The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems / Edition 1

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This is an encyclopedia of writing systems, scripts and orthographies of all the world's major languages, past and present. It provides both a fully illustrated description of over 400 writing systems and an account of the study of writing in many different disciplines, from anthropology to psychology.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Florian Coulmas provides a coherent and sophisticated interpretation of the forms and functions of written language. And he shows how important the development of writing systems has been in the development of linguistic description." Michael Stubbs, University of Trier

"This book offers a thorough modern coverage of the writing systems of the world. I believe that it will quickly become a standard reference work in its field." Henry Rogers, University of Toronto

"What makes this encyclopedia a great whole is the synthesis of all the little fascinating things about writing systems, scripts, and orthographies, which Coulmas differentiates in clear conceptual terms...The reviewer recommends it to the specialist and the layman enthusiastically and with no reservations whatsoever." P.G. Patel, University of Ottawa

" A good work of this kind is an indispensible reference tool for the student or scholar of writing systems...C's encyclopedia does an excellent job of presenting hundreds of terms used in the analysis of writing systems...It does so... in prose of clarity that makes each entry a pleasure to read." Janet S. Smith, University of California, Davis

Library Journal
Nearly 80 international scholars, the editors among them, have contributed entries in The World's Writing Systems covering all scripts officially used throughout the world as well as their historical origins, each with an extensive bibliography. Included are tables of alphabets and syllabaries as well as script samples, usually featuring transliteration, transcription, and gloss of the text. The essays are grouped by topics, but a detailed index guides the user to specific terms or languages desired. There is even a section with entries treating notation systems used for music and movement. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems is arranged in dictionary format without an index, but with a substantial bibliography. Coulmas's (Writing Systems of the World, Blackwell, 1989) coverage is not nearly as comprehensive as the Oxford publication. In the article on the Cree Syllabary all scripts are mentioned, but tables are not provided for Inuktitut (Inuit language) or Chipewyan. "Gothic" script is discussed with only incidental reference to the term Fraktur, for which an interesting history is provided in the Oxford work. This, however, does not mean that the Coulmas encyclopedia is not a useful reference tool. Both publications are recommended for most reference collections, but The World's Writing Systems is clearly the more technically detailed. The determining factors for purchase will be price and needs of library clientele. There is a third choice for public or school libraries with limited resources: Akira Nakanishi's Writing Systems of the World (Tuttle, 1980). This inexpensive (pap. $14.95) ready-reference tool concentrates on modern languages and their scripts, with examples from newspapers, a color map of world writing systems, an index, and a bibliography.Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Sys., Ft. Pierce, Fla.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631214816
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/22/1999
  • Edition description: Illustrate
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 636
  • Sales rank: 1,516,019
  • Product dimensions: 6.85 (w) x 9.75 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Florian Coulmas is Professor of Sociolinguistics at Chuo University, Tokyo. He was previously Professor of General Linguistics at Dusseldorf University and Research Fellow of the National Language Institute, Tokyo. He has been visiting Professor at Georgetown University and Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study, Berlin. His principle fields of interest are the study of writing and sociolinguistics.

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Table of Contents



List of Abbreviations and Notional Conventions.

Encyclopedic entries A-Z.


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