Local letters (subway division): By now it's well understood that the type in the London tube isn't Gill Sans but an original design by Edward Johnston. But in New York, especially thanks to the hit movie, plenty of people think that the subway signage is in Helvetica. Well, sure—now. (As in the punchline of that old joke about the Sahara Forest.) Paul Shaw has done the research and discovered that, even in the '60s and '70s, Helvetica's first heyday, the typeface the system standardized on was Akzidenz Grotesk. Of course, the New York subway system represents more than a century of lettering history, and Paul's book documents it. I can't think of a better gift for any fans of type and cities you may know—hint, hint.
Local languages: In Turkey, the official alphabet's lack of Q, W, and X is causing some serious problems for Kurds, whose language needs those letters. It sounds like an Oulipian plotline, something preposterous to justify a lipogrammatic text—but, as La Disparition itself demonstrates, even language games are not always laughing matters. The sentence is this case is not 500 pages, but 18 months.
Meanwhile, in Montana, they're using a dog to rescue a language. Well, OK, so the dog isn't sent out into the mountains with the linguistic equivalent of a cask of rum—but if it weren't for the dog, who would the rabbi talk to? (It's not a punchline, it's a real question.)
Local coverage: From lipograms we move naturally to Georges Perec, whose Life A User's Manual (now in a revised translation) was chosen by Simon Winchester for a year-end list at OUP. I've got better things to do than keep track of all those lists, especially since this year we're also getting the decade-end lists. But it's worth noting that Amazon 1) includes a list of the year's best cover designs (see, book covers really do matter online!) and 2) lets you vote. Unfortunately, the 10 covers (out of 60) that made it to the final round are