are fascinating. They may not be as diverse and surprising as all the animals and plants of the world, but you likely may be surprised to learn just how differently we have found ways to write down information, each with strengths and weaknesses. And if you don’t get all the details right, then what you end up telling the world is not “follow your heart” but “coward”. Oops. (Countless examples that can fill up blogs exist — fails in cross-cultural appreciation & appropriation go both ways.)
People believe that in the timeline in human evolution, language evolves first as speech, and only later does writing exist to record it. For example, when new words (ex: slang) or spoken forms from spreading process (ex: “gonna”, “hafta”) get coined, if they persist long enough, they will get recorded in writing and become normalized. Whether these new words are defined as “official words” depends on if you have a prescriptivist or descriptivist view of the situation, but that is a small example in our own experiences of writing coming after speech. (Btw, Shakespeare was a master of introducing crazy, made-up words into a language.)
What is fascinating are some of the more apparent examples in recent history in which we make choices on how to write, or change how we write, a language, and the implications those choices have. Or in one case, it’s the other way around — it’s the act of recategorizing dialects as separate languages partly through how we write.