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The "original" Phonician alphabet

Reader comment on item: Berbers as Anti-Islamists and Anti-Arab Nationalists
in response to reader comment: Ancient Berber alphabet

Submitted by Stan Goodman (Israel), Jul 15, 2009 at 06:15

There is nothing original about the Phoneician alphabet, which is in fact common (except for exact form of characters) to all Semitic cultures. The earliest form of this alphabet was found in 1905 at Serabit alKhadem, in the Sinai, a place where copper ore and turquoise were mined. The laborers were Sinai Semites, who adopted the common Egyptian writing system to write their own (i.e. Semitic) language. In many cases, one can perceive in a given character both the pictograph from which the character was derived, the phoneme conveyed in the language of the laborer, and the phoneme in the original Egyptian language.

For example, Egyptian Demotic uses for the P sound a rectangle with a small opening in one side. It is an atylized picture of the Egyptian word "per", meaning "house" In the Serabit inscriptions, the character appears as a rectangle (no opening, to make it simpler) and it represents the B sound, because the Semitic (Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, etc) word for house is "bet". All semitic alphabets descend from this one; so do Greek, Latin, and Cyrillic writing systems. I am sorry to rain on the Phoenician parade.

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