July 26, 2013
Author Dan X. Solo
Publisher Dover Publications
Publication Date 1999
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Foreign-Language Alphabets from Dover Publications will not teach you foreign languages, but it contains a cool collection of foreign-language fonts for a cool $19.95 price.
I came across this book when I was scouring the Dover website for language-learning books—and was immediately intrigued. The book is not actually meant for people like me; it is meant for graphic artists who need “hard-to-find” foreign-language alphabets. But I often just want to see what alphabets look like for different languages, so it sounded like a great idea for me anyway. If you are someone who is constantly curious about diacritics, it may be a great idea for you, too.
The book includes 100 complete font sets in 43 languages; they were selected and arranged by Dan X. Solo. Old abuts new. According to the introductory text, “The hundred alphabets in this book are used in printing more than fifty of the world’s principal languages. A few, like Anglo Saxon, may be of interest only to scholars, but most are commercial languages read by large numbers of people.”
There are eight font collections for German (both old and modern), which I’m sure are helpful to designers, but as a language learner, I am more drawn to the pages on less familiar tongues such as Lithuanian, Frisian, and Croatian.
The design of Foreign-Language Alphabets is simple—this is no fancy coffee-table book—but it is jammed full of fabulous letters and would be a wonderful gift for a language lover.