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. The collection of graphemes for segmental units in English, i.e., for consonants and vowels, is traditionally known as the English alphabet. Non-segmental graphemes for punctuation, numbers, wordspace, etc. are not usually considered part of an alphabet. Linguists have emphasized that the crucial nature of a phoneme lies in the fact that it is different from the other phonemes. In the same way, each grapheme in a language is different from the others; each grapheme contrasts with the other graphemes. For example, the graphemic unit in Chinese is the character; each Chinese character contrasts with the other characters just as the letters of an alphabet contrast with each other. Note that this definition of grapheme refers to writing, and not overtly to language. We will want to explore the relationship of graphemes to language, but that is a separate task. I will reserve the term symbol as a general term for a graphic mark used in writing, which makes no statement about the structural significance of the mark. In the same way, I will use the term script as a general term for a writing system without any further comment about its structural nature. Phonemes are classes of allophones, which are non-contrastive variants occurring in complementary distribution or in free variation. In much the same fashion, graphemes are classes of allographs. The nature of allographic variation and its conditioning factors is more complicated for graphemes than for phonemes.
Allographic variation in Roman handwriting
A grapheme often has a good deal of allographic variation related to style of handwriting or printing. We can often speak of classes of allographs. For example, we can distinguish cursive and printed letters as classes of allographs. We also distinguish upper-case and lower-case letters. In printed English, we distinguish different typefaces, such as Palatino, Times, Helvetica, etc., as well as certain style variations such as roman, italic, and bold. These classes often overlap so that, for example, we can speak of an italic, upper-case Helvetica - Q. The allograph categories mentioned here do not exhaust the possibilities; for examples, in figure 2.1, two common allographs of lower-case handwritten are given, as well as two allographs of lower-case handwritten . In some cases the use of an allographic category is determined by the internal rules of the writing system. In English, we capitalize the first letter of the first word of a sentence and the first letter of a proper name. To some degree, upper-case and lower-case letters are in complementary distribution: we have, for example, Toronto and not *toronTo; the two allographs of are in complementary distribution here. On further examination, however, the situation is not quite so straightforward, since we occasionally write using only upper-case letters - TORONTO. Note that the use of upper-case letters is not without communicative significance itself; in e-mail communications, writing everything in upper-case letters has been compared to shouting. Proper names are sometimes spelled with unusual capitalization: MacDonald, deForest, k. d. lang, PostScript, ffrench. Because writing is much more varied in its structure than speech, and also because it is a more conscious process, Daniels (1991, 1994; see also Herrick 1994a, 1994b) has argued that a graphemic analysis of writing is impossible. His objections are essentially that the term 'grapheme' has not been defined carefully, and that writing, being a conscious phenomenon, is fundamentally different from language, which is unconscious. However, I believe that we can define and use our terms carefully. Further, the fact that the data of language and writing are different in nature does not preclude our using a similar theoretical framework. We use the same mathematics for counting oranges and for calculating taxes, and oranges and taxes are certainly as different from each other as are writing and language.
2.1.3 Free and bound graphemes A free grapheme is one which occurs independently. In English cat, for example, each of the graphemes , , and is a free grapheme since each occurs freely in other contexts. Diacritics are bound graphemes which occur only in combination with other graphemes. In French, for example, there are diacritics such as is a polygraph since it represents the single phoneme If!; we might also call it a digraph, a special case of polygraphy, consisting of only two graphemes. In French chaque 'each', and are both polygraphs since they each represent a single phoneme: If! and Ik/, respectively. In English, the polygraph <sh> is not a quasi-ligature since it is not considered to be the equivalent of a single letter; <sh> is alphabetized between <sg> and <si> as we would expect for a sequence of <s> followed by . In traditional Spanish, however, is a quasi-ligature and not a digraph since it is considered to be the equivalent of a single grapheme and not a sequence of graphemes, as shown by its alphabetic ordering. A polyphone is a single grapheme used to represent a sequence of two (or more) phonemes. In English, the grapheme <x> is a polyphone when it is used to represent the two phonemes Iks/. In alphabetic writing, polyphones are relatively uncommon; in moraic systems, polyphones are the norm.
2.2.5 Contrastive discrepancies With contrastive discrepancies, distinctive contrasts which exist in language are not represented in writing, or the contrasts of writing do not exist in language, i.e., phonological distinctions are neutralized graphemically - homography, or graphemic distinctions are neutralized phonemically - homophony. English provides abundant examples of both of these situations. There are cases of (heterographic) homophony (different written form - same sound) as in seem, seam, cede, siege where <ee, ea, e-e, ie> are all ways of spelling the single phoneme li/. Conversely, there are cases of (heterophonic) homography (different sound same written form) as in read which can be pronounced either as Ilidl or as Iled/; similarly, the graphemic sequence has a variety of pronunciations as shown by the examples tough, though, through.
Sometimes the relationship between phonemes and graphemes can be quite complex. Consider the English sequence