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Preview — Alpha Beta by John Man
The idea behind the alphabet - that language with all its wealth of meaning can be recorded with a few meaningless signs - is an extraordinary one. So extraordinary, in fact, that it has occurred only once in human history: in Egypt about 4000 years ago. Alpha Beta follows the emergence of the western alphabet as it evolved into its present form, contributing vital element...more
In his excellent book, John Man traces its origins to the region between Ancient Egypt and the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East. He speculates (convincingly) that the alphabet was the work of merchants who modified the ideograms of Egypt and rendered them as sounds.
I was particularly impress ...more
The writing style is solid and engaging really drew me into the book. There are several anecdotes and side-stories that pop up as you read through the text that help keep everything exciting and interesting.
I would say any ...more
If anyone wanted to read this book, I would tell them not to get intimidated :) It's not a ha ...more
Were I to clamor for a re-make, I'd ask for
* more graphics
* clearer discussion of the orthographic terms (I'm not sure if I was at an advantage or disadvantage as a linguist; I thought he did not address the linguistically salient points between a lot of the terms but I also felt that layfolk would be confused)
* re-organize! tangents are ...more
Worth reading if you're interested in the subject but know next to nothing about it, otherwise I ...more
He studied German and French at Keble College, Oxford, before doing two postgraduate courses, a diploma in the History and Philosophy of Science at Oxford and Mon ...more