[b-hebrew] linguistics, was Re: Prov. 30:19

Jason Hare jason at hareplay.com
Sat Oct 11 15:52:54 EDT 2003


I am going to sound a bit basic, but I have seen many people using the word
"phoneme" to refer to the letters of the alphabet. So far as I know, and I
have only just begun my study into linguistics, "grapheme" would be more
appropriate when discussing the written form the language (the alphabet).
The Hebrew alefbet is composed of twenty-two "graphemes," but many more
"phonemes." Each variant of the BGDKP"T family would be a different phoneme.
Sin and shin are different phonemes, but one grapheme. Is not a "phoneme"
the same as an "allophone"?

Sorry, it's just that in this thread I have had a hard time keeping the
argument straight. And I think a lot of it has to do with a varying degree
of terminology usage. Could someone straighten me out, someone who has had
more experience in linguistics? I was under the impression that a grapheme
was a part of the written form of the language, a phoneme was a single sound
without meaning (represented often by features of the international phonetic
alphabet) and an allophone was a variant sound of a certain grapheme
(functionally the same as a phoneme). Beyond this, we have morphemes of
various types (small, meaningless sounds added to a word to change some
aspect of it).

Am I completely off-base? Is everyone else on the list using a different
system of terminology that has become more "acceptable"? I have studied only
with / Camino Oral /, a textbook that is written in Spanish. And my studies
have been alone. I will be taking a class in phonetics during the coming

Todah rabah,

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