Alphabet. The most important inven -tion of man, ascribed to a Phoenician, by means of which sounds are represented, and language made visible to the eye by ft few simple characters. Previous to this invention, pictures, or hieroglyphics, were used to record events; and letters were, probably, a generalization of these. At this day, the Chinese have no letters, but have 214 keys to classes of words, distinguished by the number of strokes combined in each, The English language has 26 letters; the French 23; Hebrew 22; Greek 24; the
Latin 22 ; the Arabic 28. The figures used in arithmetic are an universal character, and many attempts have been made by the learned to introduce an universal character into language, but at present there are 200 or 300 various alphabets.
Persons who, born deaf, and consequently not hearing sounds, are incapable of imitating them, are therefore dumb also. This calamity has been remedied by excellent institutions in the various states; and as the understanding of such persons is generally good, so they readily acquire many arts, and may be taught to read, write, etc. They also learn to converse with their fingers, and often with great rapidity; and, as these signs are curious, and even useful, they are given beneath: -