Ronald Kephart (rkephart@OSPREY.UNF.EDU)
Mon, 7 Oct 1996 12:30:56 -0400

In message <> "Jesse S. Cook III" writes:

> He [David Crystal] is at least competent enough that Cambridge felt his work
> [Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language] was worthy of having its name put on it,
> which is a great deal more than can be said for the one [Ron Kephart] who
> contradicted it.

Not only is he competent, but he appears to agree with me on the use of the word
"alphabet." On page 202 of the above cited work, Crystal writes:

"There are also many alphabets where only certain phonemes are represented
graphemically. These are the 'consonantal' alphabets, such as Aramaic, Hebrew,
and Arabic, where the marking of vowels (using diacritics) is optional. There
are also cases, such as the alphabets of India, where diacritics are used for
vowels, but the marking is obligatory, with the diacritics being attached to the
consonantal letters."

So, "alphabet" is a cover term for writing systems which employ graphemes to
represent phonemes, including those which represent both vowels and consonants
and those which represent only consonants. I am happy to say that I learned
this usage independently of reading Crystal, which means that it probably
reflects the generally accepted linguists' usage.

Ron Kephart
University of North Florida