Reading around the Web: Communication

This week’s theme is communication.

Over time, the methods that we use to communicate with one another have become both more numerous and more diverse, catering to a whole range of disparate needs and preferences. With a multitude of options at our fingertips for getting to grips with alternate methods of communication, and for learning new languages, we are able to successfully communicate more easily and widely than before, and an increasing number of people who previously had only limited options can now expect to be understood.

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On the other hand, while the increasing ability to communicate easily and widely with one another has opened up the possibility of global conversation and interaction, it has, in tandem, increased the number of opportunities for and scope of harassment and bullying. Increased access and ease of communication, particularly online, has meant that users can face hatred and abuse from all sides.

On the back of this, it shouldn’t be surprising that communication is a controversial topic, and that the debate surrounding it is ongoing and often heated. Here are a few recent additions.

In Kazakhstan Cheers New Alphabet, Except for All Those Apostrophes (The New York Times), Andrew Higgins discusses the controversy surrounding the proposed creation of a new alphabet in Kazakhstan, and the inherent difficulty of reflecting unique verbal sounds in text in a way that is both comprehensible and acceptable.

In Not a Riot Grrrl Band: Musician Michelle Cruz Gonzales Sounds off on Punk Feminism (Los Angeles Review of Books), Kitty Lindsay interviews Michelle Cruz about Spitboy, the punk band formed by Cruz in 1990, and her brand of unapologetic feminism. A different take on this week’s theme, I have included this article because Cruz intended her music to communicate her stated feminist position.

In The Secret Sign Language of the Ottoman Court (accessed from JSTOR), Amelia Sloth explains why deaf servants were so popular at court in the Ottoman Empire and elaborates on the method of non-verbal communication used at that time.

In Why I created my 2018 ‘a year of sign language’ calendar, Amanda Sanford presents her sign language calendar, and lists a number of fantastic resources for anyone interested in learning more about what it is like to be deaf, as well as identifying key pointers – as well as places to start – to keep in mind when learning sign language.


Reading around the Web is a weekly feature of recommended non-fiction reading, compiled with the aim of drawing your attention to something a little different, a little inspiring, and very interesting.

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