Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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core definition

Lexigraphy is the system of writing in which each character represents a word

explanatory context

Languages have lexigraphical rules determining the composition of words.

analytical review

Lee et al. (2010) state:

Writing communicates information via markings and has two independent classes of data: (i) semasiography that uses images without recourse to spoken language and (ii) lexigraphy that uses icons/symbols to embody a verbal language. Within an archaeological context, semasiography is considered to have three categories: (i) primitive art, such as the images found in Lascaux, (ii) descriptive–representational devices, such as the pictorial event messages written by the Plains Indians, and (iii) identifying mnemonics that identify things such as individuals and places. The first two categories of semasiography, being pictorial based, tend not to have a strong, consistent directionality in the image placement. Some identifying mnemonics can have consistent directionality, such as heraldic shields. Lexigraphic writing, based on speech, has an implied and consistent directionality. Thus unknown systems written with a consistent, implied directionality of marking placement may be identifying-mnemonic semasiography or lexigraphic writing

associated issues


related areas

See also




Lee, R, Jonathan, P. and Ziman, P., 2010, 'Reply to Fournet: Pictish symbols revealed as a written language through application of Shannon entropy' Proceedings of the Royal Society A, Vol 467 No. 2126, pp. 309–313, published 11 August 2010, available at, accessed 11 March 2013, still available 9 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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