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Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


The study of the physical properties of written signs. This term is a conceptual analogue of phonetics and accordingly two divisions can be distinguished: visual graphetics and mechanical graphetics , corresponding to auditory and articulatory phonetics, respectively. Visual graphetics investigates the graphic design features of written signs, including the geometric shapes of which they are composed; frequency distributions of certain features such as descenders and ascenders of alphabetic letters; similarities and minimal distinctions of the signs belonging to one system; their orientation, if any; and features critical for recognition. What is it that all tokens of capital A have in common? To what extent is it defined contrastively by the features it must not share with all other letters? How far can geometric features be distorted before recognition becomes impossible? And so on. Mechanical graphetics, on the other hand, is concerned with how written signs are mechanically generated, trying to answer questions such as the following. What are the possible and the preferred movements of the human hand? How are strokes produced on a surface, and how do writers connect strokes with one another? What does it take to maintain contact with the writing surface in drawing curved and angular lines of various directions? What kinds of cursivization and abbreviation tendencies can ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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