April 6th, 2011


April Books 5) A is for Ox, by Lyn Davies

A decent little book on the origins of the alphabet, the first half being about the global question of how the Latin script developed from hieroglyphics via cuneiform, Phoenician, Greek and etruscan, and the second half taking each letter individually. I've read several books on this topic so not much was new to me; the information is very much presented for the non-specialist, and readers may well wonder what the sounds were precisely that were represented by the Semitic letters aleph and ayin (𐤀 and 𐤏); Davies makes no attempt to bring in the details of phonetics. It's also a bit of a shame that he misses out any discussion of the lost letters of the English alphabet - he does at least meantion yogh and wynn (ȝ and ƿ) but not thorn or edh (þ or ð), which is an educationaal opportunity missed - or of any other Latin-based languages. One would get the impression from the book that the English version of the Latin alphabet is the only one currently in use.