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Most of western languages adopt the Latin alphabet with minor variations. Arabic letters are adopted by quite a few other languages. The same is true for Eastern Europe with Cyrillic letters. Why was not the Greek alphabet adopted by others given the Greek prominence, power, and influence in the old ages? Aside from the sciences, we hardly see any use of the Greek alphabet except in Greece.

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"Why was not the Greek alphabet adopted by others" - It was, Cyrillic is based on the Greek alphabet. –  Lennart Regebro Dec 22 '13 at 3:13
The armenians adopted the greek alphabet IIRC –  Jeroen K Dec 22 '13 at 9:13
@JeroenK: Armenian alphabet looks nothing like Greek. You probably mean Cyrillic alphabet used in Russian language that most Armenians speak fluently. –  Michael Dec 22 '13 at 20:32
@LennartRegebro: Yes, Cyrillic was based mostly on the Greek language of Byzantium, (although some of the letter were borrowed from Hebrew and Latin). I guess the question refers to an earlier period of Greek domination, before Romans took it away from them. IMO the interesting question is: was Greek alphabet adopted by other languages before 3rd century BC? –  Michael Dec 22 '13 at 20:42
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3 Answers 3

Because the territories where those languages originated were ruled by Rome, not Athens or Byzantium, for a semi-millennium. In areas where contact with Byzantium/Constantinople dominated contact with Rome, such as Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, the Cyrillic alphabet is primary.

Here is a map showing those countries where the Cyrillic alphabet is primary.

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It was adopted widely. But later was replaced with Latin or the peoples were assimiliated.

  • Balkan peoples: Macedonians, Thracians, Illirians, Etruscans, Liburgians, Messapians, Phrygians,

  • Central European people: Helvetii (mentioned by Caesar as writing with Greek alphabet) and other varieties of Calts and Germanic peoples.

  • In Spain: Iberians (Ibero-Ionian script)

  • In Italy: Etruscans

and a lot of other peoples wrote in their languages using Greek alphabet.

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Two small corrections here. Old Phrygian alphabetic writing is as old a Greek and has some few exlcusive letters, hence considered to be an independent alphabet (not Greek based, but deriving directly from Phoenician). The Macedonians had not a distinct alphabet, but were using Greek already from 740 BC (Pieria region and Aiani), which makes them one of the ealiest users of the alphabet in Greece. That last fact is rather unknown to most people. –  Midas Jul 1 at 12:02
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The main reason is that Greece was a relative newcomer to the civilized community. As such, nearly all the people they traded with or conquered already had an alphabet (or an equivalent system).

That being said, the Latin alphabet, which is used by nearly all Western Indo-Europeans, was ultimately derived from the Greek alphabet. Much more recently the Cyrillic Script used for most Slavic languages (and several that aren't even Indo-European) uses Greek-inspired glyphs. If you combine these two scripts, it would be fair to say that Greek-derived alphabets are in use as the primary script in close to the majority of the land area of all inhabited continents on earth.

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