13 Facts About Aramaic alphabet


Ancient Aramaic alphabet was adapted by Arameans from the Phoenician alphabet and became a distinct script by the 8th century BC.

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Aramaic alphabet is historically significant since virtually all modern Middle Eastern writing systems can be traced back to it as well as numerous non-Chinese writing systems of Central and East Asia.

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The Aramaic alphabet was an ancestor to the Nabataean alphabet, which in turn had the Arabic alphabet as a descendant.

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The term was coined to avoid the notion that a writing system that represents sounds must be either a syllabary or an alphabet, which would imply that a system like Aramaic must be either a syllabary or an incomplete or deficient alphabet.

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Aramaic alphabet gradually became the lingua franca throughout the Middle East, with the script at first complementing and then displacing Assyrian cuneiform, as the predominant writing system.

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Imperial Aramaic alphabet was highly standardised; its orthography was based more on historical roots than any spoken dialect and was influenced by Old Persian.

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Since the evolution of the Aramaic alphabet out of the Phoenician one was a gradual process, the division of the world's alphabets into the ones derived from the Phoenician one directly and the ones derived from Phoenician via Aramaic is somewhat artificial.

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Development of cursive versions of Aramaic led to the creation of the Syriac, Palmyrene and Mandaic alphabets, which formed the basis of the historical scripts of Central Asia, such as the Sogdian and Mongolian alphabets.

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In Maaloula, one of few surviving communities in which a Western Aramaic alphabet dialect is still spoken, an Aramaic alphabet institute was established in 2007 by Damascus University that teaches courses to keep the language alive.

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The institute's activities were suspended in 2010 amidst fears that the square Aramaic alphabet used in the program too closely resembled the square script of the Hebrew alphabet and all the signs with the square Aramaic script were taken down.

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Practice of using certain letters to hold vowel values spread to Aramaic alphabet-derived writing systems, such as in Arabic and Hebrew, which still follow the practice.

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Imperial Aramaic alphabet was added to the Unicode Standard in October 2009, with the release of version 5.

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Syriac Aramaic alphabet was added to the Unicode Standard in September 1999, with the release of version 3.

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