Semi-syllabary - Iberian Semi-syllabaries

Iberian Semi-syllabaries

The Paleohispanic semi-syllabaries are a family of scripts developed in the Iberian Peninsula at least from the 5th century BCE – possibly from the 7th century. Some researchers conclude that their origin lies solely with the Phoenician alphabet, while others believe the Greek alphabet also had a role. Paleohispanic semi-syllabaries are typologically unusual because their syllabic and alphabetic components are equilibrated: they behave as a syllabary for the stop consonants and as an alphabet for other consonants and vowels. In the syllabic portions of the scripts, each stop-consonant sign stood for a different combination of consonant and vowel, so that the written form of ga displayed no resemblance to ge. In addition, the southern original format did not distinguish voicing in these stops, so that ga stood for both /ga/ and /ka/, but one variant of the northeastern Iberian script, the older one according the archaeological contexts, distinguished voicing in the stop consonants by adding a stroke to the glyphs for the alveolar (/d/~/t/) and velar (/g/~/k/) syllables. The Tartessian or Southwestern script had a special behaviour: although the letter used to write a stop consonant was determined by the following vowel, the following vowel was also written. Some scholars treat Tartessian as a redundant semi-syllabary, others treat it as a redundant alphabet.

  • Tartessian or Southwestern script – Tartessian or Southwestern language
  • Southeastern Iberian script – Iberian language
  • Northeastern Iberian script – Iberian language
  • Celtiberian script – Celtiberian language

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