Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pg. 99: Tim Brookes' "Endangered Alphabets"

This weekend's feature at the Page 99 Test: Endangered Alphabets by Tim Brookes.

About the book:
The goal of Endangered Alphabets, the book, is to act as a catalogue to the exhibition, but to go farther and raise questions about writing itself: how it develops, what it expresses beyond straightforward meaning, how it is being affected by all the rapid changes in technology.

In his Introduction to Endangered Alphabets, David Crystal, author of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, 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.”
Visit the Endangered Alphabets Project website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: Endangered Alphabets.

--Marshal Zeringue