Saturday, May 14, 2011

What led me to the most esoteric analysis of language?

“what led you to the most esoteric analysis of language.  do you know?” - James Johnson

I do know. In short, in 2000, after a friend of mine directed me toward Jeffrey Satinover M.D.’s work, Cracking the Bible Code (New York: Quill, William Morrow, © 1997), a work watered down for public consumption by Michael Drosnin who, along with the work, went on to fame via the Oprah Winfrey Show as he was a featured guest in her Book Club, I was galvanized to go to a local presentation of the Bible Codes and what caught my attention was not so much the coded information they were claiming to uncover via a skip code, but that they were reading English directly on top of Hebrew letters, that the phonetic values of the Hebrew letters were retained for reading English. Now, I was taught that the Greeks created the first alphabet and that it was this alphabet which became the foundation for the Latin script used in later English but this is only part of the truth. Open Pandora ’s Box:

Encyclopaedia britannica 2002 Deluxe Edition CD-ROM (britannica.com, 1994-2002)
Writing
History of writing systems


"The alphabet was invented only once.”


Encyclopaedia britannica 2002 Deluxe Edition CD-ROM (britannica.com, 1994-2002)
Dictionary
Alphabet 

1 a: “a set of letters or other characters with which one or more languages are written esp. if arranged in a customary order  b: a system of signs or signals that serve as equivalents for letters”


In his publication, How the Hebrew Language Grew (KTAV Publishing House Inc., 1988, 1960 pg. 18) Edward Horowitz writes:

            “... It was the old Hebrew alphabet that the Greeks borrowed and passed on to Latin, and it is the old Hebrew alphabet that the Greek most closely resembles.”


            writing,
            Copyright (c) 1995 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.

            “The Greeks, having accepted in full the forms of the West Semitic syllabary, evolved a system of vowel signs which, attached to the syllabic signs, reduced the value of these syllabic signs to simple consonants and thus for the first time created a full alphabetic system of writing.”


Encylopaedia britannica 2002 Deluxe Edition CD-ROM (britannica.com, 1994-2002)Writing: History of writing systems
Development of alphabetic systems
. . .
“The transition from consonantal writing to alphabetic writing, writing with a full representation of both consonants and vowels, occurred when the Semitic script was adapted to the Greek language.  This occurred about 1000-900 BC.  …it is now recognized that the invention of the alphabet was, in fact, the rather straightforward consequence of applying a script invented for representing one kind of language to a quite different kind.”

“The letters used by the Greeks to represent consonantal sounds were borrowed rather directly from the Semitic script.  ...”
. . .
“... Advances resulted from attempts to apply a writing system invented for one language to another language for which it was not completely appropriate.  Yet the accumulated discoveries yielded an analysis of deeper and deeper levels of linguistic structure of the type associated with discoveries in the natural sciences.  For this reason, writing has almost always been the means not only for transcribing speech but also for uncovering its underlying structure. ...”
.
&
.
Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 02 Feb. 2013.
writing
Primary Contributor: David R. Olson
©2012 Encyclopædia Britannica Inc.
. . .
Types of writing systems
. . .
Sumerian writing
. . .
“…According to the British linguist Geoffrey Sampson, “Most, and probably all, ‘alphabetic’ scripts derive from a single ancestor: the Semitic alphabet, created sometime in the 2nd millennium [bc].” The Semitic script was invented by speakers of some Semitic language, possibly Phoenician, who lived in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent. Modern versions of Semitic script include the Hebrew script and the Arabic script. Their most prominent characteristic is that they have graphs for consonants but not for vowels.”
. . .
“While the invention of logographic writing, the later invention of the principle of phonetization, the analysis of syllables into a consonantal writing system, and the addition of vowels to make a full alphabet do constitute progress toward an efficient, economical, explicit, and complete writing system, this progress was not simply a matter of increasing insight. Advances resulted from attempts to apply a writing system invented for one language to another language for which it was not completely appropriate. Yet the accumulated discoveries yielded an analysis of deeper and deeper levels of linguistic structure of the type associated with discoveries in the natural sciences. For this reason, writing has almost always been the means not only for transcribing speech but also for uncovering its underlying structure. That is, to a large extent, writing is what has made people conscious of the properties of speech.”
. . .


Let's catch that one more time: “Advances resulted from attempts to apply a writing system invented for one language to another language for which it was not completely appropriate." In her unparalleled monumental work on the history of the alphabet, "THE ALPHABETIC LABYRINTH; The Letters in History and Imagination (London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1995 pg. 236), Johanna Drucker writes:

“Interest in the occult use or properties of letters was far from absent in the 18th century.  Cabalistic activities continued and in the Christian community became bound up in the development of secret societies such as the Freemasons and Rosicrucians.  The iconography of these cult groups made elaborate use of Hebrew lettering and demonstrated the same respect for the authority of the Holy Scriptures as for Christian teachings.  Both the Masons and the Rosicrucians made free and rather unsystematic use of what they considered ancient wisdom – borrowing from Hermetic, cabalistic, alchemical, Egyptian and other traditions without hesitation. . . . These sects contributed little new information on the history of the alphabet, mainly distorting earlier traditions to suit there need...”


Finally, the link between the old North Semitic alphabet - whose entire system was appropriated by the Greeks - to the modern Hebrew alphabet where English is found encrypted:
 
            Encyclopaedia britannica 2002 Deluxe Edition CD-ROM (britannica.com, 1994-2002)
            alphabet: Theories of the origin of the alphabet

            “…  The North Semitic alphabet remained almost unaltered for many centuries.  If the signs’ external form... is ignored and only their phonetic value, number, and order are considered, the modern Hebrew alphabet may be regarded as a continuation of the original alphabet created more than 3,500 years ago.  The Hebrew order of the letters seems to be the oldest.  ...”

2 comments:

  1. good analysis , scott. but you know i am going to look for Sumerianhttp://www.ancientscripts.com/sumerian.html influence. the clay tablets surviving to the present seem to be a combination of money and language.
    probably not being too helpful here, but this link gives some history.

    ReplyDelete
  2. CabalahSholah @ darkstar57

    If you are further interested in the paternity of the original alphabet, look toward the writing system of the Egyptian hieroglyphs. The following footnotes are a guide to your research direction:


    Encyclopaedia britannica 2002 Deluxe Edition CD-ROM (britannica.com, 1994-2002)
    alphabet: Theories of the origin of the alphabet

    “… Though the nationality of the inventor or inventors of the alphabet is unknown, it is now generally agreed that he or they belonged to the Northwest Semitic linguistic group, which includes the ancient Canaanites, Phoenicians, and Hebrews.”


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenician_alphabet
    Phoenician alphabet – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    History

    “The original Proto-Sinaitic alphabet was derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs, in use from ca. 1500 BC. . . In Canaan it evolved into the Proto-Canaanite alphabet from ca. 1400 BC, adapted to writing a Canaanite (Northwest Semitic) language.”


    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.flotte2.com/Ancient_files/image056.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.flotte2.com/Ancient.htm&h=234&w=353&sz=25&tbnid=SRNul7SdVRHFCM:&tbnh=76&tbnw=116&prev=/images%3Fq%3Daramaic%2Balphabet&start=3&sa=X&oi=images&ct=image&cd=3
    Google Image Result for http://www.flotte2.com/Ancient_files/image056.jpg
    Below is the image in its original context on the page: www.flotte2.com/Ancient.htm
    Ancient History (to 1 A.D.)
    Civilizations
    Mesopotamia
    Hebrews
    Phoenicia

    “… Historians refer to [Phoenicians] as Canaanites when talking about the culture before 1200 B.C. …”


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenician_alphabet
    Phoenician alphabet – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    History

    “The Phoenician alphabet seamlessly continues the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, by convention called Phoenician from the mid 11th century.”

    “Some of the letter names were changed in Phoenician. . . The meanings given are of the letter names in Phoenician. ...”


    http://www.cedarland.org/alpha.html
    The Evolution of the Alphabet

    Ancient Lebanese, the Phoenicians, “acquired the basis for their system from Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Phoenicians picked some of these signs, modified them, gave them Semitic names, added others and evolved what we know as the Alphabet.”

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