Questions tagged [alphabets]

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

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16
votes
5answers
779 views

Is there any point in the current ordering of the letters in the alphabet?

I know we inherit our alphabets (including its ordering) from the Romans, and if we trace it further we will end up with the Phoenicians or some other civilizations in the ancient Middle East. Do (or ...
14
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2answers
529 views

Do all non-syllabic, non-logographic scripts have pronounceable names for their letters for spelling?

If you ask an English speaker to spell a word, there are specific, widely-known names for all the letters to fill this need. The same appears to be true for all Phoenician-derived alphabets that I can ...
12
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
12
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2answers
676 views

Is there an active alphabetic writing system not based on the Phoenician or the Brahmic lineage?

The vast majority of alphabetic writing systems are part of the Phoenician lineage (e.g. Latin, Cyrillic and friends) or Brahmic (Devanagari and friends). Is there an active alphabetic system outside ...
11
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5answers
3k views

Are there any “simple” languages?

In all the languages I know, at least one of the following aspects is complex/difficult: Alphabet: Complex meaning a large alphabet like in Chinese. Pronunciation: Complex meaning that, for example, ...
10
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8answers
1k views

Which language was regularly written in the most alphabets?

There are a number of languages which have historically been written in more than one alphabet (Hindi/Urdu, Serbo-Croatian, Uzbek and so on). I am wondering which single language has been regularly ...
9
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
792 views

Two questions about Sappho's name

The Greek poeter Ψάπφω/Ψάπφα beared an interesting name, probably not Greek. I have two questions, about the first and the last letter of her name : (1) what was the value of the initial Ψ ? This ...
9
votes
1answer
293 views

What gave rise to the manual alphabet for Latin characters in Japanese Sign Language?

I am aware of the fact that this question is rather specific, but anyway I would like to give it a try. Japanese Sign Language has three manual alphabets: one for representing kana-characters, and ...
8
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2answers
828 views

How did it happen that K was introduced to Latin alphabet in place of C and C started to mark /t͡s/ or /s/ in many languages?

I know that K has been derived from Greek kappa and C from gamma. But how did it happen that people started to use K in place of C? From what I know there were already C and G in the Latin alphabet ...
7
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6answers
433 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 ...
7
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3answers
1k views

Why do some alphabets have special final forms for some letters?

Some alphabets, e.g. the Greek, Hebrew and Arabic alphabets, have different forms for some letters when they appear at the end of the word. E.g. in Greek, the letter sigma (σ) appears as a ς when ...
7
votes
1answer
413 views

What sounds do the graphemes ⟨ś⟩ and ⟨ź⟩ represent in Montenegrin?

As of 2009 the Montenegrin alphabet was adopted in Montenegro. It consists of the same alphabet as used in Serbia, with the addition of two graphemes. The graphemes ⟨ś⟩/⟨с́⟩ and ⟨ź⟩/⟨з́⟩ are said ...
6
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2answers
875 views

Are there any latin-alphabet languages written right-to-left?

Are there any languages using the Latin alphabet characters which are written right-to-left?
6
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2answers
933 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
220 views

Why are some scripts' names derived from their first few characters?

The name of the Old English runic alphabet Fuþorc (or transliterated into Furthark or Furthorc) is, just like the word alphabet formed by a portmanteau of its first few letters. The Scandinavian ...
5
votes
2answers
833 views

What is the origin of letters corresponding to consonant clusters?

The Greek alphabet has ψ (psi) and ξ (ksi) , both letters correspond to a bi-consonantal sequence. Latin has X, Cyrillic alphabet has Щ which in some languages corresponds to ʃt͡ʃ, etc. Normally, an ...
5
votes
3answers
672 views

In which script(s) is the Kazakh language actually written in Kazakhstan?

According to the Wikipedia article on the Kazakh language it can be written in Cyrillic, Latin and Perso-Arabic scripts as it's a language that does not have its own native script like Armenian or ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there some relationship between the modern u and μ?

I study Mathematics and Statistics and one of the most common symbols we tend to write is μ which obviously is the lower case 'Mu'. It is one of the easiest symbols to learn when first encountered ...
4
votes
2answers
323 views

Is music a language?

I am a musician. I read an article in the NY Times that suggested both words and musical melodies follow Zipf's Law. I had never really thought about it before, but I started wondering do linguists ...
4
votes
3answers
217 views

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

Most South-West languages of Slavic language family with Cyrillic writing system as primary have the Latin letter in their alphabets, which doesn't origin in what we consider today Cyrillic. Where ...
4
votes
1answer
212 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
178 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
494 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
276 views

Is the Ampersands a Letter in the Latin Alphabet?

My understanding is that, until fairly recently, recitation of the English alphabet was often suffixed by saying "and per se and", roughly translating to "and, by itself, '&'". This suggests that ...
4
votes
1answer
358 views

Seeking details of Lao orthographic reforms

The Lao script was originally used as an abugida (consonants have implied vowels) for the Lao language, just as most of the writing systems related to it. The Lao script is now used as an alphabet ...
3
votes
4answers
6k views

Are there any scripts which have more than 127 characters?

This is not a question about software or tools. Please don't comment if you think that's what I'm asking about. Parsing Unicode-encoded text is a major pain for a software developer, so I thought ...
3
votes
1answer
221 views

Was there an evolution of the Greek alphabet in the Middle East?

I recently visited Jordan and noticed that many mosaic are commented with included text. The text seems mostly ancient Greek alphabet, but it also contains non Greek characters such as C, obviously ...
3
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4answers
626 views

Are the orthographies of the Slavic languages generally consistent?

I need to learn two Slavic languages, any two initially, and eventually at least one each from the East, West, and South Slav groups. I understand that each language has its own version of the ...
3
votes
3answers
190 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
219 views

Origin of Alphabetic/Phonemic Scripts

Dixon (the Australianist) has claimed that the Phoenician/Canaanite script is the ultimate source of all known alphabetic (purely essentially-phonemic) scripts on Earth; all other scripts are not ...
3
votes
1answer
125 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Thai alphabet romanizations?

Is there any standard system of romanization for the Thai alphabet (including consonants, vowels, tones, numbers, and their combinations), or is any such romanization system quite arbitrary? Can ...
2
votes
5answers
986 views

Which writing script can represent all human sounds?

Being a Nepali language speaker, I can easily produce most sounds in Devanagari script as every letter has the same sound despite the place of use. But there may be many sounds that are not ...
2
votes
1answer
285 views

Why is the letter “Q” visually simillar to “O”?

G was created out of C by adding an additional line, for an obvious reason as they represented similar sounds in Latin. But why is Q pretty much O with an additional line? These two letter do not ...
2
votes
1answer
742 views

Do Azeri people actually use Ə instead of A in names?

I have two spellings of an Azeri name: Alakbar and Ələkbər. In official contexts (ID or passport), do both forms of the name appear or just the latter? Why do Azeris still transcribe their names if ...
2
votes
1answer
91 views

Transliteration of Cyrillic

I have created a language that uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but I'm unsure as to how I can transliterate these letters for English-speaking readers: Ii - this is pronounced as a hard letter 'i', as in ...
1
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2answers
143 views

What is the difference between “می‌گفت” and “میگفت”?

I read in WP's entry on Persian alphabet that the "ye" final form is 'ﯽ', and its medial form is 'ﯿ'. Logically, when typing "می‌گفت", most software automagically write "میگفت". However, the ...
1
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1answer
130 views

How do languages which prefix proper nouns (by case marking, clitic article, etc) do capitalization in Latin Alphabet?

There are languages which put a prefix or a clitic before a noun to mark definiteness or case. How different languages using Latin alphabet which have this declension or marking deals with ...
1
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1answer
175 views

Discussions around symbols included/excluded in the IPA

Are there are IPA symbols which are the subject of some controversy? For example, I suppose there are some who would like to have a unitary"tS" t-esh sound as a unitary phoneme... but I bet there ...
1
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1answer
132 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]. ...
1
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1answer
119 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? ...
1
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1answer
608 views

What is the function of the *dot* diacritic, when it converts /ba/ to /ra/ (if it can be called so) in Bengali?

The dot diacritic works for [dzo] to [jo] , for [do] to [ro] and for [dho] to [rho]. But /ba/ and /ra/ are completely unrelated sounds, so what is the dot doing to /ba/?
1
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1answer
202 views

Diacritics and Ashanti/Twi alphabet?

Ashanti Proverbs (The Primitive Ethics Of A Savage People), by Robert Sutherland Rattray, 1916, uses the following notation : I read that Ashanti people speak Twi, yet the Twi alphabet does not seem ...
1
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1answer
464 views

Correlation between vowel sounds and compact alphabet used in English and its acceptance

English is the preferred language in many fields of study and in international communications, it has more vowel sounds than many languages, but a compact alphabet, which in my opinion is why English ...
1
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1answer
91 views

Is there any method of assigning a numeral score to the extent to which a given alphabet is phonemic?

Is there any method of assigning a numerical score to the extent to which a given alphabet is phonemic? If so, then obviously, the score for a given alphabet would vary across the languages that it ...
1
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0answers
51 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 ...
1
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0answers
25 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 ...
1
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0answers
147 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 ...
1
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0answers
122 views

Why does the English Alphabet sometimes function like a syllabary?

One of the things that I never really noticed growing up until I began learning about other languages and the elegance of writing systems is how, in America for sure, we use letters like syllabic ...