Phoenician alphabet

Phoenician Alphabet It is an old non-pictographic consonant alphabet of the abyad type. It was used to write Phoenician , a northern Semitic language , used by the Phoenician civilization. It is classified as an abyad because it only represents consonant sounds, with the addition of matres lectionis for some vowels . Phoenician became one of the most widely used writing systems as it was spread by Phoenician merchants throughout the Mediterranean world, where it was assimilated by many other cultures that adapted it to their respective languages.


  • 1 History
  • 2 Structure
    • 1 Numbering
  • 3 Discoveries
  • 4 Sources


Phoenician letters gave rise to different versions in each of the alphabets derived from them. From left to right: Latin, [Greek], Phoenician, Hebrew , Arabic .

When the Phoenician alphabet was rediscovered in the 19th century, its origins were unknown. At first researchers thought this script was derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Phoenician adaptation of the alphabet was extremely successful, adapting with variants throughout the Mediterranean Sea from the 9th century BC. C. It gave rise mainly to the Greek alphabet, the Etruscan, the Anatolian alphabets and the paleohispanic signaries.

The success of the alphabet is due in part to its phonetic nature: Phoenician was the first widely used script in which each sound was represented with only one sign.

Phoenician had long-term effects on the social structures of the civilizations with which he came into contact. It was the first phonetic writing system to become generalized; its simplicity not only allowed it to be used in many different languages, but also for ordinary people to learn to write.

The alphabet Phoenician was added to the Unicode Standard in July of 2006 to the out version 5.0. The alternative proposal to treat it as a variation of the Hebrew font was rejected.20 It is often said that the Phoenicians invented the alphabet, but what they really did was systematize and spread it. There is evidence of the existence of a Semitic alphabet from the 16th century BC, by inscriptions found in Sinai.


The Phoenician alphabet was made up of 22 letters and was written from right to left, like the current Arabic. Its spelling was completely defective, that is, it had no signs to represent vowels. Also, he tended toward continuous writing (not separating words). Its simplicity allowed the dissemination of knowledge and culture, contrary to what happened in other countries, such as Egypt or China , where there was a caste of scribes.

The Phoenician uses an acrophony system to name the letters. The names are basically the same as those in the scriptures from which it is descended, which in turn derive from the original hieroglyphic values ​​for each letter.10 The original word was translated from Egyptian to its Semitic equivalent, then taken from the initial sound of the word translated the value of the letter.

The forms of the Phoenician alphabet shown in the tables are idealized. The actual Phoenician writing was much more unstable and variable in appearance. There were also significant changes according to the time and the region.

When the alphabetic writing arrived in [Greece], the letters used were similar but not identical to the Phoenician ones and certain spellings were adapted as vowels, since the Phoenician alphabet did not contain any.

The phonetic value changed to a great extent, both during the initial creation of new alphabets and due to the phonetic changes of the languages ​​that have used them over time. In Phoenician script, unlike most later abyad such as Aramaic, Biblical Hebrew, and Arabic, even long vowels were not represented in script. Over time, systems for marking vowels were developed through the use of consonants matres lectionis

Since the letters were originally inscribed with a stylus, most of the shapes are angular and rectilinear, although progressively more cursive shapes gradually developed, culminating in the Neopunic alphabet of Northern


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