Language Visible: Unraveling the Mystery of the Alphabet from A to Z

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A.A. Knopf Canada, 2003 - Alphabet - 395 pages
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"Letters are tangible language. Joining together in endless combinations to represent actual speech, letters convey messages, tell stories, and create newspapers, advertising, and poetry. 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 inventions - the alphabet." "David Sacks has embarked on an excursion into cultural history in Language Visible. Clearly explaining the letters as symbols of precise sounds of speech, the book begins with the earliest known alphabetic inscriptions (circa 1800 B.C.), recently discovered by archaeologists in Egypt, and traces the history of our alphabet through the ancient Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and up through medieval Europe to the present day. But the heart of the book is the twenty-six fact-filled "biographies" of letters A through Z, each one identifying its 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 letter X may have a sinister and sexual aura, how B came to signify second best, why the word "mother" in many languages starts with an M, and what The Story of O is. The book also features clever illustrations for each letter, such as Winston Churchill's "V-for-Victory" World War II hand sign, the trademark "N" from the label of Newman's Own salad dressing, and images from rock music and other pop culture." "Combining facts both odd and essential, Language Visible is cultural history at its most accessible and enjoyable."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Language visible: unraveling the mystery of the alphabet from A to Z

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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 ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

DAVID SACKS is author of the "Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World," His articles mainly on cultural topics have appeared in the "New York Times Book Review," the "Wall Street Journal," the "Ottawa Citizen, "and dozens of magazines. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

"From the Trade Paperback edition.

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