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Shapes for Sounds (and an upcoming review)

Posted on Saturday, November 19, 2011 in Books, Review

Howdy, loyal readers! (We need an English dual plural for that word “readers” in that sentence.) It’s been some time since I updated the blog and The Conlanger’s Library. Our hosting service changed the access method for the Library, and I haven’t had the time to explore the new method (Thanks for the suggestions though, David!) of updating the pages. I’m going to do it, especially since we can include the links to Amazon now (again). I’ll get around to it. Promise.

In the meantime, I do have a new book to share. Also, on the books front, be sure to check out the Fiat Lingua online journal in December for my extensive review of the new book from Oxford University Press, From Elvish to Klingon.

The one I’d like to share today is Shapes for Sounds (cowhouse) Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide Buy online from an indie bookstore Find at a library near you by Timothy Donaldson. Donaldson is obviously a student of Edward Tufte‘s work and Shapes for Sounds is an exquisite piece of work because of it. The book traces the development of every letter of the Roman alphabet in beautiful charts, one for each letter. There are also extensive textual parts to the book explaining the differences among the various historical fonts like carolingian, uncial, insular, blackletter, etc., etc., etc. Irish ogham even makes an appearance! The (cowhouse) in the title comes from the original names of the first two letters: aleph “cow” and beth “house”. For conlangers, Shapes for Sounds is full of inspiration for con-scripts as well as an enjoyable book to peruse just for the graphics.

There are several reviews online for Shapes for Sounds including this one and this one that have some great images from inside it. So check for it at your local library or local bookstore. It’s well worth the hunt.

(Added 11/25/2011) P.S. Donaldson’s book has one section directly relevant to conlangers and con-scripters. He has created three “conjectural” alphabets (Appendices 26, 27, and 28), actually three alternative miniscule (i.e., lower-case letters), based on three different majuscules (i.e., upper-case) of existing typefaces. The development of each of these alternative miniscules is included in each letter’s individual chart. They’re a very intriguing alternative view of what the Roman miniscules could have been like.

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