Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Alphabet Starts with an A

Every child learns how to recite the alphabet prior to learning a language. However, no one really knows the name of the person in history who invented the alphabet. It is easy to imagine that the inventor was a clever person.

The Alphabet Introduced Literature to the World

Even though the creator of the alphabet remains anonymous, historians can identify certain civilizations that were responsible for producing the alphabet. Once people had access to the alphabet, they were able to use language for the purpose of writing poems, plays, novels, biographies and historical documents.

From Hieroglyphs to Letters

The first alphabet dates back to the Middle Bronze Age (1500–1200 B.C.). Egyptians were already using hieroglyphs. However, hieroglyphs consisted of pictures that represented letters. Hieroglyphs were commonly used in depicting aspects found in sacred writings. The Canaanites eventually created actual letters resulting in an alphabet.

Here are a few known facts about the alphabet:
  • Historians do not know who invented the alphabet.
  • Ancient civilizations eventually produced a universal alphabet.
  • Technology enables people to compile lists in alphabetical order.
Phonetics and the Phoenician Alphabet

Letters are not only written down on paper. They also have sounds when people pronounce words. In fact, the word phonetics, a word concerned with studying sounds, derives from the Phoenician alphabet. From 800 to 701 B.C., wise philosophers and writers living in the ancient civilization of Greece began to make use of the Phoenician alphabet.

A is the First Letter of All Known Alphabets

Throughout history, civilized people somehow understood that alphabets should start with the letter A. Alpha is the first letter in both the Phoenician and Greek alphabets. The Jewish people also created their own Hebrew alphabet. In the Hebrew alphabet, the first letter bears an uncanny resemblance known as alef or aleph.

Hebrew Words are Read from Right to Left

Unlike the Latin alphabet, Hebrew words are written from right to left. Additionally, books written using the Hebrew alphabet are read from right to left. The Hebrew alphabet resembles the Phoenician alphabet in that they both contain 22 letters. These 22 letters do not contain any vowels.

The Greeks Invented Vowels

In approximately 1000 B.C., the Greeks developed their own version of the alphabet incorporating Greek vowels. In fact, the ancient Greeks were the first scholars to invent vowels. Although the letter aleph sounds as though it is a vowel, it is technically classified as a consonant. After introducing vowels into the Phoenician alphabet, Greek scholars began to blend their own Greek alphabet with Latin letters.

Romans Invented the Latin Alphabet

The alphabet as known in contemporary society is largely based on the Latin version. Roman soldiers introduced the Latin alphabet to other areas. The Latin version of the alphabet became the cardinal example of a desirable and useful alphabet. Eventually, the Latin letters evolved into an English alphabet reflecting the particular nuances associated with English word spellings.

Alphabetization Introduced a Practical Purpose for the Alphabet

During the Middle Ages, people realized that they could make better use of the alphabet by way of alphabetization. Alphabetizing words became the key to organization and clarification. Instead of writing random words on a piece of paper, people began to understand that they could arrange words in alphabetical order.

Scholars had a Passion for Creating Alphabetized Lists

Imagine the excitement at being able to create lists and catalogs using an alphabet that began with the letter A and ended with the letter Z. The possibilities were endless. For instance, scholars could now make alphabetize lists composed of the latest scientific and archaeological findings.

Sorting and Reading Lists

Throughout history, books have always been esteemed by intellectuals. Consequently, sorting lists composed of past and present authors must have delighted people with scholarly minds. Besides the fact that these lists made more common sense, reading alphabetized listings were easier on the eyesight and, due to greater efficiency, afforded people more time for leisurely activities.

Lists Served Useful Purposes

Even though the creator of the alphabet is a mystery, historians know that the Roman author Varro compiled alphabetized lists sometime between 1 B.C. to 100 B.C. His lists consisted of the names of authors and book titles. From 101 to 200 A.D., Sextus Pompeius Festus alphabetized the works of Verrius Flaccus. In the year 1604, Robert Cawdrey compiled an alphabetical table instructing people how to find words in a dictionary.

Today, technology enables people to alphabetize lists by way of free online tools. Instead of spending hours compiling alphabetical lists, a person can insert the words in an online tool, click a web button and view a completely alphabetized list.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Republican Debate: 11 Right Candidates

Eleven right and hopeful candidates get ready for the second Republican presidential debate scheduled to take place at the conservative Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The reason why I think all the Republican candidates are, in a certain sense of the word, right is because none of the candidates are Democrats. In my mind, a Republican is sure to win in the 2016 United States presidential election. Many Americans are hoping for a U.S. President who swings the Barack Obama Administration's leftist politics back to the right.

I am personally acquainted with Simi Valley. Hosting the second Republican presidential debate in the predominantly conservative town of Simi Valley makes perfect sense to me. Frankly, I wish I could attend the debate in person, but according to an article posted on the Ronald Reagan Library website, "Due to the limited size of the seating area, tickets are not available to the general public and cannot be purchased."

Here is the official Republican presidential candidate debate lineup on September 16, 2015:

Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham,  Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal,  George Pataki,  Rand Paul,  Rick Perry,  Marco Rubio,  Rick Santorum,  Donald Trump, and Scott Walker. The second Republican debate will air on CNN at 8 p.m Eastern and 5 p.m. Pacific time. The debate is scheduled to end at 11 p.m. Eastern and 8 p.m. Pacific time.

Four other Republican candidates who did not qualify for the official time slot will hash it out two hours before the scheduled debate. The earlier, non-official debate will air at 6 p.m. Eastern and 3 p.m. Pacific time. 

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Should You Still Keep Your Bond Funds If Bond Prices Drop?

Hype about bond investors losing their shirts when long-term bond fund prices drop because of the Fed Janet Yellen's whimsies may be just that: Hype. If the share prices in a mutual bond fund go down, the dividend yields go up. If the price goes down dramatically, the dividend yield also increases, even if not in quite so dramatic a fashion.

Bonds are for Investors who are Interested in Investing

Bonds and bond funds are not for investors who view investing as another way to gamble. Unlike investors in stocks and stock funds, people who own bonds do not cherish them simply because the prices my go up. Investors own bond funds because they receive dividends every month, and they can do whatever they wish with the extra shares or money.

Reinvest Dividends or Keep the Cash

People who invest in mutual funds may not realize that they have options as to what to do with their monthly dividends. Typically, investors can reinvest the dividends back into the same bond funds, they can redirect the dividends to invest in other mutual funds or they can make arrangements to have the dividends automatically exchanged into cash via their money market accounts.

How to Handle Taxes on Dividends

Bond fund dividends held in a traditional IRA or Roth IRA are not taxable income as long as the dividends stay in the IRA account. Dividends received in a non-retirement account are fully taxable. One financial strategy is to reinvest IRA bond dividends back into the same IRA bond fund and automatically exchange non-retirement account bond dividends into cash within a non-retirement account money market fund.

In this manner, the dividends continue to grow tax-free within the investor's IRA, while the investor gains extra cash every month in the non-retirement money market fund. If a person has substantial investments, the investor will have additional money to invest in the following year's traditional IRA or Roth IRA without having to spend any extra cash for Individual Retirement Account contributions.
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