Origins of the Alphabet

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					                                                                          Origins of the Alphabet
                                                                                                                                                                                            Our present day twenty-six-letter
            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.