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THE ALPHABET  ~1400

Scribes in Ugarit appear to have originated the Ugaritic alphabet around 1400 BC; 30 letters, corresponding to sounds, were adapted from cuneiform characters and inscribed on clay tablets (but cf. Byblos). A debate exists as to whether the Phoenician or Ugaritic alphabet was first . While many of the letters show little or no formal similarity, the standard letter order (preserved in the latin alphabet as A, B, C, D, etc.) shows strong similarities between the two, suggesting that the Phoenician and Ugaritic systems were not wholly independent inventions. It was later the Phoenician alphabet that spread through the Aegean and on Phoenician trade routes throughout the Mediterranean. The Phoenician system became the basis for the first true alphabet, when it was adopted by Greek speakers who modified some of its signs to represent vowel sounds as well, and as such was in turn adopted and modified by populations in Italy (including ancestors of the Romans). Compared with the difficulty of writing Akkadian in cuneiform—such as the Amarna Letters from ca. 1350 BC— the flexibility of an alphabet opened a horizon of literacy to many more kinds of people. In contrast, the syllabary (called Linear B) used in Mycenaean Greek palace sites at about the same time was so cumbersome that literacy was limited largely to administrative specialists. (click to see all the article on Wikipedia)

 

字母系統  ~西元前14百年

烏加里特的書記官似乎在西元前1400年發明了烏加里特字母,該字母系統從楔形文字發展出30個字母,與聲音相對應,並刻在泥板之上。腓尼基字母與烏加里特字母何者為先,至今仍有爭論。雖然兩者的字母之間只有少量或非直觀的相似性,但由於兩者的字母標準順序(拉丁字母中的ABCD)出現了強烈的相似度,使得腓尼基系統與烏加里特系統被認為是有所關聯的。不過,腓尼基字母傳遍了愛琴海以及地中海中的腓尼基人貿易路線。腓尼基系統成為其他字母系統的基礎,希臘人修改該字母來表示母音,接著是義大利人跟著修改使用(包含了古代羅馬人)。與困難的阿卡德楔形文字相比--像是公元前1350年的阿馬納字母具有彈性的表音字母更能普及識字率。相較之下,同時使用於邁錫尼希臘宮殿的音節字母(稱為線性文字B),只侷限於行政專員,無法擴展到各階層。

(維基連結:烏加里特)

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