This is the most comprehensive reference work on writing systems currently in print. The first edition was widely praised, and remains the standard reference in the field. It includes 74 chapters each devoted to a specific language or some aspect of writing. Ranging from cuneiform to shorthand, from archaic Greek to modern Chinese, from Old Persian to modern Cherokee, this important volume covers all of the world's writing systems from ancient times to the present.
In the fifteen years since The World's Writing Systems, edited by Peter T. Daniels and the late William Bright, was published, it has become a standard reference work on the scripts of the world; but over those fifteen years, advances have been made in the study of writing systems--for which this volume may perhaps claim some of the credit. The second edition incorporates new discoveries, new perspectives, and improved treatments of some areas. New topics include the wide variety of modern creations of scripts for Africa (both indigenous and roman-alphabet-based), the Unicode enterprise, and an expansion of topics dealing with writing in society: literacy, internationalization, script reform, and the effects of technology. The new edition includes several entirely new chapters, such as "The Origins of Writing," "Women's Script," "Modern Inventions of Writing" and the "Sociolinguistics of Writing."
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Written language is the most neglected aspect of linguistic study, as the majority of research focuses on historical and theoretical aspects of spoken language. Even studies devoted to writing systems generally place little emphasis on the scripts themselves, limiting coverage to the external history of writing systems. The World's Writing Systems is the only available work to explore in depth how scripts are applied to individual languages. Beginning with the ancient Near East and the earliest known scripts, this unique reference documents the history and typology of writing to the present day, covering scores of scripts from around the world - both those currently in use and those now defunct. In more than eighty articles, it explains and documents in accessible terms how writing systems work - how Egyptian hieroglyphs, Chinese characters, and European alphabets convey meaning in graphic form. Sections devoted to the scripts of the ancient Near East, East Asia, Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East are introduced with discussion of the social and cultural contexts in which each group of writing systems was developed. Articles on individual scripts within these sections provide a wealth of background information, along with helpful visuals for each writing system: the historical origin of the writing system is detailed, its structure is delineated with tables showing the forms of the written symbols, and its relationship to the phonology of the corresponding spoken language is thoroughly explored. Every major writing system is presented in a passage of text, accompanied by a romanized version, a phonetic transcription, and an English translation. A bibliographyconcludes each entry.About the Author:
Peter T. Daniels has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Chicago State University. He has published numerous articles and reviews on writing systems, Semitic languages, and languages of the world.
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