• Sign In
  • Help
  • My Basket0
The books you love, the emails you want
Opt in by 25 May or you'll stop hearing from us
Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story (Hardback)
  • Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story (Hardback)

Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story (Hardback)

2 Reviews Sign in to write a review
Hardback 336 Pages / Published: 07/11/2013
  • Not available

This product is currently unavailable.

  • This item has been added to your basket
Check availability At your local shop

Check Marketplace availability

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 for ever.

How on Earth did we fix upon our twenty-six 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 twenty-six 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 seven 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 thirteen-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 . . .

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
ISBN: 9781848548862
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 583 g
Dimensions: 221 x 143 x 41 mm

[Michael Rosen's] beguiling journey through the alphabet will entrance anyone interested in the quirks of language and its history . . . Rosen has written a charming and thought-provoking book about what written language represents, how we use it, and the joys and mysteries therein. His humor and obvious love for his subject are winning elements * Publishers Weekly *
This is a fascinating read and great gift for Christmas * Bookseller *
Enjoyable history of the alphabet * The Times *
Substantial and engaging * Guardian *
Forget party crackers - when you settle down to the turkey and trimmings this year simply make sure you have this book to hand. There's even a chapter devoted to family friendly alphabet games: perfect for playing after the Queen's been on. That letters can and should be fun, not just functional, is one of the main messages of this book * Sunday Telegraph *
The perfect book for anyone who relishes the intricacies of language and letters . . . [Rosen] reveals a gift for seamlessly meshing hard information, personal anecdote, jokes and puzzles with educational, cultural and linguistic questions and wry, pointed, observations . . . There are delights in this book for all ages * Australian *
[Michael Rosen] gives each letter a neat CV . . . enjoyable * The Times *

You may also be interested in...

A Dictionary of Modern English Usage
Added to basket
Written in Stone
Added to basket
Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins
Added to basket
English for the Natives
Added to basket
Red Herrings and White Elephants
Added to basket
£7.99   £6.49
The Unfolding Of Language
Added to basket
A Little Book of Language
Added to basket
A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi
Added to basket
Is That a Fish in Your Ear?
Added to basket
The Naming of the Shrew
Added to basket
I Is an Other
Added to basket
Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs
Added to basket
Lost in Translation
Added to basket
Reading the Gaelic Landscape
Added to basket


View all

“A fascinating insight”

Apparently this is the book Michael Rosen has always wanted to write, and I can see why. Written language is a uniquely human invention, and as such, exploring its development can tell us so much about ourselves. In... More

Paperback edition
5th July 2014
Helpful? Upvote 36

“Fascinating journey through the alphabet!”

This book takes you though the alphabet, letter by letter. Michael Rosen tells us the origin of each letter, how it can be pronounced, and then adds an essay on some literary topic (e.g. D is for Disappeared Letters... More

Paperback edition
13th August 2014
Helpful? Upvote 30

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.