Language Visible

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

3.95 (487 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

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.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 395 pages
  • 147.8 x 218.4 x 33.8mm | 576.07g
  • BROADWAY BOOKS
  • United States
  • English
  • 60 LINE DRAWINGS & PHOTOGRAPHS
  • 0767911725
  • 9780767911726

Flap copy

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.show more

Review quote

"At a time when it has become more important than ever to read clearly and intelligently in order to dismantle the daily traps of propaganda, this delightful book lays bare for us, with wit and wisdom, the very building-blocks of our culture: the mysterious letters of the alphabet that rule our language and thought." --Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading "Reading David Sacks's wonderful [book]is like sitting rapt before the coolest teacher in school. Sacks's excursion through the alphabet is witty and smart. I was reluctant to finally leave the classroom." --Mark Dunn, author of Ella Minnow Pea "[This book] is distinguished by its remarkably long and broad view of the topic and its omnivorous sense of fun. ... [A] clear and appealing discussion. ... [A] dazzlingly diverse array of facts. ... From discussions of the letter A's role in meat grading, bond rating, student ranking, and punishment for adultery to Z's exotic associations with Zorro, Sacks makeshow more

About David Sacks

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.show more

Rating details

487 ratings
3.95 out of 5 stars
5 31% (150)
4 39% (192)
3 25% (120)
2 5% (23)
1 0% (2)
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