University of Maryland Evolution of Alphabets

Alphapage This page is part of the course material for "History of the Alphabets" taught by Prof. Robert Fradkin at University of Maryland.

Questions of an academic or linguistic nature should be e-mailed to Prof. Fradkin, Dept. of Asian and East European Languages, University of Maryland.

Questions on the animation graphics should be e-mailed to Charlie Seljos

The authors cannot comment on the religious or mystical nature of alphabets and letters.

Return to Prof. R. Fradkin's home page

  • The evolution of the Cuneiform character set.
    Sumerian pictures evolved into syllabic symbols used by many languages for almost two thousand years before the Phoenicians developed the single-sound symbols we know as an alphabet.

  • The evolution of the Phoenician character set from the Proto-Sinaitic glyphs.
    These are the pictographs found in the Sinai peninsula, ca. 1500 BC and are assumed to be the source of the sound symbols developed several centuries later by the Phoenicians.

  • The evolution of the Greek character set from the Phoenician character set.

  • The eventual evolution of the Arabic Character set from its Phoenician roots.
    Not pictured are the developments of Aramaic and Nabatean, which led to the modern Arabic script.

  • The Phoenician characters which in Greek rotated 90 degrees or the the non-symmetrical characters that flipped horizontally when the direction of Greek switched from left to right.

  • The evolution of the Square Aramaic/Hebrew character set from the Phoenician character set.

  • The evolution of the Modern Cyrillic character set from the Greek character set.

  • The evolution of the Latin character set.


Questions and/or comments should be sent to Robert Fradkin.
Last modified May 29, 2014           © University of Maryland