Christoph Päper christoph.paeper at
Wed Sep 28 03:24:34 CDT 2016

Janusz S. Bień <jsbien at>:
> On Tue, Sep 27 2016 at 16:28 CEST, christoph.paeper at writes:
>>> And what is "grapheme" in "technical (i.e. Unicode) jargon"?
>> It depends on the script (hence Unicode block), but not the writing
>> system or language. The line is not always drawn consistently.
> Please prove this claim by explicit quotations from the standard.

I’ll try another day.

> In my opinion there is no such thing as "grapheme" in "technical
> (i.e. Unicode) jargon".

Even if it’s not used explicitly, it’s still there implicitly in compounds like “grapheme joiner” or “grapheme cluster”.

> Do we agree that the wording of "grapheme" (2) should be corrected?

We do.

> The question is whether all these linguistic discussions are relevant to
> Unicode.

Probably not worth it at this stage with all the legacy baggage, e.g. regarding “ideographs”, but a sound linguistic foundation would have been nice, even if it’s primarily a technical standard. Alas, since there is so much disagreement among scholars, e.g. regarding “alphasyllabaries”, stuff would probably never have gotten done. Engineers are usually better at this than scientists (or politicians).

>> Type 1 has also been called “phono-graphemes” (…). 
> Seems a good term, I was not aware of it. Do you happen to remember who
> introduced it?

My oldest quote is from Heller 1980, but I think it was introduced earlier (maybe by Gelb). McLaughlin 1963 proposes “graphoneme”. The terms are not very common, probably because everyone just uses their definition of “grapheme”.

JFTR, Daniels/Bright 1999 state with resignation:

> *grapheme*
> term intended to designate a unit of a writing system, parallel to phoneme and morpheme, 
> but in practice used as a synonym for letter, diacritic, character (2), or sign (2)

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