• by Michael Rosen
  • Narrated by Michael Rosen
  • 12 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From minding your Ps and Qs to wondering why X should mark the spot, Alphabetical is a book for everyone who loves words and language. Whether it's how letters are arranged on keyboards or Viking runes, textspeak or zip codes, this book will change the way you think about letters forever.
How on earth did we fix upon our 26 letters? What do they really mean? And how did we come to write them down in the first place?
Michael Rosen takes you on an unforgettable adventure through the history of the alphabet in 26 vivid chapters, fizzing with personal anecdotes and fascinating facts. Starting with the mysterious Phoenicians and how sounds first came to be written down, he races on to show how nonsense poems work, pins down the strange story of OK, traces our five lost letters and tackles the tyranny of spelling, among many, many other things.
His heroes of the alphabet range from Edward Lear to Phyllis Pearsall (the inventor of the A-Z), and from the two scribes of Beowulf to rappers. Each chapter takes on a different subject - whether it's codes, umlauts or the writing of dictionaries.
Rosen's enthusiasm for letters positively leaps off the page, whether it's the story of his life told through the typewriters he's owned or a chapter on jokes written in a string of gags and word games.
So if you ever wondered why Hawaiian only has a 13-letter alphabet, why X should mark the spot or became shorthand for Christmas or how exactly to write down the sound of a wild raspberry, read on....


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Enjoyable - and the PDF file is indeed available

"Alphabetical" is a pleasant read/listen, and, unlike many books about linguistics, seems well grounded in actual facts. Author Michael Rosen reads it marvelously in his British-but-not-posh accent. With this book you get an interesting and educational, if not very profound, look at alphabets and other phonetic/linguistic phenomena.

By the way, Rosen tells the reader to consult "the PDF" several times for written examples of alphabets, etc., which he refers to. This file can be found on the page for this audiobook, at the end of the Publisher's Summary. Just click where it says "Download the accompanying reference guide."
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- Douglas McClure

Not really "Linguistics" but a lot of fun

Linguistics is one of my favorite topics and I have listened to and read many on the topic. I thought this book was going to be a serious study of the history of the alphabet. I was wrong, but more than pleasantly surprised. Each letter of the alphabet is the starting off point for each chapter, but then Michael Rosen takes you on a wonderful trip of language and delight after the serious stuff is over. Michael reads the book in his delightful accent and just has a lot of fun. He is more a comedian and storyteller than an academic - more to his credit. Highly recommend for a fun trip down the alphabet.
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- C. Beaton

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-28-2013
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton