Right now, as you read this page, your brain is taking in dozens of written symbols and translating them into something meaningful for you. Although there was once a time when you had to learn the symbols one by one and read them slowly and carefully, you are now able to do it in a split second without any forethought.
As adults, we tend to take this process for granted. That is, until we come across something written in a foreign writing system. Whenever that happens, we are suddenly reminded of what writing really is -- a collection of strange, arbitrary symbols that remains a secrets until one learns to decipher it.
When I was a kid, I remember opening an encyclopedia (the equivalent of Google in the 1980's) and looking at the first page of the "A" section. There was a little chart at the top with the letter A, followed by a Greek alpha, a Hebrew aleph, and a few other symbols that represented "A" in other languages. I was fascinated by this and quickly turned to each section to see what the equivalents for the other letters were. I started making a chart so that I knew what each letter looked like in other languages. But I quickly learned that not all letters had matching counterparts. I was disappointed and frustrated by this and eventually gave up.
But, over 30 years later, I've finally finished my task :) As someone who now makes charts for a living, I decided that a poster on this topic was long overdue! Having studied a few foreign languages and taken a few linguistics courses as an adult, I now understand that not all writing systems work in the same manner. I've also discovered that there are many more writing systems beyond just English, Hebrew, and Greek. So, the final version is bigger and more complicated than the one I had imagined as a child:
The chart includes all of the following writing systems and alternatives. I am currently in the process of getting a native speaker or expert to double check each one:
- American Manual Alphabet
- Amharic (Ethiopian)
- Anglo-Saxon runes (i.e. Futhorc)
- Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics
- Chinese oracle bone script (example only)
- Chinese (100 useful modern characters)
- Egyptian Hieroglyphics (a few examples only)
- English - Medieval
- English - Modern
- Georgian (Mkhedruki)
- Greek - Archaic
- Greek - Modern
- Hindi (Devanagari)
- Indus Valley (example only)
- Japanese - Hiragana
- Japanese - Katakana
- Korean (Hangul)
- Latin - Archaic
- Latin - Roman
- Maritime Signal Flags
- Morse Code
- NATO Phonetic Alphabet
- Olmec (example only)
- Russian (Cyrillic)
- Prisoner Tap Code
- Punjabi (Gurmukhi)
- Sumerian cuneiform (example only)
The goal of the chart (which includes over 2,000 symbols total) is to demonstrate the beauty and variety of the world’s writing systems. However, it is not meant to be a technical, comprehensive guide to each individual writing system and therefore please be aware that the indicated pronunciations are approximate and that in some cases, certain additional characters may be missing.
The chart will be 24x36" (standard US poster size), printed on thick card stock, and produced in a carbon-neutral facility that only uses eco-friendly inks. It can be be yours for just CA$25 (US$19). Shipping to the US is free. Shipping to Canada is CA$10 and for all other countries, it is CA$25 (US$19).
[ New: for multiple copies of the poster, simply add an extra CA$15 (US$11) per additional poster ]
And now that we have reached our stretch goal, the following 11x17" mini poster will also be included:
I am also offering a gold package that includes the poster as well as two additional items. The first item is a custom-made print (8x8" on thick cardstock) of your name written in 10 different writing systems (Russian, Arabic, Hindi, Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics, Korean, English, Runic, Hebrew, Greek, and Japanese). You can also choose the background color. It will look something like this:
The second bonus item in the gold package is a limited edition 5x7" postcard showing the evolution of the English alphabet (and because we reached our stretch goal, an 11x17" mini poster version as well).
The cost of the Gold Package is $49 US. Shipping to the US is free. Shipping to Canada is $8 US and for all other countries, it is $19 US.
Just the Postcard
Finally, if you just want to show your support for the project without receiving the poster, I will send you the postcard only for just $4 US (sent anywhere in the world with no extra shipping charges).
===== STRETCH GOAL =====
REACHED with just 20 hours to go!!! Thanks everyone :)
If we reach $10,000, I will include an 11x17" mini poster version of the Evolution of the English Alphabet chart to all reward levels (except the small "postcard only" reward.
You can help us reach this goal by sharing the project on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
Note: The archaic Greek & Latin glyphs used in the above charts were made using a licensed version of the Alphabetum font by Juan José Marcos. Most of the other glyphs were made using Google's Noto series of fonts.
Risks and challenges
This is my 5th Kickstarter campaign and the previous 4 all reached their goal. Printing and shipping posters is what I do full-time so I do not foresee any challenges.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)