We take writing for granted, since we see it on a daily basis: when we’re reading emails or documents during work, when we’re enjoying our free time reading a magazine or a novel… It’s literally everywhere and anywhere!
So this one might be great for your trivia night out… Did you know that almost all the alphabets and abjads used in the world today (scripts as varied as Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic, Hebrew, Ethiopic, Devanagari, Tibetan, etc.) can be traced back to a writing system developed in Ancient Egypt called Proto-Sinaitic script? Did you also know that the etymology of the word ‘alphabet’ (the first two Greek letters alpha and beta) can be seen in other phonetic writing systems such as the Arabic one (alif, bāʾ) and the Hebrew (ʾālef, bēṯ)?
If you’ve found all this fascinating, you might want to know the Latin alphabet that we use in English is the most widely used writing system in the world, spanning across the continents; and it is used to transcribe numerous indigenous languages in the Americas, Oceania and Africa that once lacked a standardized writing system. It’s also used to transcribe almost all languages in the world in the form of an official Romanization system devised by the standard language body or in the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) which is largely based on the Roman script.
Well, now you get the entire panorama!
You can try to compare the English letter w (double u) and the Greek ω (omega) and see the uncanny resemblance in sound (in English, w is often considered to be a semivowel that’s similar to an o, and the ω in Greek produces an o sound in Modern Greek) and in shape.
You can also compare the Arabic letter ج (ǧīm), the Greek letter γ (gamma), the Cyrillic letter г (ge), the Hebrew letter ג (gimel) and see how the shape and sound are, again, related to the Latin letter g that we use in English.
Try to find another set of letters across different writing systems and see if you can spot the common heritage!