The Evolution Of The Alphbet From Hebrew To Roman

BBS: Stonehenge BBS
Date: 12-07-92 (20:49)                         Number: 12  
From: SHLOMOH SHERMAN              Refer#: 28593
To: JUDY STEIN                                 Recvd: NO  
Subj: Hebrew/Greek/Latin abc          Conf: (12) RELIGION  

SS>I recall something about showing how the Hebrew alphabet is the ancestor SS>of the Roman alphabet. I dont remember about translation.

JS>>Yeah, that was it.

The letters of the Hebrew alphabet, actually the SEMITIC alphabet, go back many thousands of years. They grow out of some original prehistoric pictograms and the names of the letters themselves reveal what that pictogram must have been (aleph = bull; bet = house; gimmel = camel; dalet = door).

In most cases, the letters still resemble the object they are named for (aleph = a bull's head on its side; dalet = a triangular doorway; lamed = a shepherd's staff; mem = water waves).

There was much historical interaction between the Phoenicians and the northern Israelites. The Phoenicians spread out into Europe and gave the SEMITIC alphabet to the Greeks (actually the ancient Aegean ancestors of the Greeks). The Greeks used the letters to fit their own speech patterns. The Semites used only consonants. The Greeks took some of those consonants for which their was not phonological equivalent in their language, and used them as vowels. Thus the Hebrew ALEF (Greek ALFA) became "a"; the Hebrew CHET (Greek ETA) became "e"; etc. The Semites wrote their alphabet from right to left because before paper and ink were used, stone and clay and some piercing instrument were used. If a person held the chisel in his left hand, he held the hammer in his right, and chiselled towards the left. The Greeks took this alphabet and also wrote from right to left (very early Greek manuscripts). Later, when ink and paper were used, the direction was Left to right in order not to smudge the ink.

The Romans got the alphabet from the Greeks. The Latin alphabet is really nothing else than a Roman reworking of the Greek. As the Greeks had done with the Hebrew letters, so the Romans threw away letters that they could not use phonologically, and reworked others.

One can look at the Latin alphabet and still see many similarities between thiese letters and the Semitic forebears, more prominently "m", "k", "q", "r", "t", as well as others.

For English speaking peoples, the Hebrew alphabet is the easiest of the current Semitic scripts to learn. There are only 22 letters as opposed to the 26 of the Latin alphabet. Unlike Arabic, each letter is discrete and easily recognizable. The grammar is also the simplest for English speakers to master. After all, it is God's language.

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