History of the alphabet

aspect of history

The history of the alphabet goes back to a writing system for consonants. This was used for Semitic languages in the Levant in the 2nd millennium BC.[1]

Chart showing details of four alphabets' descent from Phoenician abjad, from left to right Latin, Greek, original Phoenician, Hebrew, Arabic.

Early history change

Hieroglyphs in Egypt change

By 2700 BC, the ancient Egyptians had developed a set of some 22 hieroglyphs to represent the consonants of their language. A 23rd seems to have been for word-initial or word-final vowels. The first purely alphabetic script may have been developed around 2000 BC for Semitic workers in central Egypt.[2]

Over the next 500 years, it spread north. All later alphabets around the world have either descended from it or been inspired by one of its descendants.[3][4]

References change

  1. Sampson, Geoffrey 1985. Writing systems: a linguistic introduction. Stanford University Press, p77. ISBN 0-8047-1254-9
  2. Hamilton, Gordon J. 2002. W.F. Albright and early alphabetic writing, Near Eastern Archaeology 65, #1 (March 2002): 35-42. page 39-49.
  3. Gaur, Albertine 1992. A history of writing. The British Library. ISBN 0-7123-0270-0
  4. Cristin, Anne-Marie (ed) 2002. A history of writing: from the hieroglyph to multimedia. Flammarion.