Peter T. Daniels

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Peter T. Daniels
Born (1951-12-11) December 11, 1951 (age 71)
  • Scholar
  • lecturer
Academic background
Academic work
Notable worksThe World's Writing Systems (1996)

Peter T. Daniels (born December 11, 1951) is a scholar of writing systems, specializing in typology. He was co-editor (with William Bright) of the book The World's Writing Systems (1996). He was a lecturer at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and Chicago State University.[1][2][3]

He received degrees in linguistics from Cornell University and the University of Chicago.[4]

Daniels introduced two neologisms for categories of scripts, first published in 1990: abjad (an "alphabet" with no vowel letters, derived from the Arabic term) and abugida (a system of consonant+vowel base syllables modified to denote other or no vowels, derived from the Ethiopic term per a suggestion from Wolf Leslau).[5][6]


  • 2021. "Hebrew script for Jewish languages: A unique phenomenon." Written Language & Literacy 24, no. 1: 149–165.
  • 2021. "Foundations of graphonomy." Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science 5, no. 2: 113–123.
  • 2020. "Writing and writing systems: Classification of scripts." The International Encyclopedia of Linguistic Anthropology 1–11.
  • 2020. "The Decipherment of Ancient Near Eastern Languages." A Companion to Ancient Near Eastern Languages 1-25.
  • 2018. An Exploration of Writing. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing. ISBN 9781781795286
  • 2008. Grammatology. In Cambridge Handbook of Literacy David R. Olson and Nancy Torrance, (eds.), 25–45. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 2007. Littera ex occidente: toward a functional history of writing. In Studies in Semitic and Afroasiatic Linguistics Presented to Gene B. Gragg, Cynthia L. Miller, ed, pp. 53–68. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • 2006. On beyond alphabets. In Script Adjustment and Phonological Awareness, edited by Martin Neef and Guido Nottbusch. Written Language & Literacy. 9(1): 7–24. ISSN 1387-6732
  • 2002 translation: Pierre Briant. From Cyrus to Alexander. A History of the Persian Empire. Eisenbrauns, Warsaw, Indiana. ISBN 1-57506-031-0
  • 1997 Classical Syriac phonology. In Phonologies of Asia and Africa, edited by Kaye. Eisenbrauns, Warsaw, Indiana.
  • 1997 The Protean Arabic Abjad. In Fs. George Krotkoff. Eisenbrauns, Warsaw, Indiana.
  • 1997 Surveys of languages of the world. In Fs. William Bright. de Gruyter.
  • 1996 editor (with William Bright): The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507993-0
  • 1995 translation: Gotthelf Bergsträsser. Introduction to the Semitic Languages: Text specimens and grammatical sketches. Second edition. Eisenbrauns, Warsaw, Indiana. ISBN 0-931464-10-2
  • 1994 An overlooked ethological datum bearing on the evolution of human language. In LACUS Forum 1994. Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States.
  • 1993 Linguistics in the American library classification systems. In LACUS Forum 1993. Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States.
  • 1992 The Syllabic Origin of Writing and the Segmental Origin of the Alphabet. In Linguistics of Literacy, edited by Downing, Lima, and Noonan. John Benjamins, Amsterdam.
  • 1991 Ha, La, Ha or Hoi, Lawe, Haut: The Ethiopic letter names. In Semitic studies : in honor of Wolf Leslau on the occasion of his eighty-fifth birthday, November 14th, 1991. Alan Kaye, ed. Harrassowitz.
  • 1991 Is a structural grammatology possible? In LACUS Forum 1991. Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States.
  • 1990 Fundamentals of grammatology. Journal of the American Orient Society.
  • 1983 translation: Gotthelf Bergsträsser. Introduction to the Semitic Languages: Text specimens and grammatical sketches. Eisenbrauns, Warsaw, Indiana.


  1. ^ Peter T. Daniels and William Bright: The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507993-0
  2. ^ Voogt, Alex de; Quack, Joachim Friedrich (9 December 2011). The Idea of Writing: Writing Across Borders. BRILL. pp. 23–. ISBN 90-04-21545-X.
  3. ^ Kaye, Alan S. (30 June 1997). Phonologies of Asia and Africa: (including the Caucasus). Eisenbrauns. p. xiii. ISBN 978-1-57506-019-4.
  4. ^ "An Exploration of Writing". Equinox Publishing. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  5. ^ Downing, Pamela; Lima, Susan D.; Noonan, Michael (1992). The Linguistics of Literacy. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 102–. ISBN 90-272-2903-1. ...Wolf Leslau, pers. comm...
  6. ^ Daniels, P. (1990). Fundamentals of Grammatology. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 110(4), 727-731. doi:10.2307/602899: "We must recognize that the West Semitic scripts constitute a third fundamental type of script, the kind that denotes individual consonants only. It cannot be subsumed under either of the other terms. A suitable name for this type would be "alephbeth," in honor of its Levantine origin, but this term seems too similar to "alphabet" to be practical; so I propose to call this type an "abjad," [Footnote: I.e., the alif-ba-jim order familiar from earlier Semitic alphabets, from which the modern order alif-ba-ta-tha is derived by placing together the letters with similar shapes and differing numbers of dots. The abjad is the order in which numerical values are assigned to the letters (as in Hebrew).] from the Arabic word for the traditional order6 of its script, which (unvocalized) of course falls in this category... There is yet a fourth fundamental type of script, a type recognized over forty years ago by James-Germain Fevrier, called by him the "neosyllabary" (1948, 330), and again by Fred Householder thirty years ago, who called it "pseudo-alphabet" (1959, 382). These are the scripts of Ethiopia and "greater India" that use a basic form for the specific syllable consonant + a particular vowel (in practice always the unmarked a) and modify it to denote the syllables with other vowels or with no vowel. Were it not for this existing term, I would propose maintaining the pattern by calling this type an "abugida," from the Ethiopian word for the auxiliary order of consonants in the signary."

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