The Story of Writing: Alphabets, Hieroglyphs and Pictograms

The Story of Writing: Alphabets, Hieroglyphs and Pictograms


By (author) Andrew Robinson

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Paperback $16.64
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 193mm x 255mm x 19mm | 794g
  • Publication date: 17 January 2000
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0500281564
  • ISBN 13: 9780500281567
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Illustrations note: 350 illustrations, 50 in colour

Product description

People can be interested in language, writing and scripts. They may wonder how, when and where did writing evolve? Do alphabets function better than hieroglyphs? And are we today, in the computer age, moving towards a "universal language" of signs and symbols? This text aims to demystify writing for the general reader. It explains the interconnection between sound, symbol and script for each of the major writing systems in turn, and discovers and deciphers writing forms from cuneiform and Egyptian and Maya hieroglyphs to alphabets and the scripts of China and Japan today. Throughout, the reader is guided by step-by-step graphic analysis of the way each script works, with illustrated examples.

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Editorial reviews

Without records there would be no history: without writing there would be no history. How was this skill acquired? How did the scribes of 4000 and 5000 years ago learn to write, and how do we decipher their symbols? How do we, now, transfer our thoughts into these marks on paper? Robinson tries to answer these questions in an elaborate and fascinating study. He analyses the connection between sound, symbol and script in all the major systems, from cuneiform and hieroglyphics to contemporary Chinese and Japanese scripts; and discusses multifarious alphabets including Greek, Roman, Hebrew, Indian, and the writing of runes. Over 350 illustrations, 50 in colour, accompany an analysis of each script. An absorbing story. (Kirkus UK)

Table of contents

How writing works: reading the Rosetta Stone; sound, symbol and script; proto-writing. Extinct writing: cuneiform; Egyptian hieroglyphs; linear B; Mayan glyphs; undeciphered scripts. Living writing: the first alphabet; new alphabets from old; Chinese writing; Japanese writing; from hieroglyphs to alphabets - and back?