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Download Alpha Beta: How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World by John Man PDF

By John Man

Compliment for Alpha Beta
"This e-book comes on the ideal second as we rediscover the significance in early interpreting of cracking the alphabetic code. the tale of the way that code got here into being is an engaging one, and guy is the appropriate author to inform it." instances academic Supplement

"A richly soaking up exploration, from B.C. to desktops, of the evolution of the main basic characters of our cultural historical past, the alphabet we rather a lot take with no consideration. John guy writes with a compellingly stressed interest and immediacy. The ever unbelievable, exotically particular narrative in his informative e-book makes it as undryly relaxing as a winning archaelogical dig of 1 of Alan Moorehead s colourful histories of African exploration." David Grambs, writer of The Describer s Dictionary and The Endangered English Dictionary

"Text that's crisp, taut, and as transparent as a bell.... a desirable tale with many a beguiling subplot alongside the way." New Scientist

"Letter ideal the easiest histories and mysteries of our ABC s!" Jeff McQuain, writer of by no means adequate phrases and tool Language

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Extra resources for Alpha Beta: How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World

Sample text

Quite the opposite. Imagine what the Sumerian teacher would have said: Of course it’s demanding! Everything worthwhile demands effort! That’s just the way life is if you want to be educated and successful. So for three millennia, successive and related cultures used cuneiform not only for practical purposes, but also to record their greatest cultural achievements. Akkadian kings commissioned scribes to transcribe the poetry that told them of their heroic ancestors. The most famous of the epics concerned the hero, Gilgamesh, who had sought the secret of immortality from the immortal Uta-napishti and heard from him the story of how he, Uta-napishti, survived a great Flood by building a boat.

I shall make you love writing more than your mother. I shall make its beauties be shown to you. Now, it is greater than any other profession. There is not its like in the land. Writing served the priestly agenda: to buttress the privileged position of the elite servants of the godhead, the pharaoh. It was not exactly in their interests to bring writing downmarket. < previous page page_55 next page > < previous page page_56 next page > Page 56 Yet hints of a more populist literature, perhaps an oral tradition, survive.

He was still only 41. Like cuneiform, hieroglyphic was rooted in pictures, devised about 3300 BC. It seems an odd coincidence that two close cultures should develop writing at roughly the same time. Many historians think it is too much of a coincidence, and that the idea of writing diffused from < previous page page_51 next page > < previous page page_52 next page > Page 52 Mesopotamia to the Nile. Perhaps Egyptian traders, ambassadors or warriors carried the message home: guess what – those guys send messages by making marks on bits of clay.

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