1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of the English Writing System

ISBN 9780415715973
Published July 14, 2016 by Routledge
544 Pages

USD $275.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

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.

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

View More



Vivian Cook is Emeritus Professor of Applied Linguistics at Newcastle University, UK, and founding co-editor of the journal Writing Systems Research.

Des Ryan works at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.


"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