The Story of Writing Review | Language Reading Challenge Language Resources

Welcome to the eighth official Language Reading Challenge Update and Linkup! As a quick recap of what we’ve read so far this year, you can check out the previous months’ challenges here:

January // Book about the culture of the area you’re studying
February // Book in your target language
March // Travel book or travelogue related to region that uses the language you’re studying
April // Book about the language that you’re learning
May // A language course book
June // A book written by a language blogger
July // A book about the history of a country or region that speaks your target language

The guidelines to participate are available here and you can find out what we’ll be reading over the next few months, as well.

The challenge for this past month was to read a book about the history of a language that you are studying.

Since I’m studying several languages – namely Korean, Russian and Mandarin – I thought it would be interesting to read about the history of something that covers each of them, and so, I opted to read a book about the history of writing systems.

A Review of The Story of Writing by Andrew Robinson

The Story of Writing is an overview of the world’s earliest writing systems and our attempts to understand them. It discusses the writing systems from around the world, both past and present, including pictograms and proto-writing.

It includes a nice selection of images placed throughout the text, giving you a in-depth look at the different writing systems that are discussed throughout the text. Really, when it comes to discussing something visual, such as writing systems, images are essential and the text does a great job of providing them where necessary.

The sections I found most interesting were those where the author detailed how various ancient texts that have fallen out of use were deciphered by various linguists. And while he only covered these in brief, as much of the content in the book, it definitely triggered my curiosity to the point that this is a subject I look forward to reading about in more depth in the near future.

The book certainly focuses more on the historic details of the various writing systems mentioned rather than on the linguistic details, so if you’re looking for more information on the latter, this might not be the book for your. That being said…

Overall, I really enjoyed this overview of the different writing systems used throughout time across the globe. It does a great job of packing a ton of information into a short text without becoming too overwhelming and I found reading this book quite pleasurable. The accompanying images really do wonders for understanding the information offered in the book. For those interested in learning about the different systems or scripts more in depth, there is also a thorough further reading section provided at the end of the book. The Story of Writing is definitely a fantastic introductory book for those interested in learning more about different writing systems.

Title: The Story of Writing: Alphabets, Hieroglyphs & Pictograms
Author: Andrew Robinson
Pages: 456 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication Date: November 8, 2010

Language Reading Challenge Linkup

1. Share your post discussing the book that you’ve read this month. Submissions unrelated to the theme or links to your homepage will be deleted.

2. Link back to this post as a part of your post.

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