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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems
ISBN 063121481X / 9780631214816 / 0-631-21481-X
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Covering over 400 of them, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems is a vital reference resource not only for the serious scholar of writing but for anyone with a passing interest in the history of writing. Sociolinguist Florian Coulmas, editor of The Handbook of Sociolinguistics and associate editor of The International Journal of the Sociology of Language, draws on disciplines ranging from psychology to epigraphy to present a work that is both far-reaching in its scope and deep enough to be of interest to serious theorists.
The encyclopedia itself consists of articles and entries of various lengths, all laid out in a typical A-to-Z format, with copious cross-referencing providing a wealth of threads for the inveterate browser. The entries themselves range from short definitions of concepts to longer articles on more complex topics, such as morphogenesis (the idea that all writing can be traced back to a single system), orthographic reform, and dyslexia. Over 400 figures and 1,600 tables illustrate not only the world's orthographies but also such things as the Mormon alphabet, the elements comprising Mayan logograms (written signs representing whole words), and Babylonian clay tablets. All this, plus a comprehensive bibliography, makes The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems an indispensable reference work for scholars and a thoroughly enjoyable browse for anyone interested in human communication. [via]