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G is for camel

Posted by ESC on June 25, 2003

In Reply to: The alphabet posted by Bob on June 24, 2003

: : I know this is meant to eb a forum about phrases and such but I have posted on here and other sites before and found I get the best responce here.

: : Why is the alphabet ordered the way it is, I know that I derives from the greek and possibly some civilisation before them but in the very begining, why was the alphabet order the way it is. Is there a reason for the order or was it just random????

: An interesting question, since many alphabets follow a pattern that is quite ancient. I found this answer on a website at

: "... a question that remainded unanswered for many years, but to which a surprising and stimulating solution may have recently been found. The order of the letters in our alphabet (a, b, c, d, e... ) is extremely ancient: there is direct evidence of it from a 14th century B.C. primer discovered in Ugarit. But what kind of logic underlies the order in the alphabet? It is certainly not phonetic (phonetically similar sounds such as t and d or s and z are far apart), nor is it graphic (graphically similar signs such as ayn and tet or gimel and lamed or rather gimel and pe are not contiguous). Given the typical spirit of ancient Oriental civilization however, it is difficult to believe that the grouping is completely - or even partially - random, with no kind of criterion whatsoever. In 1978 a solution was suggested by Alessandro Bausani, a brillant orientalist who later turned his talents to the history of Oriental astronomy. Bausani's studies of Arabic, Indian and Iranian astronomy on lunar stations, related at times to the ancient order of the Arabic alphabet (i.e. the Phoenician order), let him conclude that the Phoenician alphabetic order represented a kind of calendar in which the signs aleph , tet , ayn and taw seem respectively to represent the autumn equinox, the winter solstice, the spring equinox and the summer solstice, within an astronomic configuration in which the autumn equinox full moon was close to the Pleiades: that is , around the years 2000 or 1600 B.C.

This says the original letters were pictures. Maybe the first letters were patterned after the most important or common objects?

ALPHABET - "All alphabets - and there are more than 200 of them - derived from one original alphabet. This came, as so many other benefits of Western civilization, from the Orient.There is no doubt that the desert land between Egypt and Babylonia, between the home of hieroglyphics and cuneiform, gave mankind its alphabet. The approximate date of its birth is the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C.

The alphabet's very name reflects its Semitic parents, Aleph and Beth being the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It was adopted through the Phoenicians by the Greeks, who spread it throughout Europe.

All letters developed from pictures. 'A' originally depicted the head of an ox (Aleph in Hebrew); 'B' was the simplified drawing of a house (Beth in Hebrew)'; 'G' was derived from a camel (Gamal in Hebrew); in the 'M' we can still recognize water, shown by one of its waves (Ma'yim in Hebrew), and in the 'O' the shape of an eye. The 'T,' most obviously is a cross."
From "How Did it Begin?" by R. Brasch (Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1969).