- Hardcover: 968 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 8, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195079930
- ISBN-13: 978-0195079937
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 2 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The World's Writing Systems 1st Edition
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From Library Journal
Nearly 80 international scholars, the editors among them, have contributed entries in The World's Writing Systems covering all scripts officially used throughout the world as well as their historical origins, each with an extensive bibliography. Included are tables of alphabets and syllabaries as well as script samples, usually featuring transliteration, transcription, and gloss of the text. The essays are grouped by topics, but a detailed index guides the user to specific terms or languages desired. There is even a section with entries treating notation systems used for music and movement. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems is arranged in dictionary format without an index, but with a substantial bibliography. Coulmas's (Writing Systems of the World, Blackwell, 1989) coverage is not nearly as comprehensive as the Oxford publication. In the article on the Cree Syllabary all scripts are mentioned, but tables are not provided for Inuktitut (Inuit language) or Chipewyan. "Gothic" script is discussed with only incidental reference to the term Fraktur, for which an interesting history is provided in the Oxford work. This, however, does not mean that the Coulmas encyclopedia is not a useful reference tool. Both publications are recommended for most reference collections, but The World's Writing Systems is clearly the more technically detailed. The determining factors for purchase will be price and needs of library clientele. There is a third choice for public or school libraries with limited resources: Akira Nakanishi's Writing Systems of the World (Tuttle, 1980). This inexpensive (pap. $14.95) ready-reference tool concentrates on modern languages and their scripts, with examples from newspapers, a color map of world writing systems, an index, and a bibliography.?Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Sys., Ft. Pierce, Fla.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Without question the most comprehensive work ever published on this subject."--Times Literary Supplement
"Recommended for most reference collections."--Library Journal
"Divided into thirteen parts from grammatology to printing, it provides succinct and accurate descriptions of all the languages of the biblical world in addition to all others....an unusually informative collection...it will be of great value to those working in Near Eastern and biblical fields and will remain an indispensable tool for scholars and students for many years to come."--Religious Studies Review
"A wonderful book....A valuable contribution to the study of writing and one which will be of great practical use."--Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"A remarkable reference....This volume is the only comprehensive resource covering every major writing system and the way scripts relate to the languages they represent. It is a resource that belongs in every library's reference section and in the personal library of anyonw with a deep-seated interest in language."--Cryptologia
"Ranging from cuneiform to shorthand, from archaic Greek to modern Chinese, from old Persian to Cherokee, this is the only available work in English to cover all of the world's writing systems from ancient times to the present."--Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society
"It is difficult to imagine that anything more comprehensive will ever supersede this work."--Andrews University Seminary Studies
Top customer reviews
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Everything else I might say, is being said by the other reviewers.
This edition differs from the one I had in overall dimensions (it is more compact), and it loses the dustjacket by appearing as a textbook type volume. It loses nothing with these changes. Oxford, the publisher, knows how to produce quality "compact" editions.
Recommended to all linguists and language aficionados.
Serious linguists specializing in writing might read it through, but amateurs--like me--will just pick it up and leaf through it, stopping here and there, reading this chapter or that, or will use it to look up some specific thing they might want to know about, say, Bishop Wulfila's Gothic script's roots in the Greek alphabet or the origins of the Georgian or Armenian alphabets.
It tells about scripts found all over the world, big ones--Latin, Cyrillic, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and so on--and far less well known ones, like Berber, Cherokee, Ethiopian, Deseret and some found in Indonesia and islands in the Indian Ocean.
It tells the historic backgrounds and--for lack of a better word--genealogies of the scripts, then shows how they work.
One thing that irks me no end is a shortcoming not with the book itself, but rather with the publishing business as a whole: the font used in the book is inadequate. It is appalling that in a book about writing systems, there are characters that have to be set in other fonts from the main book forn--sometimes even within one word--and characters that show up as composite characters with diacritics off center from the letter they modify. It is a fairly simple thing to edit a font and add characters as needed. It is a shame that major publishing companies seem unwilling to make the small investment in typography that would let them set a book like this in one font, with all the characters needed, so that it reads smoothly, without distracting inconsistencies throughout.
Now, this is indeed a niggling compalint, and it in no way reflects on the beek itself, the writers or the editors. It is the fault of the publisher, and should in no way dissuade anyone interested in this admittedly esoteric subject from getting this book.
It is also very helpful if one knows like what exactly sounds a linguolabial or a laminal or a voiced epiglottal fricative, otherwise he may be at lost..
It has now. Thoroughly recommended.