LINGUIST List 14.289

Tue Jan 28 2003

Sum: Writing Systems

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>


  1. Benedetta Bassetti benedetta, Writing Systems

Message 1: Writing Systems

Date: Mon, 27 Jan 2003 12:18:12 -0500 (EST)
From: Benedetta Bassetti benedetta <Benedetta>
Subject: Writing Systems

Dear Linguists,

I recently posted a query (Linguist 14.92)regarding the effects of
writing systems on metalinguistic awareness.

I am very grateful to all the Linguists who replied to me: Z. S. Bond,
Joaquim Brandao de Carvalho, Susan Burt, Peter Daniels, Mary Erbaugh,
Kathryn Hansen, Geoffrey Nathan, Geoffrey Sampson, Richard Sproat,
Pete Unseth, Ann Wehmeyer, Sheri Wells and Ghil`ad Zuckermann.

I asked three questions. The answers I received are below (in
alphabetical order).

QUESTION 1) Who proposed that writing systems affect the linguistic
analysis of the folk linguist and/or the professional linguist?


A classic source is: L�dtke, H. (1969). Die Alphabetschrift und das
Problem der Lautsegmentierung. Phonetica 20, 147-176. Cao Xuan Hao
(1985). Phonologie et linarit�. R�flexions critiques sur les
postulats de la phonologie contemporaine. SELAF. (contains a summary
of L�dtke) Encrev�, P. (1988). La liaison avec et sans
enchainement. Phonologie tridimensionnelle et usages du
fran�ais. Seuil. [Especially p. 280 ff.] (Joaquim Brandao de

- The folk linguist:
M. O'Connor, "Writing Systems, Native Speaker Analyses, and the
Earliest Stages of Northwest Semitic Orthography," in .The Word of the
Lord Shall Go Forth: Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman in
Celebration of His Sixtieth Birthday., ed. C. L. Meyers and
M. O'Connor, 439-65. Eisenbrauns. idem, "The Alphabet as a
Technology," in .The World's Writing Systems., ed. P. T. Daniels and
W. Bright, 787-94. Oxford.

- The professional linguist:
The classic reference is to W. Freeman Twaddell and Alfred Senn,
reported in Joos, M. 1986. .Notes on the Development of the Linguistic
Society of America 1924 to 1950.. Ithaca: privately printed, J
M. Cowan and C. F. Hockett, at p. 134. Quoted in Daniels, P. T. "The
Syllabic Origin of Writing and the Segmental Origin of the Alphabet,"
in .The Linguistics of Literacy., ed. P. Downing, S. D. Lima, and
M. Noonan, 83-110. Benjamins.

- Both:
To some extent, C. F. Hockett in an unpublished 1952 lecture to appear
in Written Language and Literacy. in 2003. (Peter Daniels)

Nathan, Geoffrey. 1979 Towards a literate level of language. The
Elements. Chicago Linguistics Society Parasession: 144-151 (Geoffrey

C. Elbro and B. R. Pallesen (2002) The quality of phonological
representations and phonological awareness: A causal link? In L.
Verhoeven, C. Elbro, P. Reitsma (eds.) Precursors of Functional
Literacy. (Pete Unseth)

QUESTION 2) Who criticized this view?

Gary Miller (1994), Ancient Scripts and Phonological Knowledge, John
Benjamins, chapter 6. (book review by Daniels in Written Language and
Literacy, 1, 1998) (Peter Daniels, Ann Wehmeyer)

Sproat, R. (2000) A Computational Theory of Writing Systems, sections and (Richard Sproat, Pete Unseth)

QUESTION 3) Who provided evidence against it?

Peter Daniels)

Article by Read, Zhang, Nie and Ding, Cognition 24 (1986)
(Z. Bond)

W. Smalley, C. K. Vang and G. Y. Yang (1990). Mother of Writing: The
Origin and Development of a Hmong Messianic Script. Chicago and London:
University of Chicago Press.
The indigenous creation of a syllabary writing system by a previously
illiterate native speaker --written by a linguist who devised an
alphabetic writing system for the same language.
(Susan Burt)

[In Chinese linguistics] the syllabic writing system was no barrier to
classifying phonemes in terms of aspirated, unaspirated, etc.
(Mary Erbaugh)

Book by Downing and Leong. David Barton of Lancaster University.
(Geoffrey Sampson)

Wells, S. 1995. A speech error investigation of the impact of
orthography on Japanese speech production. Papers from the 31st Regional
Meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society. University of Chicago Press.
(Sheri Wells)

Many thanks again to all those who helped me. I hope that this
information is useful and should anyone have further comments or
questions please do write to me.

Benedetta Bassetti
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