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An exhibition of carved Vermont maple boards depicting many of the world's endangered forms of writing.
An exhibition of carved Vermont maple boards depicting many of the world's endangered forms of writing.
533 backers pledged $17,881 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates


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The Thousand-Dollar Weekend


The thousand-dollar weekend has just started. We need to raise at least that much by Sunday night. Seriously.

And even as I typed this, the first $10 came in from L.W Brown! Thanks too to Lorelei Jackson and Enza Malpietra. You've got us going!

And by the way, Madalena Cruz-Ferreira did a wonderful article HERE.

Okay. I won't hold you up any more. Please back us now HERE!

Then start contacting your friends and convincing them to take part in the thousand-dollar weekend!

The "Namaste" carving

 The newest reward for our Kickstarter: "Namaste" in Tibetan, based on the wonderful calligraphy of the Buddhist monk Tashi Mannox. Back us at the $275 level and, if we make our goal, it is yours! 

Speaking of backing us: thanks so much to Maung Nyeu and Mark Turin who backed us yesterday, and to Hans de Wolf and Helen Donnelly who increased their pledges. 

 Please forward this link to anyone you think might be interested in supporting the work of the Endangered Alphabets. 


A new reward, a new sense of urgency

Paul Morrow, creator of the first Baybayin font, and the mug he designed for us
Paul Morrow, creator of the first Baybayin font, and the mug he designed for us

Halfway through the current campaign, and already this Kickstarter has seen an outpouring of support unlike anything I’ve done before. Literally every day I get between 10 and 100 messages from all over the planet saying how much people believe in the Endangered Alphabets Project. Some of our amazing supporters have translated the Kickstarter appeal into Japanese and Indonesian. Someone else has written an article about us in Russian. Yet the hard fact is we’re still $10,000 short of our goal with only two weeks to go.

If we don’t reach that goal we get nothing, and the cost of all of the Alphabets activities for the rest of the year will have to come out of my own pocket. Materials and mailing alone will cost several thousand dollars.

We can absolutely still reach that goal, but only by changing the way we’ve been doing things.

For my part, I’m creating some new rewards, the first of which I'll tell you about in a minute. It gives a good feeling to support a worthy cause, but it gives a better feeling to receive something fun, interesting or useful—or all three—in return.

For your part, if you believe in the Endangered Alphabets, I have to ask you whether you can make a donation to our campaign. If you’ve made a donation, I have to ask you whether you can increase it, as some of our backers have already done.

If you’ve been waiting to see whether we really need your support or whether we can get by without it, the answer is—we can’t. Don’t wait any longer. Support us now.

And then tell your friends about the Alphabets. Hearing about our campaign from someone who has already donated is the most powerful referral. If you can’t make a donation, which I totally understand, can you still be a spokesperson for the Alphabets? Can you personally contact two or three people? That’s actually more effective than simply sharing a post or an email with everyone you know. Tell them your impressions. Send them to And then give them the Kickstarter link.

While you're at it, tell them about the new reward, the Endangered Alphabets Mug. Very affordably priced at $25, it features the phrase "endangered alphabets" in English and Baybayin, one of the pre-colonial scripts of the Philippines that is finally starting to enjoy a revival thanks to few few dedicated people interested in their heritage.

Give me an excuse to send you one of these mugs, or one of the other rewards we're offering to backers. Support us today. Now.


Our first urgent goal: $5,000 by Monday


Friends of the Alphabets, one and all, it's time to get serious. We've been dawdling along until now, but not at a rate that would get us to our goal. So let's set our first immediate, short-term goal: $5,000 in backing by Monday.

That would take us to the point where the first two weeks of the campaign are done and we'll need $10,000 in the next two--double the rate up till now, but not impossible.

So please step in. If you've been thinking of supporting us but felt we would reach our goal calmly without you, please reconsider.

If you'd like to back us but can't afford one of the higher-level rewards, we can still get there with plenty of small contributions.

If you've already backed us, you're the perfect spokesperson to convince others to follow your lead.

One way or the other, please recognize the increasing urgency of the campaign and do whatever you can to help. At the Endangered Alphabets, what we've achieved has largely been made possible by our Kickstarter friends. Please keep that tradition going HERE.



Independence, and the meaning of the Mother Tongue exhibition

Pahauh Hmong
Pahauh Hmong

 As those of us in the United States head into the long weekend that celebrates the country's independence from colonial authority (yes, as a Brit I have to accept my birth country's history!), the Endangered Alphabets' Mother Tongue initiative is especially significant.

Take a look at the attached photo, for example. The Hmong were, and to some extent still are, a disadvantaged minority in many of the countries of their native southeast Asia. The fact that they did not have their own written language was seen as a sign of how uncivilized they were. When Shong Lue Yang, an unlettered farmer, created this script for his people it gave them such a strong sense of identity that the majority cultures of the region were disturbed--so much so that soldiers were sent to assassinate him.

I'd like to suggest we think of Independence Day not just in terms of nations but in terms of people and cultures, and the right of all peoples to their own culture, history, identity and language. That's what our Mother Tongue exhibition will be all about.

Please take a moment to back our Kickstarter this weekend--and then go back to celebrating independence.