Alphabet (Greek ἀλφάβητος), also an alphabet - a form of written language, based on the standard character set . In the alphabet individual characters - letters - represent the phonemes of language, although one correspondence ↔ letter sound is rare and has a habit of being lost in the process of development of spoken language . The alphabet is different from the pictographic ( ideographic ) writing, where the signs indicate the concept ( Sumerian cuneiform ) , and morphemic and logographic writing, where the signs indicate the separate morpheme ( Chinese script ) or words. There are the following types of alphabets :
Consonant - vocalic alphabets - letters denote the vowels and consonants ;
Consonant alphabets - letters denote only the consonants , vowels can be marked by a special system of diacritical marks ( vowels ) ;
Syllabic alphabets - the letters are integers syllables and syllables with the same consonants but different vowels may be indicated by signs close ( so-called. Abugidy , such as Indic scripts ), and can be quite different (eg , channels ), in the narrow sense can not considered alphabet.
The use of signs for individual phonemes leads to a significant simplification of the letter as a result of reducing the number of characters used. Also, the order of the letters in the alphabet is the basis of alphabetical sorting .
The relative complexity of the phonetic systems of different languages leads to the existence of unequal size alphabets . According to the Guinness Book of Records , most letters - 72 - is contained in the Khmer alphabet , the smallest - 12 (a, e, g, i, k, o, p, r, s, t, u, v) - in the alphabet of the language rotokas the island of Bougainville (Papua New Guinea) . The oldest letter of the alphabet is the letter "o" , which has remained unchanged in the same form in which it was adopted in the Phoenician alphabet (about 1300 BC. E . ) . ( This letter is there signified another consonant , but the current "o" is derived from it).
The principle of the alphabet was invented by Semitic peoples. In the middle . 3rd millennium BC. e . scribes in the city of Ebla (modern Tel Marden , North Syria) have created a classification borrowed from Mesopotamian cuneiform syllabic signs that they used to write the local language eblaitskogo Sumerian and Mesopotamian , which marks ranked their nature vowels at the same consonants : ma, mi, mu ( in Semitic languages, there were only three vowels a, i, u). Apparently, thanks to the experience of cuneiform and Egyptian writing , no later than the Semites 1st floor. 2nd millennium BC. e . have created a type of consonant - initial syllabic writing , where there were signs for the transfer of consonants ( eg , w) in combination with either a vowel ( such as syllables wa, wi, wu, not written by different characters , as in the cuneiform script , and one ) .
Once a set of written symbols and signs have been included for vowels , finally formed the alphabet as an ordered set of written notation of phonemes.
The most ancient alphabet was the city-state of Ugarit , known since the middle . 2nd millennium BC. e . The order of characters in it basically corresponds to the order of characters in other alphabets of West- known since the last centuries of the 2nd millennium BC. e . : in the Phoenician , Hebrew, and some others. The Phoenicians , who lived on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea , in ancient times were known to mariners . They were active in trade with countries in the Mediterranean.
Originate from the Phoenician alphabet Greek and Aramaic alphabets , which gave rise to most modern work , as well as a lot of " dead-end lines " in the development of writing: alphabets of Asia Minor , iberskoe letter Numidian letter , etc. The order of the Phoenician alphabet letters alphabets can be seen in the descendant , the word " alphabet "is formed from the names of the first two letters of the alpha ἄλφα / Aleph and beta βῆτα / bet . )
S.Semitic alphabet that looks like the Phoenician , there was , apparently , not from him but from a hypothetical common ancestor to the Phoenician , a descendant S.Semitic letter is the modern Ethiopian letter .