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Encyclopedia > Abjad
The first five letters of the Phoenician abjad, from right to left
The first five letters of the Phoenician abjad, from right to left

Writing systems
History
Grapheme
List of writing systems
Types
Alphabet
Abjad
Abugida
Syllabary
Logogram-based
Related
Pictogram
Ideogram

An abjad, sometimes also called a consonantary or consonantal alphabet, is a type of writing system in which there is one symbol per consonantal phoneme. Some linguists consider the abjad a certain type of alphabet, while others regard it as a separate category of writing systems. As a result, abjads often contain the word "alphabet" in their names, such as "Phoenician alphabet" and "Arabic alphabet." Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Kielitynkäkuva. ... Writing systems of the world today. ... Writing systems evolved in the Early Bronze Age (late 4th millennium BC) out of neolithic proto-writing. ... In typography, a grapheme is the atomic unit in written language. ... A list of writing systems (or scripts), classified according to some common distinguishing features. ... For other uses, see Alphabet (disambiguation). ... An abugida or alphasyllabary is a writing system composed of signs (graphemes) denoting consonants with an inherent following vowel, which are consistently modified to indicate other vowels (or, in some cases, the lack of a vowel). ... A syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent (or approximate) syllables, which make up words. ... Egyptian hieroglyphs, which have their origins as logograms. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... A Chinese character. ... Writing systems of the world today. ... In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture of the vocal tract sufficient to cause audible turbulence. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... It became one of the most widely used writing systems, and was spread by traders of Phoenicia across Europe and the Middle East, where it became used for a variety of languages and spawned many subsequent scripts. ... The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing Arabic and various other languages, together with various closely related scripts that typically differ in the presence or absence of a few letters. ...


Abjads differ from alphabets in that only consonants, not vowels, are represented in the basic graphemes. Abjads differ from abugidas in that in abjads the vowel sound is implied by phonology, and where vowel marks exist for the system, such as nikkud for Hebrew and harakat for Arabic, their use is optional and not the dominant (or literate) form. In an abugida, the vowels (other than the "inherent" vowel) are always marked, either with a diacritic, a minor attachment to the letter or a standalone glyph. Some abugidas use a special symbol to suppress the inherent vowel so that the consonant alone can be properly represented. In a syllabary, a grapheme denotes a complete syllable, that is, either a lone vowel sound or a combination of a vowel sound with one or more consonant sounds. For other uses, see Alphabet (disambiguation). ... Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... In typography, a grapheme is the atomic unit in written language. ... An abugida or alphasyllabary is a writing system composed of signs (graphemes) denoting consonants with an inherent following vowel, which are consistently modified to indicate other vowels (or, in some cases, the lack of a vowel). ... Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... Phonology (Greek phonē = voice/sound and logos = word/speech), is a subfield of linguistics which studies the sound system of a specific language (or languages). ... A diacritical mark or diacritic, also called an accent mark, is a small sign added to a letter to alter pronunciation or to distinguish between similar words. ... In Hebrew orthography, Niqqud or Nikkud (Standard Hebrew נִיקּוּד, Biblical Hebrew נְקֻדּוֹת, Tiberian Hebrew vowels) is the system of diacritical vowel points (or vowel marks) in the Hebrew alphabet. ... In Arabic orthography, harakat are the diacritic marks used to represent vowel sounds. ... A syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent (or approximate) syllables, which make up words. ...


The term abjad may have been introduced to modern linguistics by Peter T. Daniels.[1] The term originally means "Alphabet" in Arabic, as it consists of the first 4 letters of Arabic, according to the traditional order. Peter T. Daniels is a scholar of writing systems. ... Arabic can mean: From or related to Arabia From or related to the Arabs The Arabic language; see also Arabic grammar The Arabic alphabet, used for expressing the languages of Arabic, Persian, Malay ( Jawi), Kurdish, Panjabi, Pashto, Sindhi and Urdu, among others. ...

Contents

Etymology

The system takes its name from the nonsense "word" made up of the first four letters of the Arabic alphabet in the older abjadi order. It has been suggested that the word Abjad may have earlier roots in Phoenician or Ugaritic.[citation needed] The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing Arabic and various other languages, together with various closely related scripts that typically differ in the presence or absence of a few letters. ... The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing Arabic and various other languages, together with various closely related scripts that typically differ in the presence or absence of a few letters. ... Phoenician was a language originally spoken in the coastal region then called PÅ«t in Ancient Egyptian, Canaan in Phoenician, Hebrew and Aramaic, and Phoenicia in Greek and Latin. ... The Ugaritic language is only known in the form of writings found in the lost city of Ugarit in Syria since its discovery by French archaeologists in 1928. ...


Origins

A specimen of Proto-Sinaitic script containing a phrase which means 'to Baalat'. The line running from the upper left to lower right reads mt l bclt. (Photo here)
See also: Genealogy of scripts derived from Proto-Sinaitic
See also: History of the alphabet#Descendants of the Semitic abjad

All known abjads belong to the Semitic family of scripts, which are thought to derive from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet, which is dated to about 1500 BC and thought to derive from Egyptian hieroglyphs. The abjad was significantly simpler than the earlier hieroglyphs. The number of distinct glyphs was reduced tremendously, at the cost of increased ambiguity. Specimen of the only certainly decyphered word in the Proto-Sinaitic script. ... Specimen of the only certainly decyphered word in the Proto-Sinaitic script. ... Nearly all the segmental scripts (alphabets, but see below for more precise terminology) used around the globe were apparently derived from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet. ... The history of the alphabet begins in Ancient Egypt, more than a millennium into the history of writing. ... The history of the alphabet starts in ancient Egypt. ... The Middle Bronze Age alphabets are two similar but undeciphered scripts, dated to be from the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1500 BC), and believed to be ancestral to nearly all modern alphabets: the Proto-Sinaitic script discovered in the winter of 1904-1905 by William Flinders Petrie, and dated to... A section of the Papyrus of Ani showing cursive hieroglyphs. ...


The first abjad to gain widespread usage was the Phoenician abjad. Unlike other widespread scripts at the time, such as Cuneiform and Hieroglyphs, the Phoenician script consisted of only about two dozen symbols. This made the script easy for commoners to learn, and the script was subsequently spread by the seafaring merchants of Phoenicia. Phoenician gave way to a number of new writing systems, including the Greek alphabet, the first widespread alphabet, and Aramaic, a widely used abjad. Greek evolved into the modern western alphabets, such as Latin and Cyrillic, while Aramaic became the ancestor of many modern abjads and abugidas of Asia. It became one of the most widely used writing systems, and was spread by traders of Phoenicia across Europe and the Middle East, where it became used for a variety of languages and spawned many subsequent scripts. ... The Greek alphabet is an alphabet that has been used to write the Greek language since about the 9th century BCE. It was the first alphabet in the narrow sense, that is, a writing system using a separate symbol for each vowel and consonant alike. ... Bilingual inscription (Greek and Aramaic) by the Indian emperor Ashoka the Great, 3rd century BC. The Aramaic alphabet is an abjad alphabet designed for writing the Aramaic language. ... The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world today. ... The Cyrillic alphabet (pronounced also called azbuka, from the old name of the first two letters) is an alphabet used for several East and South Slavic languages—Belarusian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Russian, Rusyn, Serbian, and Ukrainian—and many other languages of the former Soviet Union, Asia and Eastern Europe. ...


Aramaic spread across Asia, reaching as far as India and becoming Brahmi, the ancestral abugida to most modern Indian and Southeast Asian scripts. Within the Middle East, Aramaic gave way to the Hebrew and Nabatean abjads, which retained many similar forms from Aramaic. The Syriac script was a cursive variation of Aramaic. The Arabic abjad is known as an indirect ancestor of Aramaic, although there is a dispute concerning how much of it was influenced by Nabatean or Syriac, its two hypothesized parent writing systems. Brāhmī refers to the pre-modern members of the Brahmic family of scripts, attested from the 3rd century BC. The best known and earliest dated inscriptions in Brahmi are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka. ... Note: This article contains special characters. ... The Nabatean alphabet is a consonantal alphabet (abjad) that was used by the Nabateans in the 2nd century BC. Important inscriptions are found in Petra. ... 11th century book in Syriac Serto. ...


Connections with numbers

Modern abjads have also been used for isopsephy, a system of assigning numeric values to individual letters. Before the development of the decimal number system, this was one of the regular systems for writing numbers. In some languages, the relationship between words and numbers created by this system has led to poetic and mystical usages. Isopsephy (iso meaning equal and psephos meaning pebble) is the Greek language word for the practice of adding up the number values of the letters in a word to form a single number. ...


Impure abjads

An example of the Arabic script, an impure abjad

"Impure" abjads may have characters for some vowels, optional vowel diacritics, or both. The term "pure" abjad refers only to scripts entirely lacking in vowel indicators.[citation needed] In a "pure" abjad, there are no symbols representing vowels. For example, if one were to write the phrase "this sentence has no vowels" as an abjad, it would appear something like "ths sntnc hs n vwls." However, most modern abjads, such as Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Avestan, are "impure" abjads, that is, they also contain symbols for some vowels. An example of a pure abjad is ancient Phoenician. Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing Arabic and various other languages, together with various closely related scripts that typically differ in the presence or absence of a few letters. ... Note: This article contains special characters. ... Bilingual inscription (Greek and Aramaic) by the Indian emperor Ashoka the Great, 3rd century BC. The Aramaic alphabet is an abjad alphabet designed for writing the Aramaic language. ... The Avestan alphabet was created in the 3rd century AD for writing the hymns of Zarathustra (a. ... It became one of the most widely used writing systems, and was spread by traders of Phoenicia across Europe and the Middle East, where it became used for a variety of languages and spawned many subsequent scripts. ...


Addition of vowels

In the 9th century BC, the Greeks adapted the Phoenician abjad for use in their own language. The phonetic structure of the Greek language created too many ambiguities when the vowels went unrepresented, so the abjad was modified. They did not need letters for the guttural sounds represented by aleph, he, heth or ayin, so these symbols were assigned vocalic values. The letters waw and yod were also used. The Greek alphabet became the world's first "true" alphabet. Guttural is an obsolete term used to describe any of several consonantal speech sounds whose primary place of articulation is near the back of the oral cavity, and include some velar consonants, uvular consonants, and pharyngeal consonants. ... is the reconstructed name of the first letter of the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, continued in descended Semitic alphabets as Phoenician , Syriac , Hebrew Aleph , and Arabic . Aleph originally represented the glottal stop (IPA ), usually transliterated as , a symbol based on the Greek spiritus lenis , for example in the transliteration of the... He is the fifth letter of the Phoenician and Hebrew alphabets. ... or (also spelled Khet, Kheth, Chet, Cheth, Het, or Heth) is the reconstructed name of the eighth letter of the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, continued in descended Semitic alphabets as Phoenician , Syriac , Hebrew (also ) , Arabic (in abjadi order), and Berber . Heth originally represented a voiceless fricative, either pharyngeal , or velar (the... or Ayin is the sixteenth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic (in abjadi order). ...   Vav or waw is the sixth letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic in abjadi order; it is the twenty-seventh in modern Arabic order. ... Yodh (also spelled Yud or Yod) is the tenth letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew , Syriac and Arabic (in abjadi order, 28th in modern order). ... The Greek alphabet is an alphabet that has been used to write the Greek language since about the 9th century BCE. It was the first alphabet in the narrow sense, that is, a writing system using a separate symbol for each vowel and consonant alike. ...


Abugidas developed along a slightly different route. The basic consonantal form was considered to have an inherent vowel sound, such as "a". Hooks or short lines attached to various parts of the basic letter modified the vowel. In this way, the South Arabian alphabet evolved into the Ge'ez alphabet between the 5th century BC and the 5th century AD. Similarly, around the 3rd century BC, the Brāhmī script developed from the Aramaic abjad. An abugida or alphasyllabary is a writing system composed of signs (graphemes) denoting consonants with an inherent following vowel, which are consistently modified to indicate other vowels (or, in some cases, the lack of a vowel). ... The ancient South Arabian alphabet (also known as musnad) branched from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet in ca. ... Note: This article contains special characters. ... Variation of BrāhmÄ« with dates. ... Bilingual inscription (Greek and Aramaic) by the Indian emperor Ashoka the Great, 3rd century BC. The Aramaic alphabet is an abjad alphabet designed for writing the Aramaic language. ...


Related concepts

Many non-Semitic languages such as English can be written without vowels and read with little difficulty. For example, the previous sentence could be written Mn nn-Smtc lnggs sch s nglsh cn b wrttn wtht vwls nd rd wth lttl dffclty. This fact can be used to semi-bowdlerise offensive language, a practice known as disemvoweling. Thomas Bowdler (July 11, 1754 – February 24, 1825), an English physician, who published The Family Shakespeare, is best known as the source of the eponym bowdlerize (or bowdlerise[1]), the process of expurgation, censorship by removal, of material thought to be unacceptable to the intended audience, especially children or religious... Disemvoweling (also spelled disemvowelling) is a technique used by forum moderators to suppress trolling, vandalism, and other rude behavior in online discourse by removing all the vowels from the offending material. ...


Notes

  1. ^ Daniels, Peter T., et al. eds. The World's Writing Systems Oxford. (1996), p.4.

References

  • Wright, W. (1971). A Grammar of the Arabic Language, 3rd ed., Cambridge University Press, v. 1, p. 28. ISBN 0-521-09455-0. 

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Overview of the Abjad numerological system (0 words)
There are two principle variations in the Abjad system as to the value of certain letters; the Arabs of North Africa and Spain gave a different alpha-numeric order to some of the letters in the 100s than was common in the Levant and the Islamic east.
The initial sound in abjad is a short "a." In any language a word beginning with a vowel is proceeded by a glottal stop (quickly pronounce the words "a apple" and you will hear and feel the glottal stop in between them).
It is easy with the benefit of hindsight or in the light of subsequent scientific knowledge, to develop a sense of hubris about the superior understanding of matters of history we have compared to the actual participants in the events had.
Islamic Medical Manuscripts: Glosssary of Terms (6377 words)
Abjad letter-numerals are the letters of the Arabic alphabet given numerical values.
The name abjad comes from the first four letters in the sequence to which values 1, 2, 3, and 4 were assigned, that is, letters, alif, ba', jim, and dal.
The numbers were written in the abjad letter-numerals, and because the four corners of this square contained the letters ba', dal, waw [or u], and ha', this particular square became known as the buduh square.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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