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New
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To print out the Diderot engravings of alphabets, download http://www.ringofgold.eu/alfabetopacebk.doc, and print out using the booklet option on the pritner.
 
 

THE ALPHABET
 
 

ulian, twice over in her Showing of Love, speaks of theology as an alphabet, as an .A.B.C. Dom Jean Leclerq tells us that anchorites and anchoresses earned their keep teaching children their A.B.C. and Latin.

Take away the alphabet and the Bible and what would we have left of western culture? Neither are European, yet Europe is culturally shaped by them, deriving from them its mode of communication across time and space, also its religion and its history, then spreading these wherever Europe has conquered or settled, in Africa, Asia, Australasia, the Americas.
 

Evolution of the Alphabet

From http://www.wam.umd.edu/~rfradkin/latin.html
 

Professoressa Maria Giulia Amadasi, Universit degli Studi di Roma 'La Sapienza', showed the following alphabet (the order of the letters reversed, boustrophedon), written on the side of a child's wax tablet, on which he was learning, with a stylus, his letters.
 

        Y  T     SRQ    PO    NMLKJIHGFEDCBA

 
 

The names of our letters, in Hebrew, Arabic and Greek, are the same, despite many centuries, despite diverse languages, in a shared technology:

|| Aleph, Alef, Alpha || Beth, Ba, Beta || Gimel, Geem, Gamma
|| Daleth, Dal, Delta || Zayin, Zai, Zeta|| Teth, Thal, Theta
|| Kaph, Kaf, Kappa|| Lamed, Lam, Lamda || Mem, Meem, Mu
|| Nun, Nun, Nu|| Rhesh, Ra, Rho || Sin, Seen, Sigma
|| Tau, Toa, Tau||
Their names are pictographic and polyvalent: aleph being ox and one; beth, tent/house and 2; gimel , camel and 3; daleth, door and 4; he, whistle and 5; vau , nail and 6; zayin, weapon and 7; kheth , fence and 8; teth, twisting and 9; yod, hand and 10; kaph, palm and 20; lamed , ox-goad and 30; mem, water and 40; nun , fish and 50; samech , support and 60; ayin, eye and 70; pe/phe , mouth and 80; tzadi, hook and 90; qoph , coif and 100; resh, head and 200; sin/shin, tooth and 300; tau, cross and 400. We, as the three Peoples of the Book, are one family in this ancient technology of alphabet and mathematics. What difference is there between a clay cylinder incised with cuneiform symbols and a floppy disk? Torah, Gospel, Koran are books that communicate across space and time, in a past, present, future Internet.


However, Fioretta Mazzei wisely reminds us not to despise those who are illiterate
:

Ricerca la sagezza anche di un analfabeta,
Non sola la scuola a dare cultura/

Learn wisdom from one who is illiterate

It isn't just the school that gives culture.

Fai attenzione alle persone e alla natura:
E` molto pi importante che leggere un libro.


Paying attention to people and nature

Is far more important than reading a book.

Along with postcards I sometimes give alphabet and number cards, to Rom children, knowing they are under-stimulated, lacking schooling, lacking toys, needing something to chase away boredom, while sitting begging with their mothers in the streets, an alphabet/number game which could be of use later in their lives.

On one side:

A B C E F G

H I J K L M

N O P Q R S T

U V W X Y Z

On the other:

1 . 6 ......
2 .. 7 .......
3 ... 8 ........
4 .... 9 .........
5 ..... 10 ..........

You, too, can copy these, six to a page at a time, double-sided, printing them and cutting them, to give to children, any children. But especially children in need of them. Gypsy men tell me of reading the Bible. But, with tears in their eyes, of their difficulty in believing in God because of the treatment they receive in the world. I have seen them turned away from Christ's altar.

At the end of our conference on the City and the Book in Florence in 2001 we visited Fiesole, from which Troy was founded by Dardanus, and from which Rome was founded by Aeneas, and from which Florence was founded by Julius Caesar, seeing there Etruscan inscriptions resembling Viking runes, for these, too, are Phoenician in origin. The 'Dream of the Rood ' was first inscribed in Anglo-Saxon runes on a stone cross beyond Hadrian's Wall in Ruthwell, Scotland, then in Roman letters on parchment in a manuscript left by a pilgrim at Vercelli, Italy. Geoffrey Chaucer, who visited Florence in the fourteenth century, tells us in the Canterbury Tales of the pagan Anglo-Saxon King Alla of Northumberland using a Celtic Bible, 'A Britoun book, written with Evaungiles', combining that tale with Constance's voyage also to Islam ('Man of Law's Tale', II.B.666).

Recently, the Venetic alphabet used on tablets found in Slovenia has been thought to be representing proto-Slovenian phonetically (http://www.thezaurus.com/sloveniana/venetic_script1.htm), but scholars dispute the claim:

aaaa
                                                                    Alphabet tablet Es 25(LLV) Museo Nazionale Atestino
 

First Wulfila, then Cyril and Methodius, invented quasi-new alphabets for translating the Bible into Gothic, into Slavic. Fyodor Dosteivsky, writing The Idiot in Florence in the nineteenth century, describes his princely hero come home to Russia from Switzerland, writing the signature in Cyrillic of the fourteenth-century abbot Paphnutius, whose name mirror-reflects that of the Desert Father in the Egyptian Thebaid.

Our alphabet reached India, reached Malaya, stopping short at China. Today, in the streets of Florence, in the San Lorenzo market, Chinese immigrants will paint for you in exquisite pictographic calligraphy, worthy of a Laurentian Library manuscript, our Roman Alphabet as they learn it, where A can be a pagoda, B, bamboo, C, a crustacean:

This is what we should teach our children, the wonders of the alphabet, how it had also been a number system, how it came into being amongst Semitic peoples, then propagated itself along trade routes, how our alphabet organizes for us our libraries, our filing systems, our computers, and how it reflects Creation's alphabets, the atomic chart of elements, the biological codes of DNA, above all how it is of one family, of humanity.

Where we fear strange-seeming scripts we may resort to Holocausts, but not when we appreciate the history of this gift, this tool, this heritage. Our library in Florence, the Biblioteca e Bottega Fioretta Mazzei, begins with the alphabet, then the Bible, the Gospel, the Koran, in their original languages, then much else, and ends with the children's shelf at their level, with tiny Hebrew Psalters, always their favourite books in the library, and the alphabet.

We must teach for the world's future the world's past, and these lessons should be at the lowest level for the youngest children at the age when learning is most rapid and most important.

I taught Nursery School for many years and would type their stories, then have them paint the pictures for these books we wrote together, their books. I've also had them paint their wooden alphabet blocks and print them to see how the letters mirror-reflect each other, coming out going in the opposite direction. St Jerome speaks of teaching girl babies to read and write by giving them ivory tablets inscribed with the letters of the alphabet so they could feel them as well as see them. Women, for centuries, in the Church taught young boys their alphabets in Dame Schools.

One such teacher was Dame Julian of Norwich who speaks twice in her text of God's Alphabet.

1 . 6 ......
2 .. 7 .......
3 ... 8 ........
4 .... 9 .........
5 ..... 10 ..........


 

A B C E F G

H I J K L M

N O P Q R S T

UV W X Y Z
 

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance little children learned to read from horn books with the Alphabet and the Lord's Prayer. Madame Montesorri gave slum children letters cut in sandpaper using red for vowels, blue for consonants. I am teaching a gypsy mother how to read so she can teach her children how to read. Among the sheets of paper I have given her is this, the Lord's Prayer in Italian, for she speaks three languages, Rom, Romanian and Italian:

+ Padre Nostro,

che sei nei cieli

sia santificato il tuo nome,

venga il tuo regno,

sia fatta la tua volont

come in cielo cos in terra.

Dacci oggi il nostro pane quotidiano,

e rimetti a noi i nostri debiti

come noi li rimettiamo ai nostri debitori,

e non ci indurre in tentazione

ma liberaci dal male. Amen

Alleluia +

And here is her copying of it:


 
 

Once we had Hedera and her baby and a young priest from Kerala in India to dinner with us. Between them they discovered that in their languages they had the same Indo-European word for 'bread'. I asked Father Simon to tell me the word and he says, in an e-mail from Kerala, it is 'Appam'.




 

Julian of Norwich, twice over in her text, speaks of theology as an alphabet, as an .A.B.C. And she probably taught the Alphabet and Latin to boys and girls, who then became monks and nuns.

RAI 1. Il Silenzio di Dio, Isabella Schiavone, Easter Day, 2008. Google 'tg1 speciale silenzio di Dio'

FLORIN WEBSITE JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAYAUREO ANELLO ASSOCIAZIONE, 1997-2017: MEDIEVAL: BRUNETTO LATINO, DANTE ALIGHIERI, SWEET NEW STYLE: BRUNETTO LATINO, DANTE ALIGHIERI, & GEOFFREY CHAUCER || VICTORIAN: WHITE SILENCE: FLORENCE'S 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY || ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING || WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR || FRANCES TROLLOPE || ABOLITION OF SLAVERY || FLORENCE IN SEPIA  || CITY AND BOOK CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII || MEDIATHECA 'FIORETTA MAZZEI' || EDITRICE AUREO ANELLO CATALOGUE || UMILTA WEBSITE || RINGOFGOLD WEBSITE || LINGUE/LANGUAGES: ITALIANO, ENGLISH || VITA
New
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