An Exploration of Writing - Peter T. Daniels

An Exploration of Writing - Peter T. Daniels

Syllables and Syllabaries

An Exploration of Writing - Peter T. Daniels

Peter T. Daniels [+-]
Independent Scholar
Peter T. Daniels, the world’s leading expert on writing systems, holds degrees in linguistics from Cornell University and the University of Chicago. His first interests were in Comparative Semitic linguistics, which built to the study of writing and decipherment. His challenge to his teacher I. J. Gelb’s influential theories of the evolution of scripts has led to a persistent search for legitimate principles of the nature and development of writing. He is co-editor (with William Bright) of and principal contributor to The World’s Writing Systems (1996) and is hte author of An Exploration of Writing (Equinox, 2018).


The first chapter immediately signals that something unusual is going on: it begins with English, the language most familiar to the reader, but it begins with Noah Webster’s American Spelling Book, which presciently presented each word to be learned in terms of its syllabic structure. The unifying theme of the book is thus adumbrated. The best-known syllabary of the modern world, Cherokee, is presented in some detail, providing the opportunity to introduce the concept of phoneme that has proved so important in the history of writing. The syllabaries of modern West Africa are introduced, and those of the ancient Aegean and Anatolia are mentioned.

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Daniels, Peter . Syllables and Syllabaries. An Exploration of Writing. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 7-13 Feb 2018. ISBN 9781781795293. Date accessed: 12 Nov 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30862. Feb 2018

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