Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6732
  • E-ISSN: 1570-6001
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Orthographic complexity in Thai is traced diachronically to account for non-linear relationships in the current writing system. As a result of orthographic conservatism over a period of phonological change, an earlier direct phoneme-grapheme isomorphism has shifted to a complex configuration with abstract reinterpretation. What were originally segmental graphemes have acquired hierarchical functions in suprasegmental tone marking. However, aspects of this account have been challenged. A debate has arisen regarding the origins of Thai writing. An early inscription with consistent use of tone marks has been deemed a fake, causing a local uproar. This inscriptional debate is described in some detail as it provides a context appropriate for examining more general questions raised by Share & Daniels (2016) and others regarding multi-dimensional hierarchical depth in orthographic systems. Central to Thai orthographic depth is the claim that early Thai writers marked phonemic tone.


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