Writing Systems and Phonetics  book cover
1st Edition

Writing Systems and Phonetics

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after March 16, 2021
ISBN 9780367497231
March 16, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
344 Pages 32 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Writing Systems and Phonetics provides students with a critical understanding of the writing systems of the world. Beginning by exploring the spelling of English, including how it arose and how it works today, the book goes on to address over 60 major languages from around the globe and includes detailed descriptions and worked examples of writing systems which foreground the phonetics of these languages.  Key areas covered include: 

  • the use of the Latin alphabet in and beyond Europe; 
  • writing systems of the eastern Mediterranean, Greek and its Cyrillic offshoot, Arabic and Hebrew; 
  • languages in South and South-East Asia, including Hindi, Tamil, Burmese and Thai, as well as in East Asia, including Chinese, Japanese and Korean; 
  • reflections on ancient languages such as Sumerian, Egyptian, Linear B and Mayan; 
  • a final chapter which sets out a typology of writing systems.  

All of the languages covered are contextualised by authentic illustrations, including road signs, personal names and tables, to demonstrate how theoretical research can be applied to the real world. 

Taking a unique geographical focus which guides the reader on a journey across time and continents, this book offers an engaging introduction for students approaching for the first time the phonetics of writing systems, their typology and the origins of scripts.

Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Figures



Technical terms and symbols

Chapter 1. English spelling

Chapter 2. Latin-based alphabets in European languages

Chapter 3. Latin-based alphabets outside Europe

Chapter 4. Greek, Cyrillic and related alphabets

Chapter 5. Hebrew, Arabic and related alphabets

Chapter 6. South and south-east Asian alphabets

Chapter 7. East Asian scripts

Chapter 8. The world’s earliest writing and its decipherment

Chapter 9. More early writing and its decipherment

Chapter 10. A typology of writing systems


Appendix 1. International Phonetic Alphabet

Appendix 2. Some basic variables in writing systems

Appendix 3. Writing materials


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Alan Cruttenden is Emeritus Professor of Phonetics, University of Manchester, and Fellow of the Phonetics Laboratory, University of Oxford.