Alphabet Tattoos Rutland VT
Saint Albans, VT
Saint Albans, VT
Alphabet Tattoo Designs - History of the Roman Alphabet and the Alphabet Symbols
“The alphabet is a system and series of symbols representing, collectively, the elements of written language that should be studied not only to gain the thoughts it reveals, but also to know it for itself alone as a sublime achievement of the human mind, and to savour the peculiar pleasure that is to be had from appreciating its beauty as a vehicle of thought.”
-- “The Alphabet and Elements of Lettering”, F. Goudy (1963)
This alphabet, the one we’re using to write and read these very words, is known either as the Latin alphabet or the Roman alphabet, and is the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world. Its origins can be traced back to the first primitive impressions painted on the walls of caves. The development of mankind’s earliest symbols into letters to represent sounds was a journey both gradual and haphazard, but eventually the phonetic alphabet was born, establishing a culture of the imagination that allowed western thought and culture to blossom.
An alphabet of abstract symbols like ‘A,B,C…’ is an entirely different concept from a pictographic writing system such as the Egyptian hieroglyphs or the earliest Chinese characters. It was from such pictographic systems, however, that all phonetic systems evolved. Those early pictorial representations of things and ideas morphed, over time, into simpler symbols (letters) that were, in themselves, meaningless, yet, when sequenced together, acquired meaning as words. These letters, in their service to literacy, became virtually transparent symbols. No one person could have consciously planned the miracle of our current ‘invisible’ alphabet, but its history is certainly traceable.
At least as far back as 1700 BC (perhaps even earlier), a Semitic people working in Egypt brought the concept of pictographic writing to their homeland in the Near East. Unlike the thousands of hieroglyphic symbols used by the Egyptians, the Semitic tribe required only 22 symbols to represent their consonants. The nearby Canaanites, Hebrews, and Phoenicians all adapted this consonants-only alphabet, but it was the Phoenicians whose redesign of the script over centuries proved most user-friendly. As successful traders, they traveled widely from their homeland (now Lebanon), spreading their alphabet along with their system of weights and measures throughout the lands of the Mediterranean and Asia Minor.
Around 1000 BC, the Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet, added vowels, and created a truly phonetic alphabet. They named this writing system, ‘the alphabet’, derived from its first two letters, ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’. Greek myth celebrates the Phoenician whom they honour as the ‘father of the alphabet’ for introducing the Phoenician letters to the Greeks. His name was Cadmus, and in those early days the Greeks called their new writing system is called Cadmeian.
The Romans embraced a subsequ...