Alphabet
Overview
 

An alphabet is a standard set of letters
Letter (alphabet)
A letter is a grapheme in an alphabetic system of writing, such as the Greek alphabet and its descendants. Letters compose phonemes and each phoneme represents a phone in the spoken form of the language....

—basic written symbols or graphemes—each of which represents a phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

 in a spoken language
Spoken language
Spoken language is a form of human communication in which words derived from a large vocabulary together with a diverse variety of names are uttered through or with the mouth. All words are made up from a limited set of vowels and consonants. The spoken words they make are stringed into...

, either as it exists now or as it was in the past. There are other systems
Writing system
A writing system is a symbolic system used to represent elements or statements expressible in language.-General properties:Writing systems are distinguished from other possible symbolic communication systems in that the reader must usually understand something of the associated spoken language to...

, such as logographies, in which each character represents a word, morpheme
Morpheme
In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest semantically meaningful unit in a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. A morpheme is not identical to a word, and the principal difference between the two is that a morpheme may or may not stand alone, whereas a word,...

, or semantic unit, and syllabaries
Syllabary
A syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent syllables, which make up words. In a syllabary, there is no systematic similarity between the symbols which represent syllables with the same consonant or vowel...

, in which each character represents a syllable
Syllable
A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus with optional initial and final margins .Syllables are often considered the phonological "building...

. Alphabets are classified according to how they indicate vowels:
  • the same way as consonants, as in Greek
    Greek alphabet
    The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

     (true alphabet)
  • diacritic
    Diacritic
    A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

    s or modification of consonants, as in Hindi (Devanāgarī: हिन्दी )
    Devanagari
    Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

     (abugida
    Abugida
    An abugida , also called an alphasyllabary, is a segmental writing system in which consonant–vowel sequences are written as a unit: each unit is based on a consonant letter, and vowel notation is obligatory but secondary...

    )
  • not at all, as in Phoenician
    Phoenician alphabet
    The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

     (abjad
    Abjad
    An abjad is a type of writing system in which each symbol always or usually stands for a consonant; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel....

    )


The word "alphabet" came into Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 from the Late Latin
Late Latin
Late Latin is the scholarly name for the written Latin of Late Antiquity. The English dictionary definition of Late Latin dates this period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries AD extending in Spain to the 7th. This somewhat ambiguously defined period fits between Classical Latin and Medieval Latin...

 word Alphabetum, which in turn originated in the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 ἀλφάβητος (alphabētos), from alpha
Alpha (letter)
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 1. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Aleph...

and beta
Beta (letter)
Beta is the second letter of the Greek alphabet. In Ancient Greek, beta represented the voiced bilabial plosive . In Modern Greek, it represents the voiced labiodental fricative ....

,
the first two letters of the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

.
Encyclopedia

An alphabet is a standard set of letters
Letter (alphabet)
A letter is a grapheme in an alphabetic system of writing, such as the Greek alphabet and its descendants. Letters compose phonemes and each phoneme represents a phone in the spoken form of the language....

—basic written symbols or graphemes—each of which represents a phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

 in a spoken language
Spoken language
Spoken language is a form of human communication in which words derived from a large vocabulary together with a diverse variety of names are uttered through or with the mouth. All words are made up from a limited set of vowels and consonants. The spoken words they make are stringed into...

, either as it exists now or as it was in the past. There are other systems
Writing system
A writing system is a symbolic system used to represent elements or statements expressible in language.-General properties:Writing systems are distinguished from other possible symbolic communication systems in that the reader must usually understand something of the associated spoken language to...

, such as logographies, in which each character represents a word, morpheme
Morpheme
In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest semantically meaningful unit in a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. A morpheme is not identical to a word, and the principal difference between the two is that a morpheme may or may not stand alone, whereas a word,...

, or semantic unit, and syllabaries
Syllabary
A syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent syllables, which make up words. In a syllabary, there is no systematic similarity between the symbols which represent syllables with the same consonant or vowel...

, in which each character represents a syllable
Syllable
A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus with optional initial and final margins .Syllables are often considered the phonological "building...

. Alphabets are classified according to how they indicate vowels:
  • the same way as consonants, as in Greek
    Greek alphabet
    The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

     (true alphabet)
  • diacritic
    Diacritic
    A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

    s or modification of consonants, as in Hindi (Devanāgarī: हिन्दी )
    Devanagari
    Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

     (abugida
    Abugida
    An abugida , also called an alphasyllabary, is a segmental writing system in which consonant–vowel sequences are written as a unit: each unit is based on a consonant letter, and vowel notation is obligatory but secondary...

    )
  • not at all, as in Phoenician
    Phoenician alphabet
    The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

     (abjad
    Abjad
    An abjad is a type of writing system in which each symbol always or usually stands for a consonant; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel....

    )


The word "alphabet" came into Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 from the Late Latin
Late Latin
Late Latin is the scholarly name for the written Latin of Late Antiquity. The English dictionary definition of Late Latin dates this period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries AD extending in Spain to the 7th. This somewhat ambiguously defined period fits between Classical Latin and Medieval Latin...

 word Alphabetum, which in turn originated in the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 ἀλφάβητος (alphabētos), from alpha
Alpha (letter)
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 1. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Aleph...

and beta
Beta (letter)
Beta is the second letter of the Greek alphabet. In Ancient Greek, beta represented the voiced bilabial plosive . In Modern Greek, it represents the voiced labiodental fricative ....

,
the first two letters of the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

. Alpha and beta in turn came from the first two letters of the Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

, and meant ox and house respectively. There are dozens of alphabets in use today, the most common being Latin, deriving from the first true alphabet, Greek. Most of them are composed of lines (linear writing); notable exceptions are Braille
Braille
The Braille system is a method that is widely used by blind people to read and write, and was the first digital form of writing.Braille was devised in 1825 by Louis Braille, a blind Frenchman. Each Braille character, or cell, is made up of six dot positions, arranged in a rectangle containing two...

, fingerspelling
Fingerspelling
Fingerspelling is the representation of the letters of a writing system, and sometimes numeral systems, using only the hands. These manual alphabets , have often been used in deaf education, and have subsequently been adopted as a distinct part of a number of sign languages around the world...

, and Morse code
Morse code
Morse code is a method of transmitting textual information as a series of on-off tones, lights, or clicks that can be directly understood by a skilled listener or observer without special equipment...

.

Middle Eastern Scripts

The history of the alphabet started in ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. By the 27th century BCE Egyptian writing had a set of some 24 hieroglyphs which are called uniliterals, to represent syllables that begin with a single consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

 of their language, plus a vowel (or no vowel) to be supplied by the native speaker. These glyphs were used as pronunciation guides for logogram
Logogram
A logogram, or logograph, is a grapheme which represents a word or a morpheme . This stands in contrast to phonograms, which represent phonemes or combinations of phonemes, and determinatives, which mark semantic categories.Logograms are often commonly known also as "ideograms"...

s, to write grammatical inflections, and, later, to transcribe loan words and foreign names.

However, although seemingly alphabetic in nature, the original Egyptian uniliterals were not a system and were never used by themselves to encode Egyptian speech. In the Middle Bronze Age an apparently "alphabetic" system known as the Proto-Sinaitic script is thought by some to have been developed in the Sinai peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

 during the 19th century BCE, by Canaanite workers in the Egyptian turquoise mines. Others suggest the alphabet was developed in central Egypt during the 15th century BCE for or by Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

 workers, but only one of these early writings has been deciphered and their exact nature remains open to interpretation. Based on letter appearances and names, it is believed to be based on Egyptian hieroglyphs. This script had no characters representing vowels. An alphabetic cuneiform
Cuneiform
Cuneiform can refer to:*Cuneiform script, an ancient writing system originating in Mesopotamia in the 4th millennium BC*Cuneiform , three bones in the human foot*Cuneiform Records, a music record label...

 script with 30 signs including three which indicate the following vowel was invented in Ugarit
Ugarit
Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

 before the 15th century BCE. This script was not used after the destruction of Ugarit.

The Proto-Sinaitic script eventually developed into the Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

, which is conventionally called "Proto-Canaanite" before ca. 1050 BCE. The oldest text in Phoenician script is an inscription on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram. This script is the parent script of all western alphabets. By the tenth century two other forms can be distinguished namely Canaanite and Aramaic. The Aramaic gave rise to Hebrew
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

. The South Arabian alphabet
South Arabian alphabet
The ancient Yemeni alphabet branched from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet in about the 9th century BC. It was used for writing the Yemeni Old South Arabic languages of the Sabaean, Qatabanian, Hadramautic, Minaean, Himyarite, and proto-Ge'ez in Dʿmt...

, a sister script to the Phoenician alphabet, is the script from which the Ge'ez alphabet
Ge'ez alphabet
Ge'ez , also called Ethiopic, is a script used as an abugida for several languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea but originated in an abjad used to write Ge'ez, now the liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Church...

 (an abugida
Abugida
An abugida , also called an alphasyllabary, is a segmental writing system in which consonant–vowel sequences are written as a unit: each unit is based on a consonant letter, and vowel notation is obligatory but secondary...

) is descended. Note that the scripts mentioned above are not considered proper alphabets, as they all lack characters representing vowels. These vowelless alphabets are called abjad
Abjad
An abjad is a type of writing system in which each symbol always or usually stands for a consonant; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel....

s, currently exemplified in scripts including Arabic
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

, Hebrew
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

, and Syriac
Syriac alphabet
The Syriac alphabet is a writing system primarily used to write the Syriac language from around the 2nd century BC . It is one of the Semitic abjads directly descending from the Aramaic alphabet and shares similarities with the Phoenician, Hebrew, Arabic, and the traditional Mongolian alphabets.-...

. The omission of vowels was not a satisfactory solution and some "weak" consonants were used to indicate the vowel quality of a syllable (matres lectionis
Mater lectionis
In the spelling of Hebrew and some other Semitic languages, matres lectionis , refers to the use of certain consonants to indicate a vowel. The letters that do this in Hebrew are aleph, he, waw and yod...

). These had dual function since they were also used as pure consonants.

The Proto-Sinatic or Proto Canaanite script and the Ugaritic script were the first scripts with limited number of signs, in contrast to the other widely used writing systems at the time, Cuneiform
Cuneiform
Cuneiform can refer to:*Cuneiform script, an ancient writing system originating in Mesopotamia in the 4th millennium BC*Cuneiform , three bones in the human foot*Cuneiform Records, a music record label...

, Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood...

, and Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

. The Phoenician script was probably the first phonemic script and it contained only about two dozen distinct letters, making it a script simple enough for common traders to learn. Another advantage of Phoenician was that it could be used to write down many different languages, since it recorded words phonemically.

The script was spread by the Phoenicians, across the Mediterranean. In Greece, the script was modified to add the vowels, giving rise to the ancestor of all alphabets in the West. The indication of the vowels is the same way as the indication of the consonants, therefore it was the first true alphabet. The Greeks took letters which did not represent sounds that existed in Greek, and changed them to represent the vowels. The vowels are significant in the Greek language, and the syllabical Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 script which was used by the Mycenaean
Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites...

 Greeks from the 16th century BCE had 87 symbols including 5 vowels. In its early years, there were many variants of the Greek alphabet, a situation which caused many different alphabets to evolve from it.

European alphabets

The Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

, in its Euboean form, was carried over by Greek colonists to the Italian peninsula, where it gave rise to a variety of alphabets used to write the Italic languages
Italic languages
The Italic subfamily is a member of the Indo-European language family. It includes the Romance languages derived from Latin , and a number of extinct languages of the Italian Peninsula, including Umbrian, Oscan, Faliscan, and Latin.In the past various definitions of "Italic" have prevailed...

. One of these became the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

, which was spread across Europe as the Romans expanded their empire. Even after the fall of the Roman state, the alphabet survived in intellectual and religious works. It eventually became used for the descendant languages of Latin (the Romance languages
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

) and then for most of the other languages of Europe.

Another notable script is Elder Futhark
Elder Futhark
The Elder Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabet, used by Germanic tribes for Northwest Germanic and Migration period Germanic dialects of the 2nd to 8th centuries for inscriptions on artifacts such as jewellery, amulets, tools, weapons and runestones...

, which is believed to have evolved out of one of the Old Italic alphabet
Old Italic alphabet
Old Italic refers to several now extinct alphabet systems used on the Italian Peninsula in ancient times for various Indo-European languages and non-Indo-European languages...

s. Elder Futhark gave rise to a variety of alphabets known collectively as the Runic alphabet
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

s. The Runic alphabets were used for Germanic languages from CE 100 to the late Middle Ages. Its usage was mostly restricted to engravings on stone and jewelry, although inscriptions have also been found on bone and wood. These alphabets have since been replaced with the Latin alphabet, except for decorative usage for which the runes remained in use until the 20th century.

The Old Hungarian script
Old Hungarian script
The Old Hungarian script is an alphabetic writing system used by the Hungarians before the Middle Ages...

 is a contemporary writing system of the Hungarians. It was in use during the entire history of Hungary, albeit not as an official writing system. From the 19th century it once again became more and more popular.

The Glagolitic alphabet
Glagolitic alphabet
The Glagolitic alphabet , also known as Glagolitsa, is the oldest known Slavic alphabet. The name was not coined until many centuries after its creation, and comes from the Old Slavic glagolъ "utterance" . The verb glagoliti means "to speak"...

 was the initial script of the liturgical language Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic or Old Church Slavic was the first literary Slavic language, first developed by the 9th century Byzantine Greek missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius who were credited with standardizing the language and using it for translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek...

 and became, together with the Greek uncial script, the basis of the Cyrillic alphabet
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

. The Cyrillic alphabet is one of the most widely used modern alphabets, and is notable for its use in Slavic languages and also for other languages within the former Soviet Union. Variants include the Serbian
Serbian Cyrillic alphabet
The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet is an adaptation of the Cyrillic script for the Serbian language, developed in 1818 by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić. It is one of the two standard modern alphabets used to write the Serbian language, the other being Latin...

, Macedonian
Macedonian alphabet
The orthography of Macedonian includes an alphabet , which is an adaptation of the Cyrillic script, as well as language-specific conventions of spelling and punctuation....

, Bulgarian, and Russian alphabet
Russian alphabet
The Russian alphabet is a form of the Cyrillic script, developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

s. The Glagolitic alphabet is believed to have been created by Saints Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius were two Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century. They became missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples of Bulgaria, Great Moravia and Pannonia. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they...

, while the Cyrillic alphabet was invented by the Bulgarian scholar Clement of Ohrid
Clement of Ohrid
Saint Clement of Ohrid was a medieval Bulgarian saint, scholar, writer and enlightener of the Slavs. He was the most prominent disciple of Saints Cyril and Methodius and is often associated with the creation of the Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets, especially their popularisation among...

, who was their disciple. They feature many letters that appear to have been borrowed from or influenced by the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

 and the Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

.

Asian alphabets

Beyond the logographic Chinese writing, many phonetic scripts are in existence in Asia. The Arabic alphabet
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

, Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

, Syriac alphabet
Syriac alphabet
The Syriac alphabet is a writing system primarily used to write the Syriac language from around the 2nd century BC . It is one of the Semitic abjads directly descending from the Aramaic alphabet and shares similarities with the Phoenician, Hebrew, Arabic, and the traditional Mongolian alphabets.-...

, and other abjad
Abjad
An abjad is a type of writing system in which each symbol always or usually stands for a consonant; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel....

s of the Middle East are developments of the Aramaic alphabet
Aramaic alphabet
The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BC. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels....

, but because these writing systems are largely consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

-based they are often not considered true alphabets.

Most alphabetic scripts of India and Eastern Asia are descended from the Brahmi script
Brāhmī script
Brāhmī is the modern name given to the oldest members of the Brahmic family of scripts. The best-known Brāhmī inscriptions are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka in north-central India, dated to the 3rd century BCE. These are traditionally considered to be early known examples of Brāhmī writing...

, which is often believed to be a descendent of Aramaic.

In Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, the Hangul
Hangul
Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

 alphabet was created by Sejong the Great in 1443. Understanding of the phonetic alphabet of Mongolian Phagspa script
Phagspa script
The Phags-pa script was an alphabet designed by the Tibetan Lama 'Gro-mgon Chos-rgyal 'Phags-pa for Yuan emperor Kublai Khan, as a unified script for the literary languages of the Yuan Dynasty....

 aided the creation of a phonetic script suited to the spoken Korean language. Mongolian Phagspa script was in turn derived from the Brahmi script. Hangul is a unique alphabet: it is a featural alphabet
Featural alphabet
A featural alphabet is an alphabet wherein the shapes of the letters are not arbitrary, but encode phonological features of the phonemes they represent. The term featural was introduced by Geoffrey Sampson to describe Hangul and Pitman Shorthand...

, where many of the letters are designed from a sound's place of articulation (P to look like widened mouth, L sound to look like tongue pulled in, etc.); its design was planned by the government of the time; and it places individual letters in syllable clusters with equal dimensions, in the same way as Chinese characters, to allow for mixed script writing (one syllable always takes up one type-space no matter how many letters get stacked into building that one sound-block).

Zhuyin (sometimes called Bopomofo) is a semi-syllabary
Semi-syllabary
A semi-syllabary is a writing system that behaves partly as an alphabet and partly as a syllabary. The term has traditionally been extended to abugidas, but for the purposes of this article it will be restricted to scripts where some letters are alphabetic and others are syllabic.-Iberian...

 used to phonetically transcribe Mandarin Chinese in the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

. After the later establishment of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 and its adoption of Hanyu Pinyin
Pinyin
Pinyin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also often used to teach Mandarin Chinese and spell Chinese names in foreign publications and used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into...

, the use of Zhuyin today is limited, but it's still widely used in Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 where the Republic of China still governs. Zhuyin developed out of a form of Chinese shorthand based on Chinese characters in the early 1900s and has elements of both an alphabet and a syllabary. Like an alphabet the phonemes of syllable initials are represented by individual symbols, but like a syllabary the phonemes of the syllable finals
Syllable rime
In the study of phonology in linguistics, the rime or rhyme of a syllable consists of a nucleus and an optional coda. It is the part of the syllable used in poetic rhyme, and the part that is lengthened or stressed when a person elongates or stresses a word in speech.The rime is usually the...

 are not; rather, each possible final (excluding the medial glide) is represented by its own symbol. For example, luan is represented as ㄌㄨㄢ (l-u-an), where the last symbol ㄢ represents the entire final -an. While Zhuyin is not used as a mainstream writing system, it is still often used in ways similar to a romanization
Romanization
In linguistics, romanization or latinization is the representation of a written word or spoken speech with the Roman script, or a system for doing so, where the original word or language uses a different writing system . Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written...

 system—that is, for aiding in pronunciation and as an input method for Chinese characters on computers and cell phones.

European alphabets, especially Latin and Cyrillic, have been adapted for many languages of Asia. Arabic is also widely used, sometimes as an abjad (as with Urdu
Urdu alphabet
The Urdu alphabet is the right-to-left alphabet used for the Urdu language. It is a modification of the Persian alphabet, which is itself a derivative of the Arabic alphabet...

 and Persian) and sometimes as a complete alphabet (as with Kurdish
Kurdish alphabet
The Kurdish language is written either using a variant of the Latin alphabet, according to a system introduced by Jeladet Ali Bedirkhan in 1932 , or using a variant of the Persian alphabet, the so-called Sorani alphabet, named for the city of Soran, Iraq.The Hawar is used in Turkey, Syria and...

 and Uyghur
Uyghur alphabet
Uyghur is a Turkic language spoken in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, administered by China, by the Uyghur people. It is a language with a long literary tradition, and has been written using numerous writing systems through time...

).

Types

The term "alphabet" is used by linguists
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 and paleographers in both a wide and a narrow sense. In the wider sense, an alphabet is a script that is segmental at the phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

 level—that is, it has separate glyphs for individual sounds and not for larger units such as syllables or words. In the narrower sense, some scholars distinguish "true" alphabets from two other types of segmental script, abjad
Abjad
An abjad is a type of writing system in which each symbol always or usually stands for a consonant; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel....

s and abugida
Abugida
An abugida , also called an alphasyllabary, is a segmental writing system in which consonant–vowel sequences are written as a unit: each unit is based on a consonant letter, and vowel notation is obligatory but secondary...

s. These three differ from each other in the way they treat vowels: abjads have letters for consonants and leave most vowels unexpressed; abugidas are also consonant-based, but indicate vowels with diacritic
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

s to or a systematic graphic modification of the consonants. In alphabets in the narrow sense, on the other hand, consonants and vowels are written as independent letters. The earliest known alphabet in the wider sense is the Wadi el-Hol script
Middle Bronze Age alphabets
Proto-Sinaitic is a Middle Bronze Age script attested in a very small collection of inscriptions at Serabit el-Khadim in the Sinai Peninsula. Due to the extreme scarcity of Proto-Sinaitic signs, very little is known with certainty about the nature of the script...

, believed to be an abjad
Abjad
An abjad is a type of writing system in which each symbol always or usually stands for a consonant; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel....

, which through its successor Phoenician
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

 is the ancestor of modern alphabets, including Arabic
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

, Greek
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

, Latin
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

 (via the Old Italic alphabet
Old Italic alphabet
Old Italic refers to several now extinct alphabet systems used on the Italian Peninsula in ancient times for various Indo-European languages and non-Indo-European languages...

), Cyrillic
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

 (via the Greek alphabet) and Hebrew
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

 (via Aramaic).

Examples of present-day abjads are the Arabic and Hebrew scripts; true alphabets include Latin, Cyrillic, and Korean hangul
Hangul
Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

; and abugidas are used to write Tigrinya
Tigrinya language
Tigrinya , also spelled Tigrigna, Tigrnia, Tigrina, Tigriña, less commonly Tigrinian, Tigrinyan, is a Semitic language spoken by the Tigrinya people in central Eritrea , where it is one of the two main languages of Eritrea, and in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia , where it...

 Amharic
Amharic language
Amharic is a Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia. It is the second most-spoken Semitic language in the world, after Arabic, and the official working language of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Thus, it has official status and is used nationwide. Amharic is also the official or working...

, Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

, and Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

. The Canadian Aboriginal syllabics
Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics
Canadian Aboriginal syllabic writing, or simply syllabics, is a family of abugidas used to write a number of Aboriginal Canadian languages of the Algonquian, Inuit, and Athabaskan language families....

 are also an abugida rather than a syllabary as their name would imply, since each glyph stands for a consonant which is modified by rotation to represent the following vowel. (In a true syllabary, each consonant-vowel combination would be represented by a separate glyph.)

All three types may be augmented with syllabic glyphs. Ugaritic, for example, is basically an abjad, but has syllabic letters for /ʔa, ʔi, ʔu/. (These are the only time vowels are indicated.) Cyrillic
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

 is basically a true alphabet, but has syllabic letters for /ja, je, ju/ (я, е, ю); Coptic
Coptic alphabet
The Coptic alphabet is the script used for writing the Coptic language. The repertoire of glyphs is based on the Greek alphabet augmented by letters borrowed from the Demotic and is the first alphabetic script used for the Egyptian language...

 has a letter for /ti/. Devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

 is typically an abugida augmented with dedicated letters for initial vowels, though some traditions use अ as a zero consonant
Zero consonant
A zero consonant, silent initial, or null-onset letter is a consonant-like letter that is not pronounced, but indicates that a word or syllable starts with a vowel...

 as the graphic base for such vowels.

The boundaries between the three types of segmental scripts are not always clear-cut. For example, Sorani
Soranî
Soranî is the name of a Kurdish language that is spoken in Iran and Iraq. Soranî is one of the main Kurdish languages, which are a branch of the Iranian languages.- Name :...

 Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 is written in the Arabic script, which is normally an abjad. However, in Kurdish, writing the vowels is mandatory, and full letters are used, so the script is a true alphabet. Other languages may use a Semitic abjad with mandatory vowel diacritics, effectively making them abugidas. On the other hand, the Phagspa script
Phagspa script
The Phags-pa script was an alphabet designed by the Tibetan Lama 'Gro-mgon Chos-rgyal 'Phags-pa for Yuan emperor Kublai Khan, as a unified script for the literary languages of the Yuan Dynasty....

 of the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 was based closely on the Tibetan abugida
Tibetan script
The Tibetan alphabet is an abugida of Indic origin used to write the Tibetan language as well as the Dzongkha language, Denzongkha, Ladakhi language and sometimes the Balti language. The printed form of the alphabet is called uchen script while the hand-written cursive form used in everyday...

, but all vowel marks were written after the preceding consonant rather than as diacritic marks. Although short a was not written, as in the Indic abugidas, one could argue that the linear arrangement made this a true alphabet. Conversely, the vowel marks of the Tigrinya abugida
Ge'ez alphabet
Ge'ez , also called Ethiopic, is a script used as an abugida for several languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea but originated in an abjad used to write Ge'ez, now the liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Church...

 and the Amharic abugida
Ge'ez alphabet
Ge'ez , also called Ethiopic, is a script used as an abugida for several languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea but originated in an abjad used to write Ge'ez, now the liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Church...

 (ironically, the original source of the term "abugida") have been so completely assimilated into their consonants that the modifications are no longer systematic and have to be learned as a syllabary
Syllabary
A syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent syllables, which make up words. In a syllabary, there is no systematic similarity between the symbols which represent syllables with the same consonant or vowel...

 rather than as a segmental script. Even more extreme, the Pahlavi abjad eventually became logographic
Logogram
A logogram, or logograph, is a grapheme which represents a word or a morpheme . This stands in contrast to phonograms, which represent phonemes or combinations of phonemes, and determinatives, which mark semantic categories.Logograms are often commonly known also as "ideograms"...

. (See below.)

Thus the primary classification of alphabets reflects how they treat vowels. For tonal languages
Tone (linguistics)
Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning—that is, to distinguish or inflect words. All verbal languages use pitch to express emotional and other paralinguistic information, and to convey emphasis, contrast, and other such features in what is called...

, further classification can be based on their treatment of tone, though names do not yet exist to distinguish the various types. Some alphabets disregard tone entirely, especially when it does not carry a heavy functional load, as in Somali
Somali language
The Somali language is a member of the East Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Its nearest relatives are Afar and Oromo. Somali is the best documented of the Cushitic languages, with academic studies beginning before 1900....

 and many other languages of Africa and the Americas. Such scripts are to tone what abjads are to vowels. Most commonly, tones are indicated with diacritics, the way vowels are treated in abugidas. This is the case for Vietnamese
Vietnamese alphabet
The Vietnamese alphabet, called Chữ Quốc Ngữ , usually shortened to Quốc Ngữ , is the modern writing system for the Vietnamese language...

 (a true alphabet) and Thai
Thai alphabet
Thai script , is used to write the Thai language and other, minority, languages in Thailand. It has forty-four consonants , fifteen vowel symbols that combine into at least twenty-eight vowel forms, and four tone marks ....

 (an abugida). In Thai, tone is determined primarily by the choice of consonant, with diacritics for disambiguation. In the Pollard script
Pollard script
The Pollard script, also known as Pollard Miao, is an abugida loosely based on the Latin alphabet and invented by Methodist missionary Sam Pollard. Pollard invented the script for use with A-Hmao, one of several dialects of the Hmong language. The script underwent a series of revisions until 1936,...

, an abugida, vowels are indicated by diacritics, but the placement of the diacritic relative to the consonant is modified to indicate the tone. More rarely, a script may have separate letters for tones, as is the case for Hmong and Zhuang. For most of these scripts, regardless of whether letters or diacritics are used, the most common tone is not marked, just as the most common vowel is not marked in Indic abugidas; in Zhuyin not only is one of the tones unmarked, but there is a diacritic to indicate lack of tone, like the virama
Virama
Virama is a generic term for the diacritic in many Brahmic scripts, including Devanagari and East Nagari, that is used to suppress the inherent vowel that otherwise occurs with every consonant letter. The name is Sanskrit for "cessation, termination, end"...

 of Indic.

The number of letters in an alphabet can be quite small. The Book Pahlavi
Pahlavi scripts
Pahlavi or Pahlevi denotes a particular and exclusively written form of various Middle Iranian languages. The essential characteristics of Pahlavi are*the use of a specific Aramaic-derived script, the Pahlavi script;...

 script, an abjad, had only twelve letters at one point, and may have had even fewer later on. Today the Rotokas alphabet
Rotokas alphabet
The modern Rotokas alphabet is a Latin alphabet consisting of only 12 letters of the Basic modern Latin alphabet:It is the smallest alphabet in use today. The majority of the Rotokas people are literate in their language. In the Rotokas writing system the vowel letters have their IPA values, though...

 has only twelve letters. (The Hawaiian
Hawaiian language
The Hawaiian language is a Polynesian language that takes its name from Hawaii, the largest island in the tropical North Pacific archipelago where it developed. Hawaiian, along with English, is an official language of the state of Hawaii...

 alphabet is sometimes claimed to be as small, but it actually consists of 18 letters, including the ʻokina
Okina
The okina, also called by several other names , is a unicameral consonant letter used within the Latin script to mark the phonetic glottal stop, as it is used in many Polynesian languages.- Geographic names in the United States :...

 and five long vowels.) While Rotokas has a small alphabet because it has few phonemes to represent (just eleven), Book Pahlavi was small because many letters had been conflated—that is, the graphic distinctions had been lost over time, and diacritics were not developed to compensate for this as they were in Arabic
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

, another script that lost many of its distinct letter shapes. For example, a comma-shaped letter represented g, d, y, k, or j. However, such apparent simplifications can perversely make a script more complicated. In later Pahlavi papyri
Papyrus
Papyrus is a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt....

, up to half of the remaining graphic distinctions of these twelve letters were lost, and the script could no longer be read as a sequence of letters at all, but instead each word had to be learned as a whole—that is, they had become logogram
Logogram
A logogram, or logograph, is a grapheme which represents a word or a morpheme . This stands in contrast to phonograms, which represent phonemes or combinations of phonemes, and determinatives, which mark semantic categories.Logograms are often commonly known also as "ideograms"...

s as in Egyptian Demotic. The alphabet in the Polish language contains 32 letters.

The largest segmental script is probably an abugida, Devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

. When written in Devanagari, Vedic Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 has an alphabet of 53 letters, including the visarga mark for final aspiration and special letters for and jñ, though one of the letters is theoretical and not actually used. The Hindi alphabet must represent both Sanskrit and modern vocabulary, and so has been expanded to 58 with the khutma letters (letters with a dot added) to represent sounds from Persian and English.

The largest known abjad is Sindhi
Sindhi language
Sindhi is the language of the Sindh region of Pakistan that is spoken by the Sindhi people. In India, it is among 22 constitutionally recognized languages, where Sindhis are a sizeable minority. It is spoken by 53,410,910 people in Pakistan, according to the national government's Statistics Division...

, with 51 letters. The largest alphabets in the narrow sense include Kabardian
Kabardian language
The Kabardian language, also known as East Circassian , is a Northwest Caucasian language, closely related to the Adyghe language. It is spoken mainly in the Russian republics of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia and in Turkey and the Middle East...

 and Abkhaz
Abkhaz language
Abkhaz is a Northwest Caucasian language spoken mainly by the Abkhaz people. It is the official language of Abkhazia where around 100,000 people speak it. Furthermore, it is spoken by thousands of members of the Abkhazian diaspora in Turkey, Georgia's autonomous republic of Adjara, Syria, Jordan...

 (for Cyrillic), with 58 and 56 letters, respectively, and Slovak
Slovak language
Slovak , is an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages .Slovak is the official language of Slovakia, where it is spoken by 5 million people...

 (for the Latin script), with 46. However, these scripts either count di- and tri-graphs
Digraph (orthography)
A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used to write one phoneme or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined...

 as separate letters, as Spanish did with ch and ll until recently, or uses diacritic
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

s like Slovak č. The largest true alphabet where each letter is graphically independent is probably Georgian
Georgian alphabet
The Georgian alphabet is the writing system used to write the Georgian language and other Kartvelian languages , and occasionally other languages of the Caucasus such as Ossetic and Abkhaz during the 1940s...

, with 41 letters.

Syllabaries typically contain 50 to 400 glyphs (though the Múra-Pirahã language of Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 would require only 24 if it did not denote tone, and Rotokas would require only 30), and the glyphs of logographic systems typically number from the many hundreds into the thousands. Thus a simple count of the number of distinct symbols is an important clue to the nature of an unknown script.

Alphabetic order

It is not always clear what constitutes a distinct alphabet. French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 uses the same basic alphabet as English, but many of the letters can carry additional marks, such as é, à, and ô. In French, these combinations are not considered to be additional letters. However, in Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

, the accented letters such as á, í, and ö are considered to be distinct letters of the alphabet. In Spanish, ñ is considered a separate letter, but accented vowels such as á and é are not. The ll and ch were also considered single letters, but in 1994 the Real Academia Española
Real Academia Española
The Royal Spanish Academy is the official royal institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language. It is based in Madrid, Spain, but is affiliated with national language academies in twenty-one other hispanophone nations through the Association of Spanish Language Academies...

 changed collating order so that ll is between lk and lm in the dictionary and ch is between cg and ci, and in 2010 the tenth congress of the Association of Spanish Language Academies
Association of Spanish Language Academies
The Association of Spanish Language Academies is the entity which regulates the Spanish language. It was created in Mexico in 1951 and represents the union of all the separate academies in the Spanish-speaking world....

 changed it so they were no longer letters at all

In German, words starting with sch- (constituting the German phoneme ʃ) would be intercalated between words with initial sca- and sci- (all incidentally loanwords) instead of this graphic cluster appearing after the letter s, as though it were a single letter—a lexicographical
Lexicography
Lexicography is divided into two related disciplines:*Practical lexicography is the art or craft of compiling, writing and editing dictionaries....

 policy which would be de rigueur in a dictionary of Albanian
Albanian alphabet
The modern Albanian alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet, and consists of 36 letters:Note: The vowels are shown in bold. to the pronunciation of the letters.-History:...

, i.e. dh-, ë-, gj-, ll-, rr-, th-, xh- and zh- (all representing phonemes and considered separate single letters) would follow the letters d, e, g, l, n, r, t, x and z respectively. Nor is, in a dictionary of English, the lexical section with initial th- reserved a place after the letter t, but is inserted between te- and ti-. German words with umlaut would further be alphabetized as if there were no umlaut at all—contrary to Turkish
Turkish alphabet
The Turkish alphabet is a Latin alphabet used for writing the Turkish language, consisting of 29 letters, seven of which have been modified from their Latin originals for the phonetic requirements of the language. This alphabet represents modern Turkish pronunciation with a high degree of accuracy...

 which allegedly adopted the German
German alphabet
The modern German alphabet is an extended Latin alphabet consisting of 30 letters – the same letters that are found in the Basic modern Latin alphabet plus four extra letters.In German, the individual letters have neuter gender: das A, das B etc....

 graphemes ö and ü, and where a word like tüfek, "gun", would come after tuz, "salt", in the dictionary.

The Danish and Norwegian alphabet
Danish and Norwegian alphabet
The Danish and Norwegian alphabet is based upon the Latin alphabet and has consisted of the following 29 letters since 1917 and 1955 , although Danish did not officially recognize the W as a separate letter until 1980....

s end with æøå, whereas the Swedish, Finnish and Estonian ones conventionally put åäö at the end.

Some adaptations of the Latin alphabet are augmented with ligatures
Ligature (typography)
In writing and typography, a ligature occurs where two or more graphemes are joined as a single glyph. Ligatures usually replace consecutive characters sharing common components and are part of a more general class of glyphs called "contextual forms", where the specific shape of a letter depends on...

, such as æ
Æ
Æ is a grapheme formed from the letters a and e. Originally a ligature representing a Latin diphthong, it has been promoted to the full status of a letter in the alphabets of some languages, including Danish, Faroese, Norwegian and Icelandic...

 in Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

 and Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

 and Ȣ
Ou (letter)
Ou is a ligature of the Greek letters ο and υ which was frequently used in Byzantine manuscripts. This ligature is still seen today on icon artwork in Greek Orthodox churches, and sometimes in graffiti or other forms of informal or decorative writing.The ligature is now mostly used in the context...

 in Algonquian
Algonquian languages
The Algonquian languages also Algonkian) are a subfamily of Native American languages which includes most of the languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically similar Algonquin dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is a...

; by borrowings from other alphabets, such as the thorn
Thorn (letter)
Thorn or þorn , is a letter in the Old English, Old Norse, and Icelandic alphabets, as well as some dialects of Middle English. It was also used in medieval Scandinavia, but was later replaced with the digraph th. The letter originated from the rune in the Elder Fuþark, called thorn in the...

 þ in Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

 and Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

, which came from the Futhark
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

 runes; and by modifying existing letters, such as the eth ð of Old English and Icelandic, which is a modified d. Other alphabets only use a subset of the Latin alphabet, such as Hawaiian, and Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

, which uses the letters j, k, x, y and w only in foreign words.

It is unknown whether the earliest alphabets had a defined sequence. Some alphabets today, such as the Hanuno'o script
Hanunó'o script
Hanunó’o is one of the indigenous scripts of the Philippines and is used by the Mangyan people of southern Mindoro to write the Hanunó’o language. It is an abugida descended from the Indic scripts, closely related to Baybayin, and is famous for being written vertical but written upward, rather than...

, are learned one letter at a time, in no particular order, and are not used for collation
Collation
Collation is the assembly of written information into a standard order. One common type of collation is called alphabetization, though collation is not limited to ordering letters of the alphabet...

 where a definite order is required. However, a dozen Ugaritic
Ugaritic alphabet
The Ugaritic script is a cuneiform abjad used from around 1400 BCE for Ugaritic, an extinct Northwest Semitic language, and discovered in Ugarit , Syria, in 1928. It has 30 letters...

 tablets from the fourteenth century BCE preserve the alphabet in two sequences. One, the ABCDE order later used in Phoenician, has continued with minor changes in Hebrew
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

, Greek
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

, Armenian
Armenian alphabet
The Armenian alphabet is an alphabet that has been used to write the Armenian language since the year 405 or 406. It was devised by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader, and contained originally 36 letters. Two more letters, օ and ֆ, were added in the Middle Ages...

, Gothic
Gothic alphabet
The Gothic alphabet is an alphabet for writing the Gothic language, created in the 4th century by Ulfilas for the purpose of translating the Christian Bible....

, Cyrillic
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

, and Latin
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

; the other, HMĦLQ, was used in southern Arabia and is preserved today in Ethiopic
Ge'ez alphabet
Ge'ez , also called Ethiopic, is a script used as an abugida for several languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea but originated in an abjad used to write Ge'ez, now the liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Church...

. Both orders have therefore been stable for at least 3000 years.

The historical order was abandoned in Runic
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

 and Arabic
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

, although Arabic retains the traditional "abjadi order" for numbering.

The Brahmic family
Brahmic family
The Brahmic or Indic scripts are a family of abugida writing systems. They are used throughout South Asia , Southeast Asia, and parts of Central and East Asia, and are descended from the Brāhmī script of the ancient Indian subcontinent...

 of alphabets used in India use a unique order based on phonology
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

: The letters are arranged according to how and where they are produced in the mouth. This organization is used in Southeast Asia, Tibet, Korean hangul
Hangul
Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

, and even Japanese kana
Kana
Kana are the syllabic Japanese scripts, as opposed to the logographic Chinese characters known in Japan as kanji and the Roman alphabet known as rōmaji...

, which is not an alphabet.

The Phoenician letter names, in which each letter is associated with a word that begins with that sound, continue to be used in Samaritan
Samaritan alphabet
The Samaritan alphabet is used by the Samaritans for religious writings, including the Samaritan Pentateuch, writings in Samaritan Hebrew, and for commentaries and translations in Samaritan Aramaic and occasionally Arabic....

, Aramaic
Aramaic alphabet
The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BC. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels....

, Syriac
Syriac alphabet
The Syriac alphabet is a writing system primarily used to write the Syriac language from around the 2nd century BC . It is one of the Semitic abjads directly descending from the Aramaic alphabet and shares similarities with the Phoenician, Hebrew, Arabic, and the traditional Mongolian alphabets.-...

, Hebrew
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

, and Greek
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

. However, they were abandoned in Arabic
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

, Cyrillic
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

 and Latin
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

.

Orthography and spelling

Each language may establish rules that govern the association between letters and phonemes, but, depending on the language, these rules may or may not be consistently followed. In a perfectly phonological
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

 alphabet, the phonemes and letters would correspond perfectly in two directions: a writer could predict the spelling of a word given its pronunciation, and a speaker could predict the pronunciation of a word given its spelling.

However, the pronunciation of a language often evolves independently of its writing system, and writing systems have been borrowed for languages they were not designed for, so the degree to which letters of an alphabet correspond to phonemes of a language varies greatly from one language to another and even within a single language.

Languages may fail to achieve a one-to-one correspondence between letters and sounds in any of several ways:
  • A language may represent a given phoneme with a combination of letters rather than just a single letter. Two-letter combinations are called digraph
    Digraph (orthography)
    A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used to write one phoneme or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined...

    s and three-letter groups are called trigraph
    Trigraph (orthography)
    A trigraph is a group of three letters used to represent a single sound or a combination of sounds that does not correspond to the written letters combined. For example, in the word schilling, the trigraph sch represents the voiceless postalveolar fricative , rather than the consonant cluster...

    s. German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

     uses the tesseragraphs (four letters) "tsch" for the phoneme tʃ and "dsch" for [dʒ], although the latter is rare. Kabardian
    Kabardian language
    The Kabardian language, also known as East Circassian , is a Northwest Caucasian language, closely related to the Adyghe language. It is spoken mainly in the Russian republics of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia and in Turkey and the Middle East...

     also uses a tesseragraph for one of its phonemes.
  • A language may represent the same phoneme with two different letters or combinations of letters. An example is modern Greek
    Modern Greek
    Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

     which may write the phoneme i in six different ways: ⟨ι⟩, ⟨η⟩, ⟨υ⟩, ⟨ει⟩, ⟨οι⟩, and ⟨υι⟩ (although the last is rare).
  • A language may spell some words with unpronounced letters that exist for historical or other reasons. For example, the spelling of the Thai word for "beer" [เบียร์] retains a letter for the final consonant "r" present in the English word it was borrowed from, but silences it. Otherwise, according to Thai pronunciation rules, the word might be pronounced more like "bean".
  • Pronunciation of individual words may change according to the presence of surrounding words in a sentence (sandhi
    Sandhi
    Sandhi is a cover term for a wide variety of phonological processes that occur at morpheme or word boundaries . Examples include the fusion of sounds across word boundaries and the alteration of sounds due to neighboring sounds or due to the grammatical function of adjacent words...

    ).
  • Different dialects of a language may use different phonemes for the same word.
  • A language may use different sets of symbols or different rules for distinct sets of vocabulary items, such as the Japanese hiragana
    Hiragana
    is a Japanese syllabary, one basic component of the Japanese writing system, along with katakana, kanji, and the Latin alphabet . Hiragana and katakana are both kana systems, in which each character represents one mora...

     and katakana
    Katakana
    is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji, and in some cases the Latin alphabet . The word katakana means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana scripts are derived from components of more complex kanji. Each kana represents one mora...

     syllabaries, or the various rules in English for spelling words from Latin and Greek, or the original Germanic
    Germanic languages
    The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

     vocabulary.


National languages generally elect to address the problem of dialects by simply associating the alphabet with the national standard. However, with an international language with wide variations in its dialects, such as English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, it would be impossible to represent the language in all its variations with a single phonetic alphabet.

Some national languages like Finnish
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

, Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 and Bulgarian
Bulgarian language
Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

 have a very regular spelling system with a nearly one-to-one correspondence between letters and phonemes. Strictly speaking, there is no word in the Finnish, Turkish and Bulgarian languages corresponding to the verb "to spell" (meaning to split a word into its letters), the closest match being a verb meaning to split a word into its syllables. Similarly, the Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 verb corresponding to 'spell', compitare, is unknown to many Italians because the act of spelling itself is almost never needed: each phoneme of Standard Italian is represented in only one way. However, pronunciation cannot always be predicted from spelling in cases of irregular syllabic stress. In standard Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, it is possible to tell the pronunciation of a word from its spelling, but not vice versa; this is because certain phonemes can be represented in more than one way, but a given letter is consistently pronounced. French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, with its silent letter
Silent letter
In an alphabetic writing system, a silent letter is a letter that, in a particular word, does not correspond to any sound in the word's pronunciation...

s and its heavy use of nasal vowel
Nasal vowel
A nasal vowel is a vowel that is produced with a lowering of the velum so that air escapes both through nose as well as the mouth. By contrast, oral vowels are ordinary vowels without this nasalisation...

s and elision
Elision
Elision is the omission of one or more sounds in a word or phrase, producing a result that is easier for the speaker to pronounce...

, may seem to lack much correspondence between spelling and pronunciation, but its rules on pronunciation are actually consistent and predictable with a fair degree of accuracy.

At the other extreme, are languages such as English, where the spelling of many words simply has to be memorized as they do not correspond to sounds in a consistent way. For English, this is partly because the Great Vowel Shift
Great Vowel Shift
The Great Vowel Shift was a major change in the pronunciation of the English language that took place in England between 1350 and 1500.The Great Vowel Shift was first studied by Otto Jespersen , a Danish linguist and Anglicist, who coined the term....

 occurred after the orthography was established, and because English has acquired a large number of loanwords at different times, retaining their original spelling at varying levels. Even English has general, albeit complex, rules that predict pronunciation from spelling, and these rules are successful most of the time; rules to predict spelling from the pronunciation have a higher failure rate.

Sometimes, countries have the written language undergo a spelling reform
Spelling reform
Many languages have undergone spelling reform, where a deliberate, often officially sanctioned or mandated, change to spelling takes place. Proposals for such reform are also common....

 to realign the writing with the contemporary spoken language. These can range from simple spelling changes and word forms to switching the entire writing system itself, as when Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 switched from the Arabic alphabet to the Roman alphabet.

The sounds of speech of all languages of the world can be written by a rather small universal phonetic alphabet. A standard for this is the International Phonetic Alphabet
International Phonetic Alphabet
The International Phonetic Alphabet "The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself that resistance seems pedantic...

.

English alphabet

A
A
A is the first letter and a vowel in the basic modern Latin alphabet. It is similar to the Ancient Greek letter Alpha, from which it derives.- Origins :...

, B
B
B is the second letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet. It is used to represent a variety of bilabial sounds , most commonly a voiced bilabial plosive.-History:...

, C
C
Ĉ or ĉ is a consonant in Esperanto orthography, representing the sound .Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for all four of its postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets...

, D
D
D is the fourth letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.- History :The Semitic letter Dâlet may have developed from the logogram for a fish or a door. There are various Egyptian hieroglyphs that might have inspired this. In Semitic, Ancient Greek, and Latin, the letter represented ; in the...

, E
E
E is the fifth letter and a vowel in the basic modern Latin alphabet. It is the most commonly used letter in the Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Latin, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish languages.-History:...

, F
F
F is the sixth letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.-History:The origin of ⟨f⟩ is the Semitic letter vâv that represented a sound like or . Graphically, it originally probably depicted either a hook or a club...

, G
G
G is the seventh letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.-History:The letter 'G' was introduced in the Old Latin period as a variant of ⟨c⟩ to distinguish voiced, from voiceless, . The recorded originator of ⟨g⟩ is freedman Spurius Carvilius Ruga, the first Roman to open a fee-paying school,...

, H
H
H .) is the eighth letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.-History:The Semitic letter ⟨ח⟩ most likely represented the voiceless pharyngeal fricative . The form of the letter probably stood for a fence or posts....

, I
I
I is the ninth letter and a vowel in the basic modern Latin alphabet.-History:In Semitic, the letter may have originated in a hieroglyph for an arm that represented a voiced pharyngeal fricative in Egyptian, but was reassigned to by Semites, because their word for "arm" began with that sound...

, J
J
Ĵ or ĵ is a letter in Esperanto orthography representing the sound .While Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for its four postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets, the base letters are Romano-Germanic...

, K
K
K is the eleventh letter of the English and basic modern Latin alphabet.-History and usage:In English, the letter K usually represents the voiceless velar plosive; this sound is also transcribed by in the International Phonetic Alphabet and X-SAMPA....

, L
L
Ł or ł, described in English as L with stroke, is a letter of the Polish, Kashubian, Sorbian, Łacinka , Łatynka , Wilamowicean, Navajo, Dene Suline, Inupiaq, Zuni, Hupa, and Dogrib alphabets, several proposed alphabets for the Venetian language, and the ISO 11940 romanization of the Thai alphabet...

, M
M
M is the thirteenth letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet.-History:The letter M is derived from the Phoenician Mem, via the Greek Mu . Semitic Mem probably originally pictured water...

, N
N
N is the fourteenth letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.- History of the forms :One of the most common hieroglyphs, snake, was used in Egyptian writing to stand for a sound like English ⟨J⟩, because the Egyptian word for "snake" was djet...

, O
O
O is the fifteenth letter and a vowel in the basic modern Latin alphabet.The letter was derived from the Semitic `Ayin , which represented a consonant, probably , the sound represented by the Arabic letter ع called `Ayn. This Semitic letter in its original form seems to have been inspired by a...

, P
P
P is the sixteenth letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet.-Usage:In English and most other European languages, P is a voiceless bilabial plosive. Both initial and final Ps can be combined with many other discrete consonants in English words...

, Q
Q
Q is the seventeenth letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet.- History :The Semitic sound value of Qôp was , a sound common to Semitic languages, but not found in English or most Indo-European ones...

, R
R
R is the eighteenth letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet.-History:The original Semitic letter may have been inspired by an Egyptian hieroglyph for tp, "head". It was used for by Semites because in their language, the word for "head" was rêš . It developed into Greek Ρ and Latin R...

, S
S
S is the nineteenth letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.-History: Semitic Šîn represented a voiceless postalveolar fricative . Greek did not have this sound, so the Greek sigma came to represent...

, T
T
T is the 20th letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet. It is the most commonly used consonant and the second most common letter in the English language.- History :Taw was the last letter of the Western Semitic and Hebrew alphabets...

, U
U
U is the twenty-first letter and a vowel in the basic modern Latin alphabet.-History:The letter U ultimately comes from the Semitic letter Waw by way of the letter Y. See the letter Y for details....

, V
V
V is the twenty-second letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.-Letter:The letter V comes from the Semitic letter Waw, as do the modern letters F, U, W, and Y. See F for details....

, W
W
W is the 23rd letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.In other Germanic languages, including German, its pronunciation is similar or identical to that of English V...

, X
X
X is the twenty-fourth letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.-Uses:In mathematics, x is commonly used as the name for an independent variable or unknown value. The usage of x to represent an independent or unknown variable can be traced back to the Arabic word šay شيء = “thing,” used in Arabic...

, Y
Y
Y is the twenty-fifth letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet and represents either a vowel or a consonant in English.-Name:In Latin, Y was named Y Graeca "Greek Y". This was pronounced as I Graeca "Greek I", since Latin speakers had trouble pronouncing , which was not a native sound...

, Z
Z
Z is the twenty-sixth and final letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet.-Name and pronunciation:In most dialects of English, the letter's name is zed , reflecting its derivation from the Greek zeta but in American English, its name is zee , deriving from a late 17th century English dialectal...


See also

  • ABC-DEF-GHI
  • Abecedarium
    Abecedarium
    An abecedarium is an inscription consisting of the letters of an alphabet, almost always listed in order. Typically, abecedaria are practice exercises....

  • Acrophony
    Acrophony
    Acrophony is the naming of letters of an alphabetic writing system so that a letter's name begins with the letter itself. For example, Greek letter names are acrophonic: the names of the letters α, β, γ, δ, are spelled with the respective letters: ....

  • Akshara
    Akshara
    Akshara may mean:*"letter" in Hindi*"everlasting" or "imperishable"*in Sanskrit grammar, "syllable", see Shiksha*a consonant grapheme, with an inherent vowel, of a script of the Brahmic family....

  • Alphabet Effect
    Alphabet Effect
    The alphabet effect is a group of hypotheses in communication theory arguing that phonetic writing, and alphabetic scripts in particular, have served to promote and encourage the cognitive skills of abstraction, analysis, coding, decoding, and classification...

  • Alphabet song
    Alphabet song
    An alphabet song is any of various songs used to teach children an alphabet, used in kindergartens, pre-schools and homes around the world. Alphabet songs typically follow the alphabetic principle...

  • Alphabetical order
    Collation
    Collation is the assembly of written information into a standard order. One common type of collation is called alphabetization, though collation is not limited to ordering letters of the alphabet...

  • Alphabetize
  • Butterfly Alphabet
    Butterfly Alphabet
    The Butterfly Alphabet is a photographic work done by the Norwegian born photographer Kjell B. Sandved. Sandved worked at National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C...

  • Character encoding
    Character encoding
    A character encoding system consists of a code that pairs each character from a given repertoire with something else, such as a sequence of natural numbers, octets or electrical pulses, in order to facilitate the transmission of data through telecommunication networks or storage of text in...

  • Constructed script
    Constructed script
    A constructed script is a new writing system specifically created by an individual or group, rather than having evolved as part of a language or culture like a natural script...

  • Cyrillic alphabet
    Cyrillic alphabet
    The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

  • English alphabet
    English alphabet
    The modern English alphabet is a Latin alphabet consisting of 26 letters and 2 ligatures – the same letters that are found in the Basic modern Latin alphabet:...

  • Hangul
    Hangul
    Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

  • ICAO spelling alphabet
  • Lipogram
    Lipogram
    A lipogram is a kind of constrained writing or word game consisting of writing paragraphs or longer works in which a particular letter or group of letters is avoided — usually a common vowel, and frequently "E", the most common letter in the English language.Writing a lipogram is a trivial task...

  • List of alphabets
  • Pangram
    Pangram
    A pangram , or holoalphabetic sentence, is a sentence using every letter of the alphabet at least once. Pangrams have been used to display typefaces, test equipment, and develop skills in handwriting, calligraphy, and keyboarding...

  • Thai script
  • Transliteration
    Transliteration
    Transliteration is a subset of the science of hermeneutics. It is a form of translation, and is the practice of converting a text from one script into another...

  • Unicode
    Unicode
    Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...



External links

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