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The World's Writing Systems

4.59  ·  Rating details ·  34 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
Ranging from cuneiform to shorthand, from archaic Greek to modern Chinese, from Old Persian to modern Cherokee, this is the only available work in English to cover all of the world's writing systems from ancient times to the present. Describing scores of scripts in use now or in the past around the world, this unusually comprehensive reference offers a detailed exploration ...more
Hardcover, 968 pages
Published February 8th 1996 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Biblio Curious
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm finished!! This book's astounding! I still can't read 100% of the world's languages. (Shameful monolingual that I am) But I am a bit more familiar with their writing systems.

My shiny review:
Douglas Summers-Stay
Nov 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a very complete reference book that looks at writing systems throughout the world and through history. These are the various alphabets of the world, from heiroglyphs to Korean to Linear A to ancient Mayan. Some of the most interesting are the ones that are yet undeciphered. A few were invented in historic times by one individual working alone. Ogham script, used in Ireland, is so orderly it seems to be of that sort (though we don't know who invented it.) Many others copied previous alpha ...more
Dan Bain
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the best collection of scholarly writings on grammatology. I have never come across a collection as well written and as thorough as this one. It not only explains the use of modern scripts, but gives details about the development of various scripts. The examples are clear and the typesetting is excellent. It is extremely difficult to print in certain non-roman scripts, and the authors of this text did an amazing job of not sacrificing quality while being able to handle so many scripts in ...more
Aug 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books on the topic of writing I have ever read. It is an extremely rich, detailed, and comprehensive (if occasionally prolix work), which delves deeply into the workings and forms of almost every writing system known to man, both living and dead, and even gives plentiful examples of the scripts in use. I particularly love the section of cuneiform--I have never encountered a more in-depth and detailed discussion of that topic in any other general work.
Nov 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thorough and exhaustive examination on this subject. It is both a reference book and a great piece of writing about the interconnectedness as well as the unique qualities of everything from cuneiform to dance notation. I am sure that I will be going back to this many times in the future.
Oct 09, 2010 is currently reading it
I pick this fabulous thing up every few years and poke at it some more. Highly ironic that computers made it possible to publish this.
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“Prehistory isn't like a 'veil' or a 'curtain' that 'lifts’ to reveal the pre-set 'stage' of history. Rather, prehistory is an absence of something: an absence of writing. So a better image of the ‘dawn of history’ might be an AM radio in the pre-dawn hours: you recognize wisps of words or music across the dial, inter blending, and noise obscures even the few clear-channel stations. The first ones we find, when we switch on the radio of history about 3200B.C.E., come from Mesopotamia, and those from Egypt soon emerge. Eventually the neighbouring lands produce records, with the effect that the ancient Near East is probably the best documented civilization before the invention of printing.” (Daniels and Bright, page 19)” 3 likes
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