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what are alphabets, letters, and words?

Alphabets, letters, and words—precisely what are they and how to they relate to each other?

AlphabetAn alphabet is a system of writing, originally developed in the ancient Near East and transmitted from the northwest Semites to the Greeks, in which each symbol ideally represents one sound unit in the spoken language, and from which most alphabetical scripts are derived. An alphabet is also any system of characters or signs with which a language is written, such as the Greek alphabet; or it could be any such system for representing the sounds of a language, such as a phonetic alphabet. The letters of an alphabets are usually arranged in a an prescribed order that is specified for a given language.

The word alphabet is etymologically derived from the Latin names for the Greek letters that represent the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta. That is, the Greek word for alphabetalphab etosis a compound word formed from the two Greek words for the two Greek letters, alpha and beta. The two Greek words, alpha and beta, are phonetically joined by the letter b at the end of the word, alpha.

If this seems an overly laborious explanation of the origin of alphabet, recall that this feature is brought to you by The Muse Of Language Arts. Lay it at the feet of The Muse.

LetterAlphabets are typically made up of letters. A letter is a symbol or character that is conventionally used in writing and printing to represent a speech sound and that is part of an alphabet. Letters are constituents of words; words are built up from them.

Letters come in two sizes: capital and lowercase. A capital letter is a letter of the alphabet that usually differs from its corresponding lowercase letter in form and height, as A, B, Q, and R as distinguished from a, b, q, and r. Capital letters are special-purpose letters. theymay be used as the initial letter of a proper name, the first word of a sentence, etc.


about typefaces and handwritten letters

The exact shape of printed letters varies with the typeface. The shape of handwritten letters can differ significantly from the standard printed form and between individuals, especially when written in cursive style.

WordA word is a unit of language consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning. Words are composed of one or more morphemes and are the smallest units susceptible of independent use. Two or more words may be combined to form a new word.

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