A Matter of Typology
Alphasyllabaries and Abugidas
The typology of writing systems includes such well known categories as the alphabet (e.g. that of English), the syllabary (e.g. Japanese kana), and the logosyllabary (such as Chinese characters). An additional type, exemplified by writing systems of India and Ethiopia, shows features of both the alphabet and the syllabary; it has sometimes been called an alphasyllabary, sometimes an abugida (borrowing an Ethiopic term). These terms can be distinguished in several Asian writing systems, depending on whether priority is given to the presence of an inherent vowel or to the graphic arrangement of symbols.
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