We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story | [Michael Rosen]

Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story

From minding your Ps and Qs to wondering why X should mark the spot, Alphabetical is a book for everyone who loves words and language. Whether it's how letters are arranged on keyboards or Viking runes, textspeak or zip codes, this book will change the way you think about letters forever. How on earth did we fix upon our 26 letters? What do they really mean? And how did we come to write them down in the first place? Michael Rosen takes you on an unforgettable adventure through the history of the alphabet in 26 vivid chapters, fizzing with personal anecdotes and fascinating facts.
Regular Price:$21.97
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

From minding your Ps and Qs to wondering why X should mark the spot, Alphabetical is a book for everyone who loves words and language. Whether it's how letters are arranged on keyboards or Viking runes, textspeak or zip codes, this book will change the way you think about letters forever.

How on earth did we fix upon our 26 letters? What do they really mean? And how did we come to write them down in the first place?

Michael Rosen takes you on an unforgettable adventure through the history of the alphabet in 26 vivid chapters, fizzing with personal anecdotes and fascinating facts. Starting with the mysterious Phoenicians and how sounds first came to be written down, he races on to show how nonsense poems work, pins down the strange story of OK, traces our five lost letters and tackles the tyranny of spelling, among many, many other things.

His heroes of the alphabet range from Edward Lear to Phyllis Pearsall (the inventor of the A-Z), and from the two scribes of Beowulf to rappers. Each chapter takes on a different subject - whether it's codes, umlauts or the writing of dictionaries.

Rosen's enthusiasm for letters positively leaps off the page, whether it's the story of his life told through the typewriters he's owned or a chapter on jokes written in a string of gags and word games.

So if you ever wondered why Hawaiian only has a 13-letter alphabet, why X should mark the spot or became shorthand for Christmas or how exactly to write down the sound of a wild raspberry, read on....

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2013 Michael Rosen (P)2013 John Murray Press

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (48 )
5 star
 (15)
4 star
 (20)
3 star
 (7)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (3)
Overall
3.9 (41 )
5 star
 (13)
4 star
 (18)
3 star
 (6)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (3)
Story
4.0 (41 )
5 star
 (17)
4 star
 (14)
3 star
 (5)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (2)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Douglas McClure Sevilla, Sevilla Spain 12-19-13
    Douglas McClure Sevilla, Sevilla Spain 12-19-13 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enjoyable - and the PDF file is indeed available"

    "Alphabetical" is a pleasant read/listen, and, unlike many books about linguistics, seems well grounded in actual facts. Author Michael Rosen reads it marvelously in his British-but-not-posh accent. With this book you get an interesting and educational, if not very profound, look at alphabets and other phonetic/linguistic phenomena.

    By the way, Rosen tells the reader to consult "the PDF" several times for written examples of alphabets, etc., which he refers to. This file can be found on the Audible.com page for this audiobook, at the end of the Publisher's Summary. Just click where it says "Download the accompanying reference guide."

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 01-05-14
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 01-05-14 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    510
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    438
    331
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    244
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "delightfully entertaining"

    A high energy narration combined with interesting factoids about provenance and usage of letters and words, made for a very entertaining listening experience.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Beaton Eureka, CA 12-15-13
    C. Beaton Eureka, CA 12-15-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    67
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    185
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not really "Linguistics" but a lot of fun"

    Linguistics is one of my favorite topics and I have listened to and read many on the topic. I thought this book was going to be a serious study of the history of the alphabet. I was wrong, but more than pleasantly surprised. Each letter of the alphabet is the starting off point for each chapter, but then Michael Rosen takes you on a wonderful trip of language and delight after the serious stuff is over. Michael reads the book in his delightful accent and just has a lot of fun. He is more a comedian and storyteller than an academic - more to his credit. Highly recommend for a fun trip down the alphabet.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann OCALA, FL, United States 12-11-13
    Ann OCALA, FL, United States 12-11-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Where is PDF?"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Good book but narrator refers to PDF many times and it is not available for this book


    What does Michael Rosen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Pleasant voice


    Any additional comments?

    Would be MUCH improved by a PDF!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    melissa mairtta, GA, United States 09-01-14
    melissa mairtta, GA, United States 09-01-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    58
    30
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "these are the letter in your alphbat"
    Where does Alphabetical rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    great book you and your kids should read it. it may make teaching them to read easier there a lot of history to our writing and the letter are a start. if you want to know why a b c is what they are try this book


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John S. Seattle, WA United States 03-20-14
    John S. Seattle, WA United States 03-20-14 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    330
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    173
    139
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    22
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "PDF not essential"

    Twenty-six entries each starting with a brief overview of a letter of the alphabet (historical background, phonetics, etc.), used as a jumping off point for a digression of a specific linguistic (for lack of a better term) aspect. Some were (at least mildly) interesting, while others (often having to do with the author's own life) weren't. Overall, the book worked to pass time when I needed to fill short periods with background noise. Rosen's reading was okay as author-narrated books go, but I might've preferred to skim the print book I think if I had to go back and decide again.

    One point that irritated me more as the book went on was the incredibly U. K. centric focus. I accept that Rosen is English himself, but as most folks for whom English is their primary language are NOT British, the short shrift he gives in passing to that fact seemed a bit ... patronizing - with a "zee"!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CD 12-08-13
    CD 12-08-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An excellent read (Listen) The author really bring"
    If you could sum up Alphabetical in three words, what would they be?

    Funny, Historical, Interesting


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The History and the evolution of our modern alphabet.


    What about Michael Rosen’s performance did you like?

    The authors enthusiasm for the subject. You can tell he really loves the history and lore of our modern alphabet and this comes across in his performance.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When the Author recounted his memories of watching his mother at her typewriter.


    Any additional comments?

    I learned more than I thought I ever would about our modern alphabet and I had a great time along the way. I will listen to this book again...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-7 of 7 results
Sort by:
  • Stephen
    UK Dorset
    6/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "read beautifully, gorgeously interesting"

    michael rosen has a voice like warm honey that trickles gently into your ears bringing with it knowledge and entertainment

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-1 of 1 results

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.