World Endangered Writing Day to highlight vanishing alphabets on January 23, 2024

Mongolian script - World Endangered Writing Day World Endangered Writing Day Logo - Jan. 23, 2024 Balinese script - World Endangered Writing Day Baybayin script - World Endangered Writing Day Endangered Alphabets Project Logo Endangered Alphabets Project
Over 90% of the world's 300 alphabets are disappearing into obscurity. The first-ever World Endangered Writing Day will feature live-streamed sessions with leading scholars, community activists, and groups from around the world working to protect and revive at-risk indigenous writing systems.

BURLINGTON, Vt. - VerTimes -- World Endangered Writing Day on January 23 aims to help promote, preserve, and protect alphabets and other writing systems that are declining in use, or in some cases, actively suppressed. The online event will include free live-streamed lectures and discussions presented by some of the world's leading scholars, community activists, and members of groups working to revive indigenous and traditional writing systems. An awards ceremony will recognize individuals and organizations using calligraphy, type design, performance art, and pop-up street workshops in a dozen countries to reverse the decline of their community scripts. To see the complete schedule and to register for the free event, visit

"If something is important, we write it down," explained Tim Brookes, founder of the event's sponsor, the Endangered Alphabets Project. "When a culture is compelled to abandon its traditional script, within two generations its entire written record is unreadable and lost. And when we lose our collective past, we lose our sense of identity, of value, of purpose, of the right to belong in the world. Every script is shaped over time by the people who use it, and is as much an expression of their culture as their music, art, or dance."

One such endangered script is Mongolian brushstroke calligraphy, a vertical writing system composed of 90 letters. The centuries-old script, adapted for Gengis Khan from the Old Uyghur alphabet, was replaced in 1946 by the Cyrillic alphabet. Because the script is being kept alive by just three middle-aged scholars and about two dozen young calligraphers, it has been placed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Baybayin, an indigenous script used throughout the Philippines at the time of Spanish colonization, was nearly extinct by the 18th century. Showing leadership in the protection of its cultural heritage, the Philippine government has added Baybayin symbols to the country's peso banknotes, and has proposed legislation to promote, protect, and preserve the country's traditional writing systems.

More than 700 languages are spoken in Indonesia. Fewer than 20 have a writing system, and several are endangered. Lontara, a 2,000-year-old script used to write multiple languages on a handful of Indonesian islands including Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Sumatra, was historically written on palm leaves. Today it's only used to write traditional literature, and for specialized, handwritten items such as wedding documents. The flowing Balinese script was banned by the islands' Japanese invaders during WWII, then supplanted by Malay (written in a Latin alphabet) after Indonesian independence. Today, several organizations are working to preserve and revive these and other traditional Indonesian scripts, and digitize fragile, ancient manuscripts.

Rong, an alphabet created by indigenous Lepcha speakers in the multicultural northern Indian state of Sikkim, is an officially recognized script. On World Endangered Writing Day, lecturer Samar Sinha will detail efforts by Sikkim University's forward-thinking Center for Endangered Languages to document and preserve Rong and several other minority writing systems in Sikkim, which shares ethnic groups and several languages with bordering Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.

These and over 100 more writing systems are described in the the Endangered Writing Project's Atlas of Endangered Alphabets, available online at The Atlas will be re-launched with dozens of additional alphabets on World Endangered Writing Day.

The Endangered Alphabets Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Vermont, USA to preserve and revitalize endangered cultures by researching and cataloging their indigenous writing systems and creating awareness and appreciation of them through talks, exhibitions, educational materials, games, and artwork.

Promotional services provided courtesy of

Tim Brookes, founder

Source: Endangered Alphabets Project

Show All News | Report Violation