Ignatius Donnelly

The origin of our alphabet

Introduction to the Phonetic Alphabet

The phonetic alphabet, a system of signs representing the sounds of human speech, is one of the most significant inventions for advancing civilization. Without it, our modern world would be drastically different.

Despite extensive research, the true origins of the European alphabet remain elusive. We can trace it back through various cultures until we reach the ancient Egyptians and early forms of the Phoenician, Hebrew, and Cushite scripts, but beyond this, the historical trail fades.

The Egyptian Perspective

The Egyptians referred to their hieroglyphic writing system as “the language of the gods” (Lenormant and Cheval, “Ancient History of the East,” Vol. II, p. 208). These “gods” were likely their highly civilized ancestors, the people of Atlantis, who influenced many Mediterranean civilizations.

Contributions from the Phoenicians and Egyptians

According to the Phoenicians, the art of writing was invented by Taautus, known to the Egyptians as Thoth, or “the first Hermes.” This figure is associated with Maia, a daughter of Atlas, and the Maya of Central America (Baldwin’s “Prehistoric Nations,” p. 91).

The Spread and Evolution of Writing

Hieroglyphic writing likely originated among the Tsabaists, early religious practitioners who worshipped the planets (Sir William Drummond, “Origines”). Sir Henry Rawlinson suggests that the principles of writing in Chaldea and Egypt are so similar that they must have been developed before the Hamitic race divided (“The Original Invention of Writing”).

The Complexity of Alphabetic Development

The development of an alphabet from hieroglyphics was a gradual process involving simplification over many generations. The transition from picture-writing to a phonetic system is exemplified by the Phoenician alphabet, which originated from hieroglyphics but evolved to meet practical needs. The Greeks and Romans further modified the alphabet, adding letters such as C, G, and others to suit their languages.

The Maya Alphabet of Central America

Surprisingly, Central America had its own phonetic alphabet, as demonstrated by the Maya alphabet. The Mayas, who claim their civilization came from across the sea from the east (Atlantis), inherited their alphabet from the Colhuas, whose era ended around 1000 BCE. Bishop Landa preserved this alphabet, which provides insights into early writing systems.

Comparisons Between the Maya and European Alphabets

When comparing the Maya alphabet with the European alphabets, several similarities are evident. For instance, the letter “h” in Maya is simplified in a manner similar to the archaic Greek and Hebrew forms.

The Maya “o” resembles the circular forms used in Phoenician and other alphabets. Other letters, such as “k,” “n,” and “t,” also show significant resemblances between the Maya and ancient European alphabets.

The Process of Simplification

The process of simplification involved reducing complex hieroglyphs to more manageable signs. This can be seen in the transformation of the Maya “pp” to simpler forms found in European alphabets. The transition from ornate hieroglyphs to simplified alphabetic characters illustrates the evolution of writing systems over time.

Specific Letter Comparisons

Comparing individual letters, such as “q,” “c,” “g,” “p,” and “l,” between the Maya and European alphabets reveals a pattern of simplification and adaptation. These letters, along with others like “b,” “e,” “i,” and “m,” demonstrate a clear lineage from the Maya hieroglyphs to the phonetic signs used in the Old World.

Evidence of a Common Source

The numerous resemblances between the Maya and European alphabets suggest a common origin, likely from Atlantis. The adaptation and evolution of these alphabets in different regions support the theory of a shared source of early writing systems. The similarities in letter forms across various ancient cultures cannot be mere coincidences.

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