Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Mr. Adel, Feb 10, 2014.
what is the origin of the Latin letters? And how many language does use the Latin letters?
The origin is from hebrew (which itself comes from other languages, ashuric and bunch more)
The Latin alphabet comes from the Etruscan, which comes from the Greek, which comes from the Phoenician, which is one of the forms of the ancient West Semitic alphabet. Other forms of the latter are the Old Hebrew (Samaritan) and the Hebrew-Aramaic alphabets.
This Wiki-article contains a nice diagram that shows the relationships between the individual letters of the original Phoenician alphabet and four important derivative alphabets (Latin, Greek, Hebrew/Aramaic and Arabic).
I quote from another wiki-article:
All western european languages since quite a long time, as well as certain others like modern Turkish and Vietnamese. Orientalists introduced the alphabet to most colonies as well but it didn't necessarily catch on.
It's currently only a hypothesis, but some think the Phoenician alphabet maybe be from Egyptian hieroglyphs.
I would rather say "all European languages except for areas under strong influence of Orthodox Christianity".
This includes not only Western European Languages, but also Northern European (Scandinavian), Central European (German, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Serbo-Lusitian), some Eastern European (Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian), and some south-eastern European (Slovenian, Croatian, Albanian, partially Serbian). Plus, of course, Romance languages, mainly located in Southern Europe (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan).
European languages used in areas dominated by Orthodox Christianity use either Greek alphabet (with Greek language), or a cyrillic alphabet, which was derived directly from Greek (Bulgarian, Macedonian, partially Serbian, Ukrainian, Russian, Belorussian). The only notable exception is Romanian, which originally used cyrilic alphabet (dominating denomination in Romania is orthodox Christianity), then they switched to Latin script to join other Romance languages (in 19th century, I believe), then in the area incorporated to Soviet Union (Moldova) cyrillic was used again (although in Romania Latin alphabet was still in use), and nowadays Moldovans seem to have switched back to Latin script. In some areas and epochs however, with Romanian both alphabets were used in parallel, like today in Serbia.
As for non-European languages, it very much depends on who actually have taught the people write, although occasionally the official scripts were changed, often for political reasons (one of most notable examples is Turkish, but also some central-Asian languages, Mongol, Vietnamese etc).
Are the Old Hebrew and Hebrew-Aramaic alphabets parallel developments to Phoenician or are they derivatives of Phoenician like the Greek alphabet?
Isn't the origin of Latin letters the Marsiliana tablet?
As far as we know that is the origin and the origin of Marsiliana tablet is unclear.
It says it coexisted with hieroglyphs. It's Canaanite/Hebrew/Phoenician. Arguing which one is like arguing if the ABC is Latin or Roman.
I can understand "Phoenician language" as much as I can ancient Hebrew, I don't see how they're a different language at all.
Many linguists classify them as dialects of a common Canaanite language, thought I'll think you'll find Punic from Carthage fairly diverged from older Phoenician due to time and distance. Also what I mean is that if the hypothesis is true and the proto Semitic alphabet is derived from Egyptian Hieroglyphs. And the yes they hypothetically co-existed, just the Latin alphabet did and still does with it's root the Greek alphabet.
If I understand it correctly - it still says Canaanite speakers invented the whole modern concept of alphabet.
That's the idea but it really depends on how you want to look at it. The Greeks added vowels then it branched off into many of the major alphabets of the modern world thought the Semitic forms remained very successful. It's worth noting that the Maya in the Americas independently came up with an alphabet as well. Chinese symbols can be alphabetic at times too.
Okay. I get your meaning. You're right about other alphabets, and about the contribution of Greek.
The inventors of the Canaanite alphabet seem to have completed the merger of two ע (`ayin) into one, two ח (het) into one, three s/sh sound into two. In Biblical (Judean?) Hebrew these shifts happened (under Aramaic influence?) some 1,500 years or more after the alphabet invention. So the inventors are not likely to have spoken Biblical Hebrew or its ancestor language.
As an well educated modern Hebrew speaker it's natural for you to skip the lost sounds (anachronistically) and therefore read Phoenician (although apparently not as good as Hebrew of the same period).
Phoneme mergers happen in varieties of languages that are so close they hardly even considered different dialects (cot/caught or were/where mergers in English). I don't think there is anything wrong is regarding Canaanite as a dialect continuum rather than as a group of languages.
Regarding these `ayin-ghayin and Het-khet mergers, 1500+ years seems a bit much. Let's check our understandings of the time line: The Phonetician alphabet was created around 1000BC. The allophonic kaph/khapf and gimel/ghimel splits must have existed already in Mishnaic Hebrew (say 2nd century BC) and hence we would assume the phonemic mergers to have been completed by that time, wouldn't we?
I would just add that at the time, according to the Bible and to secular academy, "Canaanites" were intermarrying "Sons of Israel", worshipped a similar religion, and didn't necessarily all of them see themselves as different. Unlike with people from across the Jordan or Egypt.
There is no reason for me to assume that in the north of Israel people spoke a dialect closer to Judea than to modern Lebanon.
I did not try to classify Canaanite as dialects/languages. Yet, if the Canaanite alphabet, created in the 2nd millennium BC, lacks several features that still existed in Hebrew of 2nd temple time, I cannot imagine how the speakers of this later Hebrew (mostly Judean, due to the sad story of the northern tribes) or their (language-wise) ancestors invented this alphabet.
As we saw here how the alphabet development started at around 1800BC. It is not clear (to me) when this alphabet developed enough to be regarded as the known Phoenician alphabet.
There could be Northern Hebrew dialect/language closer to Phoenician than to Judean Hebrew, and then these northern Israelites can claim the credit for inventing the alphabet. I don't remember though reading an hypothesis that the mergers mentioned above happened in northern Hebrew several centuries earlier than in southern Hebrew.
Early Proto-Sinaitic still distinguished 27 out of the 29 original PS consonants. Only the ṱ/ś and ṣ́/ṣ mergers existed already, ḫ/ḥ, ġ/`and š/ś/s were still distinct (see list on p32 here). The reduction to 22 had not been completed before about 1200BC the earliest.
"2nd temple time" seems a bit exaggerated to me. Where did you find that?
The decipherment of Proto-Sinaitic is something about which there is no consensus. More to the point: Ugaritic and Ancient South Arabian both used forms of the Semitic alphabet with a much richer repertory of consonants that the Canaanaic/Aramaic alphabet.
There's evidence that both ghain and `ayin existed in LXX time. There's evidence that both variants of het exited in Mishnaic time. We've discussed it in the Hebrew forum. So if we start at 1200BC and end at 200 or 0 BC, that's a gap of 1000-1200 year from the time of alphabet invention until all three mergers mentioned above (ayin, het, s/sh) completed in Biblical (apparently Judean) + early Mishnaic Hebrew.
LXX is not exactly 2nd Temple period. 200BC is what I initially said.
It's a matter of terminology I guess. The 2nd Temple period lasted some 6 centuries that include the time of LXX.
The point is: the Phoenician/Paleo-Hebrew alphabet lacks several Biblical Hebrew phonemes that kept existing for many centuries after the alphabet invention. Therefore the inventors' language is likely to be neither Biblical Hebrew nor its ancestor language.
To challenge the Phoenician role and suggest that Israelites could be the inventors, a Hebrew dialect different of the one existed until end of 1st millennium BC should be hypothesize, a dialect that progressed much faster than Biblical Hebrew in regard to sound mergers. If we assume that the Hebrew Bible reflects mostly the Judean dialect (including Northern Hebrew books that were judeanized), an "other Israelite/Hebrew dialect" theory could make sense. But then - does such large difference between co-existing Hebrew dialects is viable taking into account the strong cultural, religious, habitual, perceptual relations among the Israelite tribes until at least the end of Solomon's reign (that is, circa 900 BC).
Ok, that we are in line. I indeed thought you meant the Herodian Temple period.
Oh, I see what you mean. I think no-one was denying that. IF I understand Yuzer right, he regards Phonetician and Hebrew as they were 3000 years ago just as minor dialectal variants of the same basic language. And all I said was that these mergers doesn't mean this view was necessarily wrong.
Disappearance of 3 consonants sounds like a major change, and even more if accompanied by aftershocks as likely to happen when things start moving (e.g. for distinguishing between words that suddenly became homophones). Therefore it seems improbable that the alphabet inventor's language vs. Biblical Hebrew (as of the 12th or 10th century BC) are minor dialectical variants.
Well, I just named you two phoneme mergers, one concerning a vowel and one concerning a consonant, which cause minimal pairs to disappear you probably wouldn't even recognize until you paid attention to them. Compared to Standard German, Bavarian reduces the number of distinguished monophthong vowel phonemes from 16 to 7 or 8 (depending a bit on local dialect) and three consonant distinctions are lost too, b/p, d/t and g/k (some g/k distinction is left but it is so faint, it is practically irrelevant,b/p and d/t are completely merged). Yet people have little trouble identifying it as a German dialect.
Phoneme mergers sometimes have less impact on the language that you way at first think.
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