You may have noticed that I have (very slightly) changed the subheading for Glossographia from the former ‘Anthropology, linguistics, and prehistory’ to the new ‘Anthropology, linguistics, archaeology, and writing systems’. I don’t actually post on prehistoric archaeology very much at all, but I do post on the archaeology of literate societies reasonably often. And, in particular, I post on issues in epigraphy, writing systems, and literacy very often, so I thought it fitting to promote that subject to its current place of prominence.
Unfortunately, in my experience, there just aren’t that many blogs that focus on issues relating to writing systems and literacy. Sure, each regional archaeological tradition in the ancient world has its blogs that occasionally discuss textual evidence, inscriptions, paleography, and so on – some of them, like Rollston Epigraphy, do so regularly, others sporadically. Even then, I don’t know of any academic blogs that focus on cuneiform or on Egyptian hieroglyphs (though I’d love to be shown to be wrong). And of course, Language Log and other general linguistics blogs do occasionally touch on written language. But in terms of actual academic blogs that are dedicated in part or in whole to writing systems (their typology, their history, their linguistic features) or literacy (the social and cognitive context and use of writing), there isn’t that much out there. Maya Decipherment is the most prominent, surely because of the importance of David Stuart in the field. There’s BabelStone, where Andrew West has, very quietly, been blogging for eight years on Ogham, on Central / Inner Asian scripts, and on issues relating to typography and Unicode. The wonderful Shady Characters focuses specifically on punctuation – check it out – it deserves a massive readership. The Omniglot site covers writing systems in some detail, and the corresponding blog does sometimes cover issues in writing systems. Years ago we used to have Abecedaria, which had general information on writing systems with a focus on the ancient Near East and Levant, but it’s long defunct. Michael Everson used to blog about the letter þorn at þorn.info, but that’s been quiet for a year or more. And … well, that’s about all I know of or read regularly. Do you know of any others?
So, the change in the header does not reflect an actual change in what I’ll be posting, but is simply a recognition that there really is a need for a blog with a focus on general issues on writing systems and literacy, and that since 2008, this has been one of a relatively small number of places that actually does that.