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Monday, 1 August 2011

Alphabet

HISTORY

The Chinese attributed the invention of the alphabet to the four-eyed, dragon-faced god T'sang Chien and said he took the pattern of his symbols from nature - the footprints of birds, the marks on the back of a turtle, and so on.

According to Hindu myth, the god Brahma created the alphabet. He wished to write down his teachings on leaves of gold. But as there was no alphabet in existence, he had to invent it. He did so mostly by copying some of the peculiar tracings formed by the seams in the human skull.

The word alphabet is derived from alpha (α) and beta (β), the names of the first two letters of the classical Greek alphabet.

The earliest known alphabet is from Palestine, about 1700 BC.

The Phoenician alphabet, which comprised 22 letters, all consonants came into use in 1200BC. Separate symbols for each sound were invented so that words could be built up out of them.

The model for all Western alphabets was the Etruscan, itself based on the Greek alphabet, which had modified the Phoenician consonantal alphabet by adding vowel letters to it. It was developed in 800BC.

The first man known to have written down, from scratch, a language which is as yet purely oral was the half Greek, half Goth Ulfilas (310-383). In order to translate the Bible from Greek into the Gothic language he devised a new alphabet to capture accurately the sounds of spoken Gothic, using a total of twenty-seven letters adapted from examples in the Greek and Roman alphabets.



The Egyptian alphabet contained more than 700 hieroglyphs.

The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul in South Korea and elsewhere and as Chosŏn'gŭl in North Korea and China was created by scholars during the Joseon Dynasty. It was described in 1446 in a document titled Hunmin Jeong-eum ("The Proper Sounds for the Education of the People"), after which the alphabet itself was named. The publication date of the Hunmin Jeong-eum, October 9, is a national commemorative day in South Korea, which is called Hangul Day.

Chosŏn'gŭl (top), and Hangul (bottom) By Esneq5874 - Wikipedia

Benjamin Franklin proposed a phonetic alphabet that got rid of the letters C,J, Q, W, X, and Y, but the American public refused to adopt it.

The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw campaigned for alphabet reform throughout his life. His new alphabet was designed to eliminate inconsistencies in English spelling. Shaw left a large amount of money to promote his new alphabet but it never became popular.

It was once common practice to add the "&" sign at the end of the alphabet as if it were the 27th letter, pronounced as the Latin 'et' or later in English 'as and.'

Our own alphabet, as we know it now, took its final form in around 1700 when I and j become separate letters as did U and V.

ENGLISH ALPHABET FACTS

The 26 letters of our alphabet can make 403,290,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 different combinations.

The five most frequently used letters in the English alphabet are, in order, E T A I S. 1 out of every 8 letters written is an e.

The least used letter in the alphabet is Q.

The letter "W" is the only letter in the alphabet that doesn't have just one syllable – it has three.

The sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog." uses every letter of the alphabet.

If you try to say the alphabet without moving your lips or tongue every letter will sound the same.

The dot over an “i” is called a “tittle.”

NON ENGLISH ALPHABETS

The Arabic alphabet has no capital letters.

The Hawaiian alphabet consists of 10 vowels and eight consonants (including the ‘okina).

There is a Cyrillic letter so rare it is only used in the phrase "many-eyed Seraphim"

The alphabet of the Taa language, also known as !Xóõ, of Botswana has 126 consonants and 83 ‘click’ sounds. Most speakers live in and around the Kalahari desert, with a few hundred in Namibia.

The Rotokas language of Papua New Guinea has a 12-letter alphabet, the world’s smallest.

The world’s largest alphabet is Cambodian, with 74 letters.

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