Recently I have been thinking if space counts as a letter? I mean In computer coding when space is in place it count as one character, but what about in real language, is it character also?

  • Language is primarily spoken. Can you rephrase your question to ask about spoken language?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 1:17
  • Many languages never use spaces in writing.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 11:38
  • 2
    @curiousdannii That seems to be based on a rather narrow definition of "language", and not the one I subscribe to, and not relevant to the question at hand. LGL, spaces are an attribute of written language, just like punctuation. They are not considered a part of the alphabet, and therefore, not letters. But it's just a matter of convention.
    – prash
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 11:39
  • @prash I didn't say the question had to be rephrased, but I personally think it would be more interesting if it were.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


Perhaps. It is proposed in Generative Phonology that a # boundary precedes and follows every syntactic constituent in an expresssion (including the words), and this with various conventions makes ## correspond roughly to the spaces in conventional spelling. The convention is given in detail in The Sound Pattern of English.

(Personally, I don't believe it.)

  • The # boundary is the one that separates words, among other constituents, and that's what space does in English orthography. There are other boundaries, like the ones that separate the roots and suffixes in #book.keep.er.s#.
    – jlawler
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 17:57

In practice, no. When you do corpus linguistics and part-of-speech (POS) tagging, you consider words and punctuation marks as constituents, but not the spaces between the words.

When you consider spoken language, pauses are relevant entities, as well as fillers (like em, er), but again not the spaces that separate words.

  • What is space then? Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 13:52
  • @LGL Nothing. After you have tokenized your text (into words and punctuation marks and maybe also fillers and pauses) the spaces are gone and no longer there. Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 14:12
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    Space is a convention for writing. That's all. It doesn't occur in most writing, only some alphabetic, abjad, and abujadi writing systems. Chinese comes with characters already separated, so space is just enough in any direction to establish individuality. Modern Thai, an abujadi system, doesn't use spaces between words. Arabic calligraphy (Arabic uses an abjad writing system) uses all kinds of other effects besides space to separate words.
    – jlawler
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 17:56

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