Language Visible: Unraveling the Mystery of the Alphabet from A to Z (Google eBook)
Letters are tangible language. Joining together in endless combinations to actually show speech, letters convey our messages and tell our stories. While we encounter these tiny shapes hundreds of times a day, we take for granted the long, fascinating history behind one of the most fundamental of human inventions--the alphabet.
The heart of the book is the 26 fact-filled “biographies” of letters A through Z, each one identifying the letter’s particular significance for modern readers, tracing its development from ancient forms, and discussing its noteworthy role in literature and other media. We learn, for example, why the letter X has a sinister and sexual aura, how B came to signify second best, why the word “mother” in many languages starts with M, and what is the story of O.
Packed with information and lavishly illustrated, Language Visible is not only accessible and entertaining, but essential to the appreciation of our own language.
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Language visible: unraveling the mystery of the alphabet from A to ZUser Review - Book Verdict
Joining the sizable field of popular cultural histories of the Roman alphabet published in the last ten years (e.g., Johanna Drucker's The Alphabetic Labyrinth and John Man's Alpha Beta), this contribution by Sacks (The Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World) is distinguished by its remarkably long and broad view of the topic and its omnivorous sense of fun. Sacks starts with a clear and appealing discussion of the genealogy of the letters we use every day, from the earliest known alphabet inscriptions found recently in Egypt through the Phoenicians, the Greeks, and Romans up to the present. He then devotes a chapter to each letter, discussing its development from ancient forms, attempting to identify and document its unique significance, and collecting a dazzlingly diverse array of facts that include its role in literature, media, and culture. From discussions of the letter A's role in meat grading, bond rating, student ranking, and punishment for adultery to Z's exotic associations with Zorro, Sacks makes the history of the alphabet a joy to read. Recommended for most libraries.-Paul D'Alessandro, Portland P.L., ME ...