Shifting Between Writing Systems: Some Linguistic Remarks and Typological Observations

Edoardo Scarpanti


Just like human languages, also writing systems tend to change in diachrony, and sometimes they are substituted by new ones, in a process that we can call writing systems shift. The way this process takes place is determined by many conditions, which are here briefly described and discussed. Some recurrent facts suggest that a script shift is a linguistic phenomenon which is strongly marked, and which needs both a strong motivation, inside the speaking community, and a strong motivator, outside the same community. Despite some previous thoughts, in fact, it’s possible that choosing a new writing system is not simply the consequence of an evolution towards a “better” or “more adapt” system, but rather a more general matter of linguistic identity, which involves the whole speaking community.

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Copyright (c) 2022 Edoardo Scarpanti

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

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