The American-English Languages Are Represented By The Distinctive Speech Sounds The Development of the English Alphabet

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The Development of the English Alphabet

The earliest known texts represented words with pictures. Cuneiform developed by the Sumerians and the script used by the Egyptians were two of the first forms of written communication. Egyptian hieratic drawings were characterized by the speed of writing, the free interpretation of pictographs and ligatures. The problem with visual communication is the amount of symbols that must be memorized. Letters, on the other hand, represent sounds; so far a few symbols have to be taught.

In 1999, the discovery of petroglyphs in Wadi el-Hol, Egypt, pushed back the beginning of writing to between 1900 and 1800 BC. This early Semitic script shows a connection between the Egyptian alphabet and the oldest alphabet. The first known letters were created by the Phoenicians (from the Greek-comedy poini meaning “purple people” from the dye they sold around the Mediterranean) around 1200BC. These letters represented consonants and were used mainly by merchants to record business transactions.

The Phoenician alphabet is acrophonic meaning that each letter represents the first word of that letter’s name. For example, the last letter of Phoenician is called “taw” or “tah” (sign for meaning) and it leads to our modern letter T with the same sound.

The Greeks modified these letters in the eighth century BC by adding vowels. The Etruscans borrowed the Greek alphabet which was later adopted by the Romans. These early writings were usually written by pressing or scratching a pen into a soft clay tablet which was then allowed to harden. By the first century BC, the Romans had developed several scriptures. There was a curved hand that could quickly scratch on wax paper or write with a reed pen on papyrus paper. There was also a script called the Imperial Capital that was carved into stone and remains on monuments and buildings from that time. The letter was also written using a brush on paper. All Western scripts have evolved from the Roman alphabet, in fact the Imperial Capital script is the basis of our modern capital letters.

Another important Roman invention came in the 300s AD when someone came up with the idea of ​​cutting the scrolls that were used until then, making circular lines and then sewing them together on one side to make the first books. The beauty of a book is the ability to easily access information without opening the entire scroll.

The ancient cuneiform alphabet is a combination of straight lines. Later, circles and arcs were combined as recording methods were found. The Etruscan alphabet had 20 letters. The oldest Roman (Latin) alphabet had 21 letters. By the end of the Roman period, the letters Y and Z from the Greek letters Upsilon and Zeta had been added to the 23 letters. Then in time middle letters J, U, and W were added to bring the total to 26 letters of the modern alphabet.

Interestingly, the letter J started as the last letter at the end of the Roman numerals after the letter I (for example, xvij meaning 23). It was not until 1524 that the letter J was used exclusively in the writings of Gian Giorgio Trissino (1478-1550). The first English book to use the letter J for its new part was published in 1634.

The letter U is one of several letters derived from the Phoenician letter “waw”. The Romans used V and Y from “waw”. Then in the late Middle Ages, two types of “v” appeared. The accented “v” was written at the beginning of a word, while “u” was used in the middle or at the end, regardless of the sound. So the words ‘courage’ and ‘excuse’ appeared as they are printed today, but the words ‘be’ and ‘on’ were printed ‘haue’ and ‘vpon’. The first difference between the letters “u” and “v” was recorded in the Gothic alphabet from 1386, when the “v” preceded the “u”. By the mid-1500s, the word “v” was used for consonants and “u” for vowels. The capital letter “U” was not adopted until many years later.

The first use of the double letter “uu” was in the 700’s and 800’s AD by English and German writers. The modern name comes from the digraph “uu”. W is the only English letter whose name is not pronounced with any of the words the letter makes. It became popular in the 11th century and was well established by the 13th century for medieval Western European writers. However, it was not considered part of the proper Latin alphabet even at the end of the 16th century.

The alphabet we use today has taken centuries to evolve into its current form. There have been many twists and turns, changes in meaning, and changes in the word represented by other symbols. Many languages ​​have contributed greatly to the development of words and symbols. And this should not seem strange, because the language is constantly changing, it is related to the changes in the environment and interaction with people, cultures, and new languages.

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