In the comparative study of writing systems, there is a tendency to suppose that the signary
of each system has a fixed form--whether it be the 26 letters of the English alphabet, the 50 or so syllabograms of the Japanese katakana, or the many hundreds of logograms of Egyptian hieroglyphic.
Meaningless colors are revealed to be a code, forms comprise a signary
, patterns are resolved into a syntax: What was once nothing more than a colored surface becomes a picture, a notation, a text" (p.
3) Healey takes well-informed positions on all the current issues: the syllabic interpretation of the West Semitic signary
is gently derided, the Fakhariyah inscription with its conservative letterforms is evidence for the later date of transmission of the alphabet to the Greeks, there may be Syriac input as well as Nabatean into the Arabic script.