|This is the Vitalianus stone, a bilingual |
stone in Wales. It's very hard to see the
characters, but you can kind of make
them out right above the shadow.
It is an alphabet consisting of a lot of straight lines, which like Dr. Petersen was saying in class, makes them easy to carve into stones. For this reason, Ogham was used in gravestones, memorials, etc., and now there are many Ogham Stones that can be found across Wales and Ireland. The letters referred to as a whole were called "feda" (trees) or "nin" (forking branches) because of their shape. The letters themselves are named after plants and trees. These names may have actually come after the original invention of the alphabet, actually given later simply because the letters are shaped like trees and based off of the collective names. The alphabet consisted of 20 characters grouped into four families based on their formation. As you can see in the picture, one family is strokes on the right side of the stem line, one is on the left, etc.
Ogham was carved into gravestones or stones that marked a certain territory, and it was written around the edge of the stone. It was read from bottom left up, then across the top, then from the top right down. So kind of in the shape of an arch. There is a book from the 13th century that goes into great detail about Ogham and its proper formation called "In Lebor Ogaim". Sounds kind of like a dictionary. This is a fascinating aspect of written language to me; that you use written language to preserve written language. It's self sustaining. When we forget how to spell a word, we don't just make our best guess (unless we're just feeling kinda lazy), we go to a dictionary or to Google to find out how to spell it. That's part of the reason the Lord knew it was so important for Nephi to take the Brass Plates to the Promised Land. As long as we have written language, we have written language. Kind of paradoxical.