--- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim@...>
> suzmccarth wrote:
> >
> > --- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim@...>
> > wrote:
> > > No. The important thing is to recognize _how different_ they
> > >are -- for
> > > a century they were all lumped together as "syllabaries,"
> >
> > Permit me to ask which century.
> Ca. 1890 to 1990.

I cannot find or recall seeing any article or book on writing
systems for this time period that lumped Indic scripts with Japanese
as syllabaries. I have checked Encyclopedia Brittanica for the
early, middle and more recent entries of this century.

> suzmccarth wrote
> > Encyclopedia Britannica, 1948, lumps them all together as
> > alphabets. It explicitly says that the Brahmi alphabets are
> > from the south semitic group of alphabets.
> Author?
> Was that the article ("Alphabet") that has a chart whose legend
> that it demonstrates that all the alphabets of Europe are derived
from the alphabet of India?

1. "Alphabet", B. F. C. Atkinson, 1948, (first published in 1929)
Encyclopedia Brittanica, volume 1, pages 677 – 685.

On page 678 there is a table entitled "Chart Illustrating the
Presumed Development of the Modern Alphabet from the Brahmi Letters
of India".

Within the table, certain columns are labeled `After Buehler'
and 'After Euting'. This table appears in the historical section
discussing `various theories' which have been proposed but not

On page 684, a tree diagram shows the derivation of the Indian
Alphabets in this way. Proto-Semitic > South Semitic > Sabaean >
Brahmi(?) > Indian Alphabets.

In the text, page 683, for the Brahmi alphabet, "there seems little
doubt that it derives from the South Semitic group of alphabets".

2. "Writing", EB, D. Olson, 1960's ?) Under the heading "Indian
Alphabets" he says "It is obvious, however, that on the whole it was
the idea of alphabetic writing that was transmitted and that the
fully developed Brahmi writing was the outcome of brilliant
philological and phonological elaboration of the scientific Indian
school." (He also mentions the descent of Brahmi from the Aramaic

However, at the end of this section Olson adds, "All these Indian
and Southeast Asian scripts involve types of semi-syllabaries rather
than alphabets. They consist of vowels and diphthongs and basic
consonants. (i.e. consonants followed by a short a) there are no
pure consonants ( i.e. consonants written by themselves)".

3. "Writing, Forms of", EB, I. Gelb, 1981, lists 4 types of
syllabaries - cuneiform, west Semitic, Cypriot and Japanese. He
lists 3 types of alphabet - Type I - Greek, Latin and so on; Type
II - Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic and so on; and Type III – Indic,

He later add "When the vowels are indicated (as in Type II) then the
combination of the consonant sign plus the vowel mark may be treated
as a syllabic unit. This is even more apparent in Type III (Indic,
Ethiopic) with its obligatory indication of vowels by means of
vowel marks that are permanently attached to the consonant signs or
by an internal modification in the form of the consonant sign."

Overall I find a very consistent classification of Indian scripts
throughout this century as alphabets. When I wrote a survey paper on
writing systems in 1984 I wrote that there were 3 contemporary
syllabaries mentioned in the literature - Japanese, Cherokee and

I am not aware of anything written about writing systems that
contradicted this except for Fevrier and Cohen's use of the word
neosyllabary. Cohen, in particular, who went to Abyssinia to study
Ethiopic, wrote about the alphabet-syllabaire.

I would be very interested in seeing a reference to the Indic
scripts which classifies them as syllabaries.