Phoenician Alphabet

The Phoenician alphabet is an abjad, a type of writing system in which each symbol stands for a consonant, leaving it to the individual to inner or supply an appropriate vowel. The Phoenician alphabet is also called the early linear script because it is an early development of the pictographic Old Canaanite script into a regulated horizontal, right-to-left script.

The Phoenician alphabet was used from 1050 BC to 150 BC. It was developed from the North Semitic alphabet and was spread throughout the Mediterranean area by Phoenician traders. It is the likely ancestor of the Greek alphabet and, therefore, the rest of the Western alphabets.

Phoenician proper has 22 consonant letters, although some later versions included vowels. Letters are mostly straight and angular, but some cursive versions came about. Each letter has a name and a meaning. For example, the first letter, ʾālep, means ox or head of cattle.

Sign
Names in Phoenician
Meaning
Pronunciation
AlephOxA laryngeal consonent
Beth, BaitHouseB consonant
Gimel, GamelCamelG consonant
Daleth, DalDoorD consonant
HeWindowH consonant
WawHookW semi-consonant
Heth, HaitWallH laryngeal consonent
Yodh, YadHandY semi-consonant
KaphHandK consonant
Lamedh, LamGoadL consonant
Mem, MaiWaterM consonant
NunSnakeN consonant
AyinEye3 laryngeal consonant
PeMouthP consonant
QophMonkeyQ voiceless velar
Resh, RasHeadR consonant
SinToothSh consonant
Taw, TahMarkT consonant
WawHookW semi-consonant
Samekh, SheenFishS consonant
ZZayinSwordZ consonant
TetWheelHeavy T
TsadeHuntHeavy S

Phoenician Alphabet