1. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Censor
    I take it that the order of the alphabet was more or less the same in Roman times as in ours -

    A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X Y Z

    What confuses me, though, is when an actual alphabetical order was defined, how it was standardized, and why. On top of that, how did G end up four whole spaces past C?

    Can anyone shed some light on this? Google isn't being very cooperative.
  2. Quasus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Águas Santas
    Latin alphabet originates from the western Greek alphabet, and the Greek script has Phoenician as its antecendent. So primarily the question is about the order in the Phoenician alphabet. Latin alphabet notably displays the same order as Greek one (F stands for digamma, G took the place of earlier Z, Q for koppa). The letters H (eta) and X (chi) had the same values as in the western Greek script (that is, aspiration and [ks]). Y and Z were introduced for loanwords only in the imperial period.

    G is a modification of C. When it was introduced, it was placed instead of earlier Z which fell out of use, since intervocalic S changed into R in archaic Latin.

    Wiki must have something interesting on the topic.
    Akela and Nikolaos like this.
  3. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Censor
    Nikolaos is using Resurrection Signet on Thread!

    IT'S ALIVE.

    Does anyone have any idea on how a strict alphabetical order came to be? The Romans inherited theirs from the Greek, and the Greeks from the Phoenicians, but what possessed a people to say "THIS glyph is the first, and THIS ONE comes after it"?

    I doubt that anyone has an answer to this, but perhaps someone has a theory?
  4. Manus Correctrix QVAE CORRIGIT

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Victoria
    What I want to know is why G is after F, when it’s just a variation of C. All the other letters that appeared as variants (J of I, consonantal V and W of the vowel U) were placed just after the parent letter.
    Akela likes this.
  5. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Censor
    Wikipedia's article on G seems to have the answer to both of our questions - yours directly, mine indirectly.

    So, my answer lies in the values of Greek numerals, or something like that.
  6. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    The Greek letters were given numeric values in accordance with their already established order, though, so that can't be the answer. More correctly, the Greeks assigned the values to the letters they inherited from the Phoenecians in their original order, including several letters which weren't (or were no longer) used to represent Greek phonemes.

    Why the proto-Canaanite letters were arranged as they were is probably something now undiscoverable, and may have been largely arbitrary to begin with. The letters were named after words beginning with the representative phoneme (acrophony), e.g. 'alp = "ox", bet = "house", gaml = "camel", etc., so that may have something to do with it.

    What I never understood was why the Latin K fell out of use in the first place and C started to be used for both the phonemes /k/ and /g/, necessitating the invention of G for the latter.
    Nikolaos likes this.
  7. metrodorus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Londinium
    The alphabet appears to have its origin in a mining community in the Sinai desert - and rapidly spread out from there - changing and mutating - about 4000 years ago. Why in that order? One can only speculate. The alphabet as we understand it crystallized somewhere around 3100 years ago.
    Nikolaos likes this.
  8. Adrian Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Very interesting. Would You be so kind and recommend some books/articles/internet sites regarding this matter?
  9. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    Even assuming Proto-Sinaitic is the ancestor of the Canaanite alphabet, which hasn't been indisputably established, just because the only attestation of the script is graffiti in a turquoise mine does not mean it necessarily originated in a mining community. That's just where archaeologists have been able to find it.
  10. metrodorus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Londinium
    http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/alphabet.asp
    Hi Imber - I'm not the expert - you can argue with Professor Goldwasser. Actually this site is really good - as here we have a ripping academic argument and you can read the responses of the two sides.
    ;)
  11. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    Ms. Goldwasser seems to be drawing sweeping conclusions from insufficient data. It's of course possible that she's correct, but if that article is any indication she hasn't even come close to proving her contention. It's an interesting hypothesis and nothing more.

    The fact that the Egyptians had already toyed with phonetic representation in much of the hieratic script kind of undercuts her contention that it must have been illiterate mine-workers who came up with symbol to sound correspondence, since (she seems to argue) educated writers would have been too married to the idea that symbols only represent words, not sounds, to have even countenanced the idea. It wasn't necessarily some grand invention made by a committee, of course, and in fact was more probably a practical solution to a problem with representing words and names in a foreign (i.e. non-Egyptian) language, but I highly doubt illiterate manual workers came up with it more or less by accident of mere mimicry. Much more likely that an educated person who knew both hieroglyphs and hieratic script invented the alphabet from them as an aid to illiterate non-Egyptians for writing their own names and such (and it's hardly realistic to assume that it must have happened in these mines because that's the only place we've found it).
    Cursor Nictans and Godmy like this.

Share This Page

 

Our Latin forum is a community for discussion of all topics relating to Latin language, ancient and medieval world.

Latin Boards on this Forum:

English to Latin, Latin to English translation, general Latin language, Latin grammar, Latine loquere, ancient and medieval world links.