Edited by Amalia E. Gnanadesikan and Anna P. Judson
[Written Language & Literacy 24:2] 2021
► pp. 171–197
It has often been assumed that there is, or should be, a one-to-one correspondence between graphs and linguistic units in writing systems as the norm. This is not merely doubtful in terms of descriptive accuracy. Conceptualizing writing systems in such a way also has profound consequences for the application of typological categories to specific cases. In this paper we first suggest a working definition of polygraphy, also touching upon its demarcation from adjacent concepts such as ligatures and diacritics. Having demonstrated that polygraphy is in fact fundamental to a significant number of typologically diverse writing systems, we argue in favor of a typology of writing systems taking the ubiquity of polygraphy into due account, with definitions going beyond one-to-one correspondences as the default.