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قراءة كتاب The Story of the Alphabet

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‏اللغة: English
The Story of the Alphabet

The Story of the Alphabet

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 4
51.  Inscription on the Eshmunazar Sarcophagus 141 52.  Inscription on Sacred Bowls (Baal Lebanon) 146 53.  The Moabite Stone 147 54.  Maneh Weight 151 55.  Vase with Incised Characters (Crete) 160 56.  Incised Characters on Cup (Crete) 160 57.  Characters on Vase (Crete) 160 58.  Signs on Bronze Axe (Delphi) 160 59.  Signs on Blocks of Mycenæan Buildings (Knôsos) 166 60.  Symbols on Three-sided Cornelian (Crete) 166 61.  Symbols on Four-sided Stone (Crete) 166 62.  Symbols on Four-sided Stones, with larger faces (Central Crete) 166 63.  Symbol on Single-faced Cornelian (Eastern Crete) 166 64.  Symbol on Stone of ordinary Mycenæan type (Athens) 166 65.  Egyptian Scarabs, XIIth DynastyEarly Cretan Seal-stones 178 66.  Signs on Potsherds at Tell-el-Hesy compared with Ægean Forms 178 67.  Hittite Inscription at Hamah 181 68.  Signs on Vase-handle (Mycenæ) 183 69.  Signs on Amphora-handle (Mycenæ) 183

Acknowledgments are gratefully tendered to Messrs. Macmillan, Messrs. Longmans, Mr. John Murray, Messrs. Eyre & Spottiswoode, Mr. Edward Arnold, Messrs. Witherby, the Cambridge University Press, and the Anthropological Institute for permission to reproduce Illustrations from their several publications.




"What is ever seen is never seen," and it may be questioned if one in ten thousand of the readers of to-day ever pauses to ask what is the history of the conventional signs called the Alphabet, which, in their varying changes of position, make up the symbols of the hundred thousand words and more contained in a comprehensive dictionary of the English tongue.

Professor Max Müller says that "by putting together twenty-three or twenty-four letters in every possible variety. We might produce every word that has ever been used in any language of the world. The number of these words, taking twenty-three letters as the basis, would be 25,852,016,738,884,976,640,000, or, if we took twenty-four, would be 620,448,401,733,239,439,360,000; but," as the Professor warns us, in words the force of which will be manifest later on, "even these trillions, billions, and millions of sounds would not be words, because they would lack the most important ingredient—that which makes a word to be a word—namely, the different ideas by which they were called into life, and which are expressed differently in different languages." (Lectures on Language, ii. 81.)

These words themselves, as will also be shown concerning the ear-pictures by which they are represented, reveal in their analysis a story of the deepest interest. In the happy simile quoted by the late Archbishop Trench in his Study of Words, they are "fossil history," and, as he adds, "fossil poetry and fossil ethics" also. To cite a few examples, more or less apposite to our subject, "book" is probably from the Anglo-Saxon bóc, a "beech," tablets of the bark of that tree being one of the substances on which written characters were inscribed. Parallel to this are the words "library" and "libel," both derived from the Latin liber, the inner bark or rind of a tree used for paper; while, as everybody knows, the word "paper" preserves the history of the manufacture of