|Book of the Month|
As this book points out, writing was one of the great inventions of history, equal to the discovery of fire and the wheel. Thanks to writing, the words of Julius Caesar are as clear now as when he wrote then thousands of years ago. Writing preserves ideas, and allows one person to speak to many. Yet before writing comes the alphabet - just over two dozen little symbols which, in their various combinations can say almost anything. This book is the story of these symbols. In a way we can say that they are twenty-six little biographies, each introducing a letter of the alphabet, where it comes from and how it is used.
As is logical for a book of this sort, the main part of the book consists of twenty six chapters, each devoted to a particular letter. (The book was originally a series of articles about the alphabet, each published separately in a Canadian newspaper.) However, there is also a long (42 page) introduction about the alphabet generally including the observation that the name 'alphabet' itself comes from the first two letters in Greek (alpha, beta). We are introduced to some of the oldest forms of the letters we know today, and discover that some still resemble their original pictograms (pictures which make letters).
Who is this book for? It is not for the professional specializing in words, and the text contains humour that non-native speakers might find difficult (for example: 'There is sometimes a silent P in 'swimming''). However, anyone who loves language and writing will find this book packed with interesting and unexpected facts. Also any advanced student who wants to know more about the origins of the many bizarre spellings and pronunciations will find some answers here.
|Verdict: An interesting but non-essential read
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