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Tim Brookes: Endangered Alphabets

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In his Introduction to Endangered Alphabets, David Crystal writes:

“This is an unusual book, combining elements of linguistics, aesthetics, biography, and travelogue. The vocabularies of art and linguistic science become bedfellows, and each seems comfortable with the other. Its honest account of the trials and tribulations of a woodcarver will be a revelation to anyone who has not thought about how such things come to be. The dispassionate observation of a script, seen through the carver’s eye, adds a fresh dimension to our understanding of how a writing system emerges.

“But ‘dispassionate’ is wrong, for one of the main features of this book is the way it conveys its author-carver’s fascination with his subject. Endangered Alphabets is one of a growing genre of accounts of work which is steadily humanizing linguistics, exploring the motivation of those who study languages and those who are the subjects of study. Our appreciation of the character of written language has been greatly increased by Tim Brookes’ sculptural odyssey.”

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