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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A logogram, or logograph, is a grapheme which represents a word or a morpheme (the smallest meaningful unit of language). This stands in contrast to phonograms, which represent phonemes (speech sounds) or combinations of phonemes, and determinatives, which mark semantic categories.

Logograms are commonly known also as "ideograms". Strictly speaking, however, ideograms represent ideas directly rather than words and morphemes, and none of the logographic systems described here is truly ideographic.

Since logograms are visual symbols representing words rather than the sounds or phonemes that make up the word, it is relatively easier to remember or guess the meaning of logograms, while it might be relatively harder to remember or guess the sound of alphabetic written words. Another feature of logograms is that a single logogram may be used by a plurality of languages to represent words with similar meanings. While disparate languages may also use the same or similar alphabets, abjads, abugidas, syllabaries and the like, the degree to which they may share identical representations for words with disparate pronunciations is much more limited.

Modern examples include for example the logograms for "Ladies" and "Gents", "telephone", and "wheelchair access", which can be understood without any knowledge of the spoken language, i.e. the concept conveyed is the same to a German as to a Spaniard (for whom also include the symbols for the numbers 0 to 9, and the ampersand "&") or Korean.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Logogram" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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