Why are the letters of the alphabet arranged in the order they are?

Why aren't they like HOWCANUSPEKRIGT, etc?

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  • Jallan
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The alphabet is arranged mostly in the way it has been arranged time-out-of mind. Each generation simply copies the arrangement of its fathers and mothers.

    Very rarely a change is made.

    For example, the letter “v” and the letter “u” are differentiated and it is decided that “u” will precede “v”, to at least keep them close to each other. The letter “i” and the letter “j' are differentiated and it is decided that “i” will precede “j” to at least keep them close to each other. The letters were differentiated before that, but were considered the same and treated the same in alphabetical arrangements. No one person made the decision they were to be separate letters. Rather a few people started to treat them as separate letters and other followed because it felt right to them.

    The letter “w” was earlier considered to be a digraph like “ae” or “œ”, not a separate letter. But “v v” was often enough printed as “vv” that sufficient people considered it reasonable that it be considered a separate letter that it became one.

    The classical Latin alphabet consisted of 23 letters; ABCDEFGHIKLMNOPQRSTVXYZ, without J, U, and W. But Y and Z had been added on the end, taken from Greek, only used to spell Greek names and technical terms in Latin. That is a common principal, often found, to add new letters to the end of the alphabet. For example, consider the Icelandic alphabet at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_alphabet. Some characters that are considered letter + diacritic combinations in other languages are here considered full letters and placed after the letter without the diacritic. But the non-Latin letters an the Latin digraph Æ are placed at the end of the alphabet.

    One can go back to pre-Classical Latin. The alphabet began: ABCDEFZH.... But around 230 BCE a freedman named Spurius Carvilius Ruga, noting that Z was then not used at all in Latin, and that C was used for both [k] and [g], invented the idea of marking C with a line on the bottom terminator when it was pronounced [g], thus producing the letter G and putting it in the alphabet instead of the then useless Z.

    Actually, G is found in inscriptions predating 230 BCE. Perhaps Ruga just popularized a convention that had already come into existence.

    The earliest Latin alphabet corresponded to a Euboean version of the Greek alphabet, which itself was just a version of the Phoenician alphabet. But the Phoenician letter Waw was in there twice, once as F in the same position that it had in Phoenician and again, second from the end, as V.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_alphabet and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenician_alphabet for information on their order and original identity. The earliest Latin alphabet ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Latin_... ) is, as mentioned, of Greek origin. Note that the order of all three is almost identical.

    The Phoenician alphabet is traced back to the proto-Canaanite alphabet. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Canaanite_alpha... . It mostly contained the same letters and may even have been in the same order. The Ugaritic cuneiform alphabet had two orders, one almost identical to Phoenician and the other almost identical to the South Arabian and Ge’ez alphabets from which the modern Arabian alphabet derives. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugaritic_alphabet . It is not known which of these two orders possibly represents the original order of the proto-Canaanite alphabet.

    That is as far back as one can go in tracing the order of the alphabet. Each new generation mostly just copied the alphabet from their fathers and only very rarely made changes that caught on.

    As to the reason for the original order, well the alphabet has to be in some order, and so it can be postulated that its inventor or the earliest teachers just arranged them in an arbitrary order.

  • 1 decade ago

    cause thats how the alphabet dude came up with em

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Because I said so

    Source(s): God
  • Because they are.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    cus their shmexy xx

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    So they rhyme when you sing the ABC song....duh!!!

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