21 mars 2012

Florian Coulmas, The Writing Systems of the World

This book is an account of the writing systems of the world from earliest times to the present. Its aim is to explore the complex ways in which writing systems relate to the language they depict. 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.

His study takes in Egyptian hieroglyphics and the cuneiform system of the ancient Near East; he describes Chinese writing, discussing why an apparently cumbersome system has been used continuously for more than 3,000 years; he ranges across the writing systems of western Asia and the Middle East, the Indian families and the various alphabetic traditions which had its origins in the multifarious world of Semitic writing and came to full bloom in pre-Classical Greece.

Wiley-Blackwell, 15 janv. 1991 - 302 pages

source : http://books.google.fr/books?id=VOywmavmZ3UC&hl=fr&source=gbs_similarbooks

Read also some extracts on Amazon : 


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Expressions et termes fréquents

Fréquemment cités

Page 6 - However specious in theory the project might be of giving education to the labouring classes of the poor, it would in effect be found to be prejudicial to their morals and happiness; it would teach them to despise their lot in life, instead of making them good servants in agriculture, and other laborious employments to which their rank in society had destined them...
Page 6 - The invention of writing and of a convenient system of records on paper has had a greater influence in uplifting the human race than any other intellectual achievement in the career of man.

Page 6 - ... subordination it would render them factious and refractory, as was evident in the manufacturing counties ; it would enable them to read seditious pamphlets, vicious books, and publications against Christianity...
Page 16 - Etats européens en faveur de l'instruction obligatoire, qui se développe au cours du xix« siècle, va de pair avec l'extension du service militaire et la prolétarisation, la lutte contre l'analphabétisme se confond ainsi avec le renforcement du contrôle des citoyens par le Pouvoir. Car il faut que tous sachent lire pour que ce dernier puisse dire : nul n'est censé ignorer la loi
Page 122 - One hesitates for an epithet to describe a system of writing which is so complex that it needs the aid of another system to explain it. There is no doubt that it provides for some a fascinating field of study, but as a practical instrument it is surely without inferiors
Page 120 - It was good for any practical use And even the sound of the wind, the chirping of birds And the barking of dogs could be exactly described by it.
Page 62 - Apparently, words are the linguistic units that are first symbolized in writing. Systems of writing which use a symbol for each word of the spoken utterance, are known by the misleading name of ideographic writing. The important thing about writing is precisely this, that the characters represent not features of the practical world ("ideas"), but features of the writers' language; a better name, accordingly, would be word-writing or logographic writing.

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