Sequoyah’s syllabary for the Cherokee language

April 2, 2019

Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs and Steel has an engrossing chapter on the evolution of writing as a communication technology. It includes a brief account of the development of a syllabary – a set of written characters that represent syllables – for the Cherokee language. The syllabary looks like this:

Original Cherokee syllabary, via Wikipedia

Some of the signs (or ‘syllabograms’) will look familiar, others like variations of familiar shapes. But any similarity to the Roman, Greek, and Hebrew alphabets is misleading. For example, in a nice demonstration of the arbitrariness of the sign, the first three, R, D, W, encode the sounds e, a, la. So what’s going on?

Read the rest of this entry »


Book spine poem: Microworlds

April 16, 2017

It’s a few months since I made one of these. So: a new book spine poem.

*

‘Microworlds’

Microworlds, a patchwork planet
Solar bones brighter than
A thousand suns.
Gut symmetries collapse,
All fall down,
Vertigo: wide open –
Full catastrophe living.

*

*

Read the rest of this entry »


Book spine poem: After the fire

March 26, 2015

New bookmash! This one’s a bit conflagrationary.

[click to enlarge]

stan carey book spine poem - after the fire

Read the rest of this entry »