Calling All Word Game Lovers: Help Save Endangered Languages

Here’s the press release, in suitably official press release language:

Half the world’s languages are in imminent danger of extinction—but Chittenden County word game lovers have the chance to help stop that decline.

On Wednesday, December 13, area residents of the Champlain Valley region are invited to join the non-profit Endangered Alphabets Project at the Fletcher Free Library to help test and create word games that can be translated into threatened languages and alphabets both in the United States and around the world.

“If you want to revive a language, you have to start with kids, and if you want to engage kids you need games,” explained Tim Brookes, a Champlain College professor and founder of the Endangered Alphabets Project.

Speakers of English and the other major world languages grow up playing word games such as Hangman, Scrabble, Boggle, and word searches. Speakers of indigenous and minority languages often have no such games to develop and reinforce their language skills.

Brookes is working with partners in nine countries to co-create word games for children and adults. The workshop at the Fletcher Free library is one of a series intended to test games currently in development, and come up with ideas for others.

“It would be great if all the Scrabble lovers in Chittenden County showed up,” Brookes joked.

The Endangered Alphabets Project word game workshop will be held in the Fletcher Room of the Fletcher Free Library on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 from 6:30-8 pm.

For more information, call (802) 310-5429 or email

Final call for hand-carved Valentine’s monograms!

The perfect Valentine’s Day gift for lovers of writing, men and women of letters: a matching pair of hand-carved monograms, each roughly 9″x9″, in curly maple, perfect for the wall or mantelpiece.
Given that the purpose of the Endangered Alphabets Project is to raise awareness of the importance of preserving minority cultures, my preference (and that of many others) is to help you find a script you’ll like that will leave all your friends doing a double-take and asking you to tell the story behind it. And of course I’ll send you the necessary information to help you do just that.
Alternatively, I’ll be glad to carve in English letters or, to make them even more personal and unusual, in an ancestral family script. I’ve even been asked to do Elvish.
Cost: $195 for the pair plus shipping.
Contact me at
Please share!

Order now for Valentine’s Day: hand-carved monograms

The perfect Valentine’s Day gift for lovers of writing, men and women of letters: a matching pair of hand-carved monograms, each roughly 9″x9″, in curly maple, perfect for the wall or mantelpiece.

I’ll be glad to carve in English letters or, to make them even more personal and unusual, in an ancestral family script or an endangered alphabet.

Last date for ordering: February 1. Cost: $195 for the pair plus shipping.

Our first sponsor!

Wonderful news–and an invitation.
Moravia, a major international translation and localization company (see www.moravia,com), has agreed to sponsor a significant aspect of the Endangered Alphabets Games initiative–the creation and distribution of card games designed to help indigenous and minority groups revive their traditional writing systems.
The card games are already in the testing stage in their English-language versions; the next step is to work with representatives of interested groups across the word to adapt and translate them into local idioms.
I have already reached out to potential partners from the Cree, Cherokee, Cham, Chakma, Kalmyk, Balinese and Javanese communities. I would be delighted to hear from anyone else who is interested in collaborating with me to create games using playing cards with letters instead of numbers.
Please share this post with anyone who might be interested.


Pre-Christmas Sale!

As we approach the giving season, here is the opportunity to give gifts unlike anyone else’s, and in the process support the global work of language revival. 
The federal non-profit Endangered Alphabets Project, which is not supported by any agency, institution, or foundation, lives by its wits, and in terms of funding that comes down to speaker fees, commissions, donations, and the sale of books and carvings. Signed copies of my book can be ordered HERE; donations can be made HERE.
But wouldn’t it be ideal to buy a carving to give as a gift?

Right now I’m offering three.

The first is a piece of applewood–a ring, really–into which I’ve carved the inscription (in Elvish, not technically an endangered alphabet except in fiction) from the Ring of Power in The Lord of the Rings. A perfect gift for a fan of Tolkien or anyone who likes constructed languages. Dimensions: 27″x16″x2″. $300 plus shipping.

Om and shanti, shanti and om.

The second is a blessing/chant in Balinese, one of the world’s most fluid and evocative scripts: Om and Shanti, Shanti and Om. Clumsily translated, it means “May there be peace for all human kind, peace for all living and non living beings, peace for the universe.”

Dimensions: 23″ x 6 1/2″ x 1″.

The wood is pau rosa, or redheart.

$250 plus shipping.


The third is based on the wonderful Tibetan calligraphy of the Buddhist monk Tashi Mannox. Tibetan is usually written horizontally, but he uses a variety of alignments including circular forms. This is the Tibetan for “Moon,” which of course I have painted in silver.
Dimensions: 8″ x 9 1/2″ x 1″.
The wood is cherry.
$170 plus shipping. By arrangement with Tashi Mannox, a portion of the proceeds of this sale will go to Rokpa International, a non-profit that cares for orphaned and refugee children in the Himalayas.

If you are interested in any of these carvings, please contact me through this site or at



25% off on Endangered Alphabets merchandise!

Gift-giving season is approaching, and, let’s face it, there are no gifts anything like Endangered Alphabets merchandise–on sale at 25% off this Sunday and Monday, November 12 and 13!

Check it all out at, and remember that all proceeds support the Endangered Alphabets Project, a federal 501c3 non-profit. Use the promo code GIVEART25.

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Endangered Word Search!

Here, thanks to a ridiculous amount of time on Photoshop (yes, I have been told it would have been easier in Illustrator, Indesign, or even Word), is what must surely be the first Word Search puzzle ever composed in Marma, one of the endangered indigenous languages of Bangladesh.
The words, mostly for animals and fruit of the region, are taken from our six-language children’s picture-book dictionary, available from
To be honest, I don’t know if I’m using all the words and letters correctly, so I’ve sent it to our friend and colleague Maung Nyeu to check it out.
But once we get it right, this could be yet another valuable tool in reviving endangered languages and traditional scripts, not only in Bangladesh but worldwide.

It has already inspired a friend to create the first word search in Chakma, another of the indigenous languages of Bangladesh.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

For sale

Six months ago, I saw this extraordinary piece of apple wood, this ring, and I knew I wanted to carve around its rim the inscription from the Ring of Power from the Lord of the Rings: “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”
It was fun, but it’s not my main and most serious purpose. I’d like to sell it to continue to fund the Endangered Alphabets Games we’re now developing to help revive a range of endangered languages. The dimensions are roughly 26″ x 16″.
I’m asking $300 plus the cost of boxing and shipping.
If you’re interested, contact me via

Two Alphabets appearances in one week!

No fewer than two opportunities to see the Endangered Alphabets (and me) this week if you’re in Vermont, upstate New York or Quebec.
On Thursday evening at 6 p.m., the Alphabets are part of a double-exhibition at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. One part features artwork from 19th-century expeditions led by Norwich grads; the Alphabets raise the question, “Yes, but what about the explorees?” What is the impact on those whose lands and cultures are “discovered” by those from the West?
On Friday at 6:30 p.m. I’ll be speaking at the new GreenTARA Gallery in North Hero, Vermont, where Alphabets carvings will be displayed and on sale for the next month. Proceeds support the Endangered Alphabets Games–creating games that will help indigenous and minority peoples revive their mother tongues.
Please stop by if you’re in the area!

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