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Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


The linguistic study of writing systems based on a description of their elements and the graphotactic rules specifying the systematically permissible combinations thereof. Research in this field has concentrated on alphabetic writing systems since the term grapheme was coined on analogy with phoneme , and it has been the relationship between phonology and graphemics which has dominated the theoretical discussion. The case for an autonomous graphemics has been made most forcefully and consistently since the 1930s by members of the linguistic school of Prague. There are two aspects to the question of the autonomy of graphemics: do the regularities of written language constitute an independent level of linguistic structure, and should the study of these regularities be construed as an independent subdiscipline of linguistics? Although mainstream linguistics has long relegated writing to a backstage position as supposedly a mere substitute of speech, both of these questions are now generally answered affirmatively. The relative recency of writing, as well as the fact that not all languages have a written form, are no longer considered valid reasons to disregard the specific properties of written language or to reduce them to surrogates of properties of speech. An autonomous graphemics treats written language as a linguistic system in its own right. The relationship to spoken language ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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