The letter J is silent in Spanish

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Johannes M & # 252ller-Lancé (Mannheim)

Spanish and French Orthography: A Contrast and Its Genesis

Spanish and French Orthographies: A Contrast and his Genesis
Spanish and French represent two languages ​​closely related by their geography, history and typology. The writing systems of these two languages, however, are rather different - a so-called "shallow" system for modern Spanish and a "deep" system for modern French. This paper proposes a method for measuring this distance and provides a survey of the evolution of the two writing systems. It demonstrates that in medieval periods both writing systems were still quite similar and that the essential differences did not occur until the Renaissance era. The reasons for the emergence of these differences are searched in phonological and social developments as well as in language policy.

1 Introduction

Romance studies is part of the philosophical faculty at many universities - this shows how flexible our conceptual ideas of "philosophy" are. Our graphic representations, on the other hand, are significantly less flexible: For example, many readers, just like the author of this article, got a little shiver down their spines when they saw the Spanish equivalent "filosofía" for the first time in writing: namely with < f> instead of the grapheme combination , which reproduces the Greek φ in many languages ​​with the Latin alphabet.

French , German , Engl.
gr. <φιλοσοφία>

The example "filosofía" shows that we are looking at a graphic system in Spanish that cares relatively little about linguistic-historical traditions: The focus seems to be to always express a certain phoneme using the same grapheme.1 The peculiarities of this writing system only become apparent when you compare it with the systems of similar languages. Within the Romance languages, French offers the greatest possible contrast to the Spanish writing system: Here, graphics often have the task of at least differentiating homophonic words in writing. For example, the different meanings of the phoneme sequence [tã] are represented by the spellings , and , which are reminiscent of the Latin TEMPUS, TENDIT and TANTUM.

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In the following, the orthographic systems of Spanish and French will be briefly contrasted. Subsequently, those moments in the history of these languages ​​will be picked out which have led to the fact that we, in these two languages, which are geographically, historically and typologically relatively close,2 find two orthographic systems that are so different.

2 Characterization of the two writing systems

Like all alphabetic writing systems, both the Spanish and French systems are of a phonographic nature: in principle, the graphemes represent phonemes. Such systems are in contrast to logographic systems in which the individual characters represent entire units of meaning, i.e. morphemes (Sampson 1985, Coulmas 1996, Meisenburg 1998: 43).3

As the examples from the introduction have shown, there are already major differences in the group of phonographic systems in terms of the complexity of the phoneme-grapheme correspondences. Spanish comes very close to the phonographic ideal of a 1: 1 relationship between phonemes and graphemes:4 One speaks here of a "flat" (engl. shallow vs. deep) Writing system, as it only moves on the phonological surface, so to speak.5

2.1 A "flat" writing system: Spanish

This becomes particularly clear in the Spanish vowel system, which only consists of the 5 cardinal vowels, which can be reproduced without any problems using the 5 Latin vowel graphemes. But even with the consonants, for example, double consonants are only written if they are of phonological relevance: cf. caro ['karo] (' dear, dear ') vs. carro ['karro] (' cart '), pero ['pero] (' but ') vs. perro ['pεrro] (' dog '). Originally Latin words, which we are familiar with from German, English and French with graphic double consonants, are consistently written in Spanish with simple consonant graphs: see sp. ligencia> vs. French , sp. sencia> vs. French , sp. vs. French , sp. municar> vs. French . But foreign words from other languages ​​are also adapted to the Spanish phoneme or writing system, not only in pronunciation, but also in spelling: sp. chauffeur; sp. vs. French goal; sp. vs. French leader; sp. vs. French hypothesis (΄υπóθεσις).

The last example, or more precisely: the use of the grapheme shows, however, that there are exceptions to the phonographic principle in Spanish as well, or that the system occasionally goes deeper: For example, we first find a historically or etymologically founded Grapheme to which no phonetic value corresponds (e.g. in sp. historia Hispanic is used to recall an original Latin phoneme / f / in the wording (sp. hijo fijo hoja

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And thirdly, can also have a diacritical character: At a time when no graphical distinction was made between and , the diphthong / we / was marked as such by a preceding to indicate the Reading / ve / and to show that the sign is to be read vowels and not consonants (Latin OVUM> sp. huevo). This has also been preserved to this day (Müller-Lancé 2006: 47, 87, 116 FN 23).

The other inconsistencies of the Spanish writing system can be divided into two groups:

a) Position influences going back to Latin relationships (for Latin graphics see Müller-Lancé 2006: 71ff.): This is how / k / is written before / a, o, u / in Spanish (casa), before / e / and / i / on the other hand (quedar, quien); in loan words there is also (kilómetro, kindergarten). Conversely, precedes / e / and / i / for / θ / (cerdo, cintura). The same applies to the grapheme , which corresponds to the phoneme / g / before / a, o, u / (gato, gordo), before / e / and / i / on the other hand / χ / (Gerona, coger, giro). In front of / a, o, u / the phoneme / wird / is represented with the graphem (jardín, juego). Conversely, if the position changes in inflection or derivative paradigms, the graph must also be changed in order to keep the phoneme-grapheme correspondences constant: e.g. [to'kar] ('touch') vs. ['tokes] (2.Sg.Kj.) or [boθ] (' voice ') vs. [' boθes] (pl.) (cf. Meisenburg 1998: 50).

b) historical-etymologically based inconsistencies: for the phoneme / b /, analogous to the Latin etyma, a graphical differentiation between and is made without there being any phonetic reason for this in Spanish: beber [be'βεr] (vivir [bi'βir] ( and in the case of the phoneme / s / as in sp. escudar [esku'dar] 'protect' (excusar [esku'sar] 'apologize' ( and also serves to differentiate homonyms: [bo'tar] => votar 'choose' vs. botar 'throw' (see Meisenburg 1996b).

The examples of diachronic depth mentioned are exceptions. By and large, it is true of Spanish that the unambiguous phoneme-grapheme correspondences clearly predominate, so that it is neither a problem for the language learner, who knows the corresponding rules of correspondence, to correctly write unknown words heard, nor correctly spelled words "to pronounce".

2.2 A "deep" writing system: French

This is completely different with French: It is relatively easy to translate what has been written into the correct sound (i.e. the grapheme-phoneme correspondences are relatively stable; e.g. Jean, la gent, les gens, un agent de police but: e.g. ils nagent), but the reverse transfer is much more difficult (Raible 1991: 37).6

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This has first and foremost phonological reasons: The French phoneme system is significantly more complex than the Spanish system in the vowel range, e.g. due to the nasal phonemes and the different degrees of opening. In addition, there are the extremely numerous etymological spellings, which are evidence that the morphological level is at least as important as the phonological level - we therefore speak of a writing system that goes into depth.7 Even basic grammatical morphemes such as the plural marking of the verb (il change vs. ils changent) and the plural -s of nouns appear only as a grapheme, but not as a phoneme, if one disregards the special cases of the liaison (e.g. les portes vs. les étoiles). What Christian Stetter (1997: 42f.) Calls the "grammatical processing of language through orthography" is particularly clearly documented here.8

Nina Catach (1996: 1445ff.) Therefore distinguishes three levels within the French writing system:

A) the flat plane of the Phonograms, i.e. characters that reproduce a phoneme similar to Spanish ( for / a /, for / i /, e.g. in dad, pee);

as well as two deeper grammatical levels where synchronic and diachronic depth are difficult to separate, namely:

B) the level of Morphograms - this is about characters that reproduce a morpheme, i.e. an entire unit of meaning, without it being assigned a sound value (grammatical Morphograms are e.g. the nominal plural morpheme -s in grand vs. grands or the verbal plural morpheme for the 3rd person: elle aime / elles aiment; lexical Morphograms are e.g. the adverb suffix -ment in contrast to the adjective / participle / gerund (m-) ant: chèrement / charmant. The only graphic differentiation between the Latin. ad u. from resulting prefixes, i.e. those in e.g. associer (asocial (French a- social) or. assembler ('put together, gather' asexuel ('sexless' a- sexual) has the character of a morphogram.

C) logograms, that is, combinations of characters that stand for a whole word and do not appear separately from this word. Typically, these logograms are etymological or at least historically determined and serve to differentiate homonyms: The series of examples has already been mentioned temps ('Time') : tend (3.Sg.Ind.Prs.Akt. V. tendre 'tighten') : aunt ('so much') : tan ('Gerberlohe')9 : taon ('Cattle brake')10 - they all stand for the sound sequence [tã].11 The sound sequence [see above] is similarly ambiguous. It can be represented graphically by ('seal'), ('jump'), ('stupid') and ('bucket'). These graphics are also based on the etymological principle: is reminiscent of SIGELLUM (CL: SIGI.LLUM); the vulgar Latin form becomes afr. soul; from the 13th century onwards one wrote cel> or ceau> to get the word from seau ('Bucket') (Bloch / Wartburg 1986). The spelling goes to Latin SALTUS, to mittellat. SOTTUS 'stupid' and in * SITELLUS (KL: SITELLA) back - accordingly we find two-syllable in Spanish sello ('Siegel, Briefmarke') and somersault ('Leap').

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2.3 Attempt a quantitative comparison

Nobody has tried to precisely quantify the differences between the Spanish and French writing systems with regard to the parameter of depth - so far they have been content with classifying the Spanish as a shallow and the French as a deep system. If one now compares more precisely which graphemes occur in these two languages ​​only in flat use and which also in deep, i.e. non-phonographic use, one gets an impression of how different the writing systems of these two languages ​​are with regard to the parameter of depth.

The middle line of Table 1 lists those simple graphemes that occur in both writing systems. For the sake of better comparability, the different digraphemes ()12 just as omitted as the diphthongs and diacritical marks (e.g. Spanish <ñ> or French <é, è, ç>). In the lines above and below it is listed to what extent the respective grapheme is used in the two languages ​​flat or deep.13 If a grapheme occurs both flat and deep, then it is entered in the line "flat / deep".

Table 1: Flat or deep use of the simple French. and Spanish graphemes

In the following, the classifications of the individual graphemes are demonstrated with examples. Since the graphemes used exclusively flat need no explanation - they correspond more or less to a phonological transcription14 - only those graphemes are addressed that are either flat and deep or but just occur in deep use. The types of use are not listed in full; In principle, one document is sufficient to prove that it has been used extensively.

French graphemes that (also) occur in deep use:

:phonographically, that is flat for / a /, e.g. in father;
 deep: for the nasalized vowel / ã / before the nasal consonant + plosive sound15, e.g. in quand - here it has the same sound value as before the nasal consonant + plosive sound (e.g. vent in the digraph stands for [o] chaud. In the first case the should remind of Latin QUANDO, in the second case of CALIDUS.

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:flat for / b /, e.g. initial: Bertrand;
 without sound value, so deep, at the end of the word after a consonant: plomb ('Lead') - reminiscent of Latin PLUMBUM.
:this grapheme does not have its own fixed sound value and, unlike in Spanish ( vs. ), it is not just a question of position which letter is chosen. The French grapheme should only remind of Latin and is thus always deep. Compare the uses:
 before for / k /, i.e. with the same sound value as ; see. quand camp 16 ; the grapheme is reminiscent of the Latin . has the same sound value (cf. kilo);
 before with the same sound value as ; e.g. cerf ('Deer') - it is reminiscent of the Latin in CERVUM, the in servir in contrast to the Latin SERVIRE.
:flat for / d /, e.g. initial: dommage;
 deep, without phonetic value, at the end of the word after a consonant: fund ('Background') - reminiscent of Latin FUNDUS.
:flat for / ɘ / as in premier;
 deep: partly for / a / (femme - reminiscent of Latin FEMINA), partly for Schwa (instable), partly without sound value (ils arrivent); It can stand for the nasal vowel / ã / before the nasal consonant + plosive sound and thus have the same sound value as before the nasal consonant + plosive sound (cf. vent quand est [εst] 'East'.
:flat for / f /, e.g. initial: force;
 deep: e.g. as an etymological digraph without phonetic distinction to the simple graph : effectuer vs. fils, so each for / f / - reminiscent of Latin EFFECTUS.
:flat for / g /, e.g. in the beginning before / a, o, u /: guérir;
 deep: before / e, i / same sound value as , namely [ӡ]: e.g. gesture, reminiscent of GESTUS.
:always stands without a sound value - e.g. l'humanité / lymani'te /, reminiscent of HUMANITAS -, only prevents elision in certain cases (la haine) => always deep.
:flat for / i /, e.g. in épinard;
 deep: for the nasal phoneme / ε̃ / e.g. in the final before nasal consonant graph (e.g. fin - reminiscent of Latin FINIS); in the digraph without phonetic value (e.g. foi 'Belief': [fwa]).
:flat for / l /, e.g. initial: luxe;
 deep: partly without sound value, e.g. in fils 'Son' / f sharp / (reminiscent of Latin FILIUS); in the digraph without double phonetic value (intelligence: [l] - reminiscent of Latin INTELLEGERE) or with a completely different sound value (fille: [j]).

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:flat for / m /, e.g. initial: mois;
 deep: in the digraph without double phonetic value (e.g. emmener 'bring here' vs. amener 'take away': both / m /; the graphic differentiation is explained by going back to * IMMINARE vs. * ADMINARE); after nasal vowel without sound value: e.g. faim for / fε̃ / - here reminiscent of Latin FAMES.
:flat for / n /, e.g. initial: nuit;
 deep: in the digraph without double phonetic value (cf. panneau 'Schild' moineau 'Spatz' ennemi, étonner and ennuyer However, despite the Etyma, Latin INIMICUS, * EXTONARE and late Lat. INODIARE in French written with ; The use of without a sound value after the nasal vowel is also deep: volume / tɔ̃ / - reminiscent of the Latin TONUS.
:flat for / o /, e.g. in the final: bistro (also tolerated: );
 deep: in the digraph with changed sound value / u / (cour); continue before the nasal consonant + closing sound or at the end of the word with nasal sound value as / tɔ̃ /: volume, clay tone ('Uncle'). It is also important to note the great variability of the sound value in relation to the degree of opening depending on the sound environment: port [ɔ] vs. tonique [O].


flat for / p /, e.g. initial: Paul;
 deep: mute at the end of a word and in certain consonant combinations (loup 'Wolf', temps; each reminiscent of Latin LUPUS and TEMPUS), in the digraph without double sound value: enveloppe vs. salope.
:flat for the phoneme / ʀ / ("uvulares r"), e.g. initial: rue;
 deep: e.g. in the digraph without double phonetic value (cf. arrête 'hold on!' arête 'Bones'
:flat for / s /, e.g. initially: salon;
 deep: at the end of the word mostly without sound value and only to remind you of the Latin equivalents, e.g. viens / vjε̃ / poids / pwa / fils / f sharp /. In the digraph it is written without a double phonetic value: s'asseoir; intervowelly it corresponds to the voiced / z /: chaise (then the same sound value as : zero).
:flat for / t /, e.g. initial: tôt (/ to /);
 deep: at the end of the word mostly without phonetic value and only etymologically conditioned, e.g. vent court 'short' cour 'Hof' 17 both / kuʀ /); in the digraph without double phonetic value: e.g. attendre studio

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: flat for [y], e.g. initial: urbain;
 deep: in the digraph with changed sound value / u / (cf. cour 'Hof' vs. cure 'Healing', 'cure'), before nasal consonant for nasalized [œ̃]: lundi; after without sound value: quand / kɑ̃ / in memory of Latin QUANDO.
:in English loan words for [w]: water-polo, week-end, i.e. the same sound value as the traditional digraph before vowel (ouate [wat], ouest [wεst]); otherwise for [v] (wagon, wallon), i.e. the same sound value as ; the grapheme does not have its own phonetic value => always deep.
:flat for / ks /, e.g. in the initial sound of Graecisms such as xénophobe;
 deep: always "mute" as plural morpheme at the end of the word: les feux, les chevaux.
:flat for the semiconsonant / j /, e.g. in il y a; under certain circumstances the digraph can also be used with the same phonetic value, cf. fille;
 deep: as a vowel graph, has the same sound value as : hyper / i'pεʀ /.
:flat for / z /, e.g. at the beginning of a word (e.g. Zenith);
 deep: without phonetic value e.g. at the end of a word (regardez).

Spanish graphemes that (also) occur in deep use:

:One completely surface Use with the sound value [b] is only before and after the consonant, e.g. emblema: [em'blema] 'label'; embarcar: [embar'kar] 'embark';
 deep: Initially, is also used as plosive sound [b] (barco), but realized intervowel as a fricative [β] (haba 'Bean'); in both cases, however, it competes with the grapheme , which can have identical phonetic values, cf. beber: [better], vivir: [bi'βir]). In these examples, and only serve as a reminder of the Latin BIBERE or VIVERE. It should be noted that [b] and [ß] are not two phonemes, but allophones of a phoneme / b / - there are no minimal pairs in which this phonetic difference would also differentiate meaning.
:has before / e, i / the sound value / θ /, e.g. ciego 'blind', i.e. the same as the grapheme (e.g. zona). Before / a, o, u / stands for / k /, e.g. casa / 'kasa /, thus has the same phonetic value as the digraph , which is used before / e, i / as a graphic symbol for / k /, e.g. queso / 'keso /. From the opposite perspective, always stands for / k / and always for / θ /, so there are two flat correspondences. , on the other hand, has two different, non-own sound values ​​and is only used because it is reminiscent of the Latin CAECUS or CASA; so both uses of are deep.

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:flat for / d / e.g. initial: deseo;
 deep partly in the final, where it is often without a sound value: verdad, Madrid [Ma'dri(δ)], voluntad [bolun'ta(δ)].
:flat before / a, o, u /, e.g. in gato / 'gato /;
 deep: before / e, i / with the sound value / χ /, e.g. general / χene'ral /, i.e. with the same phonetic value as , which always has the same phonetic value and is therefore flat, e.g. Juan.18
:is used without sound value throughout, e.g .: hijo (see examples from 2.1) => always deep.
:flat for / u /, e.g. in muro;
 deep after before in the function of a diacritical mark to guarantee the / g / pronunciation: Miguel / mi'gel /.
:flat internally for [β], e.g. in and many more 'Grape' ['uβa];
 deep: initially congruent with a sound value of , namely [b]: e.g. vaso / 'baso / baño: / 'baɲo / The graphemes and have identical phonetic values ​​and are used exclusively according to the etymology. The decision as to which of the two sound values ​​corresponds to the flat usage is actually arbitrary and is based on the Latin usage: for the plosive sound and for the fricative sound.19
:is only used for the initial sound of loan words, the sound value varies greatly. Two of these initials are written in Spanish exclusively with : [w] as in windsurfing / 'windsurfiɳ / and [v] as in Waterloo / 'vatεrlo /. It would now be arbitrary to determine which of these two uses the surface Use is - in return, in any case, is the other use deep (it can only ever a phonographic usage).
Likewise deep is the use of for [gw] as in Western film / 'gwestεrn / - it competes e.g. with the spelling as in guapo / 'gwapo /; the fourth sound value of is [b] as in water 'WC': / 'batεr /; this sound value is therefore identical to that of or in the initial sound and therefore also corresponds to a deep use.
:flat for [ks], e.g. in Extremadura;
 deep for [s] (e.g. excusar), also occasionally for [χ] (México).
:phonographically, that is flat for J/ (ya, yogur);
 deep: as a vocal logogram y for 'and' with the sound value / i /, which is usually spelled with .

It should be noted that the depth of a writing system is always related to the respective regional variety of the phonemic system: from the point of view of the Latin American Spanish varieties, for example, the Spanish graphic is deeper than from the point of view of Castilian Spanish: in the context of the Seseo, which is widespread in America, the phonological Opposition of / s / and / θ / abandoned (e.g. casa vs. caza => ['kasa]), in the context of Yeísmo the opposition of / ʎ / vs. / j / (e.g. calló 'he was silent' from callar vs. cayó 'he fell' from caer => [ka'jo]. In the graphics, however, the opposition is still maintained: vs. and / vs. . So a clearly deep move.20

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If you try to quantify approximately the parameter of the depth for the Spanish Castile and the standard French with Table 1 (see above), one comes to the following result: In French only 3 of 25 simple graphemes are used exclusively flat, in Spanish they are at least 15 out of 25 - according to this criterion, the French writing system would be exactly five times as deep as the Spanish system. The discrepancy is smaller for the graphemes that are only used deeply, but here, too, the French "leads". If one were to add the more complex graphemes, for example graphic double consonants and diphthongs, the distance would increase further. Overall, a factor of 5 seems realistic, by which the orthographic system of contemporary Spanish is flatter than that of contemporary French.

The distance determined in this way is shown in the overview diagram (Fig. 1) at the end of the article: On the right edge of the diagram you can see the current status of the two graphical systems. The vertical axis stands for the parameter of depth,21 the horizontal axis for time. However, it does not begin at 0, but at 800 AD, a point in time at which the Romanesque writing could begin (Carolingian Renaissance). The upper temperature curve stands for French, the lower for Spanish. The respective beginnings of the curves are dashed until the first written evidence of this language that we have received appears. I added an extra line for Latin American Spanish.

The diagram shows at first glance that the distance between the two writing systems in terms of the parameter of depth was not always as great as it is today. The following is about how these serious differences came about.22 For this purpose, the most important stages in the history of French and Spanish orthography will be discussed.

3 causes of the emergence of different systems

3.1 Beginnings of writing (8th-11th centuries)

Since both French and Spanish are based on a Celtic or Celtiberian substrate and both countries - or more precisely: their southern provinces - exhibited a lively exchange with Rome at the height of the Imperium Romanum, the Latin of these regions cannot yet be very different at that time have been.23 The decisive factor for the linguistic differences was rather the influence of the superstrate languages ​​after the collapse of the Roman Empire: Here Franconian had a much stronger impact in France than Visigoth in Spain.

As far as sound and graphics are concerned, the different effects of the superstrate languages ​​initially made little impact: both in early Old French of the 9th century (Strasbourg oath: 842, Eulaliase sequence: approx. 880) and in early Old Spanish of the 10th century (Nodicia de Kesos, Glosas Emilianenses / Silenses: approx. 980 AD) there are partly identical sound developments that could hardly be represented phonographically with the letters of the Latin alphabet:24 The problems were largely identical, the graphic solutions at least similar. This is shown in Table 2:25

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 New phonetic
Old French graphicsOld Spanish graphics
/ ié /<ie> ciele> timpo, mircoles, miercoles
/ uó /, asp. / ué /<uo> buonae> funt, spueras, spueras
/ tʃ /<ch> chief<g, gg, i, ih, x, cc, chi ...> nog, contradiggo
/ dʒ / (asp. also ʒ)<g, e, i> getterent, eo / io (>ever)<g, gg, i, j, y, gi, ch ...> conceggo, conceio
/ ts /<z> piez<z, ç> poza, poça, pozo
/ ɲ /<gn, ng, ign, ing> degnet<nn, nj, gn> anno, senjor, cugnato
/ ʎ /<ll, ill, l> conselliers, moiler<ll, l> caballo, strela

Table 2: Graphical solutions for common sound developments in early Afrz. and Asp.

In addition, there were problems in Old French, especially the newly created nasal vowels and that e-muet In addition: the former were not specially marked, the latter in numerous variations, e.g. alone in the Strasbourg oaths as , or : fradre, fradra, nostro.29 In Old Spanish, other sibilants such as [ʃ] and [dz] were added as difficulties, for each of which there were different spelling variants.30

The initial phase of the two writing systems is thus characterized by "similarities" (cf. Meisenburg 1989: 252ff.). The old French system is a little less flat than the old Spanish system, as it completely dispenses with the graphical representation of the new nasal vowels.31 This is also reflected in the overview graphic (Fig. 1). In any case, in the beginning we are dealing with a phase of experimentation in both languages ​​in which the effort to find phonographic solutions is in the foreground.

3.2 Standardization of vernacular orthography (12th / 13th century)

In the 12th / 13th According to one direction of French orthography research, a relatively uniform writing system increasingly dominated by the French prevailed in the 19th century, which corresponds to the early boom in literature and clearly has phonographic features ("le bel françois"). Typical for this are the graphical non-consideration of silent sounds (e.g. for / erite / instead of nfrz. <Hériter> ansanble, premieremant) and the waiver of homonym differentiation (e.g. a single spelling for the equivalents of nfrz. Corn (mes (mets (

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That the 12./13. Centurywas elevated to the ideal of a phonographic spelling, however, is mainly due to the judgment of Beaulieux (1927), which in turn was based mainly on the writings of Chrétien de Troyes copied by the scribe Guiot.32 Meisenburg (1996: 83) shows, however, that even in this early phase the morphosis semantics already played a role in graphics: For example, 'short' (, although the - t- was already silent at this time: = / kors /. The sign for the simple sibilant would have been phonographically more correct. Accordingly, afr. pie in the plural still written with () despite the silence of the dental sound, probably around an Latin PED.To remember IT.

In Spain the 12th / 13th As a result of the Reconquista and the early Castilian language dominance associated with it, there is less dialectal diversity than in France, where standard French was only used in the 19th century. with the introduction of compulsory schooling (Jules Ferry), the primary dialects were displaced. In addition, there was an earlier tendency towards fixation and agreement in Spanish as far as graphics were concerned: It is mostly traced back to the work of Ferdinand III (1217–1252) and Alfons the Wise (1252–1284), among whom Latin as a documentary language largely came from Castilian was replaced.33

Despite this tendency towards standardization, one cannot speak of a 1: 1 phonography: This is countered by the fact that stress ratios are not taken into account in graphics (cf. asp. for nsp. perdono (1.Sg.Presens) and perdonó (3.Sg.Präteritum) (after Meisenburg 1996: 210), ambiguous phoneme-grapheme correspondences (e.g. / ʒ / written by and : , ) but also some irregularities, if the graphics of different texts are compared: , , , .34

3.3 Phonetic development, relatinisation and letterpress printing (14th-16th centuries)

In Central French (14th-16th centuries) a tendency is continued that was already noticeable in Old French and which clearly sets it apart from Spanish: What is meant is the verbal shortening of the words, originally caused by strong Franconian pressure accents, which is now mainly due to the shrinkage of Auslaut-Schwa, vowel contractions and consonant fading is continued. It is accompanied by phenomena such as monophthongization, phonologization of the nasal vowels and palatalization (Meisenburg 1996: 85). Table 3 shows how much the shortening of the Latin words affects the French word form:35

'(Sea) Breasts'
senosenoseno 'Sine'be
segnoseña 'Identification mark'36
(signo 'Sign')
senhaseing 'Signature'37
(signe 'Character')

Table 3: Word shortening in French

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The table shows that the retention of the old, more or less established graphics in French inevitably results in numerous "silent" characters - all of the listed lexemes are simply / sε̃ /; The shortening of the words also results in significantly more homonyms in French than in Spanish (see the example above for / sε̃ /)38. The silent characters now help to differentiate these homonyms. The Frankish influence is indirectly responsible for the etymologizing French writing system.

In addition, the graph receives morphological relevance: many inflected forms can only be distinguished in the graph due to the lack of final s,39 newly added silent etymological consonants emphasize the Latin character of French (afrz. > mfrz. (CORPUS); aloud in each case [kɔr]. The new insertion of such consonant graphs was possible without any problems, because one had long since got used to it, that graphic final consonants (as with ) and numerous syllable exhaustions (e.g. [ε: trɘ]) remained mute while reading anyway. These relatinizations strengthened the reader-friendliness on the one hand and "ennobled" the French, which was emancipating itself from Latin, on the other hand through emphasis its origin; cf. neugraphs such as lce> (DULCEM), mptation> (TEMPTATIONEM), cte> (FACTA) (Meisenburg 1996: 105).

The flat graph of the early Old French now becomes a deep graph, which, precisely because of its traditionalism, is extremely reader-friendly (Meisenburg 1996: 95). The already significantly increased number of readers40 probably contributed to the fact that this relatinized writing system was largely retained.41 At the time of printing (16th century) it was more about standardizing this orthography than about reforming it (Raible 1991: FN 54).42

in the Spanish there are 13-16. Century. Neither on the phonetic nor on the graphical side developments that correspond even approximately to the changes in Central French. Correspondingly, in the periodization of Spanish, from Old Spanish directly to Spanish des Siglo de Oro (which means the 16th / 17th century), passed over.43 The latter period has recently been referred to as "Middle Spanish", especially in German-speaking Hispanic studies (Bollée / Neumann-Holzschuh 2003: 81).

However, the wave of relatinization did not stop at Spain: This is how Latin, which was already silent in Roman times, becomes H- Written more and more frequently in the 15th century: e.g. now e.g. vs. earlier .44 Furthermore, the imperfect ending is the a-Conjugation that was written with in Old Spanish (AMABAM> amava), now written again with based on Latin (amaba) without this being accompanied by a sound change. The basically conservative book printers in terms of orthography were less important in Spain because of the smaller book market and thus less weight in the orthography discussion than in Italy and France, for example. Accordingly, they essentially took over the present system with all its irregularities without intervening in a regulating manner.

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A look at the overview shows how extremely the two writing systems drifted apart between 1300 and 1500, although the influence of relatinization became clear in Spain in the 15th century (see Fig. 1 at the end of the article).

3.4 Language control / attempts at reform (16th / 17th / 18th centuries)

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the change in sound slowed down significantly in France.45 This gives the opportunity to reform the graphics, at least to the extent that the sound is clearer from the spelling - so it is about the reading rules. This required a further differentiation of the grapheme system: For example, in a Marot edition of 1558 published by de Tournes, a systematic distinction was made for the first time between the graphemes and : suivant, vous. Additional differentiation was achieved by systematically adding diacritical marks and apostrophes:46 For example, in 1549 the printer Geoffroy Tory turned the second edition of his linguistic text Champ fleury not only accents ( instead of in the first edition of 1529) and the cedilla ( instead of ) but also apostrophes ( instead of ) which made recognizing the word boundaries and thus reading easier (Beinke / Rogge 1990: 478).47

What the readingAs far as rules are concerned, the French orthography becomes a little flatter during this period (Meisenburg 1996: 126). But this does not apply to them writerules (phoneme-grapheme correspondences): Here, especially in the 16th century, numerous etymological and pseudo-etymological consonants were added, some of which were removed again in the 17th century.48 These newly introduced etymological letters are less about the marking of morphological contexts, but simply about marking the relevant vocabulary as "learned" - it is therefore a purely diachronic, not a synchronic depth: e.g. ddéraire> (LITTERARIUS), <quotidien> (QUOTIDIANUS), Hui> (HODIE) (Meisenburg 1996: 163).

The 17th century brought a new quality to the orthographic change with the state control of language, which was mainly exercised by the Académie Française (founded in 1635 by the leading minister Richelieu on the basis of an already existing circle of scholars). The result is an "orthographe d'Etat" (Catach). In 1694 the first dictionary of the Académie appeared, with which, according to Cerquiglini (1996), the history of French orthography was already sealed. The Académie opted for a conservative attitude, which took up some of the innovations of the 16th century ( and distinction, renouncing in the final as in un, tesmoin), but largely retained the numerous "silent" consonant graphs (sçavoir, admiral, escrire), especially if they were used to differentiate homonyms (e.g. chant vs. champ).49 Some of these "silent" letters were even gradually spoken ("spelling pronounciation"), e.g. in adjoindre, admettre, admirer, and have been preserved in phonology and graphics to this day. In other cases, e.g. adjourner, advenir, advertir, the letters remained without a phonetic equivalent and were later deleted again (Beinke / Rogge 1996: 488).

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At first, however, the Académie dictionary of 1694 was less successful than some publications in Reformed spelling. Their reformed orthography was used in 2/3 of all prints at the beginning of the 18th century, so that the Académie decided to use this "nouvelle orthographe" itself for the edition of the dictionary of 1740. It was not until the 6th edition of 1835 that the Académie dictionary became a prescriptive authority for writing in schools, administration and publications (Meisenburg 1996: 183ff). Nevertheless, one can say that the reader-friendly morphological-semantic principle finally prevailed in France in the 17th century (cf. Raible 1991: 35). Morphological-semantic units are written identically or similarly, although they would have to be different in terms of sound (cf. B.ouchmB.uhme instead of or more recently ExpandupÄndig).

The Spanish of the 16th century was initially written in the rather loosely handled writing system that had already become the standard in the 13th century.50 However, with the increasing spread of letterpress printing, reading aids such as word spacing and punctuation gained acceptance. The sound changes of the 16th century were initially not taken into account in the spelling: This applies, for example, to the coincidence of the voiced and unvoiced sound pairs / z / and / s /, / ʒ / and / ʃ /, / dz / and / ts /, das Silence of initial / h- / (from Latin / f- /) and the coincidence of / b / and / v /. So the discrepancy between pronunciation and writing increased. In addition to the existing alternations , , , , the new alternations , , and were added (Schmid 1992: 422). In Latin America in particular, the expansion of Seseo and Yeísmo resulted in a new phonetic standard with a greater distance from graphics. This is indicated by numerous spelling mistakes in the sibilants - e.g. quinse, desyr (instead of asp. quinze, decir or nsp. quince or. decir).51

Unlike in French, however, the ambiguities of the phoneme-grapheme correspondence in the Spanish writing system did not provide any additional content information, so they were not functional. As in France, there have now been numerous reform proposals from grammarians52 and printers, some of which were inconsistent - even though they all referred to the Quintilians principle -53 sometimes met with resistance and could not prevail across the board (Schmid 1992: 420f.).

This dispute between reformers and traditionalists continued in the 17th century: Mateo Alemán (Ortografía Castellana, 1609, Mexico) and Gonzalo Correas (1630) propose to reconcile spelling and pronunciation to largely break away from the Latin spelling: For example, Correas avoids the alternation by consistently using for / k /; in addition, he gives up the phonologically obsolete distinction between and . Alemán propagates the current distribution of before / e, i / and before / a, o, u / for the phoneme / k /, as well as the separation of (only for / g /) and (only for / χ /). These reformers are opposed to traditionalists like Juan de Robles and Gonzalo Bravo Grajera, who are of the opinion that the contemporary sound is too unstable and corrupt to make it the guideline of writing (Schmid 1992: 420f.).

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The dispute was not settled until the 18th century: the central role here was played by the Real Academia Española (RAE), which was founded in 1713 based on the French model, among other things with the aim of standardizing orthography.54 First, i.e. e.g. in the first edition of your Diccionario de Autoridades from 1726, like its French model, it is still strongly committed to the principle of etymology. For example, the "Greek" digraphs , , etc. are retained or reintroduced, and a distinction is made between and depending on the Latin etymon: agonizing (quatro (cuenta (cueva (pronunciación-uso-razón) to connect with each other. This is already clear from the writing of the titles of the various editions of their orthography rulebooks:

1741: 1st edition: Orthographía
1754: 2nd edition: Ortografía

Despite the abandonment of the Hellenistic letters, some inconsistencies such as the graphical distinction between and that of still persist. Their distribution is based on the original Latin proportions. The former inconsistency still exists today, the latter up to the 8th edition of the Ortografía from 1815. The digraphemes , and <ñ> were added to the alphabet in 1754, but not . The distinction between and , which has long since become obsolete, is given up in the 3rd edition of 1763. In the 8th edition of Ortografía from 1815 the last decisive changes are made: For / k / and are used in today's distribution (i.e. before / e, i / and before / a, o, u /), for / χ / only and (the latter before / e, i /) are written (Schmid 1992: 423ff., Meisenburg 1996: 233).

Although the RAE orthography initially had no official authority, it spread increasingly - partly because in 1780, at the behest of Carlos III, the Gramática Castellana the RAE was introduced. Above all, however, the RAE occupied a middle position between conservative and progressive forces, was open to suggestions from outside and took up popular tendencies and regulated them. It was not until 1844 that Queen Isabel declared the RAE orthography to be the official Spanish standard, which was then also established in Latin American countries by the end of the century (Schmid 1992: 425).

Overall, the RAE was more successful than the Académie Française when it came to reforming orthography in the phonographic sense because of its more pragmatic, relaxed relationship to language and its changes. According to Weißkopf's projections, for example, 41% of the orthography regulations introduced after 1726 are affected by decisions of the Real Academia (Weißkopf 1994: 173). Of course, it must be said that the Real Academia mostly only took up suggestions from outside with its decisions.

The action of the RAE is visualized in the overview scheme (Fig. 1) at the end of the article by the greater drop in the two Spanish curves after 1750 in the direction of the flat pole.

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3.5 Position of orthography in modern society

In both France and Spain, the academies today mostly only react to innovations that have long been in circulation. However, the Real Academia is a little more flexible and more reform-minded than the Académie Française. This may be related to the fact that Spain, and with it the RAE language, viewed the RAE language as an international power factor from an early age. Nebrija's formulation "siempre la lengua fue compañera del imperio" in the prologue of his grammar addressed to the queen (1492) obviously has an effect here (Braselmann 1991: 175f.). The aim of current reforms is therefore always the linguistic and orthographic unity with Latin America. Accordingly, the Latin American academies are now co-editors of the RAE orthography.

Proof of the success of this strategy is the fact that Chile, which had independently introduced a very progressive, almost phonological graph in the middle of the 19th century, submitted to the now generally valid RAE norm again in 1927. The preceding Chilean reform was triggered by suggestions that the Venezuelan Andrés Bello had published in London in 1823 (e.g. only for / g /, only for / χ / and exclusively for / k /: gerra, jeneral, qasa) - he was supported in 1843 by the Argentine Sarmiento, who had made similar suggestions and had additionally integrated the seseo as a further simplification (Schmid 1992: 425). In general, many efforts to reform Spanish orthography originated in Latin America (e.g. also in Mexico in 1609 by Mateo Alemán; see above). The greater depth of the writing system for Latin America is obviously noticeable here (cf. 2.3).

In the Real Academia, there is a prevalent awareness that an easy-to-learn and therefore phonographic orthography is essential for the widest possible spread of a language. This is also supported by the last reforms, all of which went in this direction: In the RAE orthography of 1911, the accent on the preposition a and the conjunctions disappeared e, o, u, In 1959 the tilde disappeared from the monosyllabic verb forms fue, dio etc. and the graphic reduction of , and was allowed: sicología, nemotécnica, nomo. In Spain, invisible and visible hands (cf. Keller 1994), institutionalized in the Real Academia, basically go in the same phonographic direction.

The most recent editions of the RAE-Ortografía from 1974 and 1999 (the latter completely on the Internet at do not bring anything significantly new compared to 1959 (cf. Weißkopf 1994: 177f.). External reform proposals of the last 30 years (e.g. Mosterín 1981 and Sousa 1991), however, always aim at the same fundamental weaknesses: What is required is the abolition of the grapheme and the elimination of the graphic variants and . For example, Mosterín suggests replacing and for / k / completely with the grapheme . On the sound side, phenomena such as yeísmo are also spreading in Castile. It can therefore be said that despite the latest reforms, the current trend is going deeper again due to changes in sound.

For French society and the Académie Française, on the other hand, language and spelling are educational factors and thus also instruments of class differentiation and the formation of elites.55 For example, from 1832 mastery of orthography became a prerequisite for employment in the public service (Beinke / Rogge 1990: 488). And this explains the popularity of the "Championnats d'orthographe" in France, which became a media event in the 1980s and 90s (cf. Pivot 1989). Today, however, the trend in the population is more in a phonographic direction, at least if you feel unobserved or anonymous - or if you want to give your graphics a cool, anarchistic touch. The most extreme examples of this are illustrated by Internet chats (see Müller-Lancé 2004):5

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Marmottedemilka:y paré kstul grattes, tu peux gagner des miyons
 (il paraît que si tu le grattes, tu peux gagner des millions)

In general, however, the existing writing system has proven to be functional in its reader orientation and is therefore repeatedly stipulated by the Académie (Meisenburg 1996: 393ff.). For example, the later reform proposals of the 19th and 20th centuries were almost always rejected, only when tolerating violations in some cases of doubt has one become more tolerant. Thimonnier, a proponent of the graphics-centered French system, only suggested eliminating some incoherences such as e.g. allégrement > allègrement (For caricaturing Thimonnier's rules cf. Catach 1989: 29). Some of his proposals found their way into those signed by Education Minister Haby in 1976 Tolérances grammaticales et orthographiques (Beinke / Rogge 1990: 488).

Correspondingly, radical reform proposals like that of the writer Raymond Queneau (1965) have not had a chance so far: Queneau did his best ortograf phonetics actually not a reform of the old, but a completely new orthography that makes it clear how much the spoken language differs from the sterile one français écrit - it was also about writing new syntactic phenomena, for example. The proposals by Blanche-Benveniste / Chervel, who want to switch completely to a phonological principle, because changes to the existing system would only lead to new problems and exceptions, are similarly radical. Thimonnier and Charmeux, for example, are against a systematic reform, who would like to keep the French orthography because of its excellent legibility (cf. Strobel-Köhl 1994: 201).

The last seriously discussed spelling reform proposals were accordingly cautious. Linguists such as Nina Catach, Bernard Cerquiglini and Claude Hagège have been calling for extensive renunciation of the since 1989 accent circonflexe (It should only stand where it differentiates meaning, e.g. on mûr 'ripe' vs. mur 'Mauer'), reducing the number of double consonants and tolerating double graphics, e.g. évènement Next événement, sècheresse Next sécheresse, ognon Next oignon (Beinke / Rogge 1990: 489). But even these cautious proposals sparked a storm of indignation among purists when they were partially accepted by the Académie Française in May 1990 and approved in December 1990 as Rectifications de l'orthographe have been published in the Journal Officiel. Opponents accused the reformers of endangering the entire graphic system and spoke of a "creolization" of French orthography.57 The change from with -i- to without -i- caused particular uproar in the land of star chefs: this gave the word play "l'oignon fait la force", alluding to a union slogan, a wider meaning. The Académie Française immediately rowed back and made it clear that this was not a matter of mandatory regulations, but only of permitted variants (Rattunde 1995: 448). In general, this last major attempt at reform was also a political issue: it was brought about during the time of a socialist government under a Protestant Prime Minister (Michel Rocard) - criticism first came from the conservative opposition camp and only then from intellectuals and writers (cf.Cerquiglini 1996: 12 and Rattunde 1995: 451)58.

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In any case, the phonetic development in France is proceeding so quickly that even reforms of the orthography can only briefly reduce the divergence of phonetic and spelling. If one looks at colloquial forms such as / ʃe'pa / ; / ʃwi'pa / / njapa'dkwa ​​/ , one has to say that the graphite tendency goes deeper again despite all efforts. This is also clear in the overview (Fig. 1) at the end of the article.

4 conclusion

Since more is read than written in all societies, it is completely normal for writing systems to become more and more reader-friendly and thus more and more unfriendly to producers - they develop away from the ear and towards the eye. It now seems to be a universal of alphabet fonts that phonological graphs are learner-friendly, etymological graphs, on the other hand, more reader-friendly (Strobel-Köhl 1994: 217). Alphabet orthographies thus typically develop from a phonological principle to an etymological or morphological principle.59 Spelling reforms can only slow down this trend for a short time.60

If the sound change in a language is rather low, as in Spanish, the writing system also remains flat because fewer reading aids are required. But if, as in French, a strong change in sound leads to numerous homonymies, then a reader-friendly writing system inevitably becomes etymological. These processes are essentially processes of the invisible hand, i.e. not controlled in a targeted manner. Nevertheless, in such writing systems there are always demands from the producer's corner, preferably from the learner or teacher perspective (e.g. Rattunde 1995), to reform the orthography. For example, in a 1988 survey by the French teachers' union SNI-PEGC, around 90% of its members called for a spelling reform (Keller 1991: 234ff.). Such demands mostly refer to the declining spelling skills in the population - from one crise de l'orthographe is the talk (cf. Raible 1991: 37f. and Strobel-Köhl 1994: 200 ff.).

The population in particular typically clings to the traditional and more complicated spelling - based on the motto "That didn't hurt me either". In France, for example, before the 1991 reform, various surveys were carried out in which only 44% of the French population were fundamentally positive about the reform. This percentage even fell rapidly as soon as the survey participants were confronted with concrete applications of reform proposals: for 65%, every change also meant a distortion of the French language (Strobel-Köhl 1994: 182).

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This attitude probably has two main reasons: On the one hand, certain spellings develop in a single language corporate identity-Character for this language - you can tell immediately which language it is (e.g. Spanish <ñ>, Portuguese , French <-aux>, German ße>). Foreign language teachers in particular are therefore often attached to an orthography that they themselves combine intensively with the foreign language they have taught and which they love. On the other hand, reading and writing is perhaps the first intellectual learning process in individual development that is really consciously perceived as such. And what one learned at this early age is particularly reluctant to part with later - just think about it philosophy with .

French and Spanish writing systems

Figure 1: The development of the French and Spanish writing systems from the perspective of the parameter of depth


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1 On the graphic side, analogous to the phonetic side, a distinction can be made between graphetics and graphemics (Günther 1988: 71f.). A "grapheme" would then be the smallest meaning-differentiating unit of written language (so-called "distinctive conception"; representative e.g. Hartmut Günther). Another approach to the definition of graphs is to understand the grapheme as the graphic representation of the phoneme (so-called "representation conception"; representatives e.g. Burckhard Garbe - the graphemes of the phoneme / a / in German would then be e.g. which, according to Günther, is "linguistically simple nonsense" (Günther 1988: 73).
Günther gives three arguments that the grapheme concept is obsolete depending on the phoneme concept (1988: 76ff.):

  1. If you derive the spelling from the sound, you don't need a grapheme term at all - if at all, then from this perspective the different written forms would be allographs of a phoneme (= Augst's argument).
  2. Sequences of elements such as or should not depict written, but phonetic distinctions - from the point of view of graphics, they are therefore non-functional and therefore not graphematic (= Eisenberg's argument)
  3. The term "grapheme" in the reading of the representation concept is not a real analogue to the classical phoneme term, since such a grapheme cannot be classified as a unit (= argument from Eisenberg and Kohrt).
In this article, the concept of distinctiveness is represented for a fourth reason: There are numerous "silent" graphemes in French that are quite different in meaning (such as the plurals in French), but would be neglected in the representation concept due to a lack of phonetic correspondence.

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2 The actual geographical neighboring languages ​​in the Spanish-French area are of course Basque, Catalan and Occitan. Historically, Spanish is closer to Galician, Portuguese and Catalan than French, and typologically also Italian. At least we have a Celtic substratum, a Latin base and a Germanic superstrat in both Spanish and French. In terms of type, both belong to the SVO and aspect languages.

3 Chinese, on the other hand, has a logographic or morphemic writing system, for example. If a symbol for the sound value is added to such semantically based pictograms, it is called a soundrebus or from writing to Rebus principle (Haarmann 1991: 182; e.g. English <4U> 'for you', 'see you' or French 'cassette'). A third type are syllabary systems such as in Japanese. In glossematic terminology, the phonemes correspond to the kenemes ('empty units') and the morphemes to the pleremes ('filled units') (Eisenberg 1996: 1369). So, in Martinet's terminology, logographic systems refer to the première articulation, phonographic systems on the deuxième articulation (Martinet 1980: 13ff., Catach 1996: 1450, Meisenburg 1998: 43).

4 According to Gauger (1981: 236), the Spanish writing system almost corresponds to a phonological transcription. Gauger lists three areas in which Spanish is an "easy" language: 1. Phonetic (few phonemes, few accent patterns); 2. Graphics (almost transcriptional character, only a single accent, no problems with capitalization, assimilation of foreign words); 3. Grammar (no case inflection except for pronouns; material clarity in the case of definite and indefinite articles, i.e. no elosions or the like).

5 See Sampson (1985: 43f.), Eisenberg (1996: 1375) and Meisenburg (1996a, 1996b and 1998). The concept of depth actually goes back to the phonological theory approach of Chomsky & Halle (1996: The sound pattern of English, New York: Harper & Row). Since Sampson (1985: 43–45) it has also been applied to writing systems in a narrower sense: "Flat" systems therefore focus on the phonetic surface, less "flat" systems on the phonological level and "deep" systems even in the deep morphological structure. The Spanish system, for example, would be even flatter if it also spelled the position-dependent allophones of the phoneme / n / differently, e.g. un vino / umbino / or enviar / embiar / also write with . The French system would be even deeper if, for example, instead of the audible / dy / - graphically - it wrote the morphemes and on which the deep structure is based.

6 In English, the phoneme-grapheme correspondences no longer work in any direction: Here, the development is moving in the direction of a new ideogram script (Raible 1991: 37). Compare the known example fish, which - neglecting the positional phenomena - could also be written as , based on the following phoneme-grapheme correspondences: enough (/ f /), wOmen (/ i /), n / Ation (/ ʃ /).

7 Nina Catach (1980: 14f.), For example, distinguishes 130 different graphemes for French. Eisenberg (1996) places German between Spanish and French in terms of the parameter of depth.

8 In this context, Hans-Martin Gauger speaks of the "shadow grammar" of French. Precisely for this reason, dictation is always a sensible exercise in French lessons - immediately after the Second World War, dictation was also an integral part of the French state examination in Germany. Another "shadow grammatical" phenomenon in German is the distinction between the (Article) and that