The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet. Where they overlap, it is in every point of the overlap. - Novalis

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Solid Form of Language

This piece from the BBC, Do Typefaces Really Matter? reminds me that I've wanted to do a series of posts on Robert Bringhurst for a long time. So this can be the inaugural mention. I first came across his poetry about 1990 and shortly thereafter on his masterful and highly influential book The Elements of Typographic Style, which still amazes and teaches every time I open it. It should be required reading for anyone who does anything with written language. Here let me flag a lesser- known work that also deserves a place on the bookshelf of everyone who thinks about language:

The Solid Form of Language.
 
The publisher's description: With this concise and broadly informative essay, renowned poet, typographer and linguist Robert Bringhurst presents a brief history of writing and a new way of classifying and understanding the relationship between script and meaning. Beginning with the original relationship between a language and its written script, Bringhurst takes us on a history of reading and writing that begins with the interpretation of animal tracks and fast-forwards up to the typographical abundance of more recent times. The first four sections of the essay describe the earliest creation of scripts, their movement across the globe and the typographic developments within and across languages. In the fifth and final section of the essay, Bringhurst introduces his system of classifying scripts. Readers will find this combination of anthropology, typography, literature, mathematics, music and linguistics surprisingly accessible and thought provoking. The cover designed by the author was letterpress printed on St. Armand handmade paper.

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