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From the earliest scratches on stone and bone to the languages of computers and the internet, A History of Writing offers an investigation into the origin and development of writing throughout the world. Illustrated with numerous examples, this book offers a global overview in a format that everyone can follow. Steven Roger Fischer also reveals his own discoveries made since the early 1980s, making it a useful reference for students and specialists as well as a delightful read for lovers of the written word everywhere.
Tracing the complete story of reading from the age when symbol first became sign through to the electronic texts of the present day, Steven Roger Fischer's fascinating A History of Reading offers a sweeping view across time and geography of our evolving relationship with text. Turning to ancient forms of reading, Fischer takes us to Asia and the Americas and discusses the forms and developments of completely divergent writing systems and scripts. With the Middle Ages in Europe and the Middle East, innovative reinventions of reading emerged--silent and liturgical reading; the custom of lectors; a focus on reading in general education--whereupon printing transformed society's entire attitude toward reading. Fischer charts the explosion of the book trade, its increased audience, and radically changed subject-matter in this era. He also describes the emergence of broadsheets, newspapers, and public readings and traces the effect of new font designs on general legibility, and much more. Finally, Fischer assesses a future in which read communication will likely exceed oral communication through the use of the personal computer and the internet. Looking at visual language and modern theories of how reading is processed in the human brain, he asks how the New Reader can reshape reading's fate--suggesting a radical new definition of what reading could be.
It is tempting to take the tremendous rate of contemporary linguistic change for granted. What is required, in fact, is a radical reinterpretation of what language is. Steven Roger Fischer charts the history of language from the times of Homo erectus, Neanderthal humans and Homo sapiens through to the nineteenth century, when the science of linguistics was developed, as he analyses the emergence of language as a science and its development as a written form. He considers the rise of pidgin, creole, jargon and slang, as well as the effects radio and television, propaganda, advertising and the media are having on language today. Originally published in 1999, this new format edition, which includes a new preface by the author, also shows how digital media will continue to reshape and re-invent the ways in which we communicate.
Famed for its breathtaking isolation, Easter Island was a verdant South-Sea idyll when a small canoeful of Polynesians arrived in c. AD 700. Centuries later the island's statues were famous throughout the world. This book presents a comprehensive history of Easter Island told by a writer who is intimately familiar with the island, its people and their extraordinary story. When voyaging in the South Pacific became far less widespread around 1500, Easter Islanders became stranded on their desert-like isle, and were forced to adapt to survive. The first European visitors, in 1722, encountered a people thriving in total isolation, surrounded by huge architectural platforms of fitted stones topped by hundreds of monolithic busts. Subsequent intruders brought trade, disease, violence, and the Easter Islanders adapted to this change, too, through cultural re-invention: new leaders, new rituals, new gods. Steven Roger Fischer relates the compelling history of this unique region: how wars, smallpox and the Great Death decimated the island, how Catholic missionaries arrived in 1866 to relieve the suffering of the dying people, and how a despotic Frenchman claimed the island for himself, but who was then killed by the remaining islanders a population of only 111. The author also examines the modern history of the island, its colonization and annexation by Chile, and its peaceful but insistent civil rights movement in 1964-65. Today, the population has increased, as has tourism of the island from 2,000 visitors in 1991 to 20,000 in 2001 and continues to be managed by the indigenous Rapanui people. Foreign interest in Easter Island has never been so keen, and this book is a much-needed history of this little-known but remarkable island.
It is tempting to take the tremendous rate of contemporary linguistic change for granted. What is required, in fact, is a radical reinterpretation of what language is. Steven Roger Fischer begins his book with an examination of the modes of communication used by dolphins, birds and primates as the first contexts in which the concept of 'language' might be applied. As he charts the history of language from the times of Homo erectus, Neanderthal humans and Homo sapiens through to the nineteenth century, when the science of linguistics was developed, Fischer analyses the emergence of language as a science and its development as a written form. He considers the rise of pidgin, creole, jargon and slang, as well as the effects radio and television, propaganda, advertising and the media are having on language today. Looking to the future, he shows how electronic media will continue to reshape and re-invent the ways in which we communicate.
Steven Roger Fischer's fascinating book charts the history of communication from the time before human language was conceived through to the media explosion of the present day. Describing modes of communication between whales, birds, insects and primates and suggesting the first contexts in which the concept of 'language' might be applied, Fischer moves from the early abilities of Homo erectus to the spread of languages worldwide, analyzing the effect of the development of writing along the way. With the founding of the science of linguistics in the nineteenth century, the nature of language first came to be understood; Fischer charts the evolution of linguists' insights and the relationship of language to social change into mid-1900s. Taking into account the rise of pidgin, Creole, jargon and slang, he raises provocative questions about literature's - and literacy's - relationship to language. Finally, touching on the effects of radio, television, propaganda and advertising, Fischer looks to the future, asking how electronic media are daily reshaping the world's languages and suggesting a radical reinterpretation of what language really is.