The Worlds Writing Systems

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

EditorPeter T. Daniels, William Bright

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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 pastaround the world, this unusually comprehensive reference offers a detailed exploration of the history and typology of writing systems. More than eighty articles by scholars from over a dozen countries explain and document how a vast array of writing systems work--how alphabets, ideograms,pictographs, and hieroglyphics convey meaning in graphic form. The work is organized in thirteen parts, each dealing with a particular group of writing systems defined historically, geographically, or conceptually. Arranged according to the chronological development of writing systems and their historical relationships within geographical areas, the scriptsare divided into the following sections: the ancient Near East, East Asia, Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Additional parts address the ongoing process of decipherment of ancient writing systems; the adaptation of traditional scripts to new languages; new scripts invented inmodern times; and graphic symbols for numerical, music, and movement notation. Each part begins with an introductory article providing the social and cultural context in which the group of writing systems was developed. Articles on individual scripts detail the historical origin of the writing system, its structure (with tables showing the forms of the written symbols),and its relationship to the phonology of the corresponding spoken language. Each writing system is illustrated by a passage of text, and accompanied by a romanized version, a phonetic transcription, and a modern English translation. A bibliography suggesting further reading concludes each entry. Matched by no other work in English, The World's Writing Systems is the only comprehensive resource covering every major writing system. Unparalleled in its scope and unique in its coverage of the way scripts relate to the languages they represent, this is a resource that anyone with an interest inlanguage will want to own, and one that should be a part of every library's reference collection.

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From Our Editors

Written language is the most neglected aspect of linguistic study, as the majority of research focuses on historical and theoretical aspects of spoken language. Even studies devoted to writing systems generally place little emphasis on the scripts themselves, limiting coverage to the external history of writing systems. The World's Wri...

From the Publisher

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 pastaround the world, this unusually comprehensive re...

From the Jacket

Written language is the most neglected aspect of linguistic study, as the majority of research focuses on historical and theoretical aspects of spoken language. Even studies devoted to writing systems generally place little emphasis on the scripts themselves, limiting coverage to the external history of writing systems. The World's Wri...

William Bright is at University of Colorado.

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Paperback|Feb 8 2011

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see all books by Peter T. Daniels
Format:HardcoverDimensions:968 pages, 6.73 × 9.49 × 1.97 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195079930

ISBN - 13:9780195079937

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From Our Editors

Written language is the most neglected aspect of linguistic study, as the majority of research focuses on historical and theoretical aspects of spoken language. Even studies devoted to writing systems generally place little emphasis on the scripts themselves, limiting coverage to the external history of writing systems. The World's Writing Systems is the only available work to explore in depth how scripts are applied to individual languages. Beginning with the ancient Near East and the earliest known scripts, this unique reference documents the history and typology of writing to the present day, covering scores of scripts from around the world - both those currently in use and those now defunct. In more than eighty articles, it explains and documents in accessible terms how writing systems work - how Egyptian hieroglyphs, Chinese characters, and European alphabets convey meaning in graphic form. Sections devoted to the scripts of the ancient Near East, East Asia, Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East are introduced with discussion of the social a

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"The editors, together with dozens of collaborating specialists, have produced not just a massive but a masterly, monumental, almost encyclopedic book."--General Linguistics