This chapter explored the basic concepts of graphemes in different writing systems. We saw how logograms, syllabaries, abjads, alphabets, abugidas and featural writing systems can all be useful in representing different languages across the world. This chapter also explored how the two basic types of spelling (regular and irregular) have led to the assumption of dual-route models for reading.
- Graphemes are the smallest units used to represent a phoneme in a writing system.
- Logograms are symbols that represent words or morphemes.
- Syllabaries have graphemes for individual syllables.
- Abjads generally have graphemes for consonants and not vowels.
- Alphabets have separate symbols for consonants and vowels.
- Abugidas use graphemes for consonants with an inherent vowel. Other vowels are indicated by secondary notations.
- Featural writing systems organize graphemes with similar features to indicate phonological parallels.
Exercises in Critical Thinking
- Think of how you came to learn the writing system of your language.
- What methods did your teachers use to help you make the connection between visual symbols and phonological symbols?
- Given what you know about writing systems and reading, do your teachers could have employed other methods based on the writing system they used?
- Try to think about ways to write your language in a different writing system than what is used for it. What advantages and disadvantages can you see in it?