Proto-Canaanite alphabet

Infobox Writing system
name=Proto-Canaanite alphabet
type=Abjad
languages= Canaanite languages
time=ca. 1400 BC to 1050 BC
fam1=Egyptian hieroglyphs
fam2=Proto-Sinaitic
children=Phoenician alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
Aramaic alphabet
Greek alphabet
Many hypothesized others

The Proto-Canaanite alphabet is a consonantal alphabet of twenty-two acrophonic glyphs, found in Levantine texts of the Late Bronze Age (from ca. the 15th century BC), by convention taken to last until a cut-off date of 1050 BC, after which it is called Phoenician. About a dozen incriptions written in Proto-Canaanite have been discovered in modern-day Israel and Lebanon.

Relationship with other writing systems

While a descendant script from the Egyptian hieroglyphs, it is also the parent script of Phoenician, itself the ancestor of nearly every alphabet in use today, from Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Roman and Berber in the West to Thai, Mongol, and perhaps Hangul in the East. The Hebrew alphabet remains the closest to its predecessor, as only the form of the letters has been modified - unsurprising, since Hebrew is a Canaanite language and had, in its original pronunciation, roughly the same set of consonants as the dialect that the alphabet was devised for.

Predecessor scripts, possibly still partly logographic, were discovered in central Egypt in 1905 and 1999 (see Wadi El Hol). These early scripts may have had more letters than are found later, and may also have included letter variants (different letters that could be used to express the same phoneme).

Characteristics

The names of the letters, which survive in the Greek, Arabic and Hebrew alphabets, were probably already present. The names are based on the acrophonic principle, presumably from Semitic translations of the names of Egyptian hieroglyphs. For example, Egyptian "nt" (water) became Semitic "mem" (water), ultimately evolving into Latin M, while Egyptian "drt" (hand) became Semitic "kapp" (hand), and ultimately Latin K.

The alphabetic order is unknown. The related cuneiform Ugaritic alphabet had two alphabetic orders, an ABGD order similar to that of the Hebrew, Greek and Latin alphabets, and an transl|sem|HLḤM order attested in the South Arabian and Ge'ez alphabets.

One reconstruction of 22 letters, equivalent to the Phoenician alphabet which evolved from it, follows. The Hebrew, Greek, and Latin descendants follow.

References

*
*Cross, F.M. (1991) "The Invention and Development of the Alphabet" in Senner, Wayne M. (ed.) "The Origins of Writing". Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-9167-1. Paperback
*Diringer, David and Freeman, Hilda (1983) "A History of the Alphabet". Headley-on-Thames: Gresham Books. ISBN 0-946095-03-5
*Healey, John. (1990) "The Early Alphabet". London: British Museum.
*Naveh, Joseph. (1982) "The Early History of the Alphabet". Leiden: E.J. Brill; also: (Magnes Press: The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1987)

ee also

*Abjad
*Alphabet
*Armenian Alphabet
*Byblos syllabary
*Egyptian hieroglyphics
*Greek Alphabet
*Hebrew Alphabet
*Middle Bronze Age alphabets (including Sinaitic)
*Phoenician alphabet
*South Arabian alphabet
*Ugaritic alphabet

External links

* [http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/28_chart.html Hebrew Alphabet - Chart 1]
* [http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/bookstore/files/ahlb_e-sword_chart.pdf Hebrew Alphabet - Chart 2]
* [http://hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/History/history.html Hebrew Alphabet - History]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Proto-Canaanite alphabet — noun An abjad of twenty plus acrophonic glyphs, found in Levantine texts of the Late Bronze Age (from ca. the 15th century ), by convention taken to last until a cut off date of 1050 , after which it is called Phoenician …   Wiktionary

  • Proto-Semitisches Alphabet — Das proto semitische Alphabet (auch proto sinaitisch) ist vermutlich der gemeinsame Ursprung aller 22 buchstabigen nordwestsemitischen Abjaden. Es wird angenommen, dass es um 1700 v. Chr. unter dem Einfluss der ägyptischen Hieroglyphen auf der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Proto-Semitic language — Proto Semitic is the hypothetical proto language of the Semitic languages. The earliest attestations of a Semitic language are in Akkadian, dating to ca. the 23rd century BC (see Sargon of Akkad). Early inscriptions in the (pre )Proto Canaanite… …   Wikipedia

  • ALPHABET, HEBREW — The origin of alphabetic script has always been a subject of human curiosity. According to Greek mythology, script was brought to Greece from Phoenicia. This tradition was accepted by the Greek and Roman writers, some of whom developed it even… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Alphabet — [ William Caslon, letter founder; from the 1728 Cyclopaedia .] An alphabet is a standardized set of letters mdash basic written symbolsmdash each of which roughly represents a phoneme, a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it was in… …   Wikipedia

  • Proto-Sinaitic script — A specimen of Proto Sinaitic script containing a phrase which may mean to Ba alat . The line running from the upper left to lower right may read mt l bclt …   Wikipedia

  • alphabet — /al feuh bet , bit/, n. 1. the letters of a language in their customary order. 2. any system of characters or signs with which a language is written: the Greek alphabet. 3. any such system for representing the sounds of a language: the phonetic… …   Universalium

  • Phoenician alphabet — Infobox Writing system name=Phoenician alphabet type=Abjad languages=Phoenician time=Began 1050 BC, and gradually died out during the Hellenistic period as its evolved forms replaced it fam1=Egyptian hieroglyphs fam2=Proto Sinaitic fam3=Proto… …   Wikipedia

  • Latin alphabet — Infobox Writing system name=Latin alphabet type=Alphabet languages=Latin and Romance languages; most languages of Europe; Romanizations exist for practically all known languages. time= 700 B.C. to the present. fam1=Egyptian hieroglyphs fam2=Proto …   Wikipedia

  • Hebrew alphabet — Infobox Writing system name=Hebrew alphabet languages=Hebrew language Jewish language time=3rd century BCE to present type=Abjad typedesc=(sometimes used as an alphabet)Fact|date=October 2008 languages=Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo Arabic… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.