Better yet, here’s another question: how many publishers do you know whose catalog even has an Alphabets & Symbols division, never mind an expanding one?
Following in the footsteps of Abbeville’s popular Maya Script, Arabic Script, Hieroglyphics, and Chinese Calligraphy titles comes our latest volume about a non-Roman symbol system: Japanese Alphabet: The 48 Essential Characters. In this book, expert polyglot Gabriel Mandel (author of Arabic Script) guides the reader through all 48 principal Japanese characters and their associated sounds, providing the roma-ji, or Roman phonetic spelling, for each. Also included are diagrams that demonstrate how to reproduce each character stroke by stroke, leaving you, the reader, just one fancy calligraphy pen away from writing in one of the world’s most elegant languages. If you’ve already bought the four volumes mentioned, you can even try combining all five ancient languages into one truly impenetrable secret code—or one hell of a party trick (“Any ancient Maya in the room?”).
Readers who are interested in ancient languages qua art can also look forward to one of our upcoming fall publications: Egyptian Wall Painting. A tome as monumental as its subject, this survey of two-dimensional depictions in ancient Egypt—glyphs and pictographs that stood squarely at the intersection of art, language, and religion—features full-page illustrations on special matte paper that actually re-creates the texture of the stuccoed limestone on which the original works were painted. Is there anything we don’t think of?
1.1. “Both in Chinese and Japanese [writing], each character is composed of a series of strokes executed in a prescribed order. Strokes are made from the top down and from the left to the right; horizontal lines are drawn before verticals, whether they are alongside them or cross them. The central stroke is completed before symmetrical parts, and the strokes are made from the inside outward. The final base line is added when the central stroke has been completed; vertical or horizontal lines that cross the entire ideogram are written last.”
Got that? Don’t think you can master the fundamentals of English style and then start getting all sloppy in other languages. Even in East Asia, Abbeville’s got its editorial eye on you, bub.