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

by

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

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A fun, lively and learned excursion into cultural history that unlocks the mystery behind each letter of our alphabet, from the "A" of The Scarlet Letter to the "Z" of Zorro.

Letters are tangible language. Joining together in endless combinations to actually show speech, letters convey our messages and tell our stories. 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 of human inventions — the alphabet.

The heart of the book is the 26 fact-filled "biographies" of letters A through Z, each one identifying the 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 the letter X has a sinister and sexual aura, how B came to signify second best, why the word "mother" in many languages starts with M, and what is the story of O. The book also features clever illustrations for each letter, such as Winston Churchill's "V-for-Victory" World War II hand-sign, or the trademark "N" from the label of Newman's Own salad dressing, or images from rock music and other pop culture.

Clearly explaining the letters as symbols of precise speech-sounds, the book begins with the earliest known alphabetic inscriptions from about 1800 BC — recently discovered by archaeologists in Egypt — and traces the history of our alphabet from its beginnings in Phoenicia, Greece and Rome and up through medieval Europe to the present day.

Packed with information, Language Visible is not only accessible and entertaining, but essential to the appreciation of our own language.

Review:

"An always clever — but rarely too clever — educational and entertaining history of the alphabet....A refreshing combination of erudition and breeziness." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[T]his contribution by Sacks...is distinguished by its remarkably long and broad view of the topic and its omnivorous sense of fun....[A] joy to read." Library Journal

Review:

"[A] demanding gem of popular linguistic history." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"This is a delightfully entertaining and engrossing tale of how the score of Roman letters that arrived in England in the seventh century eventually gave us everything from the poetry of William Shakespeare to the official grades used by meat inspectors to evaluate chicken." Booklist

Synopsis:

Letters are tangible language. Joining together in endless combinations to actually show speech, letters convey our messages and tell our stories. 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 of human inventions — the alphabet.

The heart of the book is the 26 fact-filled “biographies” of letters A through Z, each one identifying the 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 the letter X has a sinister and sexual aura, how B came to signify second best, why the word “mother” in many languages starts with M, and what is the story of O.

Packed with information and lavishly illustrated, Language Visible is not only accessible and entertaining, but essential to the appreciation of our own language.

Synopsis:

Includes bibliographical references (p. [369]-375) and index.

About the Author

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 and dozens of magazines. He wrote a 26-part series for the Ottawa Citizen on the letters of the alphabet that was received enthusiastically by readers and which he has expanded and developed into Language Visible. Raised in New Jersey, he now lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780767911726
Subtitle:
Unraveling the Mystery of the Alphabet from A to Z
Editor:
Howard, Gerald
Author:
Sacks, David
Author:
Howard, Gerald
Publisher:
Broadway Books
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Linguistics
Subject:
Alphabet
Subject:
English language
Subject:
English language -- Alphabet.
Subject:
Alphabet -- History.
Subject:
Linguistics - General
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Series Volume:
no. 5.
Publication Date:
20030819
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
60 LINE DRAWINGS and PHOTOGRAPHS
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
8.60x5.82x1.33 in. 1.27 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Archaeology » Ancient Languages
History and Social Science » Linguistics » General

Language Visible: Unraveling the Mystery of the Alphabet from A to Z Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Broadway Books - English 9780767911726 Reviews:
"Review" by , "An always clever — but rarely too clever — educational and entertaining history of the alphabet....A refreshing combination of erudition and breeziness."
"Review" by , "[T]his contribution by Sacks...is distinguished by its remarkably long and broad view of the topic and its omnivorous sense of fun....[A] joy to read."
"Review" by , "[A] demanding gem of popular linguistic history."
"Review" by , "This is a delightfully entertaining and engrossing tale of how the score of Roman letters that arrived in England in the seventh century eventually gave us everything from the poetry of William Shakespeare to the official grades used by meat inspectors to evaluate chicken."
"Synopsis" by , Letters are tangible language. Joining together in endless combinations to actually show speech, letters convey our messages and tell our stories. 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 of human inventions — the alphabet.

The heart of the book is the 26 fact-filled “biographies” of letters A through Z, each one identifying the 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 the letter X has a sinister and sexual aura, how B came to signify second best, why the word “mother” in many languages starts with M, and what is the story of O.

Packed with information and lavishly illustrated, Language Visible is not only accessible and entertaining, but essential to the appreciation of our own language.

"Synopsis" by , Includes bibliographical references (p. [369]-375) and index.
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