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Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works, Third Edition by Erik Spiekermann

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Chapter 7. How it works

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LETTERS WERE ORIGINALLY INVENTED to help communicate not high culture, but more mundane things like the amount of goods delivered or their value in barter or currency. What began as individual signs representing real items developed into letters and alphabets.

Different cultures added to the typographic variety. For instance, the most common vowel sound in an ancient language was also the the first letter of its alphabet. The Phoenicians (ca. 1000 b.c.) called it aleph, the Greeks (ca. 500 b.c.), alpha, the Romans (ca. 50 b.c.), ah. The Phoenicians had 22 letters in their alphabet; the Greeks added ...

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