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

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Open and Closed Writing Systems. Some Reflections
Marc Wilhelm Küster ORCID iD icon
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Abstract. Traditionally writing systems are mainly seen through the lens of how they represent language. This article explores an alternative classification that is built on their key internal characteristics. Seeing writing systems as sets of signs, it postulates just two main categories, namely those that are essentially open and those that are fundamentally closed. However, in various periods of their existence they can oscillate between these extremes.
After setting out this theory and its rationale, the article exemplifies this hypothesis using specimens from different times and writing systems. It studies how the medium—manuscripts, printing press, and digital media—have at least temporarily transformed writing systems, creating semi-closed or semi-open systems. The age of Unicode finally has brought us emojis, characters that have the potential to open up Europe's quintessentially closed writing systems.

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


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@BOOK{Apolinaire_1918,
   AUTHOR = {Apollinaire, Guillaume},
   ADDRESS = {Paris},
   PUBLISHER = {Mercure de France},
   YEAR = {1918},
   SUBTITLE = {{Poèmes de la Paix et de la Guerre (1913-1916)}},
   TITLE = {{Calligrames}},
}

@BOOK{cappelli_lexicon_1929,
   AUTHOR = {Cappelli, Adriano},
   ADDRESS = {Milano},
   PUBLISHER = {Hoepli},
   YEAR = {1929},
   EDITION = {3},
   TITLE = {{Lexicon Abbreviaturarum. Dizionario di Abbreviature Latine ed Italiane}},
}

@INBOOK{daniels_grammatology_1996,
   AUTHOR = {Daniels, Peter T.},
   CROSSREF = {daniels_bright_1996},
   PAGES = {1--2},
   TITLE = {{Grammatology: Introduction}},
   YEAR = {1996},
}

@BOOK{daniels_bright_1996,
   AUTHOR = {Daniels, Peter T. and Bright, William},
   TITLE = {{The World's Writing Systems}},
   PUBLISHER = {Oxford University Press},
   ADDRESS = {Oxford},
   YEAR = {1996}
}

@BOOK{defrancis_1989,
   AUTHOR = {DeFrancis, John},
   ADDRESS = {Honolulu},
   PUBLISHER = {University of Hawai`i Press},
   YEAR = {1989},
   SUBTITLE = {{The Diverse Oneness of Writing Systems}},
   TITLE = {{Visible Speech}},
}

@ARTICLE{duerscheid17_jenseit_des_alphab_kommun_mit_emojis,
   AUTHOR = {Dürscheid, Christa and Siever, Christina Margrit},
   YEAR = {2017},
   JOURNALTITLE = {{Zeitschrift für germanistische Linguistik}},
   NUMBER = {2},
   PAGES = {256--285},
   TITLE = {{Jenseits des Alphabets - Kommunikation mit Emojis}},
   VOLUME = {45},
}

@BOOK{Gelb1963,
   AUTHOR = {Gelb, Ignace J.},
   ADDRESS = {Chicago},
   PUBLISHER = {University of Chicago Press},
   YEAR = {1963},
   EDITION = {2},
   TITLE = {{A Study of Writing}},
}

@BOOK{kuester_geordnetes_2006,
   AUTHOR = {Küster, Marc Wilhelm},
   ADDRESS = {Tübingen},
   PUBLISHER = {Niemeyer},
   YEAR = {2006},
   TITLE = {{Geordnetes Weltbild}},
}

@ARTICLE{kuester_writing_beyond_the_letter_2016,
   AUTHOR = {Küster, Marc Wilhelm},
   YEAR = {2016},
   JOURNAL = {{Tijdschrift voor Media\-geschiedenis [Journal for Media History]}},
   NUMBER = {2},
   PAGES = {1--17},
   TITLE = {{Writing beyond the letter}},
   VOLUME = {19},
}

@BOOK{mcluhan_gutenberg_1962,
   AUTHOR = {{McLuhan}, Marshall},
   ADDRESS = {Toronto},
   PUBLISHER = {University of Toronto Press},
   YEAR = {1962},
   TITLE = {{The Gutenberg Galaxy. The Making of Typographic Man}},
}

@BOOK{Mehrabian2007,
   AUTHOR = {Mehrabian, Albert},
   ADDRESS = {London, New York},
   PUBLISHER = {Routledge},
   YEAR = {2007},
   TITLE = {{Nonverbal Communication}},
}

@BOOK{pound_cantos,
   AUTHOR = {Pound, Ezra},
   TITLE = {{The Cantos of Ezra Pound}},
   PUBLISHER = {Faber \& Faber},
   ADDRESS = {London},
   YEAR = {1998},
}

@UNPUBLISHED{Schulten2019,
   AUTHOR = {Schulten, Katherine},
   TITLE = {{Emojis}},
   JOURNAL = {{New York Times}},
   ADDENDUM = {\url{https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/10/learning/emojis.html}},
}

@BOOK{taylor1883_1,
   AUTHOR = {Taylor, Isaac},
   ADDRESS = {London},
   PUBLISHER = {Kegan Paul, Trench, \& Co},
   YEAR = {1883},
   SUBTITLE = {{Semitic Alphabets}},
   TITLE = {{The Alphabet. An Account of the Origin and Development of Letters}},
}

@UNPUBLISHED{unicode_consortium_emoji_2016,
   AUTHOR = {{Unicode Consortium}},
   TITLE = {{FAQ---Emoji and Dingbats}},
   YEAR = {2016},
   ADDENDUM = {\url{http://unicode.org/faq/emoji_dingbats.html}},
}

Marc Wilhelm Küster ORCID iD icon (2019), Open and Closed Writing Systems. Some Reflections, in Proceedings of Graphemics in the 21st Century, Brest 2018 (Yannis Haralambous, Ed.), Brest: Fluxus Editions, 17–26

@INPROCEEDINGS{gla1-kues,
   AUTHOR = {Küster, Marc Wilhelm},
   EDITOR = {Haralambous, Yannis},
   TITLE = {Open and Closed Writing Systems. Some Reflections},
   BOOKTITLE = {{Proceedings of Graphemics in the 21st Century, Brest 2018}},
   PUBLISHER = {Fluxus Editions},
   ADDRESS = {Brest},
   YEAR = {2019},
   PAGES = {17--26},
   DOI = {https://doi.org/10.36824/2018-graf-kues},
}