To suggest either/both readability or efficiency in typing?

English is less [is there a term to fill in here?] than Japanese: compared to English alphabets, the number of letters in hiragana + katakana + kanji set are much larger and each of them is more distinctive (the bigger size of each letter allows more strokes to make it more distinctive from other letters). This makes words shorter and of more readability while harder to type since you have to convert alphabets into kanji etc.

English is more [the same term used in the blank above] than some hypothetical language where you spell every word using only "p"s and "q"s (thus the words tend to be longer with less readability; probably easier to type since you have to use only two keys).

  • You're talking about the number of symbols used in the orthography? I don't think there's a word to refer specifically to that quantity as, in most languages, the number of orthographic symbols is based on the number of phonemes in the language being written, so it's the size of the 'phonemic inventory' that is important. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 22:56

1 Answer 1


The terms encoding density, information, and entropy circumscribe the property you are aiming at.

When you replace your p's and q's with zeroes and ones you are at the bits computer science deals with. Computing the entropy of the English writing system is a typical exercise in theoretical computer science (Note that not only the number of character but also their frequency counts).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.