Who invented the alphabet?
Anna Pálsdóttir, f. 1988
AnswerThe alphabet was not invented all at once, but rather developed over several centuries from earlier forms of writing. As cave paintings show, humans' ability to draw pictures goes back many thousands of years. The idea of using visually contrasting symbols to stand for the contrasting members of sets, such as words and numbers, seems to have been hit upon independently in Central America (about 2500 years ago), China (over 3000 years ago), and the Middle East (over 5000 years ago). In its beginnings, writing was often used for special purposes (such as accounting), and to express a limited vocabulary. Single symbols stood for relatively large units, such as entire words. Over the course of many decades and centuries, in both America, Asia, and the Middle East, people discovered that it was possible to use a relatively small set of symbols to visually represent all the words in a spoken language, by having one symbol stand either for each possible syllable or for each single sound in that language. These sets of symbols are called syllabaries and alphabets respectively.
The Ugaritic cuneiform alphabet is the first known instance of the ABC alphabetical order that we still use today.
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- Daniels, Peter and Bright, William (ed.), The World's Writing Systems (1996).
- DeFrancis, John, The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy (1984).
- Diringer, David, The Alphabet (1968).
- Robinson, Andrew, The Story of Writing (1995).
- Image from The Earliest Alphabets. BETA Information Design.
Um þessa spurningu
Ian Watson. „Who invented the alphabet?“. The Icelandic Web of Science 8.9.2005. http://why.is/svar.php?id=5252. (Skoðað 23.3.2017).
Ian Watsonaðjúnkt í félagsvísinda- og hagfræðideild Viðskiptaháskólans á Bifröst