This chapter discusses the types of writing systems that people have developed and the general principles behind how they work. It distinguishes between semasiography, which represents ideas directly, and glottography, which represents speech. Among glottographic systems are logographies (which map onto speech at the level of morphemes), syllabaries (which represent syllables), and alphabets (which represent phonemes). Some writing systems represent phonetic features to some extent. Writing systems are typically mixed, in that they don’t follow one type of representation all of the time. The letter–sound correspondences of alphabetic writing systems are sometimes inconsistent and complex. One reason for this is that sounds change over time and spellings may not be reformed to keep up with these changes. Another reason is that an orthography may be deep. For example, a morpheme may be spelled in the same way across words even when its pronunciation is different.
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