Yes - this is the problem the terms are used differently in different areas - Maybe Steve Slevinski could tell us what they use in the area of unicode...
As for the field of writing systems/linguistics, I've just found this in Coulmas Enclyclopedia. there is no definition of 'symbol' so I am ruling that term out. The term glyph is defined as:
"A term derived by contraction from HIEROGLYPH. It has sometimes been used in the description of writing sytems whose units were not well understood. For example, in Maya epigraphy, where teh phonetic component of the writing system has long been in doubt, it is used as a collective designation to indicate a logogram, a phonetic sign or a compound sign" (Coulmas, 1996, p. 168).
The term 'grapheme' is provided as follows:
"Coined on analogy with 'phoneme'this term deignates the unit of analysis in the study of written langauge understood as an abstract entity (...) Every analysis of a writing sytem tart out with compiling a complete list of the graphemes of that system on the basis of a set of data that comprise all of its GRAPHS, that is visually distinct formal elements. (...)" (Coulmas, 1996, p. 174)
SO on the basis of this (and considering all the work i've done so far)... I will be calling the symbols of the ISWA 'glyphs' and the symbols used by a specific language (in this case maltese sign language) as..'graphemes' -
Claudia - it is a good justification for using the term 'glyph' - I
have not consulted with the Deaf in malta about this choice of term. Might be a good idea to check this..
Thank you Ingvild and Claudia!