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Graphetics is a branch of linguistics concerned with the analysis of the physical properties of shapes used in writing.[1][2]

It is an etic study, meaning that it has an outsider's perspective and is not concerned with any particular writing system. It is contrasted with the related emic field of graphemics, the study of the relation between different shapes in particular writing systems.[1] Graphetics is analogous to phonetics; graphetics is to the study of writing as phonetics is to the study of spoken language. As such, it can be divided into two areas, visual graphetics and mechanical graphetics, which are analogous to auditory and articulatory phonetics, respectively.[2] Both printed and handwritten language can be the subject of graphetic study.[3]


  1. ^ a b Crystal, David (2003). "Graphetics". Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. The Language Library (5th ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-22663-5. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Coulmas, Florian, ed. (1999). "Graphetics". The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems. Blackwell Reference Online: Blackwell. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  3. ^ Hartmann, R. R. K.; James, Gregory (1998). "Graphetics". Dictionary of Lexicography. London, New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-14143-7. Retrieved October 10, 2011.