ISSN: 2534-5192


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ISBN: 978-2-9570549-0-9
e-ISBN: 978-2-9570549-1-6

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The History of the Graphematic Foot in English and German
Martin Evertz
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Abstract. Suprasegmental graphematics holds that there are units in alphabetical writing systems comprising more than one segment. While units such as the graphematic syllable and the graphematic word seem to be well established, the graphematic foot was only recently proposed. This paper provides further insights into this unit by discussing diachronic data from English and German.

There are two phenomena that make the graphematic foot especially visible: graphematic geminates in English and German and the silent <e> in English. Both phenomena coded segmental information in earlier stages of the languages, i.e., spelling geminates coded phonological geminates and the final -e in English coded schwa. At some time, phonological geminates in both languages and the word-final schwa in English disappeared. That rendered the original functions of these spelling devices obsolete. However, instead of vanishing, graphematic geminates and the final -e acquired new functions connected to the graphematic foot.

The phonological segments, which were coded by the discussed phenomena, developed because of suprasegmental conditions: geminates and the word-final schwa played a major role in the development of the vowel quantity systems of both languages, which is connected to syllable and foot structure. In today's systems, the graphematic foot bidirectionally corresponds to the phonological foot and thus helps the reader to gain information about the phonological foot and syllable structure of a word.

This new diachronic approach may not only enhance our understanding of the unit graphematic foot but it may also help to understand how and why suprasegmental units developed in writing systems in the first place.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.36824/2018-graf-ever


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@ARTICLE{Becker1996,
   AUTHOR = {Becker, Thomas},
   TITLE = {{Zur Repräsentation der Vokallänge}},
   JOURNAL = {{Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft}},
   YEAR = {1996},
   VOLUME = {15},
   PAGES = {3--21},
}

@INPROCEEDINGS{Britton2012,
   AUTHOR = {Derek Britton},
   EDITOR = {David Denison and Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero and Chris McCully and Emma Moore},
   TITLE = {{Degemination in English, with Special Reference to the Middle English Period}},
   BOOKTITLE = {{Analysing Older English}},
   PUBLISHER = {Cambridge University Press},
   ADDRESS = {Cambridge},
   YEAR = {2012},
   PAGES = {233--243},
}

@INCOLLECTION{Butt1990,
   AUTHOR = {Butt, Matthias and Eisenberg, Peter},
   EDITOR = {Stetter, Christian},
   TITLE = {{Schreibsilbe und Sprechsilbe}},
   BOOKTITLE = {{Zu einer Theorie der Orthographie}},
   PUBLISHER = {Niemeyer},
   ADDRESS = {Tübingen},
   YEAR = {1990},
   PAGES = {33--64},
}

@BOOK{Clements1983,
   AUTHOR = {Clements, G. N. and Keyser, S.J.},
   TITLE = {{CV Phonology}},
   PUBLISHER = {MIT Press},
   ADDRESS = {Cambridge, MA},
   YEAR = {1983},
}

@BOOK{Cook2004,
   AUTHOR = {Cook, Vivian},
   TITLE = {{The English Writing System}},
   PUBLISHER = {Routledge},
   ADDRESS = {London},
   YEAR = {2004},
}

@ARTICLE{Domahs2001,
   AUTHOR = {Domahs, Frank and de Bleser, Ria and Eisenberg, Peter},
   TITLE = {{Silbische Aspekte segmentalen Schreibens -- neurolinguistische Evidenz}},
   JOURNAL = {{Linguistische Berichte}},
   YEAR = {2001},
   VOLUME = {185},
   PAGES = {13--30},
}

@ARTICLE{Domahs2014,
   AUTHOR = {Domahs, Ulrike and Ingo Plag and Rebecca Carroll},
   TITLE = {{Word Stress Assignment in German, English and Dutch: 
   Quantity-Sensitivity and Extrametricality Revisited}},
   JOURNAL = {Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics},
   YEAR = {2014},
   VOLUME = {17},
   NUMBER = {1},
   PAGES = {59--96},
}

@INCOLLECTION{DomahsPrimus2015,
   AUTHOR = {Domahs, Ulrike and Primus, Beatrice},
   EDITOR = {Felder, Ekkehard and Andreas Gardt},
   TITLE = {{Laut -- Gebärde -- Buchstabe}},
   BOOKTITLE = {{Sprache und Wissen}},
   PUBLISHER = {de Gruyter},
   ADDRESS = {Berlin},
   YEAR = {2015},
   PAGES = {125--142},
}

@INCOLLECTION{Eisenberg1989,
   AUTHOR = {Eisenberg, Peter},
   EDITOR = {Eisenberg, Peter and Günther, Hartmut},
   TITLE = {{Die Schreibsilbe im Deutschen}},
   BOOKTITLE = {{Schriftsystem und Orthographie}},
   PUBLISHER = {Niemeyer},
   ADDRESS = {Tübingen},
   YEAR = {1989},
   PAGES = {57--84},
}

@ARTICLE{Evertz2013,
   AUTHOR = {Evertz, Martin and Beatrice Primus},
   TITLE = {{The Graphematic Foot in English and German}},
   JOURNAL = {{Writing Systems Research}},
   YEAR = {2013},
   VOLUME = {5},
   NUMBER = {1},
   PAGES = {1--23},
}

@ARTICLE{Evertz2016a,
   AUTHOR = {Martin Evertz},
   TITLE = {{Minimal Graphematic Words in English and German. Lexical 
   Evidence for a Theory of Graphematic Feet}},
   JOURNAL = {Written Language \& Literacy},
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   VOLUME = {19},
   NUMBER = {2},
   PAGES = {189--211},
}

@BOOK{Evertz2018,
   AUTHOR = {Martin Evertz},
   TITLE = {{Visual Prosody---the Graphematic Foot in English and German}},
   PUBLISHER = {De Gruyter},
   ADDRESS = {Berlin},
   YEAR = {2018},
}

@BOOK{Fuhrhop2013,
   AUTHOR = {Nanna Fuhrhop and Joerg Peters},
   TITLE = {{Einführung in die Phonologie und Graphematik}},
   PUBLISHER = {J. B. Metzler},
   ADDRESS = {Stuttgart},
   YEAR = {2013},
}

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   AUTHOR = {Giegerich, Henz J.},
   TITLE = {{English Phonology: An Introduction}},
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   JOURNAL = {Neuphilologische Mitteilungen},
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@PHDTHESIS{Kahn1976,
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   TITLE = {{Syllable-Based Generalizations in English Phonology}},
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   EDITOR = {Harry van der Hulst},
   TITLE = {{Diachronic Prosody}},
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   YEAR = {1999},
   PAGES = {335--422},
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@MASTERSTHESIS{Ryan2010,
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   Patterns of Orthographic Change}},
   SCHOOL = {Edinburgh University},
   YEAR = {2010},
}

@PHDTHESIS{Ryan2017,
   AUTHOR = {Des Ryan},
   TITLE = {{Principles of English Spelling Formation}},
   SCHOOL = {{Trinity College Dublin}},
   YEAR = {2017},
}

@ARTICLE{Selkirk1980,
   AUTHOR = {Selkirk, Elisabeth O.},
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   JOURNAL = {{Linguistic Inquiry}},
   YEAR = {1980},
   VOLUME = {11},
   PAGES = {563--605},
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   AUTHOR = {Selkirk, Elisabeth O.},
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   BOOKTITLE = {{The Cognitive Representation of Speech}},
   PUBLISHER = {{North Holland}},
   ADDRESS = {Amsterdam},
   YEAR = {1981},
   PAGES = {379--388},
}

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   JOURNAL = {{Journal of Psycholinguistic Research}},
   YEAR = {1996},
   VOLUME = {25},
   NUMBER = {2},
   PAGES = {193--247},
}

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   EDITOR = {Werner Besch and Anne Betten and Oskar Reichmann and Stefan Sonderegger},
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   und ihrer Erforschung. HSK 2.2}},
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}

Martin Evertz (2019), The History of the Graphematic Foot in English and German, in Proceedings of Graphemics in the 21st Century, Brest 2018 (Yannis Haralambous, Ed.), Brest: Fluxus Editions, 27–40

@INPROCEEDINGS{gla1-ever,
   AUTHOR = {Evertz, Martin},
   EDITOR = {Haralambous, Yannis},
   TITLE = {The History of the Graphematic Foot in English and German},
   BOOKTITLE = {{Proceedings of Graphemics in the 21st Century, Brest 2018}},
   PUBLISHER = {Fluxus Editions},
   ADDRESS = {Brest},
   YEAR = {2019},
   PAGES = {27--40},
   DOI = {https://doi.org/10.36824/2018-graf-ever},
}