digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















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.


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]


  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.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
1393 videos foundNext > 

What is a grapheme?

This tutorial by PhonicBooks explains the term 'grapheme' and demonstrates how graphemes spell sounds in words. This is a useful presentation aimed at teache...

Grapheme - phoneme correspondences with the phonics teaching toolkit: 'ough' words

While phonemes can be associated with several graphemes, the reverse is also true: the same spelling can be associated with more than one sound. In this tuto...

Phase 2 grapheme recognition

This is a video clip from the DfES Letters and Sounds Programme (2007) used to teach children to read in many schools. This clip shows children learning and ...

Graphemes 1 to 26

Practice pronouncing the sounds of the graphemes.


VÍDEO EXCLUSIVO VICE Videoclip da faixa "Grapheme", do primeiro disco dos JUBA, o longa-duração Mynah. Realização / Edição: Ansel Yen Produção: Miguel Coelho...

DJ Spooky- 10 Grapheme

Songs Of A Dead Dreamer.

Career Girls: Color Grapheme Synesthesia- Structural Biologist Erica Ollmann Saphire

Structural Biologist Erica Ollmann Saphire offers career guidance and advice to girls. Visit CareerGirls.org: http://www.careergirls.org Like us on Facebook:...

Ben Neill - Sistrum (DJ Spooky Grapheme Remix)

DJ Spooky's Grapheme remix http://www.benneill.com/ From Necropolis: Dialog Project 1996 Songs of a Dead Dreamer 2002.

Christoper Noyes "Grapheme" official music video

Artist: Christoper Noyes Song: "Grapheme" Album: Grapheme Director/DP/Editor: Brian Macaione :: bmdvpro.com christopernoyes.bandcamp.com.

Phoneme grapheme correspondence

Manipulating orally phonemes in a word. Also showing the phoneme (smallest unit of sound) and grapheme (the written representation of a phoneme using one or ...

1393 videos foundNext > 

30 news items

Tue, 28 Oct 2014 07:53:41 -0700

A graphene coating has been used to boost thermal conductivity of the common plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) by up to 600 times. This new result from an international team of physicists and engineers could substantially increase the use of PET ...

Chicago Tonight | WTTW

Chicago Tonight | WTTW
Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:03:33 -0700

Laboratories and universities in the Midwest are conducting research and producing technologies that are building up the clean energy industry. Joining Chicago Tonight to highlight some of those technologies and research, and how they're being ...

Runway Girl Network

Runway Girl Network
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 06:30:08 -0700

That material is not available yet, but there is a lot of effort and attention paid to grapheme, though we've yet to see any serious applications of it. I also think there are certain interesting polymers coming onto the market, which will help ...

Maine News

Maine News
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 04:13:50 -0700

This will not only allow parallel processing, but will also increase system's speed. In 2013, a team of researchers had developed a transistor constructed from grapheme by using DNA, which could itself yield a separate revolution in computer technology.
Midas Letter
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 07:48:30 -0700

Graphene 3D Lab Inc. is the only company in the world that has created a functional battery out of grapheme via 3D printing. The company's 3D printed Graphene battery was assembled from multiple 3D printed components, but the company says that with the ...

Mother Nature Network

Mother Nature Network
Sun, 05 Oct 2014 06:16:34 -0700

For example, my friend and I both have grapheme-color synesthesia — numbers and letters trigger a color experience, even though my experience differs from hers. Because her numbers have personalities, she also has a form of synesthesia known as ...
The Australian
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 06:05:08 -0700

Graphite, with its ability to easily conduct heat and electrical current, is an important element in the production of lithium-ion batteries while its derivative grapheme — a material 200 times stronger than steel — is expected to transform ...
Chinadaily USA
Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:00:00 -0700

For example, the University of Manchester is building a 61 million pound National Graphene Institute, which has already attracted a 5 million pound collaborative research partnership from Bluestone Global Tech, a major Chinese grapheme manufacturer.

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