Alphabet, Names of letters

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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 Phoenician letter names, in which each letter was associated with a word that begins with that sound, continue to be used to varying degrees in Samaritan, Aramaic, Syriac, Hebrew, Greek and Arabic. The names were abandoned in Latin, which instead referred to the letters by adding a vowel (usually e) before or after the consonant (the exception is zeta, which was retained from Greek). In Cyrillic originally the letters were given names based on Slavic words; this was later abandoned as well in favor of a system similar to that used in Latin.

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