During its long history the problem of reducing language to writing, and Florian Coulmas presents detailed descriptions of the world’s writing systems and. This book is an account of the writing systems of the world from earliest times to the Writing, Coulmas contends, is not only the guide or garment of spoken. o Florian Coulmas This book is in . Sign system to writing system: changing semiotic P. T. Daniels and W. Bright, The World’s Writing Systems.

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Coulmas covers a great many topics in a few pages, but what one misses is an overarching conceptualization that can unify and even illuminate a great many seemingly independent phenomena of writing. Here in a nutshell is the kernel of the study of writing systems. While this is true to an extent for his example of Linear B where no one uses such fonts, because the transliteration is straightforwardit is most emphatically not true for Egyptian hieroglyphs — any philological treatment of the language uses typeset hieroglyphs to a very great extent, because it is virtually impossible to transliterate the signs with sufficient writlng to support the discussion, and because transcriptions of ancient Egyptian remain speculative as to the vowels and as to the writinv of some consonants.

It has become fashionable in recent years to decry “alphabetolatry,” the notion, which led to Gelb’s Principle of Unidirectional Development as well as to certain pernicious notions concerning the history of Western Civilization wrtiing.

Writing Systems (Florian Coulmas) – book review

The additional letters for vowels — consonant letters are disregarded — are mistakenly said to be plain letters with diacritics that, of course, is what they look like, but they are by any analysis separate lettersand they are misprinted as such properly printed Vietnamese can be seen in the appendixleading to the incorrect statement that “there are several graphemes consisting of a letter base and double accents”with more examples of typographic improvisation.


Yet C describes this as to the right! And surely variation in either handwriting or typeface is a non-linguistic phenomenon comparable to vocal timbre. The first might assess factual accuracy, the second the organization of information, and the third the analytic understanding of writing.

Writing Systems of the World – Florian Coulmas – Google Books

By using our website you agree to our use of cookies. Are the reduced forms of Indic characters used for the initial member[s] of a consonant cluster to be considered allographs of the full form? Modern linguistics has been afflicted by scriptism, defined as “the tendency of linguists to base their analyses on writing-induced concepts systemd as phoneme, word, literal meaning and sentence, systmes at the same time subscribing to the principle of the primacy of speech for linguistic inquiry”.

Note that his reason for denying the usual account that Egyptian writing was inspired by Sumerian writing is the very superficial one that there is no graphic resemblance between cuneiform signs, or even pre-cuneiform signs, and hieroglyphs — even though the two writing systems are organized almost identically, with logograms, phonograms, and semantic determinatives. Principle of interpretation “On what level of linguistic structure are the units of a writing system interpreted and how do they reflect structural feature s of the language s they provide with a written form?

That is followed by a study of Semitic writing systems, “consonantal alphabets” which focus on consonants and often omit vowels, or include them only optionally. Coulmasreferenced on p. The book also provides a clear and engaging account of the history of writing and its consequences for human thought and literate society. C seems to be hung up on a notion that there is something special writinv a left-to-right sequence, even within a graphic unit, since he draws attention to the fact that some of the vowel-attachments are on the left of the letters and some are on the right.

University of Chicago Press. This book is an account of the writing systems of the world from earliest times to the present.


Picture Writing of the American Indians. My library Help Advanced Book Search.

Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. American Council of Learned Societies. He has published several works on writing and written language including The Encyclopedia of Writing Systems and The Writing Systems of the World xoulmas It follows, moreover, from this theory that Egyptian hieroglyphs were not an invention from scratch, for Egyptian writing is not syllabic, and Egyptian is not monosyllabic.

This cavalier attitude toward proper names is pervasive. Coulmas looks briefly at Mangyan and Ethiopic and in detail at Korean Han’gul.

Pamela Downing, Susan D. He does not recognize that the initial impetus for the new typology was to clarify why Gelb’s Principle of Uniform Development is invalid, even though he devotes several pages to its inadequacy cf. C makes quite a hash of his description of it.

Writing, Coulmas contends, is not only the guide or garment of spoken language, but has a deep and lasting effect on the development of language itself. The claim that “The romanization of Vietnamese was a reform of the writing system, as Chinese characters, coulmsa completely different system, were abolished and a new system was specially designed for Vietnamese” reveals ignorance of history.

Times Higher Education Supplement March?? In fact, the book has no index but the only mention of India appears to be on p.

Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics: Writing Systems: An Introduction to Their Linguistic Analysis

Coulmas writihg that contrary to the views of some linguists, writing has an important place in the study of language. Is it not the same popular speculators who claim that the unwritten dialect of the US Ozarks “is” Elizabethan English? It culminates with lists of four “assumptions” and three “principles”