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is not older than 300 B.C., and bas consequently undergene alterations for about fourteen centuries after its formation and perhaps ten centuries after the formation of the Phænician alphabet we cannot expect much. Even the Phænician symbols dating 1000 B. o. fail in this respect, Still the shape of some of the Bráhmí letters represents the objects remarkably well. The attached table gives the names of the Phænician letters, with their meanings. It also gives their shape and the corresponding letters of the Bráhmí alphabet.
It will be seen that the Bráhmí symbols to represent the sounds of Bet (b) and Resh (r) have exactly the shape of a house and a hair respectively. The symbols for y and k (Phænician yod and kap) also represent the hand to a certain extent and that for "m” a waterpot. The symbol for a represent a head with iwo horns if the vertical line at the end is shifted a little to the right, as in the Phænician letter. The Phænician symbols for the sounds z and kq) not found in Bráhmí, and for the sound of letter Teth, which was perhaps different from the ordinary t reprezented by the Phænician Tav, were, it appears, adopted from the aspirates of the letters j, k and t.
Here again we find the Bráhmí aspirate letters kh and th show exactly the shape of a cage and a cake respectively. In jh also it is not difficult to imagine the shapo of a weapon. More letters of the Phoenician alphabet would, I am sure, have found representation of their objects in Bráhmí if the Brahmi charaoters of an earlier date bad been discovered. In the next chapter the principle on which the Bráhmí letters appear to have been designed will be discussed and an idea of their probable original shape obtained. The plate at the end shows these shapes, and it will be found that they bear a greater resemblance to the objects represented by the Phænician letters. k and y each show five lines, a better representation of a hand (kap and yod meaning hand). The symbol for g can also be taken, although distantly, to be a camel, and that for n may be likened to a fish. The symbol for 1 is very nearly like the Indian goad for elephants, and if the Phoenician ox-goad was similar, the
reason for the name “lámed " being given to the letter can be understood.
Let us now examine the other peculiarity of the Phænician alphabei, viz., its arrangement which not being fixed on any principle appears to be an almost blind copy of some other alphabet. Of the Indian alphabet we know only two arrangements at present, (1) the original arrangement based on the gradual change of sounds and part of the mouth they emanate from, and (2) the one adopted from the same by the author of Śiva Sútras for the purposes of his grammar, and subsequently taken by Páņini. Páộini mentions several grammarians who preceded him, but it is not known at this distant age if they altered the arrangement of the letters to suit their own gram
It is probable they did, for otherwise the alphabet adopted by Páņini would not have particularly beer mentioned as taken from Śiva Sútras. But we do not possess any altered arrangement of the letters. Let us therefore take the siva Sútra or Páņini's alphabet for comparison.
To make a comparison between two alphabets it is neeessary to remove from each the letters representing, sounds not found in the other and take only the sounds common to both. Thus zain (z) and koph (q or k) will go away from the Phænician alphabet, and its arrangement remains as follows. I give certain serial numbers for an easy reference later on. (1) a, (2) b, g or j, d, (3) h, v, (4) ch, t, y, k, (5) 1, m, n,
(6) s, a, (7) p, s, r, sh, (8) t. Treating Páộini's alphabet similarly its arrangement comes to the following: (1) a, (2) b, y, v, (3) r, (4) 1, m, n, (5) b, g, d, or j, b, d,
r, (6) oh, t, k, (7) p, é, ș, (8) s, h. Now by a comparison of the two, the similarity of the two alphabets is at once apparent. Serials 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the Phænician are the same as serials 1, 5, 2, 6, 4, 8 and 7 respectively in Pápini's alphabet excepting for the position of y and r which is not very material.
This leaves no doubt that the Phænician alphabet was derived from the Indian alphabet, rearranged for the purposes
of grammar. The displacement of the several groups enumerated above shows only that the Phænicians did not adopt the Indian alphabet directly but got it through other sources, probably through the Sabwans who are known to have been in commercial communication with India about 3000 years ago, and whose alphabet is more like the Indian Brábmí alphabet than that of the Phænicians. Or it may be that the alphabet of some Indian grammar other than the Śiva Sútras which could not very much differ in the arrangement was taken by the Phænicians for their alphabet.
VII.--Formation of Brahmi Alphabet. Seeing now that the Semitic alphabets and through them almost all the other alphabets were derived from the Bráhmí alphabet of the grammars, the question necessarily arises how the Brábmí symbols, which were hitherto supposed to have been adopted from the Phænician or Sabæan, were formed. We have seen that this alphabet was arranged on the basis of sounds and the part of the mouth where they are produced, at a very early age, about the time of the great Indian Civil War. As has been said before, it was natural at the time of this arrangement of letters that the idea of making the symbols representing the sounds to show the organsp roducing them should have occurred. It was actually the case, and the symbols were reformed, and designated as Brahmí, or revealed from the innerself (Brahma). The older symbols were then probably given the name Devanagarí, or belonging to the city of gods or ancestors. The older symbols were gradually abandoned and their use was probably confined to sacred writings. They were, it appears, soon lost, so that even the name Devanágarí is not now traceable in old books. The name has only been revived lately to indicate the script used in Upper India, including Benares the seat of Sanskrita learning.
The organs used in producing the several sounds are the palate, the tongue, the upper teeth and the lips, throat is also employed when an aspirate sound is pronounced. In the newly forméd symbols the Indians, it appears, represented the palate by a straight line, and tongue sometime by a straight but
generally by a curved line according to its position in pronouncing the sounds. A small oblique line showed the upper teeth, and a small curved line the throat. Sounds requiring the use of lips are pronouoced with the mouth closed, so a closed mouth represented the labials. The aspirate of any sound was, it aj pears, shown by adding a small curved line which represented the throat to the syinbol for the original sound at some convenient place. This small curved line is, it may be noted, still used in the Persian characters as a sign of the aspirate, as the different number of dots signifies other letters. That this device was usu ılly employed can be seen from the Magriyan letters chb, dha and ph, which have been formed from ch, d and p. The Bhattiprolu gh has also been formed in the same way from g
The sounds of r and of the sibilants were represented by giving a wavy appearance to the tongue.
Besides the above lines representing the organs there was an index, a vertical straight line indicating the position where the sound was to be expected.
As an illustration, the symbols for a, b, t and k were written
The index which it will be seen is the most important line showed the letters as if hanging, and Dr. Bühler, ot being able to explain it, ascribes the hanging shape of the Bráhmí letters to the pedantry, and what not, of the Hindus,
1 It may be asked why a “h” should be added to make an aspirate which is an independent sognd and pronounced from a different position of the tongue. Although the position of the tongue is slightly different, the action of the throat also always comes in, to a certain extent, in pronouncing an aspirate. This has everywhere been recognized. In Urdu a he and in English an h, are used to spell an aspirate. According to Pāņini also a “h” following a soft consonant produces the sound of the corresponding aspirate.