I wanted to know what part of speech a letter might be or I wanted to see if I understand letters. Do people ask this question in this place? Or am I in the place where people would ask this? I asked this in language-learning because I thought it would be a language question but I think they showed me that it wasn’t a language question.

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    From Wikipedia: a part of speech is a category of words. A letter is not a word, and does not have a part of speech. – Keelan Sep 22 '20 at 11:26
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    Letters do not exist in speech, so they are no part of speech. Like punctuation, letters are part of writing – you couldn’t assign a comma or a question mark to a part of speech either. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 22 '20 at 11:36
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    Unless you mean the names of the letters, in which case they would be proper nouns. – curiousdannii Sep 22 '20 at 12:16
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    @curiousdannii That's how I interpreted the question. And I don't think there's any other. (I don't think they're always proper nouns though, as we talk about "an A", "Bs", "the C", etc.) – Nardog Sep 22 '20 at 13:21
  • If a letter is not a part of speech, what might letters be? – user6779864 Sep 26 '20 at 7:42

There are two answers, depending on what you are asking. First, they are nouns, so they get case, can be subject or object, take determiners etc. If you have a more nuanced theory of POS with subtypes of nouns, it depends on the language and the theory.

The other, which came up in the comments, is about the actual letters, not the names of the graphic symbols. But in addition, linguists now distinguish "letters" and "sounds" (though Rask talked of changes in letters, and Rask was a linguist). If we speak, we make sounds, if we sign, we make "signs" and if we write, we make letters or characters, depending on what language we're writing. Speech is spoken, so there are no letters in speaking. However, "part of speech" is not about speech, despite the name, it is about language, so letters are a part of language. But, "part of speech" doesn't refer to all of the entities that make up language, it refers to a very specific categorization of words, in terms of syntactic criteria. Letters are not classified according to any syntactic criteria, so they don't have a "part of speech", nor do language sounds. "Root", a morphological concept, likewise is a morphological entity, not a syntactic one, so roots don't have a "part of speech".

  • Why did you show or talk about 'root'? – user6779864 Sep 26 '20 at 7:41
  • Do you understand what a root is, and do you understand the relation between word and root? That might help you to understand the connection to part of speech – user6726 Sep 26 '20 at 14:52
  • I might be wrong about it or I might not know a little what it is but I think a ‘root’ might be the base word of a word or the base form of word or the original form of a word. Is that what ‘root’ is? Or is a ‘root’ the original form of word? – user6779864 Sep 30 '20 at 22:13

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