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A is for Ox

A is not at all for ‘apple’, but for ‘ox’. Most pre-university students know this. But what about the other eighteen letters that form the basis of our alphabet through Greek and Latin? The D is from ‘door’. The E of ‘Hey, you there!’, the L is a rope to tie the donkey to a post and the M is for ‘water’. Just look, then you’ll see it.

To immediately remove the impression that A is for Ox, from the writer Bette Westera and visual artist Rob Stolte, only exists for prospective scientists: that is not the case. Stolte found an ingenious way to shape the letter evolution from Proto- Sinaitic to Greek and Latin. By dividing each letter into two parts, the one orange and the other colored blue, the development through thousands of years of writing history can easily be traced back.

Once you have seen the little arms of the person who calls ‘Hey you there’, you will always recognize them in the E. And the H is of course a ‘fence’, what could it be otherwise? Westera tells a micro-story of one sentence accompanying each letter. About caravans and deserts, rivers that bring fertile silt, oxen that help to plough the tough clay, pins that help keep a tent upright. Thus each letter represents a case that was of vital importance in ancient times.

There is no big difference, says Westera, between the origin of letters and the pictures people use today to express what they find important during the app. The story of our alphabet has been told and shown more often. But rarely as inspiring as here.

Pjotr van Lenteren (Five star review in Volkskrant magazine)

A is for Ox is translated to French and Simplified Chinese.
Product photography: © The book photographer

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