Kevin discusses the new History of the Alphabet series. An excerpt from the series is included. The history of the ‘constant consonants’ (B,D,L,M,N,P,R,T) is explored.
The first Germanic-speaking tribes emerge in northern Europe. We explore the connection between these tribes and the original Indo-Europeans. We then look at the expansion of the Germanic tribes into the Celtic region of central Europe and their early conflicts with the Romans. Latin words pass into these early Germanic languages, including the dialects of the continental Anglo-Saxons.
The Roman Empire emerges following the death of Julius Caesar. Emperor Claudius sets his sights on Britain, and the native Celtic culture becomes Romanized. We look at the evolution of Latin words related to law, money and social classes.
We explore the origin of modern English words related to time. A direct connection is made to the calendar reforms of Julius Caesar. The etymology of English words related to time illustrate the combined influences of the Germanic languages and Latin on modern English.
We look at the arrival of Celtic speaking people in Europe, and the invasion of Celtic Gaul by the Romans. Celtic is replaced by Latin in Western Europe, leading to the modern Romance languages. Celtic words in modern English are examined.
We look at the rise of the Roman Republic from a small Italian city-state to the dominant political and military power of the Mediterranean. The expansion of Rome also led to the expansion of Latin which emerged as a common lingua franca. We also explore Latin words and phrases from this period which have found their way into Modern English.
The first Indo-Europeans settle into Italy, but they encounter an existing civilization known as the Etruscans. The Etruscans borrow the alphabet from the Greeks, and soon pass it on to the Romans. Our modern alphabet finally begins to emerge.
The Classical Greek period is explored with an emphasis on Modern English words which originated during this period of Greek history.
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.
The first Greek and Hittite civilizations emerge from Indo-European tribes in the eastern Mediterranean. The Greeks adopt an early form of writing and fight the Trojans. An alphabet allows the ancient history of the Greeks to be recorded in the Iliad and the Odyssey.