PHOENICIAN LANGUAGE. The language spoken by the inhabitants of Phoenicia. It be longed to the Hebnco-Pluenieian division of the Semitic family of languages, and represents in general an archaic stage of Hebrew and Moabitic, although it differs from the North Semitic group in certain particulars, such as having Irvin. (like the Arabic kunci) for the copula instead of haya, as in Hebrew. Phoenician spread widely from its home as Punic colonies were founded in the islands of the Mediterranean and .Egoan, in Southern and 'Western Asia Minor, Southern France, and especially in Northern Africa. The diffusion gave rise to variations both of dialect and script, which were, however, comparatively slight. The sources of our knowledge are the inscriptions, coins, and seals, the transliteration of Pluenician phrases in Plautus's comedy of the Pa-nulas, and the proper names and words found in the Old Testament, in the inscriptions of As syria and Egypt, and in classical writers. The in scriptions are by far the most important source. Although they are very numerous, the vocabulary is relatively scanty on account of their monotonous content. They cover the period from about B.G. 600 to A.D. 200. The longest are the inscriptions found at Sidon in 1855 of twenty-two lines, at Marseilles in 1845. of twenty-one lines, and at Lacnaka in 1879 of twenty-nine lines. The pas sage in the Pwitalus and the words and names in other foreign sources are of value in fixing the vocalization and pronunciation of Phoenician, since the alphabet• like all the Semitic scripts, excepting the .Assyro-Babylonian and Ethiopic,
writes only the consonants. The alphabet, which itself seems derived from the South Arabian script, is of importance as the ancestor of the Orceeo-Roman family of alphabets. (Sec Plate of ALPHABETS.) Phoenician literature seems to have been very scanty, consisting chiefly of an nals, and at least one work, by Mago. on agri culture, and has been entirely lost with the ex ception of Greek translations of the voyage of Hamm (q.v.) and fragments asserted to be translations of the histories of Sanchuniathon (q.v.). Consult: Scbriider, Die phonizisehe ,S'prache (Halle. 1869) ; Bloch, Phijnizisehe.s Glos sar (Berlin, 1891) ; Gesenius, Scripture Lin gutrque Pha-niciw Monument(' Quotgoot Super soot Editor et Inedita (3 vols., Leipzig, 18871 ; Corpus Inseriptionunt Senritiearum (Paris, 1881 S7). See SEMITIC LANGUAGES.
PHCENIS'SlE ( La t., from Gk. 4)olcfccaccc, Phoinissai, Phoenician Women). A play by Eu ripides, so called from its chorus of Plmmician captives at Thebes. The myth which forms the subject of the play is the same on which the Seven Against Thebes is based.