Circles containing the GreekCyrillic and Latin alphabets, which share many of the same lettersalthough they have different pronunciations The largest segmental script is probably an abugida, Devanagari.
Dammeshek, the last survivor, fell in bce.
Only very few inscriptions have been found in Phoenicia proper. The end of Aramaean political independence marked the beginning of Aramaean cultural and economic supremacy in western Asia. Out of the latter developed the Punic and neo-Punic scripts and probably also the Libyan and Iberian scripts.
Over the centuries, various theories have been advanced to explain the origin of alphabetic writing, and, since Classical times, the problem has been a matter of serious study.
Such scripts are to tone what abjads are to vowels. One after another, the Aramaean states gave way under Assyrian onslaught. On the other hand, the Phagspa script of the Mongol Empire was based closely on the Tibetan abugidabut all vowel marks were written after the preceding consonant rather than as diacritic marks.
In Cyrillic originally the letters were given names based on Slavic words; this was later abandoned as well in favor of a system similar to that used in Latin. The French names from which the English names are derived preserve the qualities of the English vowels from before the Great Vowel Shift.
By being adopted and then adapted by the Greeks, the North Semitic, or Phoenician, alphabet became the direct ancestor of all Western alphabets.
In default of other direct evidence, it is reasonable to suppose that the actual prototype of the alphabet was not very different from the writing of the earliest North Semitic inscriptions now extantwhich belong to the last two or three centuries of the 2nd millennium bce.
National languages sometimes elect to address the problem of dialects by simply associating the alphabet with the national standard.
Syllabaries typically contain 50 to glyphs, and the glyphs of logographic systems typically number from the many hundreds into the thousands. The North Semitic alphabet remained almost unaltered for many centuries. On the whole, the few early Aramaic inscriptions that have been found belong to the 9th, 8th, and 7th centuries bce.
The Greek achievement was to provide representations for vowel sounds. The standard system of symbols used by linguists to represent sounds in any language, independently of orthography, is called the International Phonetic Alphabet.
That they manifest closely related efforts is certain; what the exact relationship among these efforts was, and what their relationship with the North Semitic alphabet was, cannot be said with certainty.
The Greek achievement was to provide representations for vowel sounds. The Canaanite and Aramaic branches constitute the North Semitic main branch. The earliest definitely readable inscription in the North Semitic alphabet is the so-called Ahiram inscription found at Byblos in Phoenicia now Lebanonwhich probably dates from the 11th century bce.
The names were abandoned in Latinwhich instead referred to the letters by adding a vowel usually e before or after the consonant; the two exceptions were Y and Zwhich were borrowed from the Greek alphabet rather than Etruscan, and were known as Y Graeca "Greek Y" pronounced I Graeca "Greek I" and zeta from Greek —this discrepancy was inherited by many European languages, as in the term zed for Z in all forms of English other than American English.
On the whole, the direct and indirect descendants of the Aramaic alphabet can be divided into two main groups: It may have been derived, ultimately, from the proto-Sinaitic script, with some influence from the North Semitic.
In the Pollard scriptan abugida, vowels are indicated by diacritics, but the placement of the diacritic relative to the consonant is modified to indicate the tone. A few examples may illustrate the point: The Canaanite alphabet The two Canaanite branches may be subdivided into several secondary branches.
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