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Old June 3rd 04, 10:47 PM
Holger Dansk
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On 3 Jun 2004 14:15:02 -0500, (Herman Rubin)

In article ,
Holger Dansk wrote:
On 3 Jun 2004 11:12:35 -0500,
(Herman Rubin)

In article ,
Holger Dansk wrote:
On Wed, 2 Jun 2004 13:33:07 -0700, "Circe" wrote:

Um, are you suggesting that Greek was the first language to have vowels in

I'm not suggesting it but saying that it was.


At most, you can claim that Greek was the first language to
have an ALPHABETIC system of writing with all vowels being
EXPLICIT. One could make a case for this, but at least the
Indian alphabet independently introduced vowels, and I do
not believe that the Persian alphabet of the Behistun Rock,
which does have vowels, is based on the earlier Semitic one.
At least Grotefend did not find that to be the case when he
deciphered the inscription.

"As opposed to other types of writing systems including syllabaries, the
alphabetic principle seems to have been invented only once, by North
Semitic peoples living in Palestine and Syria in c. 1700 B.C. This
alphabet represented only consonants (22 consonants were initially
represented). The principle was diffused rapidly, but as symbols were
passed along, they also changed such that many of today's alphabetic
writing systems are unrecognizable as "daughter" systems deriving from
this one brilliant idea.
The North Semitic alphabet was used to represent Aramaic and Hebrew, and
was borrowed by the Phoenicians in approx. 1000 B.C., being passed on by
them to the Greeks, who added vowels, and thence to the Etruscans in
about 800 B.C. The Etruscan alphabet was the source of the Roman
alphabet that has since been adopted for use in many languages around
the world."

This information is somewhat outdated. The earliest known
alphabetic writing was found on a cliff in Egypt; it is
Semitic, and is about two centuries older than you have

That was not me who gave the dates. The author uses the words
"approximately" and "about", and I'm sure he would be very happy if he
is only 200 years different from your figures. That's not bad when you
are talking about thousands of years and evidence scattered here and

The Semitic alphabets almost only had symbols for
consonants; there are semi-vowels, and some of the symbols
for consonants did get used for vowel modification. AFAIK,
the idea of the alphabet spread and was not invented anew,
although the Indian alphabet has only a small similarity to
the Semitic alphabets, and the Persian alphabet seems to
have even less.

The Semitic alphabets varied in the numbers of characters;
to give an example, the Ugaritic alphabet, which was
modified for cuneiform writing, has 32 letters. Ugaritic
is extremely close as a language to Hebrew; Aramaic is
somewhat different. Aramaic was the lingua franca of the
western half of the Assyrian Empire, and continued in large
measure during the Persian Empire.

These knuckleheads keep talking about spoken language which began about
30,000 years ago. I wonder if they even know what a vowel is? For
their information, the modern English vowels are a, e, i, o, and u.
These are letters that are written, and they should have learned how to
write some letters in the first grade. Written language began about
3,000 BC.