Alphabet, Etymology

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Summary

An alphabet is a standard set of letters (basic written symbols or graphemes) which is used to write one or more languages based on the general principle that the letters represent phonemes (basic significant sounds) of the spoken language. This is in contrast to other types of writing systems, such as syllabaries (in which each character represents a syllable) and logographies (in which each character represents a word, morpheme, or semantic unit).

Details

The English word alphabet came into Middle English from the Late Latin word alphabetum, which in turn originated in the Greek ἀλφάβητος (alphabētos), from alpha and beta, the first two letters of the Greek alphabet. Alpha and beta in turn came from the first two letters of the Phoenician alphabet, and originally meant ox and house respectively.

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