At omniglot.com, we find scripts whose characters more-or-less stand for consonant phonemes, or all phonemes, or syllables, or words. But I've never heard of a language whose written form consists entirely of phonemic symbols plus separate symbols for grammatical morphemes whether free (like adpositions or conjunctions) or bound (like case or tense affixes).

Has any of the readers heard of such a script?

In English writing, we have a limited number of grammatical morpheme characters on our keyboards, such as "&" and "@," but we don't use them in formal prose. But I'm talking about a writing system with a bigger repertoire of grammatical morpheme characters.

  • 2
    English does have one commonly-used formal morphemic character, the possessive apostrophe . But yeah, this is an interesting question. – Mark Beadles Apr 28 '12 at 19:11
  • I've never heard of one. It seems rather unlikely because to create such a system would require quite a sophisticated level of linguistic analysis. – Colin Fine Apr 29 '12 at 23:19

Omniglot (which I highly recommend) lists a number of "semanto-phonetic" writing systems including modern Chinese and Japanese. Most of these are ideographic or logographic in nature, though.

I think the closest you may come to the literal description in your question is shorthand, systems of tachygraphy for various languages. One modern example is Pitman Shorthand for English, consiting of symbols including the following

consonants: p b f v m l t d th dh n r ch j s z ng w k g sh zh h y
vowels: ɑː eɪ iː ɔː oʊ uː æ ɛ ɪ ɒ ʌ ʊ aɪ ɔɪ aʊ juː
morphs: a(n) the (h)as (h)is it are of to I you and for have think thank that

Older shorthands included the Tironian notes (notae tironianae), Greek tachygraphy (of which not much is known), and various forms of scribal notation (although these were usually purely phonetic in nature). Remnants of these can be found in modern European languages, e.g. & and.

Finally, there is the Moon System of embossed letters for the blind. In addition to symbols for the English letters, it includes signs for:

-ing -ment -tion -ness and the -ound -ence -ful -ity

| improve this answer | |
  • Re your last paragraph: it's not just Moon; English braille (grade 2) also has a vast array of symbols for morphemes (the ones you mentioned, plus a lot more: -sion, -ally, etc.). – user438 Jan 12 '15 at 4:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.