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> Phonetic spelling is probably the greatest invention in written languages since paper.

Paper dates to about 100 AD. The Greek alphabet, which is the first full alphabet (that records both vowels and consonants), dates to about 800 BC. Therefore, phonetic spelling predates paper by at least 900 years. Possibly older, if you want to count later cuneiform (which is mostly a syllabary) or Egyptian or Phoenician (abjads, lacking vowels) as phonetic spelling.

Papyrus dates back much further.


Akkadian was written with phonetic cuneiform from maybe 2500 BCE.

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