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object and idea, without reference to the word by which such object or idea was represented. This was an improvement on the Ideographic system, but was objectionable on account ɔf the great number of characters required. Chinese, at the present day, is written in a measure according to this system. Old authorities inform us that it employs no less than 80,000 characters; later researches, however, prove the number to be considerably smaller. As each character represents an object or abstract idea, and not merely a sound, it follows that any thing written according to this system is understood by all that are acquainted with the characters, although their own spoken languages may be totally different; just as the value of figures in their various combinations is universally known to the nations of Europe, notwithstanding the difference in their respective tongues. The written language of the Chinese Empire, accordingly, is read and understood by the people of Japan, Corea, Loo-choo, and Cochin China, as well as by various other tribes who are unable to hold the slightest oral intercourse with each other.
It is proper to add that this is denied by some, who contend that Chinese is written mainly according to the Syllabic system, a description of which follows. If any Japanese or Coreans are found to understand written Chinese, it is, according to these authorities, from their having studied it, or else on account of its resemblance to their own written systems. Our present greatly increased facilities for obtaining information respecting the people of the Celestial Empire and their peculiarities, will soon dissipate all uncertainty on this subject; and we shall probably find that each opinion has some foundation in truth. It is likely either that the characters are partly Verbal and partly Syllabic, or else that there are two distinct systems, originally perhaps used by different classes, but now employed indiscriminately at the option of the writer.
abstract ideas? What rendered it objectionable? In what language is it still employed? How many characters are required in this language? Need one understand the spoken language, in order to understand a written language in which the Verbal system is employed? Give an example. In illustration of this, what is mentioned with regard to the written language of the Chinese Empire? What account do other authorities give of written Chinese? How do they explain the fact that some Japanese and Coreans are found to understand it? What is probable with regard to these dif ferent opinions?
§ 9. Syllabic System.-By the two systems above described, things themselves were represented without reference to the sounds by which they are denoted. But the frequent recurrence of the same syllables in the names of things soon led men to see the advantages that would be gained by representing the sound instead of the thing signified; and hence originated a third method, commonly called the Syllabic sys In this, certain characters were employed to represent, not objects, but syllabic sounds, by a combination of which tho names of things were denoted. Thus the word agriculture would be expressed by four characters only, one representing each syllable. Though this was a great improvement on the Verbal System, it was also objectionable on account of the number of characters required. It is thought at one time to have been used by many Asiatic nations; and is still the basis, though in a somewhat modified form, of the written language of the Ethiopians and that of the Siamese.
§ 10. Alphabetic System.-The defects incident to the systems described above finally taught man the necessity of inventing some new method of conveying his thoughts; and hence resulted the introduction and ultimate perfection of Alphabetic writing, which is used in almost all languages at the present day. This may be regarded as the greatest of human inventions, and has contributed more than any thing else to the progress of civilization. According to this system, the simple. sounds of the human voice are represented by appropriate marks or letters, by combining which syllables and words are formed; and that with such precision and completeness that not only can all material objects be denoted and described,
§ 9. How were ideas represented by the two systems already described? What system was next invented? According to the Syllabic system, what did each character represent? How were words denoted? How many characters would this system require to express the word agriculture? How did the Syllabic compare with the Verbal system? What rendered the Syllabic system objectionable? By what nations was it at one time employed? In what written languages is it still used?
§ 10. By the defects of these systems, what was man finally taught? What system was next invented? How may it be regarded? What are represented by the charac
but also abstract ideas, the emotions of the mind, and every variety of thought
§ 11. Derivation.-The word alphabet is derived from aλpa, ẞra, the first two Greek characters, and signifies the letters of a written language disposed in their regular order.
§ 12. Origin. The inventors of alphabetic writing are unknown. According to the Jewish Rabbis, it is of divine origin. "God," says one of their number, "created letters on the evening of the first Sabbath." Adam Clarke also in clines to this opinion, although he places the revelation at a later date, maintaining that God taught Moses the use of letters by writing the Ten Commandments with His own finger on the tables of stone. Eusebius, Clemens of Alexandria, Cornelius Agrippa, and others, attribute this noble invention to Moses himself; Philo, to Abraham; Irenæus and others, to Enoch, who is by some thought to have been the author of a work still extant, to which there is an apparent allusion in the 14th and the 15th verse of St. Jude's Epistle. Bibliander considers Adam entitled to the honor of the invention; and the Sabians actually produce a book which they pretend was written by this patriarch. If, however, letters were known at this early period, it can hardly be explained why men, in spite of the vastly superior facilities they afford, should have gone back to the ideographic or the syllabic system.
ters employed in the Alphabetic system? By combining these characters, what are formed?
§ 11. From what is the word alphabet derived? What does it signify?
§ 12. What is said of the inventors of alphabetic writing? To whom do the Jev ish Rabbis attribute its invention? What is Adam Clarke's opinion? To whom do Eusebius, Clemens, and Cornelius Agrippa attribute it? To whom, Philo? To whom, Irenæus? What reason is there for supposing Enoch to have been acquainted with
Among the Greeks and Romans, the invention of letters was generally attributed to the Phoenicians. For the Greeks this was natural, as they received the greater part of their alphabet directly from Cadmus, a native of Phoenicia, and would therefore be likely to think that the honor of the invention belonged to that country. Yet it is clear that some of the most learned of the Greeks regarded Cadmus in his true light; not as the inventor, but merely as the introducer, of letters. Plato expressly says that Thaut, the Egyptian, was the first to divide letters into vowels and consonants, mutes and liquids. An individual of this same name, Thaut or Taaut, is also mentioned by Sanchoniathon, the historian, as the inventor of letters, but is claimed by him as a Phoenician, living in the 12th or the 13th generation after the Deluge. To reconcile these conflicting accounts, Jackson, in his "Chronological Antiquities," holds that letters were invented by Taaut or Thoth, the Phoenician, a son of Misraim, about five centuries after the deluge, but were introduced into Egypt four hundred years afterwards by a second Taaut; whom he supposes to have been identical with the celebrated Hermes Trismegistus of the Greeks, the inventor, according to Diodorus, of grammar, music, letters, and writing. Whether this supposition is correct or not, we may fairly conclude that, whichever of these nations first employed letters, they were not long in becoming
Ipsa gens Phoenicum in gloria magna est literarum inventionis." 'The race of Phoenicians themselves enjoy the great glory of the invention of letters.'-PLINY, Book v., chap. 12.
"Phoenices primi (famæ si credimus) ausi
Mansuram rudibus vocem signare figuris."-LUCAN.
this system? By whom does Bibliander think it was invented? What evidence of this is furnished by the Sabians? What objection is there to the supposition that letters were known thus early?
To whom did the Greeks and Romans attribute the invention of letters? What led the Greeks to this opinion? How did some of the most learned Greeks regard Cadas? Whom does Plato mention in connection with the classification of letters? Who alse alludes to this Thaut? What does Sanchoniathon say of him? How does Jackson explain this inconsistency? With what Greek personage does he suppose this second
known to the other; as the commercial relations of the Egyp tians and Phoenicians were intimate and likely to make their respective inventions common property.
According to some late writers who are versed in Oriental literature, the claims of the Indians to the honor of having devised letters are not without some weight. The Sanscrit, which is the most refined of the Indian languages, is supposed to have been one of the most ancient now existing, and is the parent of almost every dialect of Southern Asia. The Hindoos assert that they were acquainted with letters before any other nation on the globe; and that, in their ancient books, sages from Egypt and other countries are represented as coming to India, to inform themselves respecting alphabetic writing and other inventions for which the Hindoos were at that early period distinguished. As, however, none of these an cient books have yet made their appearance in Europe, and as national vanity has led the Orientals generally to exaggerate their ancient standing in literature, art, and science, we can hardly weigh these unsupported statements against the positive testimony presented from other quarters.
Modern scholars seem to be divided in opinion as to whether this great invention is due to the Phoenicians or the Hebrews. Mr. Astle, whose ፡፡ essay on The Origin and Progress of Writing" displays great research, and is justly regarded as high authority, on the evidence of the ancients, pronounces in favor of the Phoenicians. It must be remembered, however, that while the Greeks were well acquainted with the latter nation on account of their intimate commercial relations, to the Hebrews they were almost entire strangers; and
Taaut to have been identical? What is said of the relations that subsisted between the Egyptians and the Phoenicians?
What other people claim to have invented letters? What is said of the Sanscrit language? What do the Hindoos assert with regard to their ancient books? Have we any reason to believe their statements?
What are the views of modern scholars on this point? In whose favor does Mr. Astle decide? What reason is there for supposing that the Greeks may have been mis. taken in attributing the invention of letters to the Phoenicians? From what alphabet