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Witnessing the Demise of Alphabets: A Journey into the Endangered Alphabets Project and Tim Brookes’s Work


In the realm of written communication, we often take for granted the alphabets we use to express ourselves. But there exists a world of scripts and writing systems facing the threat of extinction, fading away into the annals of history. Tim Brookes, the founder of the Endangered Alphabets Project, has dedicated his efforts to preserving these endangered alphabets, shedding light on their significance and the urgency of their plight.

The Enduring Impact of Calligraphy

I recall a childhood calligraphy class in Washington, DC, where I first encountered the mesmerizing beauty of letters. This experience ignited a lifelong fascination with the aesthetics of writing, whether in elegant handwriting or the typefaces that adorn books. It was this passion that eventually led me to discover Tim Brookes’s work and the importance of preserving endangered alphabets.

Tim Brookes’s Endeavors: Preserving the Vanishing Scripts

Tim Brookes’s work revolves around studying and documenting scripts that may be unfamiliar to many, scripts that might not even be immediately recognizable as writing systems. His passion stems from a desire to understand and appreciate the diversity of written communication across cultures.

The Intersection of Art, Meditation, and Disappearing Writing Systems

A few years ago, Brookes created a captivating installation at the Wadhams Free Library in New York, combining art and meditation to contemplate the fading writing systems around the world. This installation served as a poignant reminder of the fragility of these alphabets and the need for collective action to preserve them.

The Upcoming Book: “Writing Beyond Writing”

Brookes’s latest endeavor is the publication of his book, “Writing Beyond Writing: Lessons from Endangered Alphabets,” scheduled for release on World Endangered Writing Day. Far from being a dry academic discussion, the book promises to delve into the lessons that can be learned from endangered alphabets, offering insights into the evolution of writing systems and the cultural significance of written communication.

The Significance of Endangered Alphabets

The loss of endangered alphabets is not merely a linguistic issue; it represents the erosion of cultural heritage and the erasure of unique perspectives. These alphabets embody the stories, traditions, and identities of communities, serving as vessels of cultural expression and historical knowledge. Their disappearance would leave an irreparable void in the tapestry of human civilization.

A Call to Action: Preserving Our Linguistic Heritage

Brookes’s work serves as a wake-up call, urging us to recognize the importance of preserving endangered alphabets. By documenting, studying, and revitalizing these scripts, we can ensure that future generations have access to the rich linguistic and cultural heritage that these alphabets represent.


Tim Brookes’s dedication to preserving endangered alphabets is a testament to the enduring power of written communication and the significance of cultural diversity. His work reminds us of the fragility of our linguistic heritage and the urgent need to protect and celebrate the alphabets that are on the brink of disappearing. Through initiatives like the Endangered Alphabets Project and the upcoming book “Writing Beyond Writing,” Brookes invites us to embark on a journey of discovery, exploration, and preservation, ensuring that these precious scripts continue to inspire and enrich future generations.