Synopses & Reviews
To say that writing has as much claim as speech to be treated as language may strike the reader as a statement of the obvious. But the fact is that, although the tide is beginning to turn now, for most of the twentieth century linguistics has almost wholly ignored writing. It is not necessary to accept all the theories of the French critic Jacques Derrida in order to agree with him when he describes writing as "the wandering outcast of linguistics."
This book is offered in the belief that written language is a form of language. As such, it deserves to be treated with the methods of modern, scientific linguistic study, which have been increasing our understanding of the spoken form of language for many decades.
"In this engaging book, Sampson, treating the all-too-long ostracized 'black sheep' of linguistics, offers a refreshing and rigorous contemporary scientific examination of writing cum
system. . . . Linguists on all fronts should welcome this text whose contents have undergone the same rigorous examination and discussion as any work on the core problems of language. This work renews an old field of studyand not for trained scientists only, for several arguments here are instructive to the novice."
"This book is a readable, non-technical discussion of the nature of scripts as linguistically structured systems. It sensibly discusses the general issues concerning the relation of script to language, and concerning historical change in this relationship. . . . Sampson's research is unique among recent books in the extent to which it makes informed use of non-anecdotal psychological research on reading and spelling in addressing issues of script typology and history. . . . This is a book that can be recommended as the best linguistic introduction to the study of writing systems now available."