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Re: terminology

On Fri, 20 Feb 2004, Tom Lord wrote:

>    > From: bear <bear@xxxxxxxxx>
>    > On Tue, 10 Feb 2004, Tom Lord wrote:
>    >> Programmers building global computing environments have need for
>    >> certain categories of characters which historically, are of little or
>    >> no interest to linguists.  One of these categories is comprised of
>    >> many of the characters used to write words, whether those characters
>    >> are alphabetic, syllabic, or ideographic.   Linguistics hasn't given
>    >> us a term for that category.
>    > Well, actually it has.  Linguists call these categories "glyphs" or
>    > "graphemes", usually with varying degrees of precision or varying
>    > exact meaning depending on the context or speaker.
>Um, I _think_ you are wrong.   Are you _certain_ of what you say?
>I'm not aware of what specific technical meaning "glyph" or "grapheme"
>may have in academic linguistics, but I would be quite surprised to
>find that it excluded, say, digits, punctuation, and other marks which
>do not constitute "words" in the (loose) sense used in computing.

No, neither 'glyphs' nor 'graphemes' excludes punctuation, digits,
etc.  The distinction between them is about whether they are a
concrete shape (a glyph) or a 'minimum ideal unit of written language'
(a grapheme). An alphabet is a set of graphemes.  A particular
inscription is a set of glyphs.

Linguists talk about alphabets, syllabaries, ideograph sets, etc, and
have had little need of words that lump these together but leave out
punctuation and digits.