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The Articulatory Basis of the Alphabet

By Robin Allott

Abstract

The origin of the alphabet has long been a subject for research, speculation and myths. How to explain its survival and effectiveness over thousands of years? One approach is in terms of the practical problems faced by the originator of the alphabet: another would examine the archaeological record; a third might focus on the perceptual process by which the alphabet makes rapid reading possible. It is proposed that the alphabet originated in an intellectual sequence similar to that followed by Alexander Bell and Henry Sweet in constructing their Visible and Organic Alphabets.The originator of the alphabet used the same kind of introspective analysis of his own speech sounds and of the manner in which they were articulated. This was the vital step. The next step was to represent the articulatory differences in terms of visual patterns. One way to understand what might have been involved is to attempt to replicate the process oneself

Topics: Historical Linguistics, Evolution
Publisher: Peter Lang
Year: 2000
OAI identifier: oai:cogprints.org:3311

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Citations

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