Press Review

Tablets of Chanteroels
Les phonogrammes ou le son des mots

Phonograms or the sound of words

Literally Speaking (September 2003)

Every system of vocalic or graphic signs, all content of oral or written expression belongs to language. Alphabetical writings are phonograms. That is to say, in linguistics, graphic signs represent a sound or a series of sounds. In this sense, the phonogram is contrary to the ideogram, which is, in itself, a graphic sign representing a word, that is to say the projection of an idea and, more generally, an object or a concept relevant to dayly life. To sum up: going from ideogram to phonogram means sliding from the writing of things to the writing of words.

Chinese writing, for instance, is a series of ideograms, which forces those who use it to have both considerable knowledge and practice because it is necessary to know at least 3,600 signs to write it. On the contrary, European or Arabic writings are phonographic and, in this case, they only involve the knowledge of twenty or so letters.

In our alphabet, the representation of the ox’s head (Aleph), has produced the phonogram “A”, so, the letter A…