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Questions tagged [alphabets]

A set of letters that represent phonemes, used to write one or more languages.

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Is there a language in which "K" comes first in alphabet?

Our instructor of a group project I was a part of has asked us to arrange the authors' names in alphabetical order. Since he hasn't specified which alphabetical order to use, and my name happens to ...
AlphaLife's user avatar
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1 answer
114 views

How many dimensions do phonemes have?

I was wondering if there was a better or alternative ordering for the letters of the English alphabet, than the standard “a b c d e …”. This led me to wonder by what parameters they would be ordered. ...
Julius Hamilton's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
1k views

How would vowel-heavy names be written in a pure abjad?

There are a lot of names like "Ai", "Kai", "Anita", or "Amari" that would be quite tricky to infer based on the consonants. Disregarding abjads with matres ...
John Greene's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
140 views

Did the Phoenician letter 𐤄 have any meaning on its own or in earlier writing systems?

Obviously Phoenician was an alphabetical writing system, where characters combine phonetically to build words. But Wikipedia claims (implies?) both that the Phoenician letter "he" evolved ...
ShapeOfMatter's user avatar
7 votes
4 answers
2k views

Are there clear exceptions to the alleged universality of "alphabet" as a term used in all languages

In the book The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick there is a bold claim: In all the languages of earth there is only one word for alphabet (alfabet, alfabeto, алфавит, ...
Brian Z's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
131 views

The vowel used when pronouncing a consonant/reciting the alphabet

While this answer talks about how the names of letters are pronounced, my question is how we came up with this way of naming consonants. Is there an official term for the standard vowels used in the ...
ang_rq's user avatar
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1 answer
341 views

Is "alpha-" and "-bet", in the word "alphabet", related to the first two letters "A" (alpha) and "B" (beta)? [closed]

I was reading the book The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick. Towards the beginning (third paragraph) of chapter three, titled Two Wordbooks, the author writes - The alphabet, ...
Anirban Chakraborty's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
276 views

What subdiscipline of linguistics studies the relationship between writing and pronunciation?

Most European languages use some variation of the Latin alphabet. However, while most of them seem to broadly agree on what sounds most of the individual letters represent (with some minor differences,...
Dragomok's user avatar
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17 votes
1 answer
4k views

Why isn't there a letter for /b/ sound in Greek alphabet while they have the sound?

In Greek the letter B sounds /v/; for example we have Vanadium which is Βανάδιο in Greek which in turn is transliterated as Vanάdio in English. But what about when we have a /b/ sound? For example, we ...
Snack Exchange's user avatar
18 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why did the consonant clusters /ks/ and /ps/ merit their own designated letters in Ancient Greek?

Ancient Greek had many consonant clusters, like /pn/ in pneuma, /bd/ in bdellion, and /pt/ in pteron. But for some reason, /ks/ (ξ) and /ps/ (ψ) received special real estate in the 24-letter Greek ...
Fomalhaut's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
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How many people of the world does the "switch language" icon cover?

I've noticed this icon popping up in a few places, to mean "languages": I'm curious how many languages of the world this icon covers. Of course it would cover English, and indeed any ...
Nacht's user avatar
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2 answers
420 views

There are roughly 46 speech sounds in the English language, however only 26 letters. Why?

There are roughly 44-46 speech sounds in the English language. However, we just have 26 letters which denote some of those 44-46 sounds. Why is that? Why we don't represent each of those 44-46 sounds ...
Harshit Rajput's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
103 views

What letters are used in different European languages for naming things by letters? [closed]

What letters are used in different European languages for naming things by letters? In Finnish, all 29 letters (also Å, Ä, Ö) are used in naming. But in Czech, letters with diacritics (e.g. Á, Š, Ů) ...
Poiponen's user avatar
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Are there any more optimal tactile alphabets than Braille?

Sorry if this is the wrong stackexchange to ask this. Consider how QWERTY was the first keyboard layout, but isn't nearly optimal (e.g. Dvorak is much better and used overwhelmingly by top speed-...
chausies's user avatar
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-1 votes
2 answers
121 views

What is the linguistical terminology for (and if) letters of a given alphabet have(ing) their inherent meaning?

Letters or phonemes. Letters, like runes according to this article: https://sonsofvikings.com/apps/fireamp/blogs/history/viking-runes-guide-runic-alphabet-meanings-nordic-celtic-letters At least that'...
BitMiller's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
460 views

Why does lower case "a" look so different from capital "A"?

Despite my best efforts, I can not find the answer specifically for "a" online. For the rest of the letters of the Latin alphabet, I can see the connection between the different forms (...
Quintus Caesius - RM's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
631 views

Why do the Hebrew characters look so different from Greek, Latin, even Phoenician?

Why do the Hebrew characters look so different? See, for example: chart of letters If I look at Greek, Phoenician, etc. I can still see similarities (maybe with rotations or flipping of characters) ...
guest's user avatar
  • 31
35 votes
3 answers
7k views

Why isn’t the letter “G” immediately after “C” in the alphabet?

I have absolutely no formal linguistics background, but I enjoy learning about it a lot. I’ve seen multiple times before how the alphabet mutated from Roman times to our own: The letter “J” was a ...
Gauss's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
289 views

What's the name of the principle that derives the sound of a symbol from the name of the thing that that the symbol depicts?

What do we call it when the Initial sound of a word, eg. beth vel sim. "house", is assigned to a symbol of that word, eg. the floorplan of a house(?), to use the sign as the unique ...
vectory's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
870 views

Where did the Greek consonant cluster "ps" come from

Where did the Greek consonant cluster "ps" come from? I tried finding resources to track down this fun-sounding consonant cluster but came with no information. I was thinking about a voicing ...
Jasperrolla's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
91 views

Is the Latin alphabet the most widely known in the world?

Note: By "Latin alphabet," I'm referring to the 26 letters (A-Z) that English uses. Sorry if this is the wrong term (I don't want to call it the "English alphabet" since it's used ...
Kyle Lin's user avatar
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10 votes
4 answers
1k views

Is there a collective term for the Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek alphabets?

I was just wondering if such a term exists, since they are very similar to each other, and all of them derive from the Greek alphabet, so I thought perhaps there might be a collective term for the ...
Quintus Caesius - RM's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
188 views

Why are E and É both part of the Hungarian and Icelandic alphabets but the English and French alphabets only have E?

The letters "E" and "É" occur in English, French, Hungarian, Icelandic, and other languages. However, the Hungarian and Icelandic alphabets include both "E" and "É&...
SarahSE's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
340 views

Middle English: y or ȝ

Lately I've been looking up the Middle English of many Modern English words via Wiktionary. It was my understanding that by this point in the history of English ȝ was in heavy use. Yet these ...
Rubellite Fae's user avatar
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0 answers
238 views

Were there pictographic glyph variants of letters, like multiocular O (ꙮ) for the word 'many-eyed' etc. in Cyrillic, in any other alphabets?

Were there pictographic glyphs of letters that were used in some special words in any other alphabets and languages? Like multiocular O (ꙮ) in word 'many-eyed', double monocular O (Ꙭ) for the plural ...
Julja Muvv's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why are J, U, W considered part of the basic Latin Alphabet?

J, U, W are included in ISO basic Latin alphabet which consists of 26 letters. However, The classic Latin has only 23 letters, and J was only used as a variant of I as σ do to ς. J, U were not ...
Schezuk's user avatar
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-7 votes
1 answer
216 views

Evolution of the latin capital and small letters [closed]

So, let us divide the letters into four categories. Ii Kk Ll Vv Ww Xx Zz are all made of straight lines. Cc Oo Ss are all made of curves. Bb Dd Gg Jj Pp Qq Rr Uu are made of both straight lines and ...
Arunabh's user avatar
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4 votes
4 answers
327 views

Generic name for Hànzì/Kanji/Hanja/Chữ nôm/Sawndip?

So I was thinking about how to talk about these characters in a culturally-neutral way. Chinese seems to be used, but it implies a particular way of writing characters (not to mention it makes it ...
Chris Slojkowski's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
629 views

What part of speech is a letter?

I wanted to know what part of speech a letter might be or I wanted to see if I understand letters. Do people ask this question in this place? Or am I in the place where people would ask this? I asked ...
user6779864's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
96 views

Evolution of Greek San from Phoenician Tṣadē

It is generally agreed that the Greek letter San developed from the Phoenician Tṣadē, but I'm not sure I see the graphical similarity. The Phoenician form does bear some resemblance to the Greek form ...
user17584's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
197 views

Why did Χ and Ψ have such different sounds in early Eastern and Western Greek?

Why did Χ and Ψ have such different sounds in early Eastern and Western Greek? Which sounds are older? If the Western, why were both Ξ and Χ created to denote [ks] (note that they both appear in the ...
user17584's user avatar
  • 109
1 vote
0 answers
88 views

Is there a reconstruction of the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet that's consistent with meaningful translations of all known Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions?

Including those from Wadi el-Ḥol, Serabit el-Khadim, Lahun, and Bir en-Naṣb. I know that we can't yet prove that any reconstruction is accurate, but is there one that is at least consistent with ...
Nathan Tracey's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
172 views

Will we ever decipher the Wadi el-Ḥol and Serabit el-Khadim inscriptions? [closed]

In his book Letter perfect: the marvelous history of our alphabet from A to Z, David Sacks says that we'll probably never decipher the Wadi el-Ḥol inscriptions (and he was probably implying the same ...
Nathan Tracey's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
780 views

Where does the letter <j> come from to some Cyrillic alphabets?

Most South-West languages of Slavic language family, like Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin, include the Latin letter in their alphabets, which has not been a part of Cyrillic writing system they're ...
user avatar
-4 votes
3 answers
402 views

Why are the names of the letters different across languages using the Latin script?

I have noticed that the Spanish alphabet has the 26 letters + the consonant ñ, which is pronounced like the "ny" in "canyón". But out of the remaining 26 letters, I have noticed ...
Arunabh's user avatar
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4 votes
3 answers
447 views

Why do we make a distinction between letters and punctuation marks?

In English, for example, the word "don't" is made up of 4 letters ("d", "o", "n" and "t"), and one punctuation mark ("'"). However, there seems to me to be no reason for this distinction. Without any ...
Tim's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
118 views

Extract strings of a certain language from a dataframe in python

I have a pandas DataFrame that contains a column with sentences from different languages (6 languages). The DataFrame also contains a column which states which language the corresponding sentence ...
Michael Schroter's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
345 views

Why does the NATO Spelling alphabet contain words with more than two syllables

I always wondered why the NATO Spelling Alphabet has words with three syllables in it. I know it was extensively researched, so there must be a reason, but it seems odd to me. One syllable seems ...
lode's user avatar
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7 votes
2 answers
2k views

(Why) did the Thai script convert Sanskrit द /d/ to /th/ and then introduce its own character for /d/?

The first section of the Thai alphabet/abugida seems to follow Sanskrit pretty closely, with just a couple of additions. I believe that Sanskrit had the consonant /d/, which is represented by द in ...
JD2000's user avatar
  • 462
1 vote
1 answer
1k views

Where do I get a list of all/many alphabets as strings or JSON or CSV data?

I have this manually typed in for "English: abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ I'm trying to find a nice, authoritative source for "all" or "many" other alphabets. For example, ...
alpha pet's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
251 views

Estimating the number of words in a language before invention of alphabet

Here is my question from the title: Given a (natural) language with its writing system based on an alphabet, are there any theories giving (quantitative) estimates on the number of words the ...
Hayk's user avatar
  • 143
12 votes
8 answers
913 views

Do multi-dimensional writing systems exist?

I am not sure whether linguistics board is the right place to ask this question, but since I couldn't find any better place here is the question: Most (all?) of the writing systems are using the ...
Diagon's user avatar
  • 121
1 vote
0 answers
271 views

Does an alphabet with the uniform letter frequency distribution exist?

A language employs some kind of alphabet for writing. One could naïvely expect that each letter bears the same amount of entropy. But in reality that is not the case. For example in English each ...
PF4Public's user avatar
  • 111
2 votes
3 answers
331 views

Is left-to-right scripting better than right-to-left?

I'm Iranian and here, Arabic script is what is used. many litterateurs believe that this script is not good for the Persian language and many of them think that it should be changed. one of the ...
Peyman's user avatar
  • 141
11 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why is Greek alphabet left-to-right?

The Greek alphabet and all of its child systems such as Roman, Cyrillic, and Gothic are conventionally left-to-right writting systems. But why is that, considering it comes from the Phoenician ...
user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
1k views

Density of information/semantic of Chinese and Korean language versus european languages

Some years ago I had read an interesting article about how much information chinese people could put in one tweet of 140 characters. But I cannot find again this article. I'm interested in having ...
Stephane Rolland's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
262 views

Arabic word for door from root d-l-t or d-l-th

I know that the Hebrew letter 'daleth' originates from the word for 'door', indeed the Modern Hebrew word for door is 'dalet'. Is there an Arabic word for door from this same root - d-l-t or d-l-th? ...
MJM's user avatar
  • 63
0 votes
3 answers
446 views

Alphabet size affects complexity of written ideas?

Do relatively simple alphabets (Rotokas, Hawaiian) limit the complexity of written ideas? Example: could Rotokas be used to write a technical manual for the space shuttle?
Chris's user avatar
  • 11
2 votes
1 answer
163 views

How common is it for languages using non-Latin alphabets to borrow English words while keeping both (transliterated) spelling and pronunciation?

To illustrate what I mean, hypothetically, Russian could borrow the word "peak" from English and transliterate it as "пеак", while still pronouncing it according to the English pronunciation [piːk]. ...
wodemingzi's user avatar
  • 1,067
1 vote
2 answers
874 views

Phonetic english alphabet using diacritical marks?

Does there exist a phonetic english alphabet constructed from standard english letters plus diacritical marks? For example, fine might be written fínė, such that í = aɪ and a letter with a dot is ...
geometrikal's user avatar