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Customer Review

on 14 March 2008
A great guide to the way that English and Arabic alphabets (not to mention all other modern Latin alphabets, and modern Hebrew, as well as ancient Greek, Phonecian, and Aramaic) have all derived from the shared root of the Ancient Hebrew alphabet. Benner uses charts to draw out the diverging evolutionary paths of the alphabets in a very visual way that is easy to understand. Most illuminating, for me, were the appendices containing the ancient Hebrew alphabet (with "translations" of the meaning of each letter), and the parent root dictionary (which shows how two or more letters are combined to create a more complex meaning, which can then be further refined by adding additional letters). For example, the pictographs for the letters "P" and "D" mean "mouth / open" and "door" - so "PD" means "open the door", in the literal sense, and "redeem" in the ideal sense, for which opening the door is a poetic analogy. If you are remotely interested in language and poetry, then you will be fascinated by the ideas and information in this book. It is amazing to think that this ancient root language built mental concepts out of the building blocks of physical realities, and it offers an exciting alternative to the Greek emphasis on the primacy of abstract thought which has formed our own cultural inheritance. My only complaint is that there are quite a lot of typos in the book, but the subject matter is so interesting that I didn't really mind too much.
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