The Return of the $1,000 Weekend!

If we’re to stay on course to make our Kickstarter goal and publish a children’s picture-book dictionary of endangered languages, we need to raise another $1,000 by 9 a.m. EST on Monday.
The last time we set a thousand-dollar weekend goal we succeeded, thank to support all over the world–some in large pledges, some in small ones. And some thanks to Facebook friends sharing my post and urging their friends to help out.
So: please back us at, or send others our way.
Or both!
P.S. The image is indeed one of my carvings, but it’s not a language from the Hill Tracts. Extra points if you spotted that–and didn’t complain!

Now or Never, and the Kitchen Sink

Dear Friends of the Endangered Alphabets:

It’s now or never. We have less than 10 days to raise more than $5,000 in our current campaign (, and the urgency level has just reached critical.

If you’ve been half-thinking of supporting us, please hesitate no longer.

So in order to help crank open those rusty floodgates, I’m throwing the kitchen sink at you in terms of rewards. (Apologies for the mixed plumbing metaphors, there. It’s a symptom of stress.)


Sturdy, handy, attractive, thermally insulated, the accessory every busy person needs. Featuring a still life photo by my daughter Zoe Brookes showing my work in progress.

The Endangered Alphabets travel mug
The Endangered Alphabets travel mug


Carved live at the Smithsonian, this coffee mug displays a proverb in Marma, one of the languages we’ll be including in our children’s pictorial dictionary. I mean, who else will have a coffee mug like this?

The Marma Proverb Mug reward. Imagine it on your kitchen counter!
The Marma Proverb Mug reward. Imagine it on your kitchen counter!


What better way to jot down your thoughts on language as you travel? An elegant, well-made and eminently practical notebook displaying the Marma proverb I carved at the Smithsonian.

The Marma Proverb Notebook reward. Make a note of it!
The Marma Proverb Notebook reward. Make a note of it!


One of my first acts to support Our Golden Hour as they began developing the schools where indigenous children can be educated in their own mother tongues was to carve the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in their languages, for display in the schools. This is the Chakma version in progress, showing the method to my method. Chakma is one of the languages that will be included in our children’s picture-book dictionary.

A print, suitable for framing of my Chakma carving in progress
A print, suitable for framing of my Chakma carving in progress


This is the book that tells the story of the Alphabets, from making Christmas presents on my dining-room table to getting emails from strangers in Ulan Baatar and Djakarta sending me pieces of text to carve. Lavishly illustrated, as they say. Expanded second edition with more photos, more alphabets, and the notoriously hard Endangered Alphabets Quiz.

If none of these rewards thrills you, suggest others! But whatever you do please back us at, and please forward this link or this update to anyone who you think might be interested, nudging them gently but firmly.



Thanks, and two new rewards

Not everyone bars immigrants and refugees. The phrase “Mother Tongue” in Mro, one of the languages we will include in our dictionary, on the shores of Lake Champlain.

 As the deadline of our current Kickstarter approaches, we’re starting to gain some of the velocity we need to reach that $10,000 goal, thanks to Greta Bell, Kathy Leo-Nyquist, Josh Koehn, Paul Tacon, Tor Iver Wilhelmsen and Irina Wang. To all of you, sincere gratitude.

As one way of showing our thanks, we’re offering a new reward: anyone who pledges $20 or more at will have his or her name included in a special acknowledgments page in the dictionary. This includes everyone who has already pledged!

And the other new reward is in the photo at the head of this update: for anyone who pledges $350 or more, I’ll carve the iconic phrase “Mother tongue”–the right to speak, read and write in one’s own language that is at the heart of everything the Endangered Alphabets does–in cherrywood. 

What better way to display your commitment to this children’s-dictionary project and the commitment to cultural diversity it represents? 

Help! We have slipped back by $5,000!

Dear Friend of the Endangered Alphabets: We need your help because of a totally unexpected and new (to me) difficulty.
It looks on the home page of our current Kickstarter campaign ( as though we are very close to meeting our goal, but we are not.
Because of a software glitch, we actually have $5,000 less in pledges than the Kickstarter page shows. Far from being comfortably around $9,000, we are actually just over $4,000.
We’re working to correct the situation, but in the meantime I am in the awkward position of having to solicit support for our campaign and correct a misleading impression.
Hence this urgent post. If by chance you were feeling we don’t need your backing as we are inches away from our goal with more than two weeks still to go, please know that we do, indeed need your support.
In fact, we need more than $300 a day in new pledges every day until February 26th. It’s certainly doable, but it means we have to pick up our combined efforts right away.
If you can help us, we will certainly appreciate it, as I appreciate your understanding of this awkward and frustrating situation.
With best wishes,

Our next goal: $10,000 by the Tenth!

Well, we succeeded in the Super Weekend $500 challenge, thanks to Laurie Price, Alec Julien and Chris McLaren. By the time the Patriots were mounting their comeback, these three had intercepted and sacked the $500, and it was lying defeated on the goal line.

Next goal: $10,000 in total pledges. At this point we’re hoping to reach our stretch goal of $15,000 by the campaign is over, which would enable us to print more copies of the dictionary and get it into not only the schools but the communities. But first we have to get to $10,000.

At the rate our supporters are coming forward, we should be able to get there by Friday, February 10th. So let’s set that as our aim: noon EST on Friday. Please back us at

Ten thousand by the tenth. Let’s do it!

Thanks so much.

Heartfelt Thanks, News from our Game, and We Need a $500 Day!

Kids in the Chittagong Hill Tracts entranced by one of the books we co-produced with Our Golden Hour and the Champlain College Publishing class.

First, some very good news. Our Kickstarter campaign has picked up momentum again, thanks to support from Jill Chase, Nicholas Doiron, Jackson Greer, Kim Hinson, Linda Schiffer, Giustina Selvelli, and Bob Twomey. I don’t know which makes me feel more grateful–those who are backing us for the first time, or those who have backed us yet again. The link:

Now, some fun news. To highlight our project and to stay sane at this stressful time, I sent out a challenge inviting people to send me the word “dictionary” in as many different languages as possible. I’m going to print them out and stick them to my daughter’s bedroom door. (She’s studying in Paris, and these are a playful take on the Wall of Languages in Montmartre.) You can see the progress of this game and send your own submissions by finding and friending me on Facebook. So far my favorite translation of “dictionary” is “D@NearPalm-PalmDown-OpenB@CenterChesthigh-PalmUp.”

Finally, the urgent news: in order to stay on track WE NEED TO RAISE AT LEAST $500 IN PLEDGES IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS. Please take this seriously. Make a pledge yourself. Rally your friends. Copy and paste this appeal to your blog, or to a language blog you know, or in an email to colleagues. Print it out and post it up in your library. The only way we’re going to make this goal is by recruiting an ever-expanding range of supporters.

Thanks, everyone.


Part of the Wall of Languages in Montmartre

Great support, up to a point…

Not everyone bars immigrants and refugees. Mro on the shores of Lake Champlain.

No Kickstarter campaign I’ve ever run or consulted on has received such overwhelming, widespread, heartfelt support and encouragement. We’ve had messages from all over the world wishing us luck, offering assistance, sharing the photos and video, validating the project.

Yet the nuts-and-bolts part, the actual pledging of support, has been weirdly quiet. After a great first day, the weekend brought in very little, despite help from Sarcalistic, Margaret Ransdell-Green, Janet Whatmough, Lynda Ulrich, MIchael Shiver, Tecwynn Evans, Belle, Hans de Wolf, and Zlatomira Ilchovska.
Are the rewards perhaps not interesting and attractive enough? If you care to suggest a reward that follows the Kickstarter rules by being an extension or byproduct of the campaign, I’d love to hear about it.
In the meantime I’ll just keep on working on the existing rewards–the photo accompanying this post is of my carving of the phrase “Mother tongue” in Mro, which will be made into a postcard for the $25-level reward–and wondering at this strange cognitive dissonance.
The Kickstarter #Make100 link is, of course:

Here we go!

Our Kickstarter campaign has raced through the approval process and has already officially launched! Our goal: to raise $10,000 so we can publish children’s pictorial dictionaries in several of the endangered languages of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. Our partner non-profit, Our Golden Hour, will then use them in schools in which instruction takes place in these indigenous languages. Check it all out at, and PLEASE SUPPORT US!

Coming soon: International Mother Language Day Exhibition

Two carvings for my forthcoming exhibition at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, on International Mother Language Day.
Both say “mother tongue,” the top one in Thai Lanna, the lower one in Mandaean. The woods are monkey pod and olive respectively.
The exhibition will open the day before International Mother Language Day–namely, February 20th–and will be up for a couple of weeks. Stop by if you’re in the area and I’ll be happy to give you a guided tour.
Please share this with anyone who might be interested!

ea-z-2-url-2a-fixedwhiteBack in time for Christmas and other holiday shopping–the beautiful and attention-getting Endangered Alphabets T-shirt!
Our first campaign, a couple of months ago, was successful, and now people across the United States and Europe are wearing their T-shirts or will be unwrapping them in a few weeks’ time.
We’re doing one last gift-season campaign, aiming to sell at least 20 shirts in the next six-and-a-bit days.
The design, by Alec Julien and Zoë Brookes, features the Manchu word for “sky” or “heaven.” Find the T-shirts at
And while we’re at it, don’t forget to order your language-loving friends and relatives copies of the new expanded edition of my book Endangered Alphabets, the link for which can be found on the home page of this website.
All profits support the registered non-profit Endangered Alphabets Project in our work to support minority and indigenous cultures worldwide.
Tell your friends!
Thanks, and best wishes.

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