I would like to know, besides Arabic itself, how many other separate languages (not including dialects) share the same letters with Arabic? I would like to have a complete list of all such languages (as I can seem to choose some of these from my keyboard's language settings, but I guess the list I have would be incomplete).

I am curious as to how these would work: I guess all of them would have no short vowels transcribed (with only long vowels appearing), feature glottal stops, etc. So, they should sound and be written similarly, despite featuring different vocabularies? What about the grammar they share, would it be similar (eg. Verb-Subject-Object structures)?

Do these languages in question have close to zero word overlap? Do they have any overlap at all with Arabic, and if so, what percentage would each of these have in common? If Arabic is the "Latin" of these separate languages (and this claim may also be false, sorry for my ignorance), then what percentage of words are borrowed from Arabic (as "loan words"?)?

I am interested in these "language demographics".

Thank you for your help.

EDIT: I am asking how many contemporary languages use the Arabic-script (with any of a small number of variations) as an official (or pseudo-official) writing system, and what is the list.

  • 2
    I see no reason why the use of a same alphabet would have effects on grammar sharing. It is also perfectly possible to use an alphabet, but giving the letters a completely different set of sounds. This was partly the case when the Cherokee syllabary writing was designed, taking some symbols from the latin alphabet.
    – bli
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 14:48
  • 1
    Even if accents, di- or trigraphs are more common, languages written in the Latin script also occasionally assign unusual letters to represent phonems, In English, the letter thorn (þ) was first replaced by the letter y and then later the digraph th was introduced for the voiceless dental fricative. Another current example is Catalan, which uses the letter x for the sh-sound, e.g. in 'xocolata'.
    – jarnbjo
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 17:34
  • Thank you for the theory and examples, but that does not answer my question at all: listing all languages which share a big chunk of alphabet with the Arabic alphabet (and I couldn't find any reference to this on Wikipedia). Thanks. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 8:26
  • Are you asking about official writing systems of national languages? Or are you asking how many languages are in an Arabic-script sphere of influence, where Arabic letters might be used to write a language that doesn't have an official writing system? Is this about current writing, or do you include historical writing?
    – user6726
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 4:16
  • 4
    Actually, it is very hard to answer, because our favorite source of information, Wikipedia, lies. It says that Somali is written in Arabic script, when in fact Somali used to be so written; likewise it says that the script is used for Coptic, Malayalam and so on. Individuals may do so, but Malayalam is not officially written in Arabic script. Singapore is a city, not a language. Some of their statements are true: Kazakh in China is written in Arabic script. It's hard to distinguish the lies from the truth.
    – user6726
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


SIL has lists of two varieties of Arabic script and languages that use them: mostly here, some here. This give about 250 languages, subject to the usual language-inflation that they engage in, and they list languages where some people do or used to use Arabic script (but it is not official).

  • +1 for "subject to the usual language-inflation that they [SIL] engage in" Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 12:19
  • What is the usual language inflation they engage in? Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 15:59
  • 4
    Promoting regional variants to the status of "language". They tend to split languages into multiple languages, where others would recognize the difference as being about "dialects". The question is where you set the bar, and I find that they set it low.
    – user6726
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 16:19

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