Saturday, June 30, 2018

Wim Borsboom and the order of the alphabet

Wim Borsboom claims some insight into the origin of the order of letters in the alphabet.  I think the key question is how much of the pattern can arise by chance. blurb:

“Alphabet or Abracadabra? - Reverse Engineering The Western Alphabet” details a ground-breaking discovery: the origin of the western ‘abecedary’ - the alphabet's sequence of letters.(Not to be confused with the origin of the design of the western alphabet letters.)

It must have been somewhere between 3400 and 3700 years ago that the western alphabet's linear sequence of characters (abecedary) was created by following an already existing tabular model of a South Asian Pre-Sanskrit ‘abugida’ or ‘alpha-syllabary’. In spite of it looking quite disorderly, the western alphabet letter sequence is found to be based on that ancient orderly pattern, a pattern that categorized sounds by how and where they were articulated in the mouth.

This study retraces the steps of how that copying process took place, a process that also included a number of 'errors and omissions' made by one, perhaps two ancient scribes most likely from the Near East. The errors eventually resulted in the apparent disorder of the western 'ABC'. By tracking these 'copied' errors across a number of ancient alphabets, the author was not only able to reconstruct the copying process, but he also arrived at a date before which it must have taken place.
An interview.
Excerpts from the abstract:

 This paper proposes and details, how -- well before 3400 BP -- the current western Late-Roman  Alphabet character sequence [not to be confused with the graphic design of western alphabet letters] (the linear ABC or abecedary) was modeled after a pre-Sanskrit Devanagari-like character grid.....Even if the characters within the western alphabet (abecedary) look randomly distributed, we show how that letter-sequence was originally based on an ancient orderly pattern, a pattern that categorized sounds by how and where they were articulated in the mouth....When the western alphabet - once it is put in tabular format - is compared to an earlier and simpler "reverse retro-engineered" Sanskrit abugida....a percentage of similarity of only 25% (5 out of 20 characters) is calculated. However, after the error identifications and considering the varying but close pronunciations of several comparable characters as well as ...... a 90% match between them is obtained.

Prior art: