Somila
Professional Teacher
Did you know?
A few fun facts about languages. Feel free to add anything else.
1.There are over 7000 languages worldwide, and most of them are dialects.
2.Cambodian has the longest alphabet with 74 characters. (Anybody who knows the language feel free to share with us please)
3.The bible is the most translated book followed by Pinocchio (lol)
4.The English word “alphabet” comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet “alpha” and “beta”. Anybody here from Greece?

To be continued...
Jun 19, 2020 6:56 PM
Comments · 24
Z was the seventh letter of the Phoenician alphabet and continued thus in Greek, but lost its place in the Roman alphabet because Latin didn’t distinguish /s/ and /z/. When it was later (re-) introduced into the Latin alphabet in order to transcribe Greek words, poor Z had to go to the end of the alphabet.

Fun alphabet fact number 2:
On learning that F, U, V, W, and Y are all descended from the same Phoenician letter, all I could say was “Wow!”

;)
June 19, 2020
<ol><li> The alphabetic system was developed by the Phoenicians, which the Greeks adopted. The names “alpha” and “beta” were derived from the Phoenician “alep” and “bet”.</li><li>Hebrew, which descended from Phoenician, has retained the alphabet order of Phoenician.</li><li>Most alphabets have reduced the names of the letters to the sound they make, but Arabic and Hebrew have not. (I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones I’m familiar with.)</li><li>The reason the letter ‘z’ is called “zed” in British English is that it has retained its name, which was never reduced to the sound it makes.</li></ol>
June 19, 2020
To expand on my previous comment:
<ol><li>The names and shapes of the letters originally corresponded to words in Phoenician. “Alep” meant “ox”; “bet” meant “house”.</li><li>Some of these words have been retained in the Semitic languages. In Arabic, the word for house is “bayt”. In Hebrew, it’s “bayit”.</li><li>Similarly, in Arabic, there’s a letter called “ayn”. The word for “eye” is also “ayn”. This is not a coincidence. In Hebrew, the letter is called “ayin”, which is also the word for “eye”.</li><li>The letter ayn in Arabic actually looks kind of like an eye: عـ. In technical terms, the top, curved part of the letter is called the “eyebrow”! (This is a term used in Arabic calligraphy).</li></ol>

Spanish:
<ol><li>Spanish has a habit of splitting vowels, where ‘o’ becomes ‘ue’ and ‘e’ becomes ‘ie’. Learners are familiar with this with verb conjugations, but it has happened with nouns as well. You can compare words with other Romance languages: “bueno” in Spanish corresponds to “bon” in French; “tiempo” in Spanish corresponds to “tempo” in Italian, etc.</li><li>‘H’ in Spanish corresponds to ‘F’ in Latin. For example, “hecho” means “fact” and comes from the Latin “factus”; “hablar” means “to speak” and comes from the Latin “fablare” (which is also the origin of “fable” in English).</li></ol>
June 20, 2020
<ul><li>Russian was the first language spoken in outer space.</li><li>People who speak and understand Chinese use <a href="http://theconversation.com/if-you-speak-mandarin-your-brain-is-different-37993" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(128, 0, 128);">both sides of the brain</a>, whereas English only uses the left side.</li></ul>

June 20, 2020
Good thread, Somila. Language related threads get drowned in the noise of partner seeking posts all too often on this language learning platform. BTW the Cambodian alphabet is derived from the Devanagari Sanskrit script because this region was a Hindu Kingdom called champa long ago. Devanagari itself has 63 written symbols, and there would be extras in the Cambodian script to accommodate native sounds not found in Devanagari.

Phil, the Phoenician vowel waw is still called just that in all Semitic abjads including Urdu, Persian, Arabic and Hebrew. Abjads by definition blur vowel distinctions and often skip short vowels altogether. In Urdu, the waw serves to represent W, V, O and Ū (oo).

Abdullah, your point about the ayn meaning eye is also most interesting. The Arabic abjad is grouped by letter shapes (morphological) most probably due to this reason. In Urdu, the word āyinā means a mirror and ayinak means eyeglasses. The actual word for eye normally is ānkh (from Sanskrit akshi) or chashm (Persian) in formal usage.
June 20, 2020
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Somila
Language Skills
English, Spanish, Xhosa
Learning Language
Spanish, Xhosa