Introductory Phonetics and Phonology: A Workbook Approach

By Linda I. House | Go to book overview

Appendix E
Aphabets, Writing, Speling, and Dictionaries Throughout the Years

The understanding of the history of the alphabet, writing variations, spelling changes, and the growth of dictionaries played an integral part in the development of the language. This appendix discusses the historical aspects and how these have influenced the language spoken and written today.


ALPHABETS

Semitic Alphabet

The alphabet used today has a long and varied history. Although the exact origin is unknown, it is believed to be an outgrowth of the Proto-Semitic alphabet, whose origins can be traced to what is now the modern Lebanon area. The North Semitic alphabet is most frequently associated with the Phoenicians. Current thinking does not hold that the Phoenicians invented the alphabet, but it is believed that being from a seafaring country the Phoenicians were responsible for spreading it throughout the region. The alphabet used by the Phoenicians has 22 characters but no vowels. Because the Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic alphabets are outgrowths of the Semitic alphabet, many of the 22 characters are still in use today.

It is interesting to note that letters have been organized into a form for thousands of years. Why this form was used is unknown, but speculated reasons include sound of the name, meaning, form, and so on.


Greek Alphabet

Early in the 9th century, the Greeks learned and modified the North Semitic alphabet. Although various local versions of the Greek alphabet were used for about 400 years, the Ionic alphabet of Miletos was adopted by Athens in 403 B.C. The Greek alphabet consisted of 19 letters adopted without variation from the Semitic alphabet, however, some of the symbols were changed to become vowels, and several symbols were added, totaling 24 characters. The Greek alphabet is considered by many scholars to be the first true alphabet because it included vowels.

Early Greek writing had an abrupt appearance characterized by short, straight strokes made by a stylus on a wax surface. These abrupt strokes were necessary to avoid wax build up. As the materials used for

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Introductory Phonetics and Phonology: A Workbook Approach
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Part I - Understanding Phonetics and Phonology 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Basis of Phonetics and Phonology 3
  • Chapter 2 - Anatomical and Physiological Correlates 11
  • Chapter 3 - Vowels 29
  • Chapter 4 - Diphthongs 51
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 5 - Consonants 62
  • Chapter 6 - Single Phoneme and Phonological Development 130
  • Part II - Stress and Theory 139
  • Chapter 7 - Coarticulation 141
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 8 - Syllable Stress 148
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 9 - Narrow Transcription and Factors Influencing Pronunciation 176
  • Chapter 10 - Sentence Stress 203
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 11 - Standards of Pronunciation and Dialects 210
  • Notes *
  • Appendix A - Background of the English Language 217
  • Appendix B - Old English (enʒlisć) 221
  • Appendix C - Middle English (englysshe) 229
  • Appendix D - The Modern Period 236
  • Notes *
  • Appendix E - Aphabets, Writing, Speling, and Dictionaries throughout the Years 240
  • Appendix F - Loanwords 247
  • References 257
  • Index 258
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