Episode 13: Greece, Phoenicia and the Alphabet

Mycenaean Greek writing disappears during the Greek Dark Age, but the Greeks encounter the Phoenicians and adopt their alphabet. The Greek alphabet results in the spread of literacy. Modern English words from this period of Greek history are examined.

Map Prepared by Louis Henwood (Click Map for Larger Image)

Map Prepared by Louis Henwood (Click Map for Larger Image)

3 thoughts on “Episode 13: Greece, Phoenicia and the Alphabet

  1. Wonderful and intriguing set of talks so far, and looking forward to listening to them all!

    The thought crossed my mind while you were talking of the Phoenician alphabet and the alphabet’s being representative or phoneme’s that there is an obvious similarity between the two italicized words. Perhaps you address this somewhere but is there any connection you are aware of made by the Greeks?

    • Interesting observation, but looks like a coincidence. Phoenician is from the Greek Phoínikes, and was used by Homer. It may have existed before Greek, but its etymology is uncertain.

      Phoneme comes to English from the Greek phonema via French phonème, and ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root bha, to speak. Kevin has a very interesting discussion of this in Episode 32, I think. Derivatives of PIE bha include fate and fame, infant (one who cannot speak), prophet, banish, confess, and blame.

    • John is correct. Despite the similarity, there does not appear to be a linguistic connection between ‘Phoenician’ and ‘phoneme.’

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