Writing Systems: Crash Course Linguistics #16 | Summary and Q&A

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January 22, 2021
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Writing Systems: Crash Course Linguistics #16

TL;DR

Writing systems, or orthographies, have evolved over time and can be categorized into alphabets, syllabaries, and logographic systems.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is a writing system?

A writing system is a set of conventions used to represent a language in writing, consisting of symbols that stand for linguistic information such as sounds, syllables, or words.

Q: What is an alphabet?

An alphabet is a writing system where each grapheme represents a phoneme, or individual sound. Examples include the Latin alphabet used for English, Finnish, and other European languages, as well as the Cyrillic alphabet used for Bulgarian, Russian, and Greek.

Q: What is a syllabary?

A syllabary is a writing system where each grapheme represents a syllable. Examples include the Nāgarī syllabary used in writing systems around India and the Cherokee syllabary used for the Cherokee language.

Q: What is a logographic writing system?

A logographic writing system involves using graphemes that represent whole words or morphemes of any length. The Chinese writing system is an example of a logographic system.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • All societies have spoken or signed language, but not all languages have a standardized written form.

  • A writing system consists of symbols, or graphemes, that represent linguistic information such as sounds, syllables, or words.

  • Writing systems can be categorized as alphabets (one symbol per sound), syllabaries (one symbol per syllable), or logographic systems (one symbol per word or morpheme).

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