This yearâs Eats Shoots and Leaves looks at the history of each letter of the alphabet through 40 centuries.
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.
'A wonderfully interesting book'
Publication date: 07/10/2004
|Publication date:||7th October 2004|
|Genres:||The Real World,|
|Categories:||Historical & comparative linguistics, Language: reference & general,|
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 photographyMore About David Sacks