Consonantal Writing

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Consonantal Writing


a type of phonetic writing (script) in which only consonants are represented.

Consonantal writing can be regarded as a transitional stage between word-syllable or syllabic writing and writing that reflects all the sounds of speech—that is, an alphabet. Some scholars consider consonantal writing to be also alphabetic, since the symbol (grapheme) in consonantal writing generally corresponds to one speech sound. Old Persian cuneiform and the Meroitic script are a transitional stage from word-syllable or syllabic writing to consonantal writing. Old Semitic consonantal writing is thought to be the result of the simplification of syllabic writing; Ugaritic writing is an example of a consonantal writing system that retained certain features of syllabic writing. The modern writing system used by the Tuareg (tifinagh) is purely consonantal; Arabic, Hebrew, and Syrian are partially consonantal; they contain symbols for some vowels and optional vowel points (diacritical marks).


Diringer, D. Alfavit. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)
Friedrich, J. Geschichte der Schrift. Heidelberg, 1966.
Gelb, I. A Study of Writing, 2nd ed. Chicago, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
often discusses YHWH (87, 19, 127, 143) usually in relation to scruples against pronouncing it (consonantal writing remains allowed).