Saturday 9 May 2020

Book Review: Symbols and Signs of the World by D. R. McElroy (Non-Fiction)

Title: Signs and Symbols of the World
Author: D. R. McElroy
Publication Date: 5 May 2020
eBook - PDF
ARC via NetGalley


What in the world does Ω mean? And what about its meaning might have led my coffee date to tattoo it on his entire forearm? Where did the symbol ∞ originate, and what was its first meaning? How did the ampersand symbol & come about and how was it applied daily in book publishing? And what is the full story behind that staring eye on top of the pyramid on our American dollar bill? This comprehensive guide to signs and symbols explains.

Find within:
More than 1,000 illustrations
An extensive collection of written and cultural symbols, including animals, instruments, stones, shapes, numbers, colors, plants, food, parts of the body, religious and astrological symbols, emojis, and gestures
Historical facts culled from a wide variety of sources
Learn all about the signs and symbols that surround us and their part in our rich world history.

Signs and Symbols of the World was a mixed bag for me, so let me start with the things I liked about the book. The organisation of the symbols into topics worked well and allowed for comparison of like with like. The layout was also good, with a nice balance of text and images. Although some areas were US-focused there was generally a good inclusion of a wide range of symbols from different countries and cultures. However, one thing spoilt this book for me, and that was that I noticed an error. In the section on Chinese, Japanese and Korean, it mostly focused on discussing CJK Unified Ideographs. I have no issue with that. My concern is that in the introductory paragraph to the section the author claimed all three languages were ideographic. The main Korean writing system/alphabet, Hangeul, is, in fact, sound-based. Each letter represents a sound, and those sounds are built into syllable blocks, which are then combined to form words. The letters are based on the position of the mouth/tongue when making the sound, but it is not the case that each letter represents a thing or a concept. So this statement about it being an ideographic language was misleading. It did then make me question whether everything else in the book was factually correct.

In conclusion, I am giving this book 3 stars. It was a nicely presented work that covered symbols from a wide range of topics; however, I was left questioning the accuracy of the information presented.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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