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The puzzle of language

Alex Bellos explores the world's alphabets and languages through the medium of puzzles.

Are languages a code to decypher?
Clio20 on wikipedia

Event description

To celebrate the launch of his latest title, The Language Lover's Puzzle Book, mathematician Alex Bellos presents a talk that will get your brain whirring.

The book features huge variety of ancient, modern and even invented languages, introducing you to unusual alphabets and scripts, curious vocabularies and phonologies, and Alex will test your puzzle skills with his favourite conundrums.


Register now


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About the speaker

Alex Bellos is the author of several bestselling books of puzzles and popular maths, including Alex’s Adventures in Numberland, Alex Through the Looking Glass and Can You Solve My Problems? He studied mathematics and philosophy at Oxford before training as a journalist, working for various national papers before ending up as South America Correspondent for the Guardian between 1998-2003. Returning to the UK he began to write about mathematics. He has a puzzle column in the Guardian and his YouTube clips have received 25 million views. Alex’s other books include two mathematical colouring books, Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life and the children’s book series Football School, which explains the world through football. His books have sold more than half a million copies worldwide. 

His latest book 'The Language Lover’s Puzzle Book: Lexical perplexities and cracking conundrums from across the globe' is available to pre-order now on Amazon and in all good book stores.


The live stream will go live at 6.55pm, and the introduction will begin at 7.00pm. If you miss the live stream, it will be available to watch on WebinarJam for the following 72 hours.

How to watch live

1. Register for the livestream by clicking the ‘Register now’ button above.

2. Enter your first name and email address and click ‘Register now’.

3. The registration completion page will give you your link to the live stream 'room'.  Simply click the link and bookmark the page so that you can return to it later

You should also receive a confirmation email containing your link. If not, check your spam filter and mark the email as safe so that you will receive further emails from us about this event.

Your link gives you access the WebinarJam live stream room. If the live stream hasn’t started yet, this will be a ‘waiting room’. When the live stream begins, you can submit your comments and questions via the chat forum. Keep an eye on the chat forum for further links, e.g. if you'd like to buy the speaker’s book

Don’t worry if you miss the live stream. You will receive an email with a link to access a replay video, which will be available for 24 hours after the live stream. Check your spam filter if you don't receive this email. The video will also be uploaded onto our YouTube channel.

If you have any issues with your registration, please contact us at

The Royal Institution is part of the Amazon Affiliate Programme and book links on this page are affiliate links, which means it won't cost you any extra but we may earn a small commission if you decide to purchase through the link. All procceeds help support the charitable work of the Ri. Affiliate disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate The Royal Institution earns from qualifying purchases.