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.
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biographies and historical documents.
Hieroglyphs to Letters
The first alphabet dates back
to the Middle Bronze Age (1500–1200 B.C.). Egyptians were already
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
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
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.
is the First Letter of All Known Alphabets
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
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.
Greeks Invented Vowels
In approximately 1000 B.C.,
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.
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.
had a Passion for Creating Alphabetized Lists
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
Sorting and Reading
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
Lists Served Useful Purposes
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.
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.