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Origins of the Alphabet. Lascaux may be the most beautiful Paleolithic painted cave in the world.  It contains more than 1500 pictures of animals, all of them are 17,000 years old. 17,490 B.C. Cave painting at Lascaux. An alphabet is a standardized set of letters. What is an alphabet ?.

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Origins of the Alphabet


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    1. Origins of the Alphabet

    2. Lascaux may be the most beautiful Paleolithic painted cave in the world.  It contains more than 1500 pictures of animals, all of them are 17,000 years old. 17,490 B.C Cave painting at Lascaux

    3. An alphabet isa standardized set of letters What is an alphabet ?

    4. Do You Know? • A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z • Although we call it the Latin alphabet, and it has a Greek name, the alphabet actually has far older origins.

    5. Egypt, Sumeria and the Origins of Writing Writing began in ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. Both writing systems were developed independently, and they are very different from each other. Cuneiform. Cuneiform is the system of writing developed by the ancient Sumerians, between 3500 and 3100 BC. Sumeria was one of the first civilizations to develop in the world. It resided in the area of what is now Iraq, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Their system of writing consisted of wedge shaped marks made with the edge of a stylus pressed into clay. The clay would then be baked so the marks could not be removed. “Cuneiform” is a Greek word meaning “wedge-shaped.” Hieroglyphs. The ancient Egyptians, another of the first civilizations, developed a very different system of writing than the Sumerians. It was developed about the same time as cuneiform, but involved tiny pictures or glyphs which were used to represent words.

    6. The history of the alphabet begins in Ancient Egypt, more than a millennium into the history of writing. The first pure alphabet emerged around 2000 BC to represent the language of Semitic workers in Egypt (see Middle Bronze Age alphabets), and was derived from the alphabetic principles of the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Most alphabets in the world today either descend directly from this development, for example the Greek and Latin alphabets, or were inspired by its design. Karnak Temple where some of the best preserved writing still exists.

    7. Hieroglyphs emerged from the preliterate artistic traditions of Egypt.

    8. Most hieroglyphic signs are phonetic in nature, meaning the sign is read independent of its visual characteristics (according to the rebus principle where, for example, the picture of an eye could stand for the English words eye

    9. When the Egyptians began to write, about 3000 BC, they wrote from the beginning in ink, on papyrus (pah-PIE-russ). Papyrus is a plant that grows wild all over the Nile river valley, which is to say it is very common in Egypt. You can cut the long stalks and soak them in water until they rot a little, and then you lay a lot of these stalks next to each other, and a lot of other stalks on top, crossways to the first ones, and then you pound them flat, until all the stalks get mashed into all the other ones, and you have something a lot like paper. The Greeks and the Romans also used a lot of papyrus, all bought in Egypt because that is where papyrus grows. But it wasn't cheap! One sheet probably cost about what $20 is worth today. So when the Islamic empire learned how to make paper from rags from the Chinese about 700 AD, people quickly stopped using papyrus, even in Egypt.

    10. Proto-Canaanite alphabet It appeared between 1700-1500BC, sometimes during Hyksos era.

    11. Neither of these writing systems incorporated a true alphabet. • The majority of symbols were used to identify whole words, or multiple syllables, unlike our own monosyllabic alphabet. Because of this they incorporated a far greater range of symbols in order to write than cultures using an alphabet

    12. The Phoenicians and the First Alphabet The developers of the first true alphabet were the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians originate from the coast of the Mediterranean, in what is now Lebanon. They were a trading and seafaring culture, and had contact with both the Egyptians and the Sumerians.

    13. The Phoenicians had closer contact with the Egyptians than with the Sumerians. For much of their history they were at times under Egyptian control. Their writing symbols developed somewhat from Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Phoenician alphabet took several centuries to develop, but had been fairly well completed by about 1000 BC, over 2000 years after the development of the first writing system in Sumeria. The original Phoenician alphabet consisted of 22 letters, none of which were vowels.

    14. Phoenician alphabet It became one of the most widely used writing systems, and was spread by traders of Phoenicia across Europe and the Middle East, where it became used for a variety of languages and spawned many subsequent scripts. Many modern writing systems thought to have descended from Phoenician cover much of the world

    15. The Greek Alphabet It is from the Greeks that we get our name for the word “alphabet.” It comes form the first two letters of their alphabet, Alpha and Beta. These names actually came from the Phoenicians; however, whose first two letters were ‘Aleph and Beth.

    16. Scholars are not quite sure when the Greeks first came into contact with the Phoenician alphabet; however it seems to have been about 1000 BC. They changed the alphabet some, both the look of the symbols as well as adding some symbols of their own. For example their alphabet had an F character, unlike the Phoenicians, although it originally stood for the “w” sound.” Because different languages use different sounds, the need to create new letters was common as the alphabet was distributed.

    17. The Greeks were the first to introduce vowels into the alphabet. While the Phoenicians did have the letter “aleph” which became “alpha,” it originally represented a gutteral tone, rather than what we consider the letter “a.” Within Greece there were many different alphabets, most of them had about 25 letters and were mostly similar, with some slight differences.

    18. Early Greek alphabet on pottery in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens The most notable change in the Greek alphabet, as an adaptation of the Phoenician alphabet,

    19. Ideograph Pictograph Picture-writing of the American Indian

    20. The Latin alphabet The Etruscan peoples of Italy picked up the alphabet from the Greeks, in about the 7th Century BC, and from the Etruscans it ultimately came to the Romans. During its nearly thousand year history, the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire grew to be the most influential power in the world, and one of the most influential empires of history. At its height the Roman Empire spread from England to northern Africa, from Spain to Mesopotamia. The Roman Empire collapsed in the 5th Century AD, but its alphabet would remain. The illiterate barbarians who conquered the remains of the Roman Empire would ultimately adopt its alphabet as they developed their own written languages.

    21. The lapidary (stone-engraved) capital letters of Roman Empirean period (from the 1th century BC to the 5th century AD). Although the Roman alphabet took many forms, Capitalis Monumentalis (Roman capitals) have exerted the most influence on lettering and typographic developrment. Many versions of these exist, principally on inscriptions. The most famous example is on the column of Imperor Trajan in Roman Forum from 114 AD. There was no word spaces and words were divided by centerpoints. Greek letters used in mathematics, science, and engineering http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_letters_used_in_mathematics

    22. The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world today. Latin alphabet world distribution. The dark green areas shows the countries where this alphabet is the sole main script. The light green shows the countries where the alphabet co-exists with other scripts.

    23. Changes to the Latin alphabet There have been some changes in the Latin alphabet since it was finalized under Roman authority. Originally the letter C stood for both g and k. The letter I stood for both i and j. V stood for both U and V.

    24. The original alphabets did not have lower case letters. Lower case letters came during the Middle Ages, with the development of cursive writing. Prior to the Middle Ages all writing was done in PRINT It was during this time that the English picked up the Latin alphabet, and eventually brought it to us.

    25. The alphabet has undergone many changes in its thousand years of history, but it has become the most used alphabet in the world today. It is used all across Europe and around the world for thousands of different languages

    26. One reconstruction of 23 letters, equivalent to the Phoenician alphabet which evolved from it, follows. The Latin descendants are given in parentheses. • alp "ox" (A) • b bet "house" (B) • g gaml "throwstick" (C, G) • d digg "fish" (D) • h haw / hll "jubilation" (E) • w waw "hook" (F, U, V, W, Y) • z zen /ziqq "manacle" (Z) • ḥ ḥet "courtyard" (H) • ṭ ṭēt ([[]]) "wheel" • y yad "arm" (I, J) • k kap "hand" (K) • l lamd "goad" (L) • m mem "water" (M) • n naḥš "snake" (N) • s samek "fish" (X) • ʻ ʿen "eye" (O) • p piʾt "corner" (P) • ṣ ṣad "plant" • q qup "monkey" (Q) • r raʾs "head" (R) • š/ś šimš "sun, the Uraeus" (S) • t taw "signature" (T) • ġ ġʿen "thread" (Gh)

    27. Arabic The influence of Arabic has been most important in Islamic countries.

    28. The oldest Chinese inscriptions that are indisputably writing are the Oracle bone script

    29. Neolithic signs The legend of the creation of chinese characters According to legend, though, Chinese characters were invented earlier by Cangjie (c. 2650 BC),

    30. Ancient Khmer script engraved on stone.

    31. Replica of the Ramkhamhaeng inscription, the oldest inscription using Thai script

    32. Sanskrit (संस्कृता वाक् saṃskṛtā vāk, for short संस्कृतम् saṃskṛtam) is a classical language of India Pali (IAST: Pāḷi) is a Middle Indo-Aryan dialect or prakrit. It is best known as the language of the earliest extant Buddhist canon