Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New Endangered Alphabets Project Campaign

"Mother Tongue" (in Manchu) Poster
Text: Naoki Watanabe
Photo: Tom Way

I first wrote about The Endangered Alphabets Project in 2011. (See my post of August 22, 2011, "The Endangered Poem Project".) The nonprofit project's work is ongoing. Since 2009, founder and writer Tim Brookes has crafted more than 100 carvings, representing nearly all the world's endangered scripts, displayed and spoken about his carvings throughout North America, and helped to create classroom materials in endangered languages — everything from individual words, to rubber alphabet stamps, to alphabetic wall charts — for indigenous children in Bangladesh. (View the gallery of carvings and furniture.) More recently, Brookes has sought to address cultural erosion and loss by carving in traditional, minority, and indigenous scripts a selection of poems, aphorisms, spiritual texts, and individual words and letters. 

Now Brookes, whose work receives no institutional or foundation monies, is undertaking an important Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000 for an ambitious exhibition in the United States of a major collection of carvings for International Mother Language Day, which will next take place on February 21, 2017. The exhibition, the site for which is not yet determined, is intended to "raise awareness of the importance of allowing every culture the right to speak, read, and write its own language." At the exhibition's conclusion, the carvings will be donated to cultural organizations in the countries of origin.

Watch the campaign kick-off video: "The Right to Read, The Right To Write".

The campaign ends July 21.

Depending on the amount donated, rewards for pledges include The "Mother Tongue" poster (see image above); signed copies of the second edition of Brookes's Endangered Alphabets: An Essay on Writing; wall clocks featuring either the sinuous "E" of the Cham alphabet (see first image below) or the Tibetan phrase "graceful kindness" carved two times in a circle; signed copies of Michael Horlick's Uzbek-English dictionary; carvings of a pair of initials (monogram) of the donor's choice; and carvings in cherrywood of suksma, Balinese for "thank you" (see second image below).

The Letter "E" in Cham

Suksma, Balinese for "Thank You"

Endangered Alphabets Project on FaceBook and Twitter

Endangered Alphabets Book (A second, expanded edition of the book in print is forthcoming, and an expanded digital version is available at iTunes.)

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