Lv 4
Link asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 decade ago

Why do so many languages use the English letters (like a b and c)? Were they even English to begin?

Although there are some alterations, like é instead of e, there are a large percentage of languages that can be written with the characters we recognise as English letters. Why?

11 Answers

  • Taivo
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    There are some simple, correct answers above, but all of the answers that are longer than a sentence or two have serious errors (especially the answer right above this one--it is FULL of baloney).

    The English alphabet is the Roman alphabet, which was used for writing Latin. We've added a couple of letters with time as variations of letters that were already there (j, w, u), but it is still the Roman alphabet. The Romans got the alphabet from the Etruscans, who got it from the Western Greeks, who got it from the Phoenicians (the Arabs had ZERO to do with it). The direct ancestors of the Phoenicians (the Canaanites) invented it. None of the capital letters comes directly from Greek. They all are Roman with later (English) additions and are found in Roman inscriptions. The small letters come from a handwriting style that developed in the Middle Ages called miniscule. With the decorative use of large letters to begin a page in Ireland, the Irish monks reached back into history and reused the Roman capitals. That is how we got both capital letters and small letters as part of the modern Roman alphabet.

    This alphabet was spread throughout the areas Christianized by the Roman church and, thus, basically reflects the Catholic part of Europe (before the Protestant Reformation, of course). It has expanded into all those areas around the globe colonized by "Catholic" countries.

    In modern times, it has become the most widespread alphabet because of the economic power of the countries which used it and has been adapted in countries that were not originally Catholic or Catholic colonies, such as Turkey.

    Source(s): I am a Linguistics professor at a major US university
  • 4 years ago

    Capital and minuscule letters are differentiated interior the Roman, Greek, Cyrillic, Armenian and Coptic alphabets. maximum writing structures (which incorporate those used in Georgian, Glagolitic, Arabic, Hebrew, and Devanagari) make no distinction between capital and lowercase letters, a equipment referred to as unicase. certainly, even ecu languages did no longer make this distinction before approximately 1300; the two majuscule and minuscule letters existed, yet a given textual content could use the two one or the different. In alphabets with a case distinction, capitals are used for capitalization, acronyms, and emphasis (in some languages).Capitalization is the writing of a be conscious with its first letter in uppercase and the relax letters in lowercase. Capitalization regulations selection by utilising language and are regularly somewhat complicated, yet in maximum present day languages that have capitalization, the 1st be responsive to each sentence is capitalized, as are all ideal nouns. some languages, which incorporate German, capitalize the 1st letter of all nouns; this replaced into before worry-unfastened in English besides. (See the object on capitalization for an intensive record of norms).

  • 1 decade ago

    I believe most of our modern "English" letters came from the Roman alphabet, and the Roman empire was very far-reaching in its day. Note how most of the languages that do not use our alphabet were never under Roman rule. ;)

    Edit: After reading the answer below mine, I would like to point out that the Romans spoke Latin. And it is true we borrowed a few letters from the Greeks too, but such is the nature of language... it is an easily influenced thing.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Some of the answers given already are somewhat correct. Our letters, and even vocabulary words, are from foreign countries, like our ancestors were.

    Twelve of our capital letters are Greek. A, B, D, I, K, M are a few of them.

    David Diringer traces the letter J to an old Sinatic Arabic alphabet, and further back to ancient Babylon.

    The story of the j coming from the Greek/Latin letter i that we're told doesn't explain to me where the sound of the letter came from.

    At and, one can find Sumerian vocabulary words that resemble our own "english" words.

    I'm suspicious of "antiquity," and history in general. It depends on whose info you think is more trustworthy.

    Another reason so many languages use our letters is because you can put words of any foreign alphabet into ours. Our alphabet is called a universal phonetic alphabet. You can write Chinese and Japanese words with our letters.

    You'd need to because neither of them have an alphabet.

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  • 1 decade ago

    wow, even though others have said it, they're not English! And also you make it sound like the letters used in English are the correct normal letters and anything else, like accents, umlauts, etc are "alterations" or weird.

  • 1 decade ago

    Our alphabet is known as the Roman Alphabet. We get our script for this alphabet from Arabic, as it is known as Arabic Script, versus these words for example are in Roman Letters. Other languages use the Roman Alphabet and letters for many reasons, one such reason is that it is easier to find a computer, keyboard, etc that uses this system of writing than it is to find it in other languages sometimes. Also our alphabet is used a lot of times to ease translation, or to promote universality in a language that suffers from multiple dialects.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Because they are based off of Latin. And because they used the Greek Alpha Beta alphabet.

  • 1 decade ago

    Blame the Phoenicians.

  • 1 decade ago

    We don't have our own alphabet.. We use the Roman alphabet, just like some other languages.

  • 1 decade ago

    there are countries that enlish speaking countries took over and placed is culture upon. they didn't have to be english-speaking to start with.

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