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Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session

Abstract

While there is broad consensus that both linguistic and non-linguistic factors play a role in orthography, there is disagreement as to the relative weight played by the two sets of factors. In this paper, I present case studies from four languages, two from Papua New Guinea and two from Bangladesh, in which orthography interacts with dialectal differences. In two of the studies, orthography is used to show the unity of the communities, while in the other two it is used to establish separate identities. This interaction of orthography and group identity follows naturally from the claim that orthography is primarily a social practice, not a linguistic construct.

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