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The Solid Form Of Language: An Essay On Writing And Meaning

The Solid Form Of Language: An Essay On Writing And Meaning - Robert Bringhurst This is a 69 page essay by a typographer exploring the significance of script and written language, and its relationship to language overall. I claim no familiarity -let alone expertise- in this subject, so I am reviewing this as a lay-lay-lay reader. From that perspective, it's fascinating. Among other things, Bringhurst distinguishes spoken language from written, claiming that spoken is "natural", because people speak to one another everywhere, but written language is "invented" because many societies have existed without writing. I'm still not sure about those terms, since it seems like writing was natural to the cultures that did invent it... not to be argumentative, but... just sayin'. Bringhurst goes on to catalog peoples who have had writing systems imposed on them, and shows how writing systems have at times served as vectors of political and social control, since they require participation in formalized learning, and at least some measure of acceptance of the culture/authority behind the learning institutions. If you like thinking about these sort of things, you will enjoy this book. At times, the author does venture into less familiar territory... starting around page 25, he launches into a tangent about how the clean-lined, sans-seriff aesthetic of "Helvetica" font speaks to a centralized, heavy-industry worldview "where Marxism could flourish" (p.27)! In contrast, the more fluid (?) appearance of Charles Bigelow's Lucida Sans (I am grateful that examples of these are provided) is supposedly post-modern in nature, and Marxism would not find fertile soil in this font... I'm trying to see it, I really am, but I'm just not there yet. Maybe these observations are laughably intuitive to professional typographers, but they aren't to me. That's okay... "what-evah". The end kind of gets ground down in taxonomic hair-splitting, trying to categorize different kinds of scripts based on, among other things, whether written characters represent an entire syllable or not. That didn't interest me much, because I don't know what it is good for; but as I have pointed out above, I don't know much about any of this.