digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















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

A grapheme is the smallest unit used in describing the writing system of a language,[1] originally coined by analogy with the phoneme 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.


Graphemes are often notated within angle brackets, as a, B, etc.[2] 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.

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.[3] For more examples, see Alphabetical order: Language-specific conventions.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Coulmas, F. (1996), The Blackwell's Encyclopedia of Writing Systems, Oxford: Blackwells, p.174
  2. ^ The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, second edition, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 196
  3. ^ 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.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
1 videos found


https://youtube.com/devicesupport http://m.youtube.com

1 videos found

814 news items

Geek Infinite

Geek Infinite
Fri, 08 May 2015 05:45:00 -0700

According to researchers from the University of Trento in Italy, conducted an experiment in which they took the strongest artificial material which is the grapheme and the strongest natural material which is the spider silk. They sprayed the spider ...
Thu, 21 May 2015 23:03:25 -0700

Int. Ed. 48, 8616–8639 (2009). | Article | ISI | CAS |; Hao, L. & Lee, T. K. Thermopower of gapped bilayer grapheme. Phys. Rev. B 81, 165445 (2010). | Article | CAS |; Okinaka, N. & Akiyama, T. Thermoelectric properties of non-stoichiometric titanium ...


Tue, 05 May 2015 13:48:40 -0700

Chris Graulty, graduating senior at Reed College, whose thesis is titled “Neuronal Dynamics of Grapheme-Color Synesthesia.” Cassandra Corrado, graduating senior at the New College of Florida, whose senior thesis is titled “Rewriting Women's Stories: ...
PR Newswire (press release)
Thu, 07 May 2015 10:12:09 -0700

Gain a thorough understanding of the competitive landscape with profiles of 12 leading companies involved in R&D and commercialisation of grapheme examining their positioning, capabilities, projected revenue figures, product portfolios, R&D activity, ...
Solar Plaza (press release)
Wed, 20 May 2015 02:00:00 -0700

Although grapheme finds its applications in various sectors, it is anticipated that composite sector will account for half of the total market of graphene in the next five years. Factors driving growth of global graphene industry market are increase in ...

Alabama's News Leader

Alabama's News Leader
Tue, 05 May 2015 12:23:28 -0700

My mom Patricia has the "color-grapheme" form, where certain letters and words are certain colors. I had no idea until I told her about my musical form, and she wasn't surprised at all. "I thought it was perfectly normal," she said. As far as experts ...
Imperial Valley News
Sun, 10 May 2015 19:15:00 -0700

Cambridge, Massachusetts - Researchers have succeeded in creating a new “whispering gallery” effect for electrons in a sheet of grapheme - making it possible to precisely control a region that reflects electrons within the material. They say the ...
Sun, 10 May 2015 19:15:00 -0700

Cambridge, Massachusetts - For faster, longer-lasting water filters, some scientists are looking to grapheme (thin, strong sheets of carbon) to serve as ultrathin membranes, filtering out contaminants to quickly purify high volumes of water. Graphene's ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight