The Routledge Handbook of the English Writing System provides a comprehensive account of the English writing system, both in its current iteration and highlighting the developing trends that will influence its future. Twenty-nine chapters written by specialists from around the world cover core linguistic and psychological aspects, and also include areas from other disciplines such as typography and computer-mediated communication.

Divided into five parts, the volume encompasses a wide range of approaches and addresses issues in the following areas:

  • theory and the English writing system, discussing the effects of etymology and phonology;
  • the history of the English writing system from its earliest development, including spelling, pronunciation and typography;
  • the acquisition and teaching of writing, with discussions of literacy issues and dyslexia;
  • English writing in use around the world, both in the UK and America, and also across Europe and Japan; 
  • computer-mediated communication and developments in writing online and on social media.

The Routledge Handbook of the English Writing System is essential reading for researchers and postgraduate students working in this area.

chapter 1|4 pages


ByDes Ryan

chapter 2|20 pages

Background to the English writing system

ByVivian Cook

part |2 pages

Part I Theory and the English writing system

chapter 3|14 pages

English among the writing systems of the world

ByRichard Sproat

chapter 4|24 pages

Linguists’ descriptions of the English writing system

ByDes Ryan

chapter 5|28 pages

Phonology and English spelling

ByIggy Roca

chapter 6|18 pages


ByFrank Kirchhoff, Beatrice Primus

part |2 pages

Part II The history and development of the English writing system

chapter 7|12 pages

The etymological inputs into English spelling

BySimon Horobin

chapter 8|18 pages

Changing functions: English spelling before 1600

ByMerja Stenroos, Jeremy J. Smith

chapter 9|20 pages

Modernization and standardization since the seventeenth century

ByPhil Scholfield

part |2 pages

Part III Learning and teaching English

chapter 13|18 pages

Teaching literacy to English children: Policy and practice

ByTerezinha Nunes

chapter 14|12 pages

Dyslexia and the English writing system

ByLiory Fern-Pollak, Jackie Masterson

chapter 15|24 pages

The structure of literacy teaching: A case study from England

ByRhona Stainthorp

part |2 pages

Part IV Society and the English writing system in the world

chapter 16|14 pages

Sociolinguistics and the English writing system

ByFlorian Coulmas

chapter 17|18 pages

The evolution of British and American spelling

ByD. W. Cummings

chapter 18|22 pages

The spelling of Scots: tradition, adaptation and reform

ByJennifer Bann, John Corbett

chapter 19|16 pages

Irish English and the English writing system

ByRaymond Hickey

chapter 20|16 pages

Eye dialect and pronunciation respelling in the USA

ByMichael D. Picone

chapter 21|18 pages

The orthography of English-lexicon pidgins and creoles

ByMark Sebba

chapter 22|32 pages

The English writing system in the linguistic landscapes of the world

ByJeffrey L. Kallen

chapter 23|16 pages

Japanese uses of the English writing system: A case study

ByTakeshi Okada

chapter 24|16 pages

Spelling reform

ByValerie Yule, Ishi Yasuko

part |2 pages

Part V Processing the written symbol

chapter 25|22 pages

Typography and the printed English text

ByWill Hill

chapter 26|18 pages

Processing the written word

ByMelvin J. Yap, Susan J. Rickard Liow

chapter 27|16 pages

Computer-mediated communication and the English writing system

ByLauren Squires

chapter 29|14 pages


ByRoger Mitton