Verna Richardson December 14, 2020 Alphabet Worksheet
Have you ever imagined what the world today would be if ancient people hadnt invented the alphabet? I dont dare to think about it but it must be such the worst of the worst. Without the alphabet, mankind would never have advanced to the levels we have today. If alphabet hadnt been invented, book would never have appeared and consequently people would be uneducated and life would be boring. You wouldnt know anything about history, the human knowledge wouldnt have been preserved and you also wouldnt be able to read my essay. We would be narrow minded and shallow. Our imagination would be limited. There would be no paper, no printing press, no television, no Galileo Galilei, no William Shakespeare, no Charles Darwin, no Albert Einstein,... Instead of that, tolerance would be low and the world would have been destroyed by war and cruel. In my opinion, it would be quite a miserable world where no one can read, write, or think freely. To be honest, if alphabet hadnt existed, there would be a new way of communicating ideas.
The Phoenician alphabet is acrophonic meaning each letter represents the initial sound of the name of the letter. For example, the last letter in the Phoenician is called "taw" or "tah" (meaning mark) and led to our current letter T with the same sound. The Greeks adapted that alphabet in the eighth century BC by adding vowels. The Etruscans borrowed the Greek alphabet which was later adopted by the Romans. These early scripts were most frequently written by pressing or scratching a stylus into a soft clay tablet which was then allowed to harden. By the first century BC, the Romans had developed several scripts. There was a cursive hand which could be quickly scratched into a wax tablet or written with a reed pen on paper made of papyrus. There was also a script called the Imperial Capital which was carved in stone and survives on monuments and buildings from the time. This script was also written using a brush on paper. All subsequent Western scripts have evolved from the Roman letters, in fact the Imperial Capital script serves as the basis for our modern capital letters.
When text is arranged horizontally, external growth further simplifies symbols as horizontal visual span extends farther. Contextual effect leads visual span to extend further forward as people guess out meaning from text of less acuity. Rapid eye movement also contributes to simplification because less time is spent on each symbol. For instance, for left-right writing more symbols to the right are read than those to the left , probably more than the width of right visual span. Horizontal writing has undergone successful simplification, standardization and systematization into a small number of letters - alphabet.
Remark In the present world, two types of incompatible writing systems exist. One is horizontal alphabetic system. The other is vertical logographic system. Representative for the former is Latin alphabet. Representative for the latter is Chinese system. Horizontality and verticality are responsible for these two types, respectively. Some vertical non-logographic systems, such as Mongolian script and Japanese syllabary, are intermediate systems influenced by these two types. These two types are both fit for reading, for their respective directions. One may think that written Chinese is primitive for it is poor in representing speech sounds. Here we point out that it is an advanced system in top-down direction. With that direction writing would never develop into alphabet on its own. When horizontal writing meets vertical writing, alphabetic system overpowers logographic system because horizontal extension is fitter for our eyes.
The writing represents speech notion Speech and writing originated independently of each other. Human speech probably appeared long time before writing. Earliest writings developed from drawings. They were of visual origin, as pictographs, ideograms. As time went by, writings were spatially arranged sequentially in lines, corresponding to the sequential property of speech in time domain. As writing systems evolved in the alphabetic direction, writings and speech associated with each other tighter and tighter, continuing to present day. The alphabets lost pictographic property. As alphabetic systems have replaced their pictographic  predecessors and gained prevalence, it seems natural to conclude that the evolution of writing systems is to better represent language sounds. This conclusion is elegant, intuitive, reasonable and basing on facts and researches. It certainly cannot explain some cases, for instance, the Chinese didnt evolve into alphabet. However, the Chinese characters are blamed to be too complex to represent speech. The modern Chinese writing is more tightly associated with spoken Chinese than ancient Chinese writing does. Moreover, characters have been simplified in mainland China. Chinese writing looks like taking a small step towards representing speech. Little doubts have been casted on this conclusion, although many scholars consider writing as more than simply representing speech. Representing speech seems a destined direction. Lets be a little skeptical on this natural conclusion.
Simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese coexist. The traditional Chinese should represent the genuine Chinese since simplification of Chinese characters was due to foreign influence. The simplification of Chinese characters was accompanied by change in writing direction. Change in direction is consistent with and also promotes simplification. Simplification and change from vertical to horizontal are in fact Chineses deviation from its essential nature. Characters internal structure is less concerned about. People are now accustomed to reason basing on double- or multi-character words rather than single characters. There is debate whether simplification of Chinese is beneficial. Simply put, as Chinese system has turned into horizontal system, further simplification should be its future.