The Routledge Handbook of the English Writing System: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Routledge Handbook of the English Writing System

1st Edition

Edited by Vivian Cook, Des Ryan


544 pages

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Hardback: 9780415715973
pub: 2016-07-14
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The Routledge Handbook of the English Writing System provides a comprehensive account of the English writing system, both in its current iteration and highlighting the developing trends that will influence its future. Twenty-nine chapters written by specialists from around the world cover core linguistic and psychological aspects, and also include areas from other disciplines such as typography and computer-mediated communication.

Divided into five parts, the volume encompasses a wide range of approaches and addresses issues in the following areas:

  • theory and the English writing system, discussing the effects of etymology and phonology;
  • the history of the English writing system from its earliest development, including spelling, pronunciation and typography;
  • the acquisition and teaching of writing, with discussions of literacy issues and dyslexia;
  • English writing in use around the world, both in the UK and America, and also across Europe and Japan;
  • computer-mediated communication and developments in writing online and on social media.

The Routledge Handbook of the English Writing System is essential reading for researchers and postgraduate students working in this area.


"No longer in the shadows, the study of writing systems is drawing increasing interest among language researchers, as may be seen in this impressive collection by Vivian Cook and Des Ryan, which brings together insights by established and emerging scholars on a broad range of topics and approaches to the study of the English writing system, from its history and evolution, to its structure, processing, acquisition, and sociolinguistic aspects."

Jyotsna Vaid, Texas A&M University, USA

"The Handbook is an authoritative and comprehensive collection of a wide range of topics related to the English writing system. Written by a stellar cast of scholars, the volume for the first time brings together an amazing variety of approaches and topics, from theoretical to applied, from historical to futuristic, all presented in an accessible and fresh way. This unique and fascinating work will establish itself as an invaluable reference tool for researchers, teachers and postgraduate students, as well as a captivating read for anyone with an interest in the English writing system, for time to come."

Benedetta Bassetti, University of Warwick, UK

"This Handbook covers an extremely broad range of topics that are suitable both for beginning and more advanced students of language. It is extremely well written and organized. I recommend it enthusiastically."

Zohar Eviatar, University of Haifa, Israel

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction Des Ryan

Chapter 2. Background to the English Writing System Vivian Cook

Theory and the English writing system

Chapter 3. English among the world's writing systems Richard Sproat

Chapter 4. Modern theories of English spelling Des Ryan

Chapter 5. Phonology and English spelling Iggy Roca

Chapter 6. Punctuation Frank ‎Kirchhoff Slotta & Beatrice Primus

The history and development of the EWS

Chapter 7. The etymological inputs into English spelling Simon Horobin

Chapter 8. Changing Functions: English Spelling before 1600 Jeremy J. Smith and Merja Stenroos

Chapter 9. Modernization and standardization since the 17th century Phil Scholfield

Chapter 10. Historical spelling variation as documented in historical dictionaries: the OED as a test case Philip Durkin

Chapter 11. Accent variation reflected in the standard writing system of English Jesper Kruse

Learning and teaching English

Chapter 12. Children’s first language acquisition of the English writing system Nenagh Kemp

Chapter 13. Teaching literacy to English children; policy and practice Therezinha Nunes

Chapter 14. Dyslexia and the English writing Liory Fern Pollak and Jackie Masterson

Chapter 15. The structure of Literacy teaching: a case study from England Rhona Stainthorp

Society and the English writing system in the world

Chapter 16. Sociolinguistics and the English writing system Florian Coulmas

Chapter 17. The evolution of British and American style spelling D. W. Cummings

Chapter 18. The spelling of Scots: tradition, adaptation and reform Jennifer Bann and John Corbett

Chapter 19. Irish English and the English Writing System Raymond Hickey

Chapter 20. Eye Dialect and Pronunciation Respelling in the USA Michael Picone

Chapter 21. The Orthography of English-lexicon Pidgins and Creoles Mark Sebba

Chapter 22. The English writing system in the linguistic landscapes of the world Jeffrey Kallen

Chapter 23. Japanese users of the English writing system: a case study Takeshi Okada

Chapter 24. Spelling reform Valerie Yule and Ishi Yasuko

Processing the written symbol

Chapter 25. Typography and the printed English text Will Hill

Chapter 26. Processing the written word Melvin J. Yap and Susan J. Rickard Liow

Chapter 27. Computer-mediated communication and the English writing system Lauren Squires

Chapter 28. Texting and other messaging Tim Shortis

Chapter 29. Spell checkers Roger Mitton

About the Series

Routledge Handbooks in Linguistics

Routledge Handbooks in Linguistics provide overviews of a whole subject area or sub-discipline in linguistics, and survey the state of the discipline including emerging and cutting edge areas. Edited by leading scholars, these volumes include contributions from key academics from around the world and are essential reading for both advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Alphabets & Writing Systems
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General