I have always found a certain beauty in letters and words on a page, whether or not I can understand them. Maybe they’re written in one of the many languages that uses the Latin alphabet—from Afrikaans to Vietnamese to Cherokee. Maybe they’re Ukrainian or Mongolian, two languages that use the Cyrillic script. Maybe they’re written in intricate Chinese characters or in elegant Arabic calligraphy, or maybe they’re expressed by a lesser-known writing system such as Ge’ez (used to write Amharic) or Kaddare (used to write Somali).
Whatever the case may be, humanity has devised a vast number of very different scripts and alphabets to represent the many languages spoken worldwide (those that have written forms, anyway, as some 3,000 do not). Each of these systems is unique and adapted to the language(s) that it is used to write. Thanks to them, seemingly random strokes and symbols become a powerful medium for communication, transforming spoken into written language.
Issue 11 of Unravel is dedicated to scripts and orthography, the visual representation of the sounds of a given language. These are important and sometimes overlooked aspects of language use and meaning, and we hope to shed some light on them with the articles found in this issue. Included as part of the Special Feature are articles on the origins of the Western alphabet, languages that have switched writing systems, silent letters in English, and more. In addition, you will discover five tips for learning a new language, as well as one student’s reflection on her journey to bilingualism.
As always, this issue would not have come together without the dedicated work of the talented writers, editors, designers, and other contributors who make Unravel a success. And of course, to our readers and followers: Thank you; none of this would be possible without your continued support. We hope that you enjoy Issue 11! Happy reading!
Special Feature Editor for Unravel Issue 11