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Encyclopedia > Brahmi
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History of the Alphabet

Wadi el-Hol 19th c. BC
Proto-Canaanite 14th c. BC The oldest known alphabet consists of recently discovered graffiti, scratched onto rocks in central Egypt around 1800 BC. It appears to have been used by Semitic workers or mercenaries partially integrated into Egyptian society. ... Two similar but undeciphered scripts believed to be ancestral to all modern alphabets are attested from the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1500 BCE): the Proto-Sinaitic script discovered in the winter of 1904-1905 by William Flinders Petrie, and dated to 1500 BCE, and the Wadi el-Ħôl (or Wadi... Drawing of the 16 and 12 characters Wadi el-Hol inscriptions The Proto-Canaanite (also Proto-Sinaitic) alphabet is identified as the prototype of the Semitic alphabets that, mostly via the successful Phoenician alphabet became the ancestor of most scripts in use today. ...

Meroitic 3rd c. BC
Georgian 5th c.
Orkhon 6th c.
Ogham 6th c.
Hangul 1446
Cree 1840

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. This script is ancestral to most of the scripts of India and Southeast Asia, Tibet, and perhaps even Korean Hangul. The Brahmi numeral system is the ancestor of the Hindu-Arabic numerals, which are now used world-wide. Technical note: Due to technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article. ... The Phoenician alphabet dates from around 1000 BC and is derived from the Proto-Canaanite alphabet. ... The Phoenician alphabet dates from around 1000 BC and is derived from the Proto-Canaanite alphabet. ... The Samaritan alphabet is a direct descendant of the paleo-Hebrew variety of the Phoenician alphabet, the more commonly known Hebrew alphabet having been adapted from the Aramaic alphabet under the Persian Empire. ... The Aramaic alphabet is an abjad alphabet designed for writing the Aramaic language. ... Note: This article contains special characters. ... Pahlavi is a term that refers: (1) to a script used in Iran derived from the Aramaic script, and (2) more broadly, to Middle Persian, the Middle Iranian language written in this script. ... The Avestan alphabet was created in the 3rd century AD for writing the hymns of Zarathustra (a. ... Rigveda manuscript in Devanagari (early 19th century) DevanāgarÄ« (देवनागरी — in English pronounced ) (ISCII – IS13194:1991) [1] is an abugida alphabet used to write several Indian languages, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Bihari, Bhili, Konkani, Bhojpuri and Nepali from Nepal. ... 11th century book in Syriac Serto. ... The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing the Arabic language. ... The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world. ... The Runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes, formerly used to write Germanic languages, mainly in Scandinavia and the British Isles. ... Tablet inscribed with the Glagolitic alphabet The Glagolitic alphabet or Glagolitsa is the oldest known Slavonic alphabet. ... The Cyrillic alphabet (or azbuka, from the old name of the first letters) is an alphabet used to write six natural Slavic languages (Belarusian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian, and Ukrainian) and many other languages of the former Soviet Union, Asia and Eastern Europe. ... The South Arabian alphabet branched from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet in ca. ... The Geez language (or Giiz language) is an ancient language that developed in the Ethiopian Highlands of the Horn of Africa as the language of the peasantry. ... The Meroitic script is an alphabet of Egyptian (Hieroglyphic) origin used in Kingdom of Meroë. Some scholars, e. ... Turkic people living in Central Asia developed various alphabets in early ages. ... Ogham (Old Irish Ogam) was an alphabet used primarily to represent Gaelic languages that was probably often written in wood in early times. ... Hangul is the native alphabet used to write the Korean language, as opposed to the Hanja system borrowed from China. ... Canadian aboriginal syllabic writing (often syllabics for short) is a family of writing schemes which are used to write a number of aboriginal Canadian languages from the Algonquian, Athabaskan and Inuit language families. ... The Brahmic family is a family of abugidas used in South Asia and Southeast Asia. ... (4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC - other centuries) (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium AD) Events The first two Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome over dominance in western Mediterranean Rome conquers Spain Great Wall of China begun Indian traders regularly visited Arabia Scythians occupy... Ashoka the Great (also Asoka, , or was the ruler of the Mauryan empire from 273 BC to 232 BC. A convert to Buddhism, Ashoka reigned over most of the Indian subcontinent, from present day Afghanistan to Bengal and as far south as Mysore. ... Hangul is the native alphabet used to write the Korean language, as opposed to the Hanja system borrowed from China. ... The Brahmi numerals are an indigenous Indian numeral system attested from the 3rd century BCE (somewhat later in the case of most of the tens). ... Arabic numerals (also called Hindu numerals or Hindu-Arabic numerals) are by far the most common form of symbolism used to represent numbers. ...


Brāhmī is generally believed to be derived from a Semitic script such as the Imperial Aramaic alphabet, as was clearly the case for the contempory Kharosthi alphabet that arose in a part of northwest Indian under the control of the Achaemenid Empire. Rhys Davids suggests that writing may have been introduced to India from the Middle East by traders. Another possibility is with the Achaemenid conquest in 500 BC; however, Harry Falk believes Brahmi was most likely created during the Mauryan Empire. It is often assumed that it was a planned invention under Ashoka as a prerequiste for the Edicts of Ashoka. Compare the much better documented parallel of the Hangul script. Semitic is an adjective referring to the peoples who have traditionally spoken Semitic languages or to things pertaining to them. ... The Aramaic alphabet is an abjad alphabet designed for writing the Aramaic language. ... The Kharoṣṭhī script, also known as the Gāndhārī script, is an ancient alphabetic script used by the Gandhara culture of historic northwest India to write the Gandhari and Sanskrit languages (the Gandhara kingdom was located along the present-day border between Afghanistan and Pakistan between the Indus River and the... Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Dynasty was a dynasty in the ancient Persian Empire, including Cyrus II the Great, Darius I and Xerxes I. At the height of their power, the Achaemenid rulers of Persia ruled over territories roughly emcompassing some parts of todays Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon... Thomas William Rhys Davids (May 12, 1843 - December 27, 1922) was an English scholar of the Pāli language and founder of the Pali Text Society. ... A map showing countries commonly considered to be part of the Middle East The Middle East is a region comprising the lands around the southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, a territory that extends from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. ... The Mauryan empire (321 to 185 BCE), at its largest extent around 230 BCE. The Mauryan empire was Indias first great unified empire. ... Ashoka the Great (also Asoka, , or was the ruler of the Mauryan empire from 273 BC to 232 BC. A convert to Buddhism, Ashoka reigned over most of the Indian subcontinent, from present day Afghanistan to Bengal and as far south as Mysore. ... Capital of one of the inscription-bearing pillars erected by Emperor Ashoka (272-231 BCE), at Sarnath around 250 BCE. The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan... Hangul is the native alphabet used to write the Korean language, as opposed to the Hanja system borrowed from China. ...


A glance at the oldest Brahmi inscriptions shows striking parallels with contemporary Aramaic for the half of the phonemes that are equivalent between the two languages, especially if the letters are flipped to reflect the change in writing direction. However, Semitic is not a good phonological match to Indic, so any Semitic alphabet would have needed extensive (and perhaps planned) modification. Indeed, this is the most convincing circumstantial evidence for a link: the similarities between the scripts are just what one would expect from such an adaptation. For example, Aramaic did not distinguish dental from retroflex stops; in Brahmi the dental and retroflex series are graphically very similar, as if both had been derived from a single prototype. Aramaic did not have Brahmi's aspirated consonants (kh, th), whereas Brahmi did not have Aramaic's emphatic consonants (q, ţ); and it appears that Aramaic's extra emphatic letters may have been used to fill in Brahmi's missing aspirates (Aramaic q for Brahmi kh, Aramaic ţ for Brahmi th). And just where Aramaic did not have a corresponding emphatic stop, p, Brahmi seems to have doubled up for its aspirate: Brahmi p and ph are graphically very similar, as if taken from the same source. The first letters of the alphabets also match: Brahmi a looks a lot like Aramaic alef. In spoken language, a phoneme is a basic, theoretical unit of sound that can distinguish words (that is, changing a phoneme in a word, produces another word, that has a different meaning). ... Dentals are consonants articulated with either the lower or the upper teeth, or both. ... Retroflex consonants are articulated with the tip of the tongue curled up and back so the bottom of the tip touches the roof of the mouth. ... In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies the release of some stop consonants. ... Emphatic consonant is a somewhat imprecise term commonly used in Semitic linguistics to describe pharyngealized or velarized, and ejective consonants, or consonants that historically had one of these properties. ...


A minority position holds that Brahmi was a purely indigenous development, perhaps with the Indus script as its predecessor. This is especially true in India itself, where the idea is bound up with Hindu nationalism. The term Indus script refers to short strings of symbols associated with the Harappan civilization of ancient India, dating to circa 2600–1900 BC. They are most commonly associated with flat, rectangular stone tablets called seals, but they are also found on at least a dozen other materials. ... Hindutva (Hinduness, a word coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in his 1923 pamphlet entitled Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? ) is used to describe movements advocating Hindu nationalism. ...


Literature

  • Kenneth R. Norman's, The Development of Writing in India and its Effect upon the Pâli Canon, in Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens (36), 1993
  • Oscar von Hinüber, Der Beginn der Schrift und frühe Schriftlichkeit in Indien, Franz Steiner Verlag, 1990 (in german)
  • Harry Falk, Schrift im alten Indien: Ein Forschungsbericht mit Anmerkungen, Gunter Narr Verlag, 1993 (in german)
  • Gérard Fussman's, Les premiers systèmes d'écriture en Inde, in Annuaire du Collège de France 1988-1989 (in french)

External links

  • On The Origin Of The Early Indian Scripts: A Review Article by Richard Salomon, University of Washington
  • Brahmi project of the Indian Institute of Science
  • Ancient Scripts - Brahmi

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is one of the premier post-graduate institutions of research and higher learning located in Bangalore, India. ...

Examples

An example of Brahmi script - Ashoka's first rock inscription at Girnar
An example of Brahmi script - Ashoka's first rock inscription at Girnar
A listing of Brahmi characters from www.ancientscripts.com
A listing of Brahmi characters from www.ancientscripts.com

  Results from FactBites:
 
Brāhmī - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (599 words)
Another possibility is with the Achaemenid conquest in 500 BC; however, Harry Falk believes Brahmi was most likely created during the Mauryan Empire.
It is often assumed that it was a planned invention under Ashoka as a prerequiste for the Edicts of Ashoka.
Brahmi project of the Indian Institute of Science
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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