Kaufman, S. A., “The Pitfalls of Typology: On the Early History of the Alphabet,” HUCA 57 (1986) 1-14.

This article was prompted by the discovery of the Aramaic-Akkadian bi-lingual inscription from Tell Fakhariyeh. While the inscription has importance for many areas of study, the orthography of the Aramaic portion is especially significant for the standard typological approach of the Cross school. Typologically, the script dates to the eleventh century BCE, but other aspects of the inscription suggest a date from the mid-ninth century. Obviously one of these dates has to give, Dr Kaufman suggests that it is the typological. In the history of the alphabet and script development the spatial dimension must be taken into consideration as well as the chronological. The existence of typologically older Phoenician forms may be explained by the geographical distance from Phoenicia. Thus Dr Kaufman suggests that the stammbaum model of script change should be augmented by the wave theory of linguistic change. Further, he questions the supposed independence of the Greek alphabet from the influence of the Semitic scripts after the period of borrowing.

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One Comment on “Kaufman, S. A., “The Pitfalls of Typology: On the Early History of the Alphabet,” HUCA 57 (1986) 1-14.”


  1. [...] For this installment we will take a look at his article: “The Pitfalls of Typology: On the Early History of the Alphabet,” HUCA 57 (1986): 1-14.  One of my colleagues at Hebrew Union College, Peter Bekins, has done a fine job summarizing the article on his blog, Balshanut: [...]


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