Almost half-way!

Dear friends and faithful supporters of the Endangered Alphabets:

Something remarkable is happening. Actually, several somethings. An incredible surge of support from friends old and new has rushed us almost to the halfway point in our campaign. What I’m hearing is:

On the most immediate level, the Endangered Alphabets Project is doing things that have never been done before. Using artwork to draw attention to the loss of traditional cultures all over the world. Creating learning materials to help prevent that erosion and loss. Writing, illustrating and publishing the world’s first six-language children’s picture-book dictionary in endangered languages. And now…

…designing games that kids (and adults) can play using their own traditional languages, spoken and written.

The Endangered Alphabets Game tile carvings
The Endangered Alphabets Game tile carvings

That’s the focus of our current Kickstarter campaign, at And of course I’d like you to go there and pledge support, but first, the more important news:

All these Alphabets activities are having an effect. I recently displayed the game tile carvings in Barcelona and Paris, and spoke about them to UNESCO, and the enthusiasm and encouragement were wall-to-wall. Translators and linguists, game designers and graphic designers, calligraphers and programmers and businesspeople–I’ve never seen such positive response.

Of course: to revive languages, you have to start with children, and to involve children, you have to create games.

The Endangered Alphabets Game campaign is likewise drawing approval and support at an unprecedented rate. Not only are people donating, but they are blogging about it, posting on Facebook, setting up podcasts. I’m being contacted by people all over the world who want to collaborate in the act of creating games that will teach traditional writing systems.

This may be the most important and powerful Endangered Alphabets activity yet. Please support us, and please spread the word. I was recently discussing the subject with a global official in this field, and she used the phrase “dying languages.” I was horrified. “I don’t think in terms of `dying languages,'” I told her. “I think in terms of what we can do to revive them and the cultures that use them.”

And games are what we are going to do next.

As part of this surge of interest and energy, I’m adding a new reward to the campaign: my carving of the Javanese character that announces the opening of a poem, carved in golden-flecked sapele wood. One of the great discoveries of working on the Alphabets has been the ways in which other writing systems encompass symbols we’ve apparently never even considered, or which denote ideas or insights we don’t see, or don’t see as important. The notion of a piece of–what, punctuation?–that invites us to read a text with a different frame of mind! I find that fabulous.

The Javanese know how to respect a poem.
The Javanese know how to respect a poem.

That link again:

Please help us fund not just the first game, but the first series of games–the games that show others that languages are not dying, but waiting to be revived.

Thanks so much.


PS And speaking of games, our very latest Kickstarter reward just arrived–endangered alphabet puzzles! Based on designs in kid-friendly minority script from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh by the absurdly talented Irina Wang. This one says “storm,” and depicts–a storm. The other says “mango,” and depicts–well, you get the picture.