Word break conflicts in Bantu languages: Skirmishes on many fronts

Orthographies should not only represent phonology, but meaning and grammar as well, at the morpheme, word and sentence levels. Developing an orthography does not therefore depend on phonological analysis alone, but must be based on a multi-level linguistic analysis. With respect to deciding how to divide a string of morphemes into written words, these different levels may be in conflict, with semantic, grammatical, phonological and sociolinguistic factors all jostling for supremacy. This paper examines a set of nine criteria developed by Van Dyken and Kutsch Lojenga for determining word breaks in a writing system. These criteria compete with one another for dominance in the Bantu languages described, so we focus on cases where the criteria conflict, and present ways in which these conflicts can be minimised and an optimal orthography achieved.
Pages 229-241
Bantu languages
Conceptual unity
Minimal ambiguity
Morpheme recognition
Phonological bridging
reading fluency
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