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. Entries in this encyclopedia describe how writing systems evolved, how they work, and how they differ from each other. They deal with technical aspects such as handwriting, printing, word processing; with practical problems of decipherment, alphabet making and spelling reform; and with theoretical questions such as the functions of writing and the typology of writing systems. Florian Coulmas starts from the view that writing reflects a process of linguistic analysis. Yet he ranges widely among different scientific disciplines. He draws on historical and paleographic research into fundamental structural options of representing language by means of a graphic code, on psychological investigation into the social conditions and consequences of literacy.
Entries vary between short explanations of terms and concepts, brief accounts of individual writing systems and longer theoretical articles. The encyclopedia contains an exceptional array of visual examples and is supported by a comprehensive bibliography.
"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