The etymological origin of the term grapheme is found in the Greek. Specifically, we can establish that it is the result of the sum of several lexical components of that language:
-The verb “graphein”, which means “to write”.
-The suffix “-ema”.
Starting from this composition, we can establish what it means “minimum unit of writing.”
In the Roman or Latin alphabet, which is the one we use in our idiom, the graphemes are the diacritical marks (tilde, umlaut, etc.) and the letters.
It is often said that a grapheme is the minimum element that allows distinguish two written words in a tongue (and with it, two meanings). Terms like “shovel”, “happens”, “to” Y “paw”, for example, they are differentiated in each case by a grapheme (a letter, in this specific context).
A accent mark It is also a grapheme used to recognize the difference between two words. It is not the same “pulpit” (a platform) than a “pulpit” (a small octopus). The grapheme ´> is the differentiating element.
The idea of grapheme is analogous to the concept of phoneme: the minimum and indivisible unit at the phonological level. The phoneme is part of the language, it is a formal or mental abstraction of the sound of speech. The grapheme, on the other hand, belongs to the system of graphic representation of the language.
A grapheme usually corresponds to a phoneme. However, there is no strict correspondence between the orthography and phonology. In Spanish, the graphemes c> and h> are joined to represent a single phoneme: ch. The union of two letters to represent a single sound is known as digraph.
It is important to note that, in other alphabets, the link between graphemes and phonology it’s not that close.
Other data of interest about graphemes are the following:
-There are languages in which there are many graphemes that have the peculiarity that they cannot be interpreted.
-On many occasions, they are represented using angle brackets.
-If it is said to be the minimum unit of writing, it is due to the fact that it cannot be decomposed into smaller units.
-It is also important to know that if they are spoken of as distinctive writing units it is because they have the particularity that they help us to differentiate in writing what is one linguistic sign from another.
-The graphemes are also sequential. Why? Because they appear successively in what is a written string.
-The digraphs we can establish that they are not graphemes but rather are composed of two letters.
-There are also so-called numerical graphemes.
-They also have the particularity that they are abstract and that they can be of two fundamental types: consonant graphemes and the so-called vocable graphemes.
-No less interesting is knowing about the graphemes that are capable of carrying out what is the production of a really significant contrast.