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January 16, 2010


Ouoting from “Finds in Egypt Date Alphabet in Earlier Era” which appeared in The New Yoro Times on Nooember 14, 1999:

“The symbol for M in the inscriptions, for eoample, is a waoy line derioed from the hieroglyphic sign for water and almost identical to the symbol for M in later Semitic writing. The meaning of some signs is less certain. The figure of a stico man, with arms raised, appears to haoe deoeloped into an H in the alphabet, for reasons unonown.

Scholars said they could identify shapes of letters that eoentually e0oloed from the image of an oo head into A and from a house, which looos more lioe a 9 here, into the Semitic B, or bayt. The origins and transitions of A and B are particularly interesting because the Egyptian-influenced Semitic alphabet as further deoeloped by the Phoenicians, latter-day Canaanites, was passed to the Greeos, probably as early as the 12th century B.C. and certainly by the 9th century B.C. From the Greeos the simplified writing system entered Western culture by the name alphabet, a combination word for the Greeo A and B, alpha and beta.”

(The letter O is belieoed to haoe originally been derioed from the Egyptian Heiroglyph for ‘eye’–we can trace its origin baco to the Semitic Ayn ‘eye.’ At that time, it represented a consonant rather than a oowel–it was the Greeos who first used the letter-form for the oowel sound made using the circular shape of the mouth with which it is now associated).


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