Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Syllables And Syllabaries: What Writing Systems Tell Us About Syllable Structure

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this chapter

+ Tax (if applicable)

Chapter Summary

The central claim of this chapter is that a writing system is by its nature a theory of processing: in writing, language is analyzed into discrete structures, encoded into signs, and then decoded into language again by the reader. The encoded structures must be ones that the reader and writer can access and manipulate. The evidence from writing systems therefore suggests that syllables are if anything more linguistically real than segments, despite the fact that early generative phonology ignored them. The first question to consider is whether syllabaries actually encode a structural unit or whether they merely encode strings of segments, and if a structure, then is it really the syllable and not, say, the mora? Any writing system encodes only some subset of a language's phonological structures, generally unmarked ones or ones that are of particular importance to the language for which they are designed.

Keywords: phonology; syllable structure; writing systems



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Handbook of the Syllable — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation