eBooks have been rapidly expanding in acceptance during the past few years, especially amongst students. Publication has seen stable growth since 2005 due to a variety of reasons, not least being space and financial resources of libraries. Because of the lower overheads publishers are able to provide them at more attractive prices as, digitally, they are easier to sell and distribute.Despite the fact that paper books still have a place within society, electronic journals have captured substantial and widespread popularity amongst academic scholars.
There are three types of ebooks: the first are web books which can easily be accessed via the internet. The second are palm books which are more portable and internet connection is not required. The third type are produced with electronic ink to display content that uses lucent technologies.
The major advantage though is the method of publication. Electronic books can be created by anyone and have the potential to spread worldwide. As a result they can be accessed from any location virtually without the damage that this can cause to a printed copy. Online catalogues are used now by most libraries and reader can store thousands of books in a tiny space, accesible via the cloud at any point in time.
ebook proponants also cite the disadvantages of paper copies; these are mainly space, weight and cost.
However on the side of the printed copy; the method of printing books on paper has a long history behind it. Printed communication has been found in many mediums, from cave paintings, through clay tablets and wooden blocks and through Gutenberg's press to moveable type. There are several unique advantages that the traditional printed publications offer.
Books don't suffer from light/glare issues and eye strain that continually staring at a screen can bring. Books come in all shapes and sizes, with photos, illustrations, silky pages and textured papers that appeal to many readers. Books are ready the moment that you pick them up and you can work easily with many books at once. They can be shared, resold and can be perused freely in stores before purchase. They can withstand quite a lot of usage and some last for centuries. No batteries required.
Certain qualities of print will not be matched by electronic devices within the foreseeable future and the virtual aspects of electronic information are sometimes difficult for readers to comprehend than the structure of a paperbound book.
For my part I find that for going on holiday and not having to carry a suitcase load of books is extremely useful, however I still love the feeling of a 'proper' book and bedtime reading wouldn't be the same without them.
The first alphabet came about 3700 years ago via the West Semitic people of the Sinai. They had become workers or slaves under the Egyptians and saw the hieroglyphs that were being used. Only the consonants in the hieroglyphs were recorded, no vowels, thus the Sinaitic script adopted the same format. The Egyptians used multi-consonant signs but Sinaitic used only single consonant letters.
The South Arabian family evolved at around 1300BC eventually becoming a highly elegant script by the 5th century BC. As Islam increased in popularity the script diffused across the Red Sea into Ethiopia and this is still used today.
The Phoenician alphabet evolved into a more linear form by the 12th century BC and most of the alphabets that are used today descend from this. The immediate offsprings were the old Hebrew alphabet and Archaic Greek. Aramaic became very popular and became an international language spoken from Anatolia all the way to the Persian Gulf. In Israel it became the Jewish alphabet.
Then, of course, we have the Greek and Latin scripts. No archeological remains have been discovered of the early Greek - examples only date from the 8th century BC but many scholars believe that it was adopted from the Phoenician between 1200 - 900 BC. The Euboean variant was transmitted to the Etruscans and so on to Latin.
Futhark and Ogham are both systems that were used in Northern Europe before being replaced by the Latin alphabet - the origins of these are still under debate.
Since Cave 1 was discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd looking for his goat the preservation of these scrolls is still ongoing. More than 800 documents were found in 11 caves, copper and papyrus were used as well as the predominant parchment and were written in Aramaic, as well as Hasmonaean, Archaic, and Herodian Hebrew scripts. There were some Phoenician, late Qumranic and Moabite influences too.
Parchment was made using animal skins which meant that a variety of skills, tools and materials would have been needed. Sheep, goats, cows or deer skins were washed and then tanned or treated with alum and powdered chalk, then beaten until soft.
The production of papyrus involved reed, pumice stones and paste. The strips were cross-layered at right angles, beaten and pressed together, the dried sheets were then polished with the pumice and cut to a standard size.
It was a huge amount of work and the treatment process required hammers, mallets, measuring tools, pointed instruments, pens, ink, needles and thread. The material was then cut into strips and sewn together to form a scroll with a handle sheet attached to one end.
Now it was ready for the scribe who would mark the edges of the columns by scoring margins and lines would then be ruled. The size and availability of a parchment dictated the number of columns to a sheet, lines to a column and size of margin.
Inscription was done using a carbon-based dye ink. The standard and style of writing varied considerably. Some scrolls have been amended by a different scribe and the Community Rule scrolls found in Cave 1 were actually written by 2 different people.
Where all this activity took place no-one is sure. It was thought at first that the whole process took place at Qumran but the community there was very small and the writing styles varied greatly. It has been discovered that some of the 1st century scripts actually came from the Jerusalem area and the time line has been determined, as being between 5th century BCE and 2nd century CE.
In order to date the writing styles the palaeographers looked at the appearances of letters; size or stance, base strokes length, roundness or angularity; leg lengths, line faithfulness; ligatures and ornamental ticks. Frank Cross has developed a typology of the Hebrew scripts but even so dating is not exact.
Spelling - the study of which is called orthography - in the scrolls was also an issue as Hebrew does not have proper vowel letters, and, as stated before, varying styles were used. There was no such thing as a dictionary with an official spelling or pronunciation.
The scrolls are still being translated and studied and, as a feat of production, that in itself is amazing. 800 documents over 500-600 years is a fantastic collection and is attributed to the Essenes - but again, that is under debate. The variation in language, style and content is huge and the question of the origin of the scrolls, once confined to the history of the settlement itself - which was only 150 years - now sets a much broader agenda.
Otherwise known as Lewis Carroll, was born in on 27th January 1832 in Daresbury, Cheshire. His father, Charles (as were his grandfather and great grandfather) was a clergyman in the Anglican church. His mother was Frances Jane Lutwidge. Charles was the eldest boy but already had two older sisters and there were to be eight younger. When Charles was 11 the family moved from Daresbury to Croft-on-Tees in North Yorkshire where they stayed for 25 years. His early education was at home and he proved to be an able student, reading 'A Pilgrim's Progress' at the age of 7. When he was 12 he went to a small school in Richmond not far away and at 14 he went to Rugby, the same school that his father had attended. He excelled but was not happy and left after 3 years. There is a gap of 2 years before he went to Oxford in 1851, again following his father's footsteps, to Christ Church College. He had only been there 2 days before his mother died at the age of 47. After a year he received a First Honours in Maths and this led to his winning the Christ Church Mathematical Lectureship - a place held by him for 26 years. The work was boring (he felt) but it paid well and he remained at the University for the rest of his life.
His health was not good - he was deaf in one ear, had a weak chest from a whooping cough attack at age 17, he had a knee injury and also suffered with a stammer. This, however, did not appear to stop him becoming a very good entertainer - singing, storytelling and mimicry. Perhaps the stammer enhanced his ability as he was determined to overcome it. He was also good at the game of charades.
His associates were of the pre-Raphaelite persuasion after meeting with John Ruskin in 1857 and becoming close friends with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Arthur Hughes. The author George MacDonald was also a friend and it was to his children that Charles submitted Alice. They encouraged him to have the work published.
Charles had been submitting work for publication in magazines such as 'The Comic Times', 'Whitby Gazette@, 'The Train' and 'Oxford Critic' for some time and in 1856 he sent a poem to 'The Train' under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. Lewis is the English version of Ludovicus which is Latin for Lutwidge and Carroll is similar to the Latin Carolus which is where Charles originates.
The book 'Alice in Wonderland' is said to have been inspired by his friendship with Dean Henry Liddell, his wife Lorina and their children and yet Dodgson always denied that the Alice in the book was actually Henry's daughter, even though her name appears in a poem in 'Through the Looking Glass'.
This amazing granodiorite stele with script in hieroglyphics, demotic and Greek, was discovered 20th August 1799 near the town of Rashid by Pierre-Francois Bouchard, a soldier in Napoleon's army, whilst strengthening the defences at Fort Julien. Following defeat of the French in 1801 the stone was appropriated by the English under the Capitulation of Alexandria and, since 1802, has been on display at the British Museum. Thomas Young began deciphering the hieroglyphs.
During the summer of 1808 the Abbe de Terson, who had made a copy of the stone whilst on a visit to London, allowed Jean-Francois Champollion access. He already had a book of notes and drawings created by Vivant Denon in 1802. The race was on!
Champollion began with the demotic but had difficulty getting any further with the hieroglyphs. Another study published in 1808 by Marie-Alexandre Lenoir frustrated him - he was determined to be the first to crack the 'code' but it took him another 14 years and career as a University professor before his breakthrough in 1822.
The stone is judged to be so important that it has been the subject of debate for over 300 years. As well as the contributions of Young and Champollion there are also constant demands from Egypt for its return.
Writing styles fascinate me. Why do we pick, say, Peter James over James Patterson? Why do many people love J K Rowling and Dan Brown and yet others have issues? I love the Regency period but prefer to watch Jane Austen rather than read her, yet adore Charlotte Bronte and Georgette Heyer.
Whilst reading Thomas Hardy for A level I could never understand why he felt it necessary to spend four pages describing a meadow and yet he is deemed one of our 'classic' authors.
I have dabbled with different styles after learning that authors such as M C Beaton and Elizabeth Peters write under different names for different genres and quite enjoy writing through the eyes of my dog Bentley.... Here is a diary entry from December:
"We've had another busy month - mostly shopping, which Enzo loves. Weird! He goes all waggy-tail and bouncy when we arrive at the garden centre. I wanted to see Santa but they wouldn't let me in sadly. We've chosen baubles, lights and crackers as well as beefy treats that were amazing. Enzo spent all his pocket money and our spare room is off-limits again as he keeps going and shoving his little nose in the bags and having a rummage.
We've got Treacle staying with us today as her Mum is going out. She's a naughty Labrador and steals stuff. Enzo and I just watched as she came with a treat - where did she have it from, we wondered? Had she managed to open the cupboard door? Impressive!"
Try out some different styles; put on another 'hat' whilst writing. It's great fun and you can be anyone you chose to be. Try a Pam Ayres style for poetry or a Danny Bhoy comedy piece, then send some to us and let us have a look.
After an internet glitch yesterday I had a chance to go back and find a few more examples:
Draconian - Sweeping, drastic, harsh or severe powers, usually legal ones. This is named after Drakon the 7th century Athenian legislator and used in England from 1876.
Gibberish - Dr Johnson believed that this word derived from the 11th century Arabian alchemist Geber who had translated into Latin the work of Jabir ibn Hayyan (8th century). Jabir used a mystical jargon as he knew that, if discovered, his writings would have meant the death penalty.
Gordon Bennett - an exclamation popular in the 1980s. James Gordon Bennett II (1841-1918) was the editor-in-chief of the New York Herald who sent Henry Morton Stanley to search for Dr Livingstone in Africa. He was exiled to Paris after a scandal but still managed to operate his paper from there. He spent over 40 million dollars during his lifetime, offered many trophies to stimulate French sport including the Gordon Bennett cup for motor racing, and became 'one of the most picturesque figures of two continents'.
Leotard - named after the tight one-piece garment worn by the French trapeze artist Jules Leotard (1830-70).
OK - the origins are still debated, it could be Greek, Finnish, American Indian, Haitian or from the First World War meaning '0 killed'
After last week's entry I thought I'd look up some of the origins of our words and phrases and discovered a copy of Cassell's Dictionary on my book-shelf. Here are a few of my favourites .....
Barnstorm - The first definition relates to actors. The word originated in the US in the early 19th century when actors actually went about the countryside performing in barns and similar informal venues. Their style was that found in melodramas but it was probably more the makeshift nature of touring which gave it its second definition (used from 1890s) relating to politicians who stomped about seeking votes.
Belt and braces - this applies to a system being used that has a back-up i.e. if one part breaks then another will carry on. The phrase was being used by 1930s by engineers. it was also the name of a British theatre group in the 1970s. An Australian engineer was heard to comment in in 1993 that some of his colleagues would talk of belt, braces and bowyangs too - bowyangs are ties round a workman's trousers to keep out cold and mud.
Berserk - meaning frenziedly mad and deriving from the Berserkers, legendary Norse warriors who fought frenziedly in battle. They wore 'bear-sark' or 'bear-coat' clothing.
Cross the Rubicon - To make a significant decision from which there is no turning back deriving from Julius Caesar's crossing the stream of that name in 49BC passing from Cisalpine Gaul into Italy and so becoming an invader.
During a conversation with a friend over Christmas she said that she had never spoken German as she thought it too difficult a language with many words taking up a whole line and not one meaning 'fluffy'! I decided to have a look and discovered that our English of today is in fact a member of the Germanic branch of Indo-European language family descending from the Angles, Jutes and Saxons that began to arrive on our shores in 449AD. Approximately one third of Anglo-Saxon vocabulary survives into our modern English.
Before that we had the Romans but only about 200 Latin loanwords are inherited from that time. The Celts were the earliest of course, but very few words have lived on. Many of our place names, however, have Celtic origins.
By 597AD the Christian missionaries, led by St Augustine, moved throughout the country. The language of the Church is Latin and many new Latin words were injected into the vocabulary.
The Vikings arrived in 789AD and they brought another 2000 words as well as place names such as Whitby and Grimsby. King Alfred used the English language to develop a sense of identity amongst the people.
The Normans then arrived in 1066 bringing French with them, this was used for over 300 years as the language spoken by the most powerful people. Latin was still the language of the Church but most of the population used English in their everyday lives. Thousands of French words became entrenched in our vocabulary.
During the 100 Years War French was regarded as the language of the enemy and the status of English rose.
Since the Industrial revolution our vocabulary has been hugely expanded by the inclusion of technical and slang words from over 200 years of wonderful discoveries and innovations in the fields of art, theatre and science bringing words from across the globe.