The tail in the tale of Q
Publicerat Tue, 03 October 2023
The letter Q was adopted by the Romans from the Ancient Greeks and the Etruscans.
The Etruscans flourished from about 900BC to 27BC. The letter Q, however, goes further back, having its origins in Semitic languages, the written form of which occurs from about 3000BC,
and includes Arabic, Hebrew, and Phoenician.
The Semitic family of languages is, as of present knowledge in 2023, the first historically attested group of languages to use an alphabet as opposed to the earlier Cuneiform writing which
originated in Mesopotamia.
Cuneiform is less flexible than the alphabet and spells words by syllables, so up to 1000 characters can be needed. Compare this to the 26 characters in the English alphabet, which can be used
to denote its 500,000 words or so.
Going back to the Semitic family of languages we find that the first alphabet comes from
Proto-Canaanite and includes ‘Kuf’ which is the ancestor of Q. According to Dr Daniel Vainstub
of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, with Kuf (Q) we have the body of a monkey with a tail,
and the meaning of Kuf is monkey.
The Proto-Canaanite alphabet seems to copy some pictographic signs from Egyptian hieroglyphs. So, while Q is from the Canaanite Kuf, there are two candidates for what it may alternatively have been based on. These are the eye of a needle or a knot.
In any event, in Q’s biography we get a glimpse of the interconnectedness of languages
and cultures, of the large arc of human communication that binds and slices through
history and civilizations.
We also get hints of the way the human mind works. A real-world entity such as a monkey
is translated into an image that then becomes a symbol. The symbol then goes on to be part
of an alphabet with which humans convey and record an infinite array of ideas.
Article written by Bahram Mackesy Rafat – A Stratcore English copywriter and editor