Phoenician alphabet

Phoenician alphabet.svg
Aleph
Egyptian hieroglyphs 32 c. BCE

Hangul 1443 (probably influenced by Tibetan)

The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, is the oldest verified alphabet. The Phoenician alphabet is an abjad consisting of 22 letters, all consonants, with matres lectionis used for some vowels in certain late varieties. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia.

The Phoenician alphabet is derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs. It became one of the most widely used writing systems, spread by Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean world, where it evolved and was assimilated by many other cultures. The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet is a local variant of the Phoenician alphabetical script. Another derivative script is the Aramaic alphabet, which was the ancestor of the modern Arabic script. The Modern Hebrew script is a stylistic variant of the Aramaic script. The Greek alphabet (and by extension its descendants, such as Latin, Cyrillic, Runic, and Coptic) was also derived from Phoenician.

As the letters were originally incised with a stylus, most of the shapes are angular and straight, although more cursive versions are increasingly attested in later times, culminating in the Neo-Punic alphabet of Roman-era North Africa. Phoenician was usually written from right to left, although there are some texts written in boustrophedon.

The earliest known alphabetic (or "proto-alphabetic") inscriptions are the so-called Proto-Sinaitic (or Proto-Canaanite) script sporadically attested in the Sinai and in Canaan in the late Middle and Late Bronze Age. The script was not widely used until the rise of new Semitic kingdoms in the 13th and 12th centuries BC.

This page was last edited on 18 April 2018, at 17:52.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenician_alphabet under CC BY-SA license.

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