Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Scriptology: Further Considerations

Originally posted on March 17, 2011

The last few weeks I’ve been caught up in other projects and I realized I hadn’t been posting much. One of my projects soon to be posted on my website is a lecture series with many illustrations about scriptology—the lore of alphabets and writing systems. My point, summarizing, is that the field represents a truly inter-disciplinary field that overlaps into play, literature, art, communications studies, education, and other realms. Of course it involves linguistics—though many books about linguistics hardly mention it! (Not just the word, scriptology—few folks use that term; I mean that many linguists hardly recognize the nature of writing. Some treat it as another type of language, others don’t know exactly what to make of this invention.) Scholars of archeology, ancient and classical civilizations, anthropology, and regional history also have aspects of their field that overlap with whatever writing systems come into their purview, but I don’t know how much they feel free to relax in academia and just fool around with the forms.

If you know of anyone who shares this interest, please have them network with me.

One Response to “Scriptology: Further Considerations”

  • Jeremy Kahn says:

    Hi Adam —

    I’m a linguist! and I’m interested in writing. And I probably have contacts who could get you into what linguists *do* think about writing.

    A lot of American linguistics in the last fifty years has gotten hung up on the idea of internal platonic ideals of language (“i-language”) and considers messy external forms (speech! not to mention written language) to be an unfortunate cave-wall projection of “real” language knowledge.

    As you might guess from my tone, I think actual writing (and actual speech) are all we actually have to base our science on, so I think the “i-language” people are doing some kind of metaphysics, but not linguistics.

    Another rich vein might be James Gleick’s new book: — the first chapter is about the invention of writing, followed by a chapter on dictionaries and another on cryptography.

    I’m Dorothy Lemoult’s husband, by the way, which is how I found this!

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