Decolonising Literacy: The determinants of success for indigenous writing systems
Why do minority language communities often reject official/colonial alphabets and invent their own writing
systems? Using case studies from East Africa, China, and India, I will investigate what minority communities
gain versus lose through writing with an invented script. I hypothesise that three factors—sociolinguistic,
psycholinguistic, and grammatical—are significant determinants of writing system success: the situation of
the community relative to social forces, the correspondence of psycholinguistically salient units of spoken
language to the units of the script, and the relationship between writing system design and the grammar of
its target language.