Grapheme

In linguistics, a grapheme is the smallest functional unit of a writing system.[1] The word grapheme, coined in analogy with phoneme, is derived from Ancient Greek γράφω (gráphō) 'write' and the suffix -eme by analogy with phoneme and other names of emic units. The study of graphemes is called graphemics.

The concept of graphemes is abstract and similar to the notion in computing of a character. By comparison, a specific shape that represents any particular grapheme in a specific typeface is called a glyph. For example, the grapheme corresponding to the abstract concept of "the Arabic numeral one" has a distinct glyph with identical meaning (an allograph) in each of many typefaces (such as, for example, a serif form as in Times New Roman and a sans-serif form as in Helvetica).


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