By John Man

ISBN-10: 0471211699

ISBN-13: 9780471211693

Compliment for Alpha Beta
"This e-book comes on the excellent second as we rediscover the significance in early analyzing of cracking the alphabetic code. the tale of the way that code got here into being is an engaging one, and guy is the right author to inform it." instances academic Supplement

"A richly soaking up exploration, from B.C. to computers, of the evolution of the main basic characters of our cultural background, the alphabet we rather a lot take with no consideration. John guy writes with a compellingly stressed interest and immediacy. The ever amazing, exotically precise narrative in his informative publication makes it as undryly stress-free as a winning archaelogical dig of 1 of Alan Moorehead s colourful histories of African exploration." David Grambs, writer of The Describer s Dictionary and The Endangered English Dictionary

"Text that's crisp, taut, and as transparent as a bell.... a desirable tale with many a beguiling subplot alongside the way." New Scientist

"Letter excellent the simplest histories and mysteries of our ABC s!" Jeff McQuain, writer of by no means sufficient phrases and gear Language

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Extra resources for Alpha Beta: How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World

Example text

A quick search of the Net reveals people convinced the disc is a < previous page page_24 next page > < previous page page_25 next page > Page 25 magical text (‘possibly a curse’), a geometrical theorem, a calendar, a Bronze Age computer. Here’s someone certain that it records an expedition of mountain people seeking flat land for settlement. Someone else, with messianic self-assurance, states that the disc records the beliefs and practices of the Osiris cult, whose adepts communicated with the stars ‘and beyond through interdimensional travel’.

First in line for analysis are words. We reorder words to show who does what to whom: The dog bit the man, the man bit the dog. Word order involves some of the most basic rules of grammar, which children pick up effortlessly. Take just one ‘rule’ about never ending sentences with a preposition, and then listen to this bed-time complaint by a six-year-old: What did you bring that book I don’t want to be read out of from up for? What a wonderful nesting of thoughts, all bracketed by the opening ‘what’ and the final ‘for’.

And here comes a shepherd who has promised a sheep to a priest so that he can make a < previous page page_34 next page > < previous page page_35 next page > Page 35 sacrifice to the goddess Inana to bring good weather. Except the sheep ran away, so instead he is bringing a robe made by his wife, except his wife is ill, and couldn’t finish it, but he wants the priest to make the sacrifice anyway, because then the weather will be good, and then the sheep will thrive, and he will bring in another one in a week, or maybe two.

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Alpha Beta: How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World by John Man

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