The Evolution of Scripts
The oldest finds are actually about 10,000 years old. However, the more precise history of the script can only be proved from about 3200 BC, i.e. almost 5000 years into the past. At that time, writing was initially used only for religious and ritual purposes, often for inscriptions, and later with urban development and agricultural development for accounting purposes. In the beginning, there were geometric figurative signs for numbers and names as well as
stylized figurative signs for objects (hieroglyphics, Sumerian cuneiform). A blunt handle replaces the pointed handle. The symbols thus appear less pictorial, become more abstract and change from figurative signs to ideograms, i.e. characters that describe an idea, a thought.
Phonographic development of cuneiform script.
A sign of a sound rather than a meaning. So, e.g. can a ball be simply represented as a circle, but Bill as a name? For once, the sound pattern for Ball was used for the similar name Bill.
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The Akkadies in northern Mesopotamia, i.e. in present-day Iraq, take over the Sumerian cuneiform script and develop it further in the direction of phonetic writing. The Assyrians and Babylonians developed the cuneiform script as we know it today.
The first script that was consistently based on a sound system was the Linear B, about 1400 BC, developed by the Mycenaean Greeks. The Linear B is a pure syllable script in which each pair of vowel consonants is represented by a single figurative sign. The syllables are supplemented by logograms and a number system with base 10. A short vertical stroke serves as word separation. The Linear-B was not deciphered until 1952 by Micheal Ventris.
North-Semitic to Phoenician
The evolution of today's alphabet
The discovery of the alphabetic principle consists in splitting syllables into consonants and vowels. We can assume that all alphabetical writing systems are derived from the Semitic alphabet, which was developed by the Phoenicians (biblical name for Canaan, now Lebanon) around the 2nd century BC.
Modern versions of the Semitic script are e.B. Hebrew and Arabic. The most important feature of Semitic writings is the absence of vowels. Sounds were represented by images whose name begins with the desired sound, just like the hieroglyphics or the Akkadian cuneiform script. So, e.g. water starts with w and this sound has been figuratively described. This resulted in a 22-character system that begins with alef, bet and gimel and is capable of describing all the meanings of a Semitic language.
Phoenician – Greek
The transition of the alphabetic system with consonants to full splendour with consonants and vowels happened about 1000 to 900 BC when the Greeks adopted the Semitic script for their language. Scholars have long considered this development to be ingenious, but in fact it was above all the logical and consistent adaptation of an existing alphabet to one's own language.
The consonants were taken over 1:1. 6 Semitic sounds that do not occur in Greek are replaced by vowels, as they occur in the Greek language. 5 more characters for Greek sounds were added.
Phoenician - Greek - Latin
The Etruscans (Italy) adopted the Greek alphabet around 700 BC and also many Greek words and general culture. They formed the Latin script, which was to be the scripture of the scholars until the Middle Ages. Further developments in Latin script result from changes in the phonology of the Latin language and from the Romance languages that developed from it. Again, some changes were made to the characters in order to adapt it to the specifics of the Latin language.