Origins of the Alphabet Our present day twenty-six-letter T he origins of the alphabet communicated and kept records by have a tremendous impact upon the for writing manuscripts. Lowercase begin within the shadowy combining symbols for the concrete development of the alphabet was to letters for the most part require fewer alphabet is the result of thousands realms of prehistory. At (pictographs) and for the abstract ﬁnally take on a distinct resemblance to strokes for their formation, allowing some time within that shadowed (ideographs). However, there were the modern Western alphabet. the scribes to ﬁt more letters in a line of years of evolution prehistory, humankind began to disadvantages to this system: not only of type. The combination of speed and communicate visually. Motivated by were the symbols complex, but their When the Romans adopted the Greek space conservation was important to the need to communicate facts about numbers tally into the tens of thousands, alphabet, along with other aspects monks writing lengthy manuscripts on the environment around them, humans making learning diﬃcult and writing of Greek culture, they continued the expensive parchment, and the use of made simple drawings of everyday slow. development and usage of the alphabet. lowercase letters was widely adopted objects such as people, animals, Just as the Greeks had modiﬁed the in a relatively short time period. By weapons, and so forth. These object An early culture inspired to innovate Phoenician alphabet, the Romans the time that Johannes Gutenberg drawings are called pictographs. a simpler, more eﬃcient system adopted and modiﬁed the Greek developed the printing press in 1450, writing from was the Phoenicians. The alphabet. Thirteen letters were accepted the basic formation of the alphabet was As humankind began to see the need Phoenicians were a wide-ﬂung trading in an unchanged form from the Greek: set into its familiar modern form. for communication of more abstract people of great vitality, with complex A, B, E, H, I, K, M, N, O, T, X, Y, Z. Eight thoughts through visual marks, the business transactions that required letters were revised: C, D, G, L, P, R, S, V. The visual style, however, of the meaning of pictographs began to take on accurate record keeping. It was through Two letters were added: F and Q. With modern day alphabet is as varied as the broader meanings. The mark for ox, for their need for keeping ledgers and an alphabet of twenty-three letters, the thousands of typefaces and type families example, could also mean wealth, food, business accounts that they evolved a Romans had all the letters needed to available today. Access to computer or strength. Interpretation of a single system around 1500 B.C. that used signs write Latin. The Romans also dropped technology allows typographers and pictograph was ambiguous and lacking to stand for sounds of syllables. As this the Greek designations for the letters, designers more options than ever, while context. Combining several pictographs system had markedly fewer symbols to such as alpha, beta, gamma, for the still basing communication on those together provided context, and more learn than the old ideograph system, simpler A, B, C’s we know today. essential twenty-six letters. complex abstract meanings could be it streamlined learning time and made conveyed: for example, pictographs rapid writing possible. They had found The development of the alphabet Our present day twenty-six-letter of a woman and child together could a perfect business tool. was to continue under the writing alphabet is the result of thousands of combine to represent happiness. implements of medieval scribes. It years of evolution. The basic shape Around 800 B.C., the Greeks was during the medieval era that of the alphabet may be modiﬁed, Once symbols no longer represented adopted the Phoenician alphabet. The the letters U, W, and J were added to simpliﬁed, or embellished, but the basic objects, but ideas, they became a new Greeks added A, E, I, O, and U to the the alphabet. Also during this time, shapes cannot be changed without evolutionary step in our alphabet, Phoenician base of 22 letters. Adoption lowercase letters developed as a natural signiﬁcantly weakening communication the ideograph. Many early cultures of the alphabet by the Greeks was to result of the use of the ﬂexible reed pen and legibility. Alter at your own risk.