The significance of the morphographic principle for the classification of writing systems

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The significance of the morphographic principle &#8211; by which the orthographic units of a writing system primarily represent morphemes &#8211; has been seriously undervalued within the study and classification of writing systems in general and in comprehending kanji within the Japanese writing system in particular. This paper argues for a re-evaluation of the importance of the morphographic principle and suggests that the shift in focus that comes with fully acknowledging that the term morphographic is <i>more precise</i> than the widely (mis)used term logographic has profound consequences for how we think about writing systems and writing, as well as for the kinds of questions that we ask about the nature and organization of the mental lexicon in literate language users. Keywords: morphographic principle; logographic; writing system classification; Japanese writing system; kanji; psycholinguistics; mental lexicon


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