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Great discoveries in Cappadocia, Assyria and Egypt were then only at their beginning, and any statement was liable to be quickly disproved by the appearance of new evidence.
The prevalent theory, universally accepted till a few years ago, was that of Vicomte Emmanuel de Rougé, first propounded to the Académie des Inscriptions in 1859, but unnoticed by the world at large till republished, after de Rougé’s death, by his son in 1874.
Thus the long ī in ride, wine, &c., has become the diphthong ai, and the name of the symbol tends in the same direction.
In the “cockney” dialect, really the dialect of Essex but now no less familiar in Cambridge and Middlesex, the ai sound of ī is represented by oi as in toime, “time,” while ā has become ai in Kate, pane, &c.
The ideal alphabet would indicate one sound by one symbol, and not more than one sound by the same symbol.“With the papyrus paper,” says Professor Breasted, writing soon after Professor Breasted, says that investigation has not as yet furnished proof that the Phoenician alphabet is of Egyptian origin, though he admits that in some respects the development of the two alphabets, both without vowel signs, is curiously parallel. From them it passed to the Phoenicians, who were their near neighbours, if not their kinsfolk.Symbols like the letters of the alphabet have been found in European soil painted upon pebbles belonging to a stratum between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic age.As already mentioned, the twenty-two symbols of the Phoenician alphabet indicate consonantal sounds only. The Phoenician alphabet possessed many more aspirates than were required in Greek, which tended more and more to drop all its aspirates.
Before history begins it had also lost, except sporadically in out-of-the-way dialects, the semi-vowel i (approximately English y.) It therefore made the aspirates A, E, O and the semi-vowel I into vowels, and apparently converted the semi-vowel = w into the vowel Y = u, which it placed at the end of the alphabet and substituted for it as the sixth symbol of the alphabet the letter F with the old value of w.
The Greek names of the letters, their forms, and the order of the symbols show that the Greek alphabet as we know it must have been imported by or from a Semitic people, and there is no evidence to contradict ancient tradition that this people was the Phoenicians.