Who Made The Alphabet?Posted by Mike Schumacher
The alphabet is one of the most important things in our language learning journey. Most languages have an alphabet, so knowing them all is very helpful when trying to improve your reading, writing, and speaking skills.
The way we learn alphabets varies from person to person. Some people learn letters as “gates” that lead to other letters, while others learn the sounds made by each letter first before linking it with another letter.
There are eight main consonantal vowels and five vowel digrams (groups of two adjacent vowels) in English. A few examples of these are /iədʒ/ for read, /bΛεβ/ for board, /pwɪnˈt̚ːs/ for panet, and /lmænskliq/ for lampmast.
Finding the right order to practice them in is up to you! But remember, no matter what method you use, once you know the sound of a word, you can always go back and look up its corresponding letter.
Knowing the sounds and the order in which to learn them is half the battle! So, let’s start with the most basic one: the letter e.
Alphabets of the world
The alphabet we use to write words is not an original idea. In fact, it was invented over 2,000 years ago! Before that, there were no written languages at all.
Prior to the invention of writing, every culture had their own method for communicating ideas through expression and gesture. Some did this with pictures or symbols, but none used complete letters as signs for individual sounds like we do today.
The first known example of such an alphabetic system comes from ancient Egypt around 3150 BC. There are only two examples of this early version in existence, one being the Rosetta Stone (see below). These inscriptions feature three separate sets of characters: phonetic, syllable, and word form.
Phonetic alphbetary systems base each letter on the sound they represent. This way, even if someone doesn’t know how to read your language, they can still understand what you’re trying to say. English uses this type of alphabet – the “alphabet” refers to the set of 26 lowercase, unaccented vowels and the corresponding uppercase versions of these.
Most modern-day alphbetaries have replaced the syllables and word forms with just the phonetics. This is because most people now learn the pronunciation of a word before learning its spelling.
Early examples of the alphabet
The word ‘alphabet’ comes from the Greek alphos, which means ‘letter’ and béta, which means ‘good’ or ‘well done!’ So, an alpha-bétê is a good letter.
Prior to the Roman Empire (circa 300 BC – AD 150), most Europeans didn’t have writing systems as we know them today. They had syllables that they sounded out using different vowels and consonants, but no actual letters.
The Phoenicians were one of the first civilizations in Europe to develop an advanced written language. Theirs was called Cuneiform, which consisted of short markings made with wet clay used for writing. These would later be translated into our modern spoken languages like Latin and Aramaic.
It wasn’t until around 800 AD when another major civilization emerged in what would become the Western world — Greece. Here, people started recording information in writings that involved repeated patterns of symbols. Some of these patterns resembled pictures, while others resembled sounds.
These early writers organized their material into stories and lessons, making it more fluid and applicable. This is how we get our current system of literacy: learning about individual subjects and then putting those pieces together to learn something new.
This way of teaching is still practiced and adapted in many cultures around the globe. It’s also how we learned to read and write in the West.
The evolution of the alphabet
Let’s look at some examples!
The way we write our words comes from an ancient, pre-alphabet form called syllabic writing. This is where your word is made up of separate sounds that are connected to each other – like the sound you make when blowing air out your nose (n).
A common example of this is the word “mama” which has the sound ‘ma’ in it. The -a part comes from the Latin for ‘noose’ so when people used this word they were referencing the concept of maternal neck or noose.
Another example is the word “baby” which has the same consonant cluster as above but with a vowel added to create the final sound. So, baby has the sound ‘ba’ due to the initial ‘na’ sounding like the English word ‘nah’.
These types of written symbols allowed early humans to connect these sounds together into meaningful whole phrases and even complete sentences! Before there was literacy, every culture had their own system for recording knowledge and experiences.
This is why we have lots of different styles and variations of the Roman alphabet today.
The alphabet we use to write words is not new! Many, if not most cultures have an alphabet that they use to organize and speak about letters and words. Some make more sense than others though, which is why some are more popular than others.
The English language has its own unique set of alphabetical orderings that we used until just over one thousand years ago. These include the very common ordering of A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ.
With no formal education system in place back then, people learned how to read by learning these ordered sets starting with the easiest and working up from there.
Over time, different people put these orders to good use for their native languages. This is where many of our current alphabets come from! If you ever wanted to learn another language, choosing one whose ordering makes sense would be your best bet.
Famous examples of the alphabet
The alphabet we use to write words is not new! Many wonder how people learned to put letters together to make words, and some believe that there are secret alphabets in place today that were invented years ago. This is false!
The way we know what letter goes with another letter comes from order. We start with vowels and then move onto other sounds such as consonants or silence. These sounds go next to each other in order according to their shape so that you can recognize them easily when they’re combined into a word.
By remembering this order, children learn how to connect the individual sounds and therefore learn the language. When kids grow up learning the English alphabet, they also learn the connection between every single vowel, every sound made with a nasal cavity (the nose), and every double consonant like ‘ng�’ or ‘sh’.
That’s why many consider the English alphabet to be the most natural one because it seems intuitively right – you just know it! There’s nothing special about these connections though; they’re simply organized by someone who wanted to organize them well.
The order of the letters in the alphabet
There is no universal agreement on how to organize the alphabet. Different cultures have different ordering of the alphabet, making it hard to compare books from one place to another!
Many believe that the English language originates from the Romans, which means its alphabet comes directly after the Roman’s own. This makes sense because both languages are spoken using the same set of sounds, so translating from A to X or Y is easy.
But this doesn’t tell you what letter comes next in Arabic or Hindi, for example. In fact, some experts say that the Arabic script was inspired by the Chinese writing system, making it very difficult to compare the two.
So while there is no “correct” way to write your dreams, here are our favorite orders for the alphabet.
Variants of the alphabet
The way we write our letters comes down to two things: how they are arranged and what order you go in. So, let’s talk about some of the variations of the alphabet!
The most well-known variation of the alphabet is called the English or Roman letter format. This is the one that we use today for almost every written language. It was created around 2,500 years ago by Romans who conquered parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
After their conquest, these people left behind their culture and literacy, so many different languages used the same script. That script became known as the Latin alphabet because it was originally developed in Italy, where the Romans were from.
This version of the alphabet has ten characters: A B C D E F G H I J. Some sources say there are eleven, but you won’t find that anywhere else.
That extra character goes by its own name: Z. Most people just call it “the zenith.” Then you have got a choice between writing your sentence starting with the letter A or the letter Z. Technically speaking, only professional writers choose to do this, but it is very common among authors.
It can look cool if you want to make it look like you know what you’re doing! But no one really knows why anyone would ever do that. For all intents and purposes, it is just weird.
Letters that should be in the alphabet
The letter A is one of the most important letters in the English language. It is not only the first letter of the word alive, but it also begins many other words. Examples are add, advice, airplane, bracelet, cat, ceiling, etc.
The reason why the letter A is so powerful is because it originates from another source. Before the Romans took over Europe, there were no written languages. Ancient people communicated through spoken sounds and gestures. These early speakers made repeated noises to represent different syllables or sound chunks.
These phonemes would eventually combine into bigger units called graphemes or “written sounds”. Over time, these accumulated into larger sequences, which we now call vowels and consonants. Vowel and consonant combinations make up what we know as our own unique speech patterns and even the way some languages are constructed.
Many linguists believe that the Latin Vulgar (common) Language was influenced by the Roman Empire, where literacy was very common.
The Jam Addict team is a revolving door of writers who care about music, its effects on culture, and giving aspiring artists tools and knowledge to be inspired and keep on creating.
If you have any questions or concerns or just want to drop us a line, don’t hesitate to contact us! We always appreciate the feedback.