[b-hebrew] 22-Letter Alphabet Origination

Ratson Naharadama yahoo-arch at heplist.com
Wed Jul 1 22:35:29 EDT 2009


K. Randolph wrote:
> The question comes down to,
> were the ancient Hebrews the originators,
> or the adopters,
> of the 22 letter alphabet?

True. My thoughts touch on the same things you touched on in the rest of your post:

It would seem to me, that since their phonetic inventory was wider than the 22 letter alphabet could fully accommodate, it would seem that they were the adopters of the alphabet.

If they are the adopters, then that does not rule out that they had some kind of alphabet, or syllabary, that they used for writing. It could be possible that they previous wrote with a form of the proto-sinaitic alphabet, and that this was modified by some group (such as the Phoenicians) and then they adopted this minimalized form, but this is all wild conjecture — no real solid evidence supports this idea.

But, it is also possible that they had a larger alphabet, but reduced the number of letters over time while still retaining the phonetic distinctions. The current alphabet used for English at one time had a number of additional letters, such as: thorn, eth/edh, wynn. It is the letter thorn that is the root behind the mistake people make of saying "ye olde pub" instead of "the olde pub". Your point on the printing presses is right-on, as their adoption was the "decisive blow" to kill off those letters from our alphabet, as you implied in your post.

-- 
Ratson Naharädama
Denver, Colorado



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