Bonus Episode 2: History of the Alphabet

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.

4 thoughts on “Bonus Episode 2: History of the Alphabet

  1. I know this is old news, but I had hoped you would include the obsolete English letters (ash, eth, thorn), how they were created, the sound differences, and why they fell out of use.

    • The History of the Alphabet book focuses on the modern letters of the alphabet, but I did discuss those Old English letters in the podcast. Check out episode 36 for that discussion. Their ultimate decline was the result of the Norman Conquest and the attempt to make English confirm with the orthographic rules of French.

  2. I wonder if the original “snake” version of N transformed into “fish” via a water-snake or eel? I have no idea if they lived in the area at the time (or now, to be honest); but eels certainly would seem to be a logical point of origin or transition between M’s water, and N’s later fish.

    I don’t know if they made it into the Atlantic regularly at this point, but as I recall the Sargasso Sea is fairly near Gibraltar, and is a mating or spawning ground for some kind of water snake or eel, which would certainly cement the correlation between water and snakes very firmly, I would think!

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