About

Willkommen! — My name is Dimitrios Meletis (he/him). I’m a linguist presently working as a postdoc at the University of Zurich. My main research interests are grapholinguistics (the interdisciplinary study of writing and literacy), linguistic normativity, and the metapragmatics of digital communication. In studying them, I employ a variety of methods from, among others, structuralism, digital linguistics (especially corpus pragmatics), and sociolinguistics. 

click to listen to my name’s German [di’mi:tʀiɔs mɛ’lɛtɪs] or
Greek pronunciation [ði’mi:tɾɪs mɛ’lɛtɪs]

On this website, you will find information on my various research projects and my teaching as well as complete lists of publications and talks. You can also download my current CV. If you’re looking for my old, more biographic website (which I no longer update), you can find it here. My profiles on various platforms can be reached by clicking on these symbols:


RESEARCH

Common threads characterizing my research are interdisciplinarity and multiperspectivity: I adhere to functionalist and explanatory usage-based approaches to linguistics and am interested not only in the structures we find in the various modalities of language (especially writing) and in how they can be adequately studied and described, but also in how they are used, i.e., processed cognitively and physiologically, as well as what roles they play from sociopragmatic and cultural perspectives. Language is a semiotic system but also a medium that must be processed, and an instrument of communication. Acknowledging all these facets makes necessary the consideration of theoretical approaches and methods from various disciplines.

In this vein, my foundational research on the cross-linguistic comparative description of writing systems has resulted in both the proposal of an explanatory theory of writing and literacy and the call for an integration of writing into mainstream linguistic theories and paradigms. More specifically, I claim that writing is not merely one possible modality of language: with respect to linguistic norms as well as prescriptive attitudes and behavior, literacy and the profound way it shapes our view of language and language standards is arguably constitutive (key words in this context are written language bias and graphic relativity). Find out more about my main research projects (mainly the ones I have worked on thus far; I am also already venturing into other new topics) by clicking on one of the numbered headings below.  

In the drop-down descriptions of the different research strands, you will also find pertinent research outputs assigned to them (such as publications, talks, and taught courses). If you prefer complete and chronological lists, you can find them below.

I. Grapholinguistics

Much of my research has been devoted to the study of different aspects of writing and literacy, which are all subsumed by the interdisciplinary field of grapholinguistics. While this field is well established in the German-speaking realm—as Schriftlinguistik—it is still emerging more internationally. In my doctoral research, funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences and conducted at the University of Graz (AT), I carved out a framework for the description of typologically diverse writing systems (including comparative concepts such as grapheme or graphotactics). Using this as a basis, I aimed for explanation, i.e., the question of why writing looks and functions the way it does (and has developed diachronically to what it is today)—as a semiotic system linked to language, a medium in need of physiological and cognitive processing, and a mode of communication deeply anchored in individual cultures. To do this, I relied on a functionalist usage-based approach (linguistic Naturalness Theory) and considered external writing-related evidence from a range of disciplines (e.g., psychology, IT, sociology, design theory), embracing the interdisciplinary nature of writing as a subject and grapholinguistics as a field. Find details on the various sub-aspects of my comprehensive grapholinguistic research by clicking one of the headings below.

Research output

Key publications

[2020] The nature of writing: A theory of grapholinguistics (Grapholinguistics and Its Applications 3). Brest. Fluxus Editions. DOI: 10.36824/2020-meletis.

[2022, with Christa Dürscheid] Writing systems and their use: An overview of grapholinguistics (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs 369). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. DOI: 10.1515/9783110757835.

Other publications

[in preparation a, with Martin Evertz-Rittich and Rebecca Treiman] Handbook of Germanic Writing Systems (Handbooks of Germanic Linguistics). Boston, Berlin: De Gruyter.

[in preparation b, with Florian Busch] Schreiben in Kontexten: Variation in schriftlichen Praktiken.

[2021] On being a grapholinguist. In Yannis Haralambous (ed.), Grapholinguistics in the 21st Century. June 17–19, 2020. Proceedings, Part I (Grapholinguistics and Its Applications 4), 47–62. Brest: Fluxus Editions. DOI: 10.36824/2020-graf-mele.

Third-party funds

[2022] Gold Open Access Funding for book Writing systems and their use: An overview of grapholinguistics (€ 7000), Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)

[2017–2020] DOC Fellowship for project Naturalness in Scripts and Writing Systems: Outlining a Natural Grapholinguistics (€ 82333), Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW)

Award

[2021] Prize for an Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz

Conference Activity

[2022, with Christa Dürscheid] Keynote Grapholinguistics – An expanding research field, LautSchriftSprache 5 – From the Maya Script to Germanic Runes, Universitetet i Agder (NO)

[2021] Organized Workshop Writing: System, use, ideology, 46th Austrian Linguistics Conference, Universität Wien (AT)

[2019] Talk Schrift/Linguistik – Eine Theorie zwischen interdisziplinärer Schriftforschung und deskriptiver Linguistik, Guest Lecture at Deutsches Seminar, Universität Zürich (CH)

[2016] Organized Workshop Theorien und Methoden in der Schriftlinguistik, 42th Austrian Linguistics Conference, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (AT)

Editorial work

[since 2022] Member of Editorial Board of Journal Written Language & Literacy (John Benjamins)

[since 2020] Member of Editorial Board of Book Series Grapholinguistics and Its Applications (Fluxus Editions)

Teaching

[2021] Das deutsche Schriftsystem aus komparativer Sicht, Universität Zürich

[2017] Perspektiven der Schriftlinguistik, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz

1. Graphetics

My grapholinguistic research started with the study of written materiality—the resulting thesis on graphetics was published as a revised and extended monograph. The main question was how material features of writing had been treated in linguistics prior to a ‘material turn’. Adopting fruitful ideas from German structural work stemming from a circle surrounding Hartmut Günther, Konrad Ehlich, Florian Coulmas et al., I established a descriptive model of the German writing system relying on spatial characteristics (such as empty spaces). Consequently, through reviewing interdisciplinary research on reading, I explored the psychological reality and critically reflected the value of my descriptive proposals. This survey underlined that the identified material aspects of visual data cannot be neglected as they are vital in constituting the meaning and function(s) of texts and thus assume a prominent role in their cognitive processing. I have since continued to study various cognitively and communicatively relevant visual aspects of writing (such as iconicity and diagrammaticity, spacing, directionality, typographic features) that have shaped its development and affect its use.

Research output

Key publication

[2015] Graphetik: Form und Materialität der Schrift (Typo|Druck). Glückstadt: Werner Hülsbusch.

Other publications

[in preparation, with Christa Dürscheid] Writing systems and their visualizations: Seen from a linguistic point of view. In Paul Luna, Fiona Ross, Sue Walker, Vaibhav Singh, and Mariko Takagi (eds.), Bloomsbury Handbook of Global Typography. London: Bloomsbury.

[2022] Typographische Mimikry. In Ursula Rautenberg & Anja Voeste (eds.), Typographie: Disziplinäre Zugänge – Fachliche Konzeptionierungen – Forschungsfragen und Projekte, 68–79. Stuttgart: Hiersemann.

[2021] ‘Is your font racist?’ Metapragmatic online discourses on the use of typographic mimicry and its appropriateness. Social Semiotics. DOI: 10.1080/10350330.2021.1989296.

[2020] Reintroducing graphetics: The study of the materiality of writing. Scripta 11: 91–131.

[2016] Review of Tilo Reißig. 2015. Typographie und Grammatik. Untersuchung zum Verhältnis von Syntax und Raum. Zeitschrift für Rezensionen zur germanistischen Sprachwissenschaft 8.1–2: 147–152. DOI: 10.1515/zrs-2016-0027.

[2015–2017] Network range “Graphetik” [graphetics] (= 32 articles). In Martin Neef, Said Sahel, and Rüdiger Weingarten (eds.) (2013–), Schriftlinguistik (Wörterbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft [WSK] 5). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.

Conference Activity

[2022] Talk How visual stereotypes work, Multilingual Writing, Universität Bern (CH)

[2018] Poster Reintroducing graphetics: The materiality of writing, its questions, and its problems, Writing conventions and pragmatic perspectives, Université Libre de Bruxelles (BE)

[2016] Talk Zur Materialität von Schrift: Zentrale Fragen der Graphetik, Guest lecture at Deutsches Seminar, Universität Zürich (AT)

Award

[2015] Best Peer-reviewed Publication on the Basis of the Master’s Thesis, awarded by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz

Public outreach

[2023] Workshop Schriften wirken: Wie können die Möglichkeiten typographischer Gestaltung zur Erreichung kommunikativer Ziele eingesetzt werden?, Weiterbildung Deutsche Sprache und Literatur, Deutsches Seminar, Universität Zürich

2. Descriptive comparative framework

In my doctoral work, I complemented my previous research on materiality by investigating also linguistically functional and normative aspects of writing, i.e., graphematics and orthography. My first goal, driven by a typological and interdisciplinary approach, was carving out unified and methodologically operationalizable comparative concepts that make possible not only the description of individual writing systems but also comparisons between them. This resulted in proposals of unified, i.e., cross-linguistically applicable definitions for various hitherto ambiguous and contentious concepts such as grapheme ‎or allography, and on the whole in a framework that accounts for material, functional, and prescriptive aspects of typologically distinct writing systems. The consideration of diverse systems such as German, English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Arabic proved illuminating.

Research output

Publications

[accepted] Phonographic writing systems. In Olga C. M. Fischer, Pamela Perniss, and Kimi Akita (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Iconicity in Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[2020 a] The Nature of Writing: A Theory of Grapholinguistics (Grapholinguistics and Its Applications 3). Brest. Fluxus Editions. (especially Part II: Description)

[2020 b] Types of allography. Open Linguistics 6: 249–266. DOI: 10.1515/opli-2020-0006.

[2019] The grapheme as a universal basic unit of writing. Writing Systems Research 11.1: 26–49. DOI: 10.1080/17586801.2019.1697412.

Award

[2019] Presidents’ Prize for the Best Paper Given by a Junior Scholar (for talk ‘Comparing the incomparable: Introducing Natural Graphematics and categories for the comparison of diverse writing systems’), Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States

Conference Activity

[2021 a] Talk Graphotactics, spatiality, and why writing should be studied independently of speech, 13th International Workshop of the Association of Written Language and Literacy, University of North Carolina (US)

[2021 b] Poster Types of allography: Conceptualizing structural variation in writing at the material and linguistic levels, 7th Young Linguists’ Meeting in Poznań, Adam Mickiewicz University (PL)

[2019 a] Talk How we model writing – The relationship between language, speech, and writing, 12th International Workshop of the Association of Written Language and Literacy, University of Cambridge (GB)

[2019 b] Talk Comparing the incomparable: Introducing Natural Graphematics and categories for the comparison of diverse writing systems, LACUS Forum 46, University of Waterloo (CA)

[2017] Talk What is a grapheme? Do we need it? Re-evaluating one of grapholinguistics’ core notions, 11th International Workshop of the Association of Written Language and Literacy, Nanzan University (JP)

3. Explanatory theory

The second goal of my doctoral research was, as mentioned above, establishing a comprehensive explanatory theory of writing that accounts not only for its structure but also for its use (including processing and communication), thereby elevating the study of the question of how diverse writing systems are built to that of why they are built that way. This required a drastic expansion of my disciplinary horizon. Using a functionalist usage-based approach (linguistic Naturalness Theory), I integrated data and evidence from disciplines ranging from the cognitive sciences and computer sciences to cultural studies, anthropology, and philosophy to arrive at four different categories for evaluating and comparing writing systems: In short, these categories can be utilized to assess whether writing systems are in and of themselves coherent systems (= systematic fit), whether they fit the languages and linguistic structures they are related to (= linguistic fit), whether they are suitable for human physiological and cognitive processing, i.e., primarily reading and writing processes (= processing fit), and whether they are fitting for a literate community’s specific sociocultural and -pragmatic needs and wishes (= sociocultural fit).

Research output

Publications

[2020] The Nature of Writing: A Theory of Grapholinguistics (Grapholinguistics and Its Applications 3). Brest. Fluxus Editions. (especially Part III: Explanation)

[2018] What is natural in writing? Prolegomena to a Natural Grapholinguistics. Written Language & Literacy 21.1: 52–88. DOI: 10.1075/wll.00010.mel.

Public Outreach

[2022 a, with Christa Dürscheid] Article Why we shouldn’t write off handwriting just yet, in De Gruyter Conversations. [read]

[2022 b] Podcast Wie natürlich ist die Schrift?, in Hörsaal: 15 Minuten Forschung. [listen]

[2021 a] Talk Wie der Mensch die Schrift prägt, in Scientifica. [watch]

[2021 b] Article Warum ist Schrift so, wie sie ist?, in Gewitter. [read]

Conference Activity

[2020 a] Talk Is the syllable universally the most salient unit of writing?, Grapholinguistics in the 21st century 2020, CNRS – Délégation Paris Michel-Ange (FR)

[2020 b] Talk Die neue Schriftlinguistik? Von reiner Deskription zur erklärenden Schrifttheorie, Linguistisches Kolloquium, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (AT)

[2019] Talk Warum sind Schriftsysteme wie sie sind? Natürliche Schriftlinguistik als erklärende Schrifttheorie, 45th Austrian Linguistics Conference, Universität Salzburg (AT)

[2017 a] Talk Die Natürlichkeit des deutschen Schriftsystems, Guest Lecture at Deutsches Seminar, Universität Zürich (CH)

[2017 a] Poster Die Natürlichkeit von Schriften und Schriftsystemen: Entwurf einer Natürlichen Schriftlinguistik, Scholarship award ceremony, Austrian Academy of Sciences (AT)

[2016] Talk Naturalness of scripts and writing systems: Prolegomena to a Natural Grapholinguistics, 10th International Workshop of the Association of Written Language and Literacy, Radboud Universiteit (NL)

4. Writing system typology

One of the most prominent subfields of writing systems research in the Anglophone community is typology. While there exist a number of prominent proposals of typologies (such as the one by Peter T. Daniels), they are almost exclusively built around the question of which linguistic unit (phoneme, syllable, morpheme) serves as a writing system’s basic mapping unit. While this is, of course, a crucial structural criterion, given my multi-perspective approach to studying writing, I am interested both in possible structural as well as usage-based alternative criteria for graphematic typologies (i.e., typologies concerning the relation between units of writing and units of language) and the establishment of typologies for the remaining components of writing:  the material component (yielding graphetic typologies), and the normative component (resulting in typologies of orthographic regulation).

Research output

Publications

[2022 a, submitted in 2017] Universality and diversity in writing systems. LACUS Forum 46.1: 72–83.

[2022 b, with Christa Dürscheid] Writing systems and their use: An overview of grapholinguistics (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs 369). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. DOI: 10.1515/9783110757835. (especially Chapter 6: Writing system typology)

[2022 c] Review of Paul Rössler, Peter Besl, and Anna Saller (eds.). 2021. Vergleichende Interpunktion – Comparative Punctuation. Zeitschrift für Rezensionen zur germanistischen Sprachwissenschaft. DOI: 10.1515/zrs-2022-2088.

[2021, with Terry Joyce] Alternative criteria for writing system typology. Cross-linguistic observations from the German and Japanese writing systems. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 40.3: 257–277. DOI: 10.1515/zfs-2021-2030.

[2017] Review of Ulrike Domahs and Beatrice Primus (eds.). 2016. Handbuch Laut, Gebärde, Buchstabe. Zeitschrift für Rezensionen zur germanistischen Sprachwissenschaft 9.1–2: 109–115. DOI: 10.1515/zrs-2017-0019.

Conference Activity

[2022] Talk Types of orthographic standardization: A sociolinguistic approach, Grapholinguistics in the 21st Century 2022, Télécom Paris (FR)

[2021] Talk Structural, psycholinguistic, and sociolinguistic typologies of writing, Writing: System, use, ideology (46th Austrian Linguistics Conference), Universität Wien (AT)

[2020, with Terry Joyce] Talk The ‘evolution’ of writing systems in terms of typological and other criteria: Crosslinguistic observations from the German and Japanese writing systems, The Evolution of Writing Systems. Empirical and Cross-linguistic Approaches (42. DGfS-Jahrestagung), Universität Hamburg (DE)

[2016 a] Talk Kategorien einer visuellen Typologie von Schriften, Theorien und Methoden in der Schriftlinguistik (42nd Austrian Linguistics Conference), Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (AT)

[2016 b] Talk “Every language gets the writing system it deserves”: Probleme der Schrifttypologie, Linguistisches Kolloquium, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (AT)

5. Grapholinguistic historiography

Schriftlinguistik may have originated around the 1980s in (both parts of separated) Germany, but writing has been studied around the world for quite some time—in many languages, disciplines, by diverse communities, with different methods. After having worked on brief descriptive overviews of the history of the study of writing (with a focus on the Germanophone and Anglophone realms), I am interested in the core debates that have considerably shaped writing systems research and remain relevant to this day (and I am not talking about discussions about terminology, which are only partially productive). Exploring the history of grapholinguistics and understanding the dynamics and problematics of this interdisciplinary field is, in my opinion, the cornerstone of advocating for a unified global grapholinguistics in which everyone can participate.

Research output

Publications

[submitted] What’s in a name? Trends and challenges in naming the study of writing.

[accepted] There had already been a structural graphemics. Revisiting and contextualiz- ing a grapholinguistic dispute. LACUS Forum 47.

[2022, with Christa Dürscheid] Writing systems and their use: An overview of grapholinguistics (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs 369). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. DOI: 10.1515/9783110757835. (especially Chapter 1: Introduction)

[2021] On being a grapholinguist. In Yannis Haralambous (ed.), Grapholinguistics in the 21st Century. June 17–19, 2020. Proceedings, Part I (Grapholinguistics and Its Applications 4), 47–62. Brest: Fluxus Editions. DOI: 10.36824/2020-graf-mele.

[2020] The nature of writing: A theory of grapholinguistics (Grapholinguistics and Its Applications 3). Brest. Fluxus Editions. DOI: 10.36824/2020-meletis (especially Part I).

Conference Activity

[2021] Talk Grapholinguistic wars: How three arguments reflect an emerging discipline’s core questions, LACUS Forum 47, University of Toledo (US)

[2019] Talk Schrift/Linguistik – Eine Theorie zwischen interdisziplinärer Schriftforschung und deskriptiver Linguistik, Guest lecture at Deutsches Seminar, Universität Zürich (CH)

Award

[2021] Presidents’ Prize for the Best Paper Given by a Junior Scholar (for talk ‘Grapholinguistic wars: How three arguments reflect an emerging discipline’s core questions’), Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States

II. Negation

One of the first things that fascinated me when I started to study Russian was subjects of sentences that are marked with the genitive in the context of a negation. When I delved deeper into the topic, I found myriad formal and functional approaches to this topic that mostly deal with its syntactic and semantic aspects. In my master’s thesis, which was published as a book (in German), I reviewed and contextualized many of the most relevant approaches to the genitive of negation in Russian (both in subject and object positions) and complemented this with my own small-scale corpus linguistic study to test which of the approaches have the most explanatory force. Later, I also taught a general course on negation and covered aspects such as standard negation (in declarative sentences), negation in imperatives and existential sentences, negative concord and double negation, the acquisition and processing of negation, and the pragmatics of negation. I plan to continue working on aspects of negation in German in the future.

Research output

Publications

[2017 a] Sein oder des Nichtseins: Die Semantik des Genitivs der Negation im Russischen (Grazer Studien zur Slawistik 8). Hamburg: Dr. Kovac.

[2017 b] Der Genitiv der Negation im Russischen: Ein konzises semantisches Profil. In Anna Weigl, Norbert Nübler, Kristina Naumann, Miriam Völkel-Bill, Susanne Grahl, and Tomasz Lis (eds.), Junge Slavistik im Dialog VI. Beiträge zur XI. Slavistischen Studentenkonferenz (Studien zur Slavistik 40), 195–206. Hamburg: Dr. Kovac.

Conference Activity

[2016] Talk Sein oder des Nichtseins: Die Semantik des Genitivs der Negation, XI. Internationale Slavistische Konferenz ‘Junge Slavistik im Dialog’, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (DE)

Teaching

[2020/21] Negation (Grammatiktheorie/Typologie), Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz

III. Linguistic normativity and prescriptivism

The public’s main way of measuring linguistic competence is through the adherence to socioculturally negotiated norms. In the case of norms concerning the use of language (including speaking, signing, and writing), literacy assumes a central role: it affords us—both ‘lay’ language users and linguists—categories to conceptualize language. Put differently, the phoneme, the word, and the sentence as concepts may be intricately bound to what is materialized and thus made cognitively accessible by written structures (cf. Davidson 2019). In a similar vein, writing is many users’ gateway to language as they arguably even view it pars pro toto as language (explaining, to a degree, the emotional reaction to orthography reforms that change ‘their language’).

It is unsurprising, thus, that literacy practices are regularly exploited as tools of power. The gradual democratization of writing and the spread of digital technologies made both—especially in combination—readily available instruments serving both empowerment and oppression. Orthographic competence—often perceived by the public as the core part of linguistic competence—has become a necessity for social advancement, creating inequalities among peers, especially when engaging in controversial discourses. At the same time, the expansion of communicative contexts in(to) the digital realm, where many of these discourses are found, has altered our perception of linguistic ‘correctness’. This makes linguistic normativity and prescriptivism important subjects particularly in an emergent digital pragmatics as a central subfield of digital linguistics, and I am studying them at the linguistic, pragmatic, and metapragmatic levels.

In my current postdoc research project at the University of Zurich (CH), I am collecting, processing, analyzing, and making available for joint use authentic data of both the exercise of normativity and prescriptivism as well as attitudes and ideologies associated with it using corpus linguistic approaches. My starting point is different forms of the cultural technique of correction. I collect corrections, including their linguistic and pragmatic contexts, not only in informal digital communication but also in official educational environments such as schools and universities, and in the public space. Subprojects thus are, among others, the analysis of a corpus of instances of orthographic shaming, a study of attitudes on normativity and the (orthographic) standard elicited in semi-structured interviews, and the study of strands of argumentation in the metapragmatic discussion of (aspects of) literacy practices (such as the choice of font).  

Research output

Publications

[2022 a] Grammatiknazi. In Forschungsgruppe Diskursmonitor und Diskursintervention (ed.), Diskursmonitor. Glossar zur strategischen Kommunikation in öffentlichen Diskursen.

[2022 b] Typographische Mimikry. In Ursula Rautenberg & Anja Voeste (eds.), Typographie: Disziplinäre Zugänge – Fachliche Konzeptionierungen – Forschungsfragen und Projekte, 68–79. Stuttgart: Hiersemann.

[2021] ‘Is your font racist?’ Metapragmatic online discourses on the use of typographic mimicry and its appropriateness. Social Semiotics. DOI: 10.1080/10350330.2021.1989296.

[2020] Warum hassen alle Comic Sans? Metapragmatische Onlinediskurse zu einer typographischen Hassliebe. In Jannis Androutsopoulos and Florian Busch (eds.), Register des Graphischen: Variation, Interaktion und Reflexion in der digitalen Schriftlichkeit (Linguistik – Impulse und Tendenzen 87), 253–284. Boston, Berlin: De Gruyter. DOI: 10.1515/9783110673241-010.

[2018] Review of Nadine Schimmel-Fijalkowytsch. 2018. Diskurse zur Normierung und Reform der deutschen Rechtschreibung. Eine Analyse von Diskursen zur Rechtschreibreform unter soziolinguistischer und textlinguistischer Perspektive. LINGUIST List 29.4445. URL: https://old.linguistlist.org/issues/29/29-4445.html#1.

Teaching

[2021, with Christa Dürscheid] Internetkommunikation – mündlich und schriftlich, Universität Zürich

Conference Activity

[2022 a] Talk Types of orthographic standardization: A sociolinguistic approach, Grapholinguistics in the 21st Century 2022, Télécom Paris (FR)

[2022 b] Talk How visual stereotypes work: The structure and sociosemiotics of typographic mimicry, Multiligual Writing, Universität Bern (CH)

[2021] Talk Literacy and self-prescriptivism: A metapragmatic discourse analysis of attitudes towards orthographic regulation, 6th Prescriptivism Conference, Universidade de Vigo (ES)

[2019] Talk The pragmatics of orthographic shaming: Written speech acts and the negotiation of power, normativity, and discussion culture, 16th International Pragmatics Conference, Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HK)

[2018 a] Talk Orthographic shaming – Attitudes towards orthography and orthographic mistakes in German, 22nd Sociolinguistics Symposium, University of Auckland (NZ)

[2018 b] Talk Schrifttheorie und Schriftpraxis: vom Graphem zu orthographic shaming, Linguistisches Kolloquium, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (AT)

[2017 a] Talk Warum hassen alle Comic Sans? Wie die Materialität von Schrift ihre Verwendung einschränkt, Symposium ‘Register des digitalen Schreibens’, Universität Hamburg (DE)

[2017 b] Talk „Schreib, wie es vorgegeben ist“ – Das Konzept Orthographie in den Schriftsystemen der Welt, 43rd Austrian Linguistics Conference, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt (AT)


Publications

Monographs

2022 (with Christa Dürscheid). Writing systems and their use. An overview of grapholinguistics (= Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs; 369). Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter. DOI: 10.1515/9783110757835. [Publisher] [PDF]

2020. The nature of writing. A theory of grapholinguistics (= Grapholinguistics and Its Applications; 3). Brest: Fluxus Editions. DOI: 10.36824/2020-meletis. [Publisher] [PDF]

Reviews:
[1] Pascal Vaillant (Revue TAL, 62.3 [2021], 65–69) [read]
[2] Niklas Reinken (Zeitschrift für Rezensionen zur germanistischen Sprachwissenschaft, ahead of print [2022], DOI: 10.1515/zrs-2022-2101)

2017. Sein oder des Nichtseins: Die Semantik des Genitivs der Negation im Russischen (= Grazer Studien zur Slawistik; 8). Hamburg: Dr. Kovac. [Publisher]

2015. Graphetik: Form und Materialität von Schrift (= Typo|Druck). Glückstadt: Werner Hülsbusch. [OA Repository] [PDF]

Review: Andi Gredig (Zeitschrift für Rezensionen zur germanistischen Sprachwissenschaft, 8.1–2 [2016], 119–123, DOI: 10.1515/zrs-2016-0022) [read]

Edited volumes

in preparation a (invited, with Martin Evertz-Rittich and Rebecca Treiman). Handbook of Germanic Writing Systems (= Handbooks of Germanic Linguistics). Boston, Berlin: De Gruyter.

in preparation b (with Florian Busch). Schreiben in Kontexten: Variation in schriftlichen Praktiken.

Articles (peer-reviewed)

accepted. There had already been a structural graphemics. Revisiting and contextualizing a grapholinguistic dispute. LACUS Forum 47.

2022 [submitted in 2017]. Universality and diversity in writing systems. LACUS Forum 46.1: 72–83. [Publisher]  [PDF]

2021 a (with Terry Joyce). Alternative criteria for writing system typology. Cross-linguistic observations from the German and Japanese writing systems. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 40.3 (Special Issue): 257–277. DOI: 10.1515/zfs-2021-2030. [Publisher]  [PDF]

2021 b. ‘Is your font racist?’ Metapragmatic online discourses on the use of typographic mimicry and its appropriateness. Social Semiotics Online First. DOI: 10.1080/10350330.2021.1989296. [Publisher]  [PDF]

2020 a. Reintroducing graphetics: The study of the materiality of writing. Scripta 11: 91–131. [PDF]

2020 b. Types of allography. Open Linguistics 6: 249–266. DOI: 10.1515/opli-2020-0006. [Publisher]  [PDF]

2019. The grapheme as a universal basic unit of writing. Writing Systems Research 11.1: 26–49. DOI: 10.1080/17586801.2019.1697412. [Publisher]  [PDF]

2018. What is natural in writing? Prolegomena to a Natural Grapholinguistics. Written Language & Literacy 21.1: 52–88. DOI: 10.1075/wll.00010.mel. [Publisher]  [Preprint PDF]

2017 (invited). Fearing the Joys of Old Age: Contradictory Discourses of Aging in Adelaida Gercyk’s On Old Age. In Dagmar-Gramshammer-Hohl (ed.), Aging in Slavic Literatures (= Aging Studies; XI), 203–222. Bielefeld: transcript. DOI: 10.14361/9783839432211-011. [Publisher]  [PDF]

Articles

submitted. What’s in a name? Trends and challenges in naming the study of writing.

2022 (invited). Typographische Mimikry. In Ursula Rautenberg and Anja Voeste (eds.), Typographie: Disziplinäre Zugänge – Fachliche Konzeptionierungen – Forschungsfragen und Projekte, 68–79. Stuttgart: Hiersemann.

2021. On being a grapholinguist. In Yannis Haralambous (ed.), Grapholinguistics in the 21st Century. June 17–19, 2020. Proceedings, Part I (= Grapholinguistics and Its Applications; 4), 47–62. Brest: Fluxus Editions. DOI: 10.36824/2020-graf-mele. [Publisher] [PDF]

2020 (invited). Warum hassen alle Comic Sans? Metapragmatische Onlinediskurse zu einer typographischen Hassliebe. In Jannis Androutsopoulos and Florian Busch (eds.), Register des Graphischen: Variation, Praktiken, Reflexion (= Linguistik – Impulse & Tendenzen; 87), 253–284. Boston, Berlin: De Gruyter. DOI: 10.1515/9783110673241-010. [Publisher] [PDF]

2019 (with Christa Dürscheid). Emojis: A grapholinguistic approach. In Yannis Haralambous (ed.), Graphemics in the 21st Century. Brest, June 13–15, 2018. Proceedings (= Grapholinguistics and Its Applications; 1), 167–183. Brest: Fluxus Editions. DOI: 10.36824/2018-graf-duer. [Publisher] [PDF]

2017. Der Genitiv der Negation im Russischen: Ein konzises semantisches Profil. In Anna Weigl et al. (eds.), Junge Slavistik im Dialog VI. Beiträge zur XI. Slavistischen Studentenkonferenz (= Studien zur Slavistik; 40), 195–206. Hamburg: Dr. Kovač. [PDF]

Handbook chapters / Encyclopedia entries

in preparation a (invited). Single articles: Determinativum · inhärenter Vokal · Kurzzeichen · Langzeichen · Phonetikum · semantisches Komplement · Syllabogramm. In Martin Neef, Said Sahel, and Rüdiger Weingarten (eds.), Schriftlinguistik/Grapholinguistics (= Wörterbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft; 5). Boston, Berlin: De Gruyter.

in preparation b (invited, with Christa Dürscheid). Writing systems and their visualizations: Seen from a linguistic point of view. In Paul Luna, Fiona Ross, Sue Walker, Vaibhav Singh, and Mariko Takagi (eds.), Bloomsbury Handbook of Global Typography. London: Bloomsbury.

accepted (invited). Phonographic writing systems. In Olga C. M. Fischer, Pamela Perniss, and Kimi Akita (eds.), Handbook of iconicity in language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2022. Grammatiknazi. In Forschungsgruppe Diskursmonitor und Diskursintervention (ed.), Diskursmonitor. Glossar zur strategischen Kommunikation in öffentlichen Diskursen. [Publisher]

2015–2017. Single articles: Apex [PDF] · Balken [PDF] · Bogen [PDF] · Bogenverbindung [PDF] · Buchstabenform [PDF] · Buchstabenmorphologie [PDF] · Duktus [PDF] · Elementarform [PDF] · graphisches Kontinuum [PDF] · Graphonomie [PDF] · Grundform [PDF] · Kineto-Graphetik [PDF] · Kurvilinearität [PDF] · kurzer Buchstabe [PDF] · langer Buchstabe [PDF] · Linearität [PDF] · Neigungswinkel [PDF] · Phano-Graphetik [PDF] · Rektangularisierung [PDF] · Rektilinearität [PDF] · Schleife [PDF] · schrägovaler Stil [PDF] · Schreibraum [PDF] · Serife [PDF] · Signographie [PDF] · Skriptgraphetik [PDF] · Strich [PDF] · Symmetrisierung [PDF] · Vertex [PDF] · Vertikalitätsprinzip [PDF] · Zeichenform [PDF]. In Martin Neef, Said Sahel, and Rüdiger Weingarten (eds.), Schriftlinguistik/Grapholinguistics (= Wörterbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft; 5). Boston, Berlin: De Gruyter.

2015. Overview article: Graphetik. In Martin Neef, Said Sahel, and Rüdiger Weingarten (eds.), Schriftlinguistik/Grapholinguistics (= Wörterbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft; 5). Boston, Berlin: De Gruyter. [PDF]

Reviews

2022 a. Review of Paul Rössler, Peter Besl, and Anna Saller (Hg). 2021. Vergleichende Interpunktion – Comparative Punctuation (= Linguistik – Impulse & Tendenzen; 96). Zeitschrift für Rezensionen zur germanistischen Sprachwissenschaft. DOI: 10.1515/zrs-2022-2088. [Publisher] [PDF]

2022 b (invited). A paradigm shift in the study of early Greek writing – Review of Natalia Elvira Astoreca. 2021. Early Greek Alphabetic Writing. A Linguistic Approach (= Contexts of and Relations between Early Writing Systems; 5). The Classical Review 72.2: 405–407. DOI: 10.1017/S0009840X22000725. [Publisher]

2021. Review of Wolfgang Steinig/Karl Heinz Ramers. 2020. Orthografie (= LinguS: Linguistik und Schule; 7). Zeitschrift für Rezensionen zur germanistischen Sprachwissenschaft 13.1–2: 52–57. DOI: 10.1515/zrs-2021-2067. [Publisher] [PDF]

2018. Review of Nadine Schimmel-Fijalkowytsch. 2018. Diskurse zur Normierung und Reform der deutschen Rechtschreibung. Eine Analyse von Diskursen zur Rechtschreibreform unter soziolinguistischer und textlinguistischer Perspektive (= Studien zur deutschen Sprache; 75). LINGUIST List 29.4445. [Publisher] [PDF]

2017. Review of Ulrike Domahs/Beatrice Primus (Hg). 2016. Handbuch Laut, Gebärde, Buchstabe (= Handbücher Sprachwissen; 2). Zeitschrift für Rezensionen zur germanistischen Sprachwissenschaft 9.1–2: 109–115. DOI: 10.1515/zrs-2017-0019. [Publisher] [PDF]

2016. Review of Tilo Reißig. 2015. Typographie und Grammatik. Untersuchung zum Verhältnis von Syntax und Raum (= Stauffenburg Linguistik; 84). Zeitschrift für Rezensionen zur germanistischen Sprachwissenschaft 8.1–2: 147–152. DOI: 10.1515/zrs-2016-0027. [Publisher] [PDF]


Conference activity

Organized workshops

12/2021. Writing: System, use, ideology (Workshop at the 46th Austrian Linguistics Conference, December 9–10, 2021, University of Vienna [virtual], AT) [Description, Program, and Abstracts]

Featuring talks from: Florian Busch, Florian Coulmas, Peter T. Daniels, Zohar Eviatar, Amalia E. Gnanadesikan, Stefan Hartmann, Nadja Kerschhofer-Puhalo, Hye K. Pae, Jürgen Spitzmüller, Rebecca Treiman, Heather Winskel, and myself.

11/2016. Theorien und Methoden in der Schriftlinguistik (Workshop at the 42nd Austrian Linguistics Conference, November 18–19, 2016, University of Graz, AT) [Program] [Abstracts]

Featuring talks from: Dörte Borchers, Florian Busch, Stefanie Dipper, Christa Dürscheid, Konstanze Edtstadler, Agnes Kim, Birgit Mesch, Christina Noack, Simon Pickl, Nikolas Ruge, Anja Voeste, Sandra Waldenberger, and myself.

Talks

Click on the image to see/download the slides of a given talk (in PDF format).

10/2022 (invited plenary talk with Christa Dürscheid). Grapholinguistics: An expanding research field (LautSchriftSprache/ScriptandSound 5, University of Agder, Fevik, NO)


06/2022. Types of orthographic standardization: A sociolinguistic approach (Grapholinguistics in the 21st Century 2022, Télécom Paris, Palaiseau, FR) [Abstract]

You can watch the recorded talk [here].


03/2022 (invited). How visual stereotypes work: The structure and sociosemiotics of cultural typographic mimicry (Multilingual Writing, University of Bern, CH)


12/2021. Structural, psycholinguistic, and sociolinguistic typologies of writing (46. Österreichische Linguistiktagung, Workshop ‘Writing: System, Use, Ideology’, University of Vienna, AT) [Abstract]


10/2021. Graphotactics, spatiality, and why writing should be studied independently of speech (13th International Workshop of the Association of Written Language and Literacy, University of North Carolina, US) [Abstract]

You can watch the recorded talk [here].


09/2021. Literacy and self-prescriptivism: A metapragmatic discourse analysis of attitudes towards orthographic regulation (6th Prescriptivism Conference, Universidade de Vigo, ES) [Abstract]


09/2021. Wie der Mensch die Schrift prägt (Scientifica 2021, ETH Zürich/Universität Zürich, CH)

You can watch the recorded talk [here].


07/2021. Grapholinguistic wars: How three arguments reflect an emerging discipline’s core questions (LACUS Forum 47, University of Toledo, US) [Abstract]

Presidents’ Prize for an Outstanding Paper given by a Jr. Scholar awarded by the Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States


06/2020. Is the syllable universally the most salient unit of writing? (Grapholinguistics in the 21st Century—From graphemes to knowledge, CNRS, Paris, FR) [Abstract]

You can watch the recorded talk [here].


03/2020 (with Terry Joyce). The ‘evolution’ of writing systems in terms of typological and other criteria: Crosslinguistic observations from the German and Japanese writing systems (42. DGfS-Jahrestagung: The Evolution of Writing Systems: Empirical and Cross-linguistic Approaches, Universität Hamburg, DE) [Abstract]


01/2020. Die neue Schriftlinguistik? Von reiner Deskription zur erklärenden Schrifttheorie (Linguistisches Kolloquium, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, AT)


12/2019. Warum sind Schriftsysteme wie sie sind? Natürliche Schriftlinguistik als erklärende Schrifttheorie (45. Österreichische Linguistiktagung, Universität Salzburg, AT) [Abstract]


10/2019. Schrift/Linguistik – Eine Theorie zwischen interdisziplinärer Schriftforschung und deskriptiver Linguistik (Deutsches Seminar, Universität Zürich, CH)


07/2019. Comparing the incomparable: Introducing Natural Graphematics and categories for the comparison of diverse writing systems (LACUS Forum 46, University of Waterloo, CA) [Abstract]

Presidents’ Prize for an Outstanding Paper given by a Jr. Scholar awarded by the Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States


06/2019. The pragmatics of orthographic shaming: Written speech acts and the negotiation of power, normativity, and discussion culture (16th International Pragmatics Conference, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, HK) [Abstract]


03/2019. How we model writing – The relationship between language, speech, and writing (12th International Workshop of the Association of Written Language and Literacy, University of Cambridge, GB) [Abstract]


06/2018. Orthographic shaming – Attitudes towards orthography and orthographic mistakes in German (22nd Sociolinguistics Symposium, University of Auckland, NZ) [Abstract]

You can watch the recorded talk [here].


05/2018. Schrifttheorie und Schriftpraxis: vom Graphem zu orthographic shaming (Linguistisches Kolloquium, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, AT)


12/2017. „Schreib, wie es vorgegeben ist“ – Das Konzept Orthographie in den Schriftsystemen der Welt (43. Österreichische Linguistiktagung, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, AT) [Abstract]


11/2017. Die Natürlichkeit des deutschen Schriftsystems (Deutsches Seminar, Universität Zürich, CH)


08/2017. What is a grapheme? Do we need it? Re-evaluating one of grapholinguistics’ core notions (11th International Workshop of the Association of Written Language and Literacy, Nanzan University, Nagoya, JP) [Abstract]


08/2017. Universality and diversity in writing systems: what can a universal model of writing systems achieve? (LACUS Forum 44, McMaster University, Hamilton, CA)

Presidents’ Pre-Doctoral Commendation Prize for an Outstanding Paper given by a Jr. Scholar awarded by the Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States


06/2017 (invited). Warum hassen alle Comic Sans? Wie die Materialität von Schrift ihre Verwendung einschränkt (Symposium Register des digitalen Schreibens, Universität Hamburg, DE) [Abstract]


11/2016. Kategorien einer visuellen Typologie von Schriften (42. Österreichische Linguistiktagung, Workshop ‘Theorien und Methoden der Schriftlinguistik’, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, AT) [Abstract]


09/2016. Zur Materialität von Schrift: Zentrale Fragen der Graphetik (Deutsches Seminar, Universität Zürich, CH)


06/2016. „Every language gets the writing system it deserves“: Probleme der Schrifttypologie (Linguistisches Kolloquium, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, AT)


05/2016. Naturalness of scripts and writing systems: Prolegomena to a Natural Grapholinguistics (10th International Workshop of the Association of Written Language and Literacy, Radboud University Nijmegen, NL) [Abstract]


04/2016. Sein oder des Nichtseins: Die Semantik des Genitivs der Negation (Junge Slavistik im Dialog XI, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, DE) [Abstract]

Posters

04/2021. Types of allography: Conceptualizing structural variation in writing at the material and linguistic levels (7th Young Linguists’ Meeting in Poznań: Rethinking language and identity in the multilingual world, Adam Mickiewicz University, PL; held online due to Covid-19) [Abstract]

09/2018. (Re)Introducing graphetics. The materiality of writing, its questions, and its problems (Workshop Writing conventions and pragmatic perspectives, Université Libre de Bruxelles, BE) [Abstract]

06/2017. Die Natürlichkeit von Schriften und Schriftsystemen: Entwurf einer Natürlichen Schriftlinguistik (Stipendienverleihung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, AT)


Teaching

Internet communication (with Christa Dürscheid, University of Zurich), taught 2021

In this course, which I taught together with Christa Dürscheid, we address communication on the internet in general and look at different media, their features, and practices in which users engage when using them: email and text chat, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Clubhouse, and Greenroom, to mention some. In this context, we also introduce methods of studying digital data in linguistics. Furthermore, specific timely topics of digital communication are treated such as communication with roboters and language assistants, memes, grammar nazis, shitstorms and cancel culture, as well as fake news and fact-checking.


Introduction to synchronic linguistics (University of Zurich), taught in 2020, 2021

In this introductory course, after explaining what linguistics is (and what it is not), I am teaching students the basics of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and—because it’s me who is teaching it, after all—grapholinguistics, especially graphematics and orthography. The focus is on German, but I also give many examples from other languages.


The German writing system from a contrastive perspective (University of Zurich), taught 2020

Perspectives of grapholinguistics (University of Graz), taught 2017

In these seminars, I give an overview over the core topics of grapholinguistics. I introduce them focusing on the German writing system, which also serves as a basis for comparisons with other systems. The topics covered are the relationship of writing to speech and language, graphetics, graphematics, orthography, typology (phonography, morphography), the psycholinguistics of reading and writing, literacy acquisition and instruction, and the sociolinguistics of writing.


Grammatical theory and typology: Negation (University of Graz), taught 2019/20

In this seminar, I cover several different facets of negation: standard negation (in declarative sentences), negation in imperatives and existential sentences, negative concord and double negation, the acquisition and processing of negation, and the pragmatics of negation.


Contact

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to collaborate, please contact me at