Grapheme
Overview
 
A grapheme is the smallest semantically distinguishing unit in a written language
Writing system
A writing system is a symbolic system used to represent elements or statements expressible in language.-General properties:Writing systems are distinguished from other possible symbolic communication systems in that the reader must usually understand something of the associated spoken language to...

. It does not carry meaning by itself. Graphemes include alphabetic letters
Letter (alphabet)
A letter is a grapheme in an alphabetic system of writing, such as the Greek alphabet and its descendants. Letters compose phonemes and each phoneme represents a phone in the spoken form of the language....

, Chinese characters, numerical digit
Numerical digit
A digit is a symbol used in combinations to represent numbers in positional numeral systems. The name "digit" comes from the fact that the 10 digits of the hands correspond to the 10 symbols of the common base 10 number system, i.e...

s, punctuation
Punctuation
Punctuation marks are symbols that indicate the structure and organization of written language, as well as intonation and pauses to be observed when reading aloud.In written English, punctuation is vital to disambiguate the meaning of sentences...

 marks, and the individual symbols of any of the world's writing systems.

It is usual to transcribe graphemes within angle brackets, to show their special status, such as , , .
Different
glyph
Glyph
A glyph is an element of writing: an individual mark on a written medium that contributes to the meaning of what is written. A glyph is made up of one or more graphemes....

s can be concrete representations of the same, abstract grapheme, which means that they are allographs
Allography
Allography, from the Greek for "other writing", has several meanings which all relate to how words and sounds are written down.-Allographs as authorship:...

.
Encyclopedia
A grapheme is the smallest semantically distinguishing unit in a written language
Writing system
A writing system is a symbolic system used to represent elements or statements expressible in language.-General properties:Writing systems are distinguished from other possible symbolic communication systems in that the reader must usually understand something of the associated spoken language to...

. It does not carry meaning by itself. Graphemes include alphabetic letters
Letter (alphabet)
A letter is a grapheme in an alphabetic system of writing, such as the Greek alphabet and its descendants. Letters compose phonemes and each phoneme represents a phone in the spoken form of the language....

, Chinese characters, numerical digit
Numerical digit
A digit is a symbol used in combinations to represent numbers in positional numeral systems. The name "digit" comes from the fact that the 10 digits of the hands correspond to the 10 symbols of the common base 10 number system, i.e...

s, punctuation
Punctuation
Punctuation marks are symbols that indicate the structure and organization of written language, as well as intonation and pauses to be observed when reading aloud.In written English, punctuation is vital to disambiguate the meaning of sentences...

 marks, and the individual symbols of any of the world's writing systems.

It is usual to transcribe graphemes within angle brackets, to show their special status, such as , , .

Glyphs

Different
glyph
Glyph
A glyph is an element of writing: an individual mark on a written medium that contributes to the meaning of what is written. A glyph is made up of one or more graphemes....

s can be concrete representations of the same, abstract grapheme, which means that they are allographs
Allography
Allography, from the Greek for "other writing", has several meanings which all relate to how words and sounds are written down.-Allographs as authorship:...

. For example, lowercase <a
A
A is the first letter and a vowel in the basic modern Latin alphabet. It is similar to the Ancient Greek letter Alpha, from which it derives.- Origins :...

> can be seen in two variants: one with a hook at the top and one without - see ɑ.

Alphabetic writing systems

In an idealistic fully phonemic orthography
Phonemic orthography
A phonemic orthography is a writing system where the written graphemes correspond to phonemes, the spoken sounds of the language. In terms of orthographic depth, these are termed shallow orthographies, contrasting with deep orthographies...

, a grapheme would correspond to one phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

. However, all spelling systems are to some extent non-phonemic. Some scholars scale alphabetic orthographies by the complexity of grapheme to phoneme correspondences, where the standard Spanish (Castilian) and Finnish orthographies are considered shallow, German and Czech intermediate, while French and English have deep orthographies.

Multiple graphemes may represent a single phoneme. These are called digraph
Digraph (orthography)
A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used to write one phoneme or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined...

s (two graphemes for a single phoneme) and trigraph
Trigraph (orthography)
A trigraph is a group of three letters used to represent a single sound or a combination of sounds that does not correspond to the written letters combined. For example, in the word schilling, the trigraph sch represents the voiceless postalveolar fricative , rather than the consonant cluster...

s (three graphemes). For example, the word "ship" may be regarded as containing four graphemes (, , , and

) representing the three phonemes /sh/, /i/, and /p/. However, in some languages, a group of graphemes may be treated as a single unit for the purposes of collation

Collation
Collation is the assembly of written information into a standard order. One common type of collation is called alphabetization, though collation is not limited to ordering letters of the alphabet...

; for example, in a Czech dictionary, the section for words that start with "Ch" comes after that for "H".

Furthermore, a particular grapheme can represent different phonemes on different occasions, and vice versa. For instance in English the sound /f/ can be represented by "F", "f", "ff", "ph", "gh", and so on; while the grapheme can also represent the phoneme /v/ (as in the word "of").

In English and other languages, the choice of graphemes is available to convey morphological relationships; for instance, the link between "sign" and "signature" is closer in writing than in speech.
In some English personal names and place names, the relationship between the spelling of the name and the pronunciation is so distant that associations among phonemes and graphemes cannot be identified. Examples are Marjoribanks and Featherstonehaugh . Moreover, in many other words, the pronunciation has subsequently evolved from a fixed spelling, so that it has to be said that the phonemes represent the graphemes rather than vice versa. And in much technical jargon, the primary medium of communication is the written language rather than the spoken language, so the phonemes appear to represent the graphemes.

Syllabic writing systems

In a script such as Japanese kana
Kana
Kana are the syllabic Japanese scripts, as opposed to the logographic Chinese characters known in Japan as kanji and the Roman alphabet known as rōmaji...

 one grapheme corresponds primarily to a syllable
Syllable
A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus with optional initial and final margins .Syllables are often considered the phonological "building...

.

Other writing systems

Not all graphemes represent phonemes. For example, the logogram
Logogram
A logogram, or logograph, is a grapheme which represents a word or a morpheme . This stands in contrast to phonograms, which represent phonemes or combinations of phonemes, and determinatives, which mark semantic categories.Logograms are often commonly known also as "ideograms"...

 ampersand
Ampersand
An ampersand is a logogram representing the conjunction word "and". The symbol is a ligature of the letters in et, Latin for "and".-Etymology:...

 (<&>), was derived from the Latin word, et, and is used for and in many languages. Thus, it does not directly represent any combination of phonemes. Arabic numerals
Arabic numerals
Arabic numerals or Hindu numerals or Hindu-Arabic numerals or Indo-Arabic numerals are the ten digits . They are descended from the Hindu-Arabic numeral system developed by Indian mathematicians, in which a sequence of digits such as "975" is read as a numeral...

 provide a similar example.

See also

  • Character (computing)
    Character (computing)
    In computer and machine-based telecommunications terminology, a character is a unit of information that roughly corresponds to a grapheme, grapheme-like unit, or symbol, such as in an alphabet or syllabary in the written form of a natural language....

  • Grapheme–color synesthesia
  • Sign (semiotics)
    Sign (semiotics)
    A sign is understood as a discrete unit of meaning in semiotics. It is defined as "something that stands for something, to someone in some capacity" It includes words, images, gestures, scents, tastes, textures, sounds – essentially all of the ways in which information can be...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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