The Phoenician alphabet , in fact an abjad , was the writing system used in Phenicia (modern Syria , Lebanon and northern Israel ) that would give rise to most of the current systems. It was adapted from the previous Semitic alphabet [ 1 ] and its oldest record dates from 1200 BC. The system derives from protosinaitic writing , in turn derived from the Egyptian hieroglyphs .
The innovation of the Phoenician alphabet is in its purely phonetic nature , in which each symbol represents a sound , which requires the memorization of only a few characters, unlike the hieroglyphic and cuneiform logographic systems (although not entirely logographic), with the first using phonetic and second characters using a syllabic system [ From when? Before or after the appearance of the Phoenician system? ] , in which each character represented a word, making it necessary to have thousands of characters (similar to Chinese characters ), which in turn required high specialization to be learned.[ 2 ]
Among the systems derived from the Phoenician are the Greek alphabet , the ancient Italic writing and the Aramaic (which in turn would originate the Hebrew and Arabic abjads ). Examples of offspring are those of southern Arabian and Ethiopian systems . [ 3 ]
The Phoenician alphabet is best described as an abjad because it only contains characters to represent consonants , vowels must be inferred [ 4 ] , while a true alphabet represents both consonants and vowels.
It is interesting to note that, having originated in logographic systems such as the Egyptian, the design of the letters and their names are acrophonic , with the name of the letter beginning with the sound it represents and denouncing its ancient pictographic significance .
See how, for example, ‘aleph meant ox and the character came from the representation of a head of cattle rotated 90 degrees.
|Letter||Name||Image meaning||Sound||Corresponding letter in|
|ʼĀleph||ox||The||א||ﺍ||Α α||Aa||А а|
|bēth||House||B||ב||ﺏ||Β β||Bb||Б б, В в|
|gīmel||camel||g||ג||ﺝ||Γ γ||Cc , Gg||Г г|
|dāleth||door||d||ד||د ، ذ||Δ δ||Dd||Д д|
|hē||wicket||and||ה||ﮬ||Ε ε||And is||Е е, Є є|
|wāw||nail||f, u, w, v, i, ı||ו||ﻭ||Ϝ ϝ, Υ υ||Ff , Uu , Vv , Ww , Yy||У у|
|zayin||dagger||z||ז||ﺯ||Ζ ζ||Zz||З з|
|ḥēth||fence||H||ח||ح ، خ||Η η||Hh||И и, Й й|
|ṭēth||wheel||t||ט||ط ، ظ||Θ θ||Þþ||Тт|
|yōdh||arm||y||י||ي||Ι ι||Ii , Jj||І і, Ї ї, Ј ј|
|kaph||Palm)||k||כ, ך||ﻙ||Κ κ||Kk||К к|
|lāmedh||sting||l||ל||ﻝ||Λ λ||Ll||Л л|
|mēm||Water||m||מ, ם||ﻡ||Μ μ||Mm||М м|
|nun||fish||n||נ, ן||ﻥ||Ν ν||Nn||Н н|
|sāmekh||column||x||ס||ز||Ξ ξ, Χ χ||Xx||Х х|
|ʼAyin||eye||The||ע||ع ، غ||Ο ο||Oo||О о|
|pē||mouth||P||פ, ף||ﻑ||Π π||Pp||П п|
|ṣādē||papyrus (plant)||ts||צ, ץ||ص ، ض||Ϡ ϡ||TSts||Ц ц, Ч ч|
|qōph||hole of a needle||q||ק||ﻕ||Ϙ ϙ||Кк|
|rēš||head||r||ר||ﺭ||Ρ ρ||Rr||Р р|
|šin||tooth||s||ש||س ، ش||Σ σς||Ss||С с, Ш ш|
|tāw||brand||t||ת||ت ، ث||Τ τ||Tt||Т т|