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Not to be confused with Graphene, Graphane, or Graphyne.

A grapheme is the smallest semantically distinguishing unit in a written language, analogous to the phonemes of spoken languages. A grapheme may or may not carry meaning by itself, and may or may not correspond to a single phoneme. Graphemes include alphabetic letters, typographic ligatures, Chinese characters, numerical digits, punctuation marks, and other individual symbols of any of the world's writing systems.

The word grapheme is derived from Greek γράφω gráphō ("write"), and the suffix -eme, by analogy with phoneme and other names of emic units. The study of graphemes is called graphemics.

A grapheme is an abstract concept, similar to a character in computing. A glyph is a specific shape that represents that grapheme, in a specific typeface. For example, the abstract concept of "the Arabic numeral one" is a grapheme, which would have two different glyphs (allographs) in the fonts Times New Roman and Helvetica.

Notation[edit]

Graphemes are often notated within angle brackets, as a, B, etc.[1] This is analogous to the slash notation (/a/, /b/) used for phonemes, and the square bracket notation used for phonetic transcriptions ([a], [b]).

Glyphs and allographs[edit]

Main article: Allography

In the same way that the surface forms of phonemes are speech sounds or phones (and different phones representing the same phoneme are called allophones), the surface forms of graphemes are glyphs (sometimes "graphs"), namely concrete written representations of symbols, and different glyphs representing the same grapheme are called allographs. Hence a grapheme can be regarded as an abstraction of a collection of glyphs that are all semantically equivalent.

For example, in written English (or other languages using the Latin alphabet), there are many different physical representations of the lowercase letter "a", such as a, ɑ, etc. But because the substitution of any of these for any other cannot change the meaning of a word, they are considered to be allographs of the same grapheme, which can be written a. Italic and bold face are also allographic.

There is some disagreement as to whether capital and lower-case letters are allographs or distinct graphemes. Capitals are generally found in certain triggering contexts which do not change the word: When used as a proper name, for example, or at the beginning of a sentence, or all caps in a newspaper headline. Some linguists consider digraphs like the sh in ship to be distinct graphemes, but these are generally analyzed as sequences of graphemes. Ligatures, however, such as æ, are distinct graphemes, as are various letters with distinctive diacritics, such as ç.

Types of graphemes[edit]

The principal types of phonographic graphemes are logograms, which represent words or morphemes (for example Chinese characters, the ampersand & representing the English word and, Arabic numerals); syllabic characters, representing syllables (as in Japanese kana); and alphabetic letters, corresponding roughly to phonemes (see next section). For a full discussion of the different types, see Writing system: Functional classification of writing systems.

Not all graphemes are phonographic (write sounds). There are additional graphemic components used in writing, such as punctuation marks, mathematical symbols, word dividers such as the space, and other typographic symbols.

Correspondence between graphemes and phonemes[edit]

Main article: Phonemic orthography

As mentioned in the previous section, in languages that use alphabetic writing systems, the graphemes stand in principle for the phonemes (significant sounds) of the language. In practice, however, the orthographies of such languages entail at least a certain amount of deviation from the ideal of exact grapheme–phoneme correspondence. A phoneme may be represented by a multigraph (sequence of more than one grapheme), as the digraph sh represents a single sound in English (and sometimes a single grapheme may represent more than one phoneme, as with the Russian letter я). Some graphemes may not represent any sound at all (like the b in English debt), and often the rules of correspondence between graphemes and phonemes become complex or irregular, particularly as a result of historical sound changes that are not necessarily reflected in spelling. "Shallow" orthographies such as those of standard Spanish and Finnish have relatively regular (though not always one-to-one) correspondence between graphemes and phonemes, while those of French and English have much less regular correspondence, and are known as deep orthographies.

Multigraphs representing a single phoneme are normally treated as combinations of separate letters, not as graphemes in their own right. However in some languages a multigraph may be treated as a single unit for the purposes of collation; for example, in a Czech dictionary, the section for words that start with ch comes after that for h.[2] For more examples, see Alphabetical order: Language-specific conventions.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, second edition, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 196
  2. ^ Zeman, Dan. "Czech Alphabet, Code Page, Keyboard, and Sorting Order". Old-site.clsp.jhu.edu. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grapheme — Please support Wikipedia.
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28 news items

Chip Design Magazine (blog)

Chip Design Magazine (blog)
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 07:48:45 -0700

Recent research on the behavior of bilayer graphene brings scientists at Aarhus University, Denmark and the UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) closer to using grapheme in transistors, and other, alternative energy devices, writes ...
 
NZResources.com (subscription)
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 05:11:15 -0700

She is looking at making supercapacitors from the newly discovered material known as grapheme which is a single layer of graphite. To picture it, imagine a sheet of chicken wire, where each join is a single carbon atom, and then shrink this wire a ...
 
Scoop.co.nz (press release)
Sun, 24 Aug 2014 19:26:15 -0700

I'm looking at making supercapacitors from the newly discovered material known as grapheme which is a single layer of graphite. ``To picture it, imagine a sheet of chicken wire, where each join is a single carbon atom, and then shrink this wire a ...

Nanowerk

Nanowerk
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:52:30 -0700

In recent years these types of carbon based systems have yielded a range of potential commercially valuable properties that include superlubricity, with negligible friction between grapheme sheets and graphite surfaces, whilst super-diffusion was also ...
 
DatacenterDynamics
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 03:41:15 -0700

What do you think the next big trend for networking will be? I believe silicon photonic technology will change the network as well as the server world. Way out there is grapheme – a pure carbon in the form of a very thin, nearly transparent sheet, one ...

Laboratory Equipment

Laboratory Equipment
Wed, 20 Aug 2014 04:15:04 -0700

Once treated, the rubber bands remain highly pliable. By fusing this material with grapheme — which imparts an electromechanical response on movement — the team discovered that the material can be used as a sensor to measure a patient's breathing, ...
 
Energy Harvesting Journal
Sun, 17 Aug 2014 17:33:45 -0700

"Our device's electrochemical performance is on par with or better than graphene-based devices," Mitlin says. "The key advantage is that our electrodes are made from biowaste using a simple process, and therefore, are much cheaper than grapheme.".
 
Lancaster Newspapers
Sat, 09 Aug 2014 03:04:37 -0700

Cytowic and Eagleman report that the most common form of the condition is grapheme synesthesia, or the perception of numbers, letters and words in color. They claim that more than 66 percent of synesthetes experience this type of synesthesia, while ...
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