I keep running into interesting scripts and alphabets these days: Elvish, Tamil, Malayalam. Recently I came across this site: Alphabets of the World. I would have been in heaven if I’d had access to such a thing as a seventh grader. I remember going to the great big library at the local university as a kid and looking for resources like this. Codes and secret languages a common enough geek-boy pastime, but there’s also a deep-seated and universal appeal to exotic-looking hieroglyphics. They embody and radiate the notion that meaning is present yet hidden from view, which is itself a pretty good working definition of that hard-to-pin-down word mystery. Unknown glyphs reek of the mysterious.
Back on a more mundane plane, the Alphabets of the World site offers many practical explanations. Have you ever wanted a compact explanation of why Arabic writing looks the way it does? Want to learn the story of the origins of Cherokee or Korean scripts? This is a good place to visit.
Finally, lest I be accused of being too focused on the way languages look when written, here is a site that details (obsessively) how one particular English phrase sounds when spoken by people from all over the world: speech accent archive. It’s fun to browse around. I found the person from North Carolina, and sure enough, that woman could have grown up next door to me.