The Alphabet

by David Sacks

The Real World

LoveReading View on The Alphabet

This yearâs Eats Shoots and Leaves looks at the history of each letter of the alphabet through 40 centuries.

The Alphabet Synopsis

There is a story behind each letter of the alphabet. How did A become the symbol for quality or the badge worn by adulterers in Puritan England? Why is X the mark of the Unknown or shorthand for a kiss? When did Z, the least-used letter in English, become an emblem of African-American Hip Hop culture? Which two letters came last, historically, to the alphabet? (J and V). How did a few squiggles, invented 4000 years ago to denote sounds of a now vanished Semitic language, survive to become our letters today? While China and Japan rely mainly on scripts of ideograms, three-quarters of humanity uses some kind of alphabet. Chinese writing requires 2000 basic symbols, with an inventory of 60,000, where an alphabet needs typically less than 30.

From A to Z, David Sacks provides answers to the most fascinating questions about the way we talk, write and think, in a book that takes you on a gripping journey through 40 centuries of the alphabet's evolution.

The Alphabet Press Reviews

'A wonderfully interesting book'
Guardian

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780099436829
Publication date: 07/10/2004
Publisher: Arrow
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780099436829
Publication date: 7th October 2004
Author: David Sacks
Publisher: Arrow
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 416 pages
Genres: The Real World,
Categories: Historical & comparative linguistics, Language: reference & general,

About David Sacks

David Sacks is a freelance writer for New York Times Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Harper's Bazaar, Elle etc. He now lives in Canada with his wife and two children. He is 51. photo: Carol Barnstead photography

More About David Sacks

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