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Woodcarver Tim Brookes speaks on Endangered Alphabets, April 3rd 11 am

Tim Brookes, woodcarver
Author of Endangered Alphabets

Tuesday, April 3, 11 am
Sterling Memorial Library Lecture Hall

The world has between 6,000 and 7,000 languages, but as many as half of them will be extinct by the end of this century. Another and even more dramatic way in which this cultural diversity is shrinking concerns the alphabets in which those languages are written.

Writing has become so dominated by a small number of global cultures that those 6,000-7,000 languages are written in fewer than 100 alphabets. Moreover, at least a third of the world’s remaining alphabets are endangered–-no longer taught in schools, no longer used for commerce or government, understood only by a
few elders, restricted to a few monasteries or used only in ceremonial documents, magic spells, or secret love letters.

The Endangered Alphabets Project, which consists of an exhibition of fourteen carvings and a book, is the first-ever attempt to bring attention to this issue.

“….my two worst subjects in high school were art and woodworking. I originally chose wood because of its permanence, but also because it is so beautiful. Only after I got going did I start seeing wood as a kind of ancestor material: paper was originally made out of crushed mulberry bark, papyrus is a reed, many of the scripts in southeast Asia and Indonesia used palm leaves—it seems as though wood is there in the background all the time, and carving in wood has a kind of primeval feel, almost mythic.” (Tim Brookes)

All are welcome to this talk, where Tim will show examples of his endangered alphabet woodcarvings.