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The Endangered Alphabets Project

As you probably know, the world has between 6,000 and 7,000 languages, half of which may be extinct by the end of this century. Another and even more dramatic effect of this erosion of cultural diversity 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 I started in 2009 as an exhibition of fourteen carvings (on boards of spectacular Vermont curly maple) and a book, is the first-ever attempt to bring attention to this issue. Read more