UM Library Celebrates Language

Share this Exhibit!
Michel De Montaigne

In conjunction with the LS&A theme semester - "Language: The Human Quintessence" -the UM Library is pleased to present this exhibit highlighting the possibilities for exploration and discovery within our collections.

The exhibit was on display in the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery from February 1 - March 30, 2012, and selections are available here to explore.  

Curated by Pablo Alvarez, Annette Haines, Adam Hyatt, Karen Jordan, Aaron McCollough and Arthur Verhoogt


Graffiti incorporates language into the urban landscape with spray-painted shape and line. Whether written to communicate political viewpoints, express defiance, or exclaim love, graffiti writers add transitory color and vibrancy to the culture of the written word. 


Coptic embodies the current stage of the Egyptian language. When Egyptians began using the Greek alphabet in the first century C.E., the Coptic Script was born. Essentially, it is an adaptation of the Greek alphabet plus seven signs from Demotic (a development of Late Egyptian, and preceding Coptic) to represent sounds missing in Greek.


Although the English language has been an instrument of empire and market capitalism in recent centuries, its origins are on the margins of historical centers of power. English is remarkable in its flexibility, and the eclecticism that defined its earliest forms continues to generate remarkable variations within the most powerful communities of speakers (e.g., the United States) and across the globe.


The University of Michigan Papyrology Collection is North America’s largest collection of ancient documents, all of which come from Egypt. When most people think of ancient Egypt, their thoughts immediately jump to images of Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Yet throughout Egypt’s history, many other languages and writing systems were also adopted and used, including Hieratic, Demotic, Greek, and Coptic.