Symbolically Speaking: The Alphabet (Part 2)

gcamelG – The Camel

The letter ‘G’ was once known as the Phoenician letter ‘gimel’, which meant “camel”.  Many believe this was the inspiration for its shape.  Both the Phoenicians and the Greeks pronounced this letter with the familiar guttural ‘g’ sound.




hfenceH – The Fence

It’s not hard to see how the letter ‘H’ began as an Egyptian hieroglyphic of a fence.  One of the most controversial letters in the language, it was argued by ancient academics that the letter was an unnecessary one due to its breathy (non-consonant, non-vowel) sound.  Nevertheless, it has endured throughout the centuries.



ihandI – The Arm and Hand

We have the Greeks to thank for the vertical orientation of the letter ‘I’.  It began life as “yod”, and was originally a depiction of an arm and hand.





jsnakeJ – The Snake

Some believe the letter ‘J’ is a simple symbol of a snake.  However, others argue that because of its visual similarity to its alphabetical neighbor ‘I’, ‘J’ was often overlooked and not even considered a “real” letter of the alphabet until 400 years ago when the Spanish began adopting it heavily.  We’ll go with the snake explanation since it is easier to represent here!



khandK – The Open Palm

Turns out Star Trek’s Mr. Spock wasn’t only telling us to “live long and prosper,” with his famous hand signal, he was actually doing an accurate representation of the original ‘K’ or “kaph” (meaning ‘palm of the hand’).  The Greeks then renamed it “kappa” and flipped it around to its current and familiar orientation.

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