On 9/20/2016 12:30 AM, Julian Bradfield wrote:

are all legal spellings of the same word in a writing system, a useful 
linguistic definition of grapheme should ensure that all three variants have 
the same number of graphemes.
Such a bizarre definition, which would also entail "color/colour",
"fulfill/fulfil", "sulfur/sulphur" having the same number of
graphemes, would break the first three of your rules of thumb:

I agree with Julian here. Consider also similar common alternations as night/nite, light/lite which are widespread *within* American English spelling conventions and don't even raise questions of locale differences. Or you/u, your/ur, which vary on another dimension. If every variation in spelling is taken to constitute a distinct writing system, simply to preserve the concept of a "grapheme", we would be led to conclude that American English has millions of writing systems, because of the combinatorics involved.

And the caveat that it is a "legal" spelling is a hinky dodge, particularly in the case of English. There isn't any recognized legal framework for English spelling. English, she is spelled how people decide to spell her -- or perhaps mostly how 2nd grade English teachers decide she is spelled.

Even where legal or academic frameworks exist to formally control the spelling rules of a language, one should be leery that such rules somehow instantiate the identity of graphemes, which are unlikely to be the principal matter of concern for those trying to establish the spelling rules in the first place.


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