What Language Has the Largest Alphabet?

 

Languages like¬†Chinese, technically, do not use an alphabet but have an ideographic writing system. There are thousands of symbols (pictographs) in Chinese representing different words, syllables and concepts. Chinese Pinyin doesn’t use all of the letters in the Roman alphabet., although there are sounds that don’t exist in English.

The word alphabet refers to writing systems were each symbol represents one sound only, such as our own alphabet (with 26 letters).

The language with the most letters is Khmer (Cambodian), with 74 (including some without any current use). According to Guinness Book of World Records, 1995, the Khmer alphabet is the largest alphabet in the world. It consists of 33 consonants, 23 vowels and 12 independent vowels.

2 Comments

  1. […] humans of course speak languages with many letters; the Cambodian Khmer language has 74 characters! So how do you get a computer to understand all of that? In the early […]

  2. […] Inventing fictional systems of writing, on the other hand, is a far less daunting task than inventing a spoken (or even sign) language because, unless you’re going to create an ideographic one such as Hanzi, you have much fewer symbols to design. This is because alphabetic writing systems are used to represent phonetic sounds, of which there are a limited amount the human mouth can produce. Even if you don’t base your alphabet on any real-world example, as long as your letters are only meant to represent those sounds, you’re not going to require hundreds or thousands of symbols, such as you would need if they represented whole words or concepts. Most phonetic alphabets have no more than 33 distinct symbols. English, which uses the Roman alphabet, utilises only 26. The most letters any known alphabet (as opposed to ideographic writing systems) has is 74 (the Khmer alphabet). […]

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