Thursday, November 20, 2014

AlphabeThursday - A is for an Archaeological discovery

Archaeologists discovered the oldest Canaanite letter list, dating back to 1300 BC.  The first symbol was an ox, aleph.  As David Sacks writes in Letter Perfect, “Because aleph came first for the Bronze Age Semites, the letter A comes first for us,” in English.

The Canaanite alphabet traveled through the Phoenicians to the Greek (in the Western world.) There, the letter aleph became alpha.  The Phoenician letter A used to be laying down (in our view of things).  But the Greeks stood it up!  From Greece this alphabet traveled to Italy (ca. 700 BC,) then France and finally to England, during the time of the Norman Conquest (1066 AD.)

For English speaking children, the letter A is ingrained in us from childhood.  In America, it signifies excellence, such as schoolwork, many of the best foods and even monetary bonds are graded with an A.  How many businesses use CCC (and not AAA) before its name?  I don’t think you’ll find them, unless they are initals for words.  The only time the letter A has been used to denote disaster is in medieval Europe and Puritan England (and America), when an adulterer was force to wear the letter A on his or her clothing (see The Scarlet Letter!)

Come by Ms. Jenny’s website, …off on my tangent… 
to find more about words that start with the Letter A.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Book Review - Citizens of London

Before I forget about my Book Club selection for October, I wanted to come out and recommend what we read.  Written by Lynne Olson, it’s called Citizens of London: the Americans who stood with Britain in its darkest, finest hour.  Olson looks at the lives of three men living in London, before and through World War II: U.S. ambassador to Britain John Winant,  European head of CBS (radio) news Edward R. Murrow, and Averell Harriman, FDR’s representative who ran the Land-Lease program in London.

Olson does a great job in bringing London to life.  She tells us what was going on in the men’s public and private lives through painstaking research.   I think we all have set ideas about what World War II was like.  Many Americans believe we swept in and saved the day.  Maybe that's true to some extent, but not everyone would agree.  The British and Europeans went through bloody hell for years before Pearl Harbor.  This book helped me understand why certain things happened in.

If you enjoy history, you’ll definitely enjoy reading this book.  Great stocking stuffer!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

AlphabeThurday - stepchild letter Z

“Z is a consonant much heard amongst us, and seldom seen.”
-          English grammarian Richard Mulcaster, 1582.

Greek Zeta

“The last letter of the Roman alphabet is Z, a consonant that can seem racy and elusive or just plain disadvantaged.”  I think this a very good description by David Sacks, author of Letter Perfect, of the letter Z.  Like I was saying last week, when “reporting” about the letter Y:  the Roman alphabet originally had 21 letters, ending with X.  Around 100 AD, as Greek words started entering the Roman language with scientific and cultural words, the letter Z began to be used.   But then, the Romans and Greeks weren’t on too friendly of terms, so the Latin language didn’t pick up a lot of Z words.  Also, it was easier for scribes to write an S than a Z.  People blame the scribes again! 
As people began to explore and the world became smaller, Latin and then English words with Z became more popular.  This was especially true for Romance languages, like French and Italian.  In the 21th Century, the letter Z was used a lot in place of the letter S, many times to indicate something flamboyant.  Also for products aimed at children, such as Kidz Zone or the movie Antz.  Ever notice that?  How many Zs can you find in new products and businesses today?  And guess who Generation Z is?

OK, the alphabet lesson for today is over for the week.   Come over to Ms. Jenny’s blog …off on my tangent… and see what other bloggers have to say about the Letter Z.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

AlphabeThursday - the Roman Letter Y

The Roman letter  Y symbolizes a fork in the road.  Geofry Tory, the official printer to King Francois I (in 1530) designed the letter Y with the idea of a person choosing his way: to the left a broad and easy road.  To the right, the complete opposite: a narrow path, one that brings honor and office. 

Something else I read about in my Letter Perfect book, by David Sacks. 

“Some 700 years after the Roman alphabet was created, 
the Romans added two more letters, which are our Y and Z.”

Do you wonder why they did that?  Let me tell you about 
the letter Y; I picked up on two reasons:

1)  Scribes decided to use a Y when writing, to break up the row of pen strokes 
that otherwise would have been the letter I and difficult to read.  That was thoughtful.
2)  When Greek words started infiltrating into the Roman language, 
the letter Y was helpful when spelling words, such as system or symphony.

So, today is the day to think of all the ways you use the letter Y in your English words.  
Let’s see what other words start with the letter Y, over at AlphabeThursday!
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