LINGUIST List 10.1282

Thu Sep 2 1999

Qs: Theory of Orthography, Grammatical Evidence

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate.


  1. Tony A. Wright, Theory of Orthography
  2. Geoffrey Sampson, Negative grammatical evidence

Message 1: Theory of Orthography

Date: Wed, 01 Sep 1999 23:13:55
From: Tony A. Wright <>
Subject: Theory of Orthography

I would like to know if anyone knows of published work on the
linguistic nature of orthography. I have been able to locate copious
sources of information on writing systems in particular, but so far
have come up empty on finding accounts of the nature of orthography in
general as a linguistic phenomenon.

I am interested in work on the level(s) of spoken language from which
orthographies draw, ie., phonetic, phonemic, lexical and post-lexical
rule-levels, morphophonemic, etc. I would also be interested in
knowing if there are Optimality Theoretic approaches to orthography.
Any help would be much appreciated.

- Tony Wright
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Negative grammatical evidence

Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 15:12:33 +0100
From: Geoffrey Sampson <>
Subject: Negative grammatical evidence

One argument which generative linguists sometimes use to justify relying
on speakers' intuitions about the grammaticality of word-sequences, 
rather than empirical evidence about actual usage, is that grammars
depend on negative as well as positive evidence: one needs to know
that "*teacher the here is" is ungrammatical, as well as that "here is
the teacher" is grammatical, but empirical observation only provides
positive cases. Somewhere in the last three or four years I have read
a published discussion (not necessarily published within that period, but
not very old) which documented a number of examples of different linguists 
arguing in this way that the need for negative evidence made it necessary to
rely on speakers' intuitions. Does anyone out there recognize this
passage, please, and could they give me the reference?

Prof. Geoffrey Sampson

School of Cognitive & Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QH, GB

tel. +44 1273 678525
fax +44 1273 671320
Web site
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue