Monday, September 14, 2015

How to write the language? Alphabet? Cyrillic? Arabic? Kanji?

Hello, everyone!
Can you tell me where you are at right now? 
I am sitting on the patio in sunny San Diego, U.S.A.

How is your day going?
Are you ready to talk about another linguistic thing today?

Okay, how can you understand my speaking?
What are you doing to understand me right now?
Today, I am going to talk about alphabets & writing systems.

As you already know, ranging from Arabic to Cyrillic, a variety of writing systems are currently used. There are about 46 different alphabets* in use today.
If you remember the number of languages in the world is about 7000, the 46 writing systems don’t seem to be enough.   
Let’s look at the map of writing systems in the world below and figure out the ratio of using the writing systems.


From this map, we can tell the Latin alphabet that I am typing right now is the most widely used. According to, about 2.6 billion people (36% of the world population) use the Latin alphabet, about 1.3 billion people (18%) use the Chinese script, about 1 billion people (14%) use the Devanagari script (India), about 1 billion people (14%) use the Arabic alphabet, about 0.3 billion people (4%) use the Cyrillic alphabet and about 0.25 billion people (3.5%) use the Dravidian script (South India).

While I am researching these writing system, I also learn there are many Arabic writing systems. Until I studied about the writing systems in the world, the Arabic alphabets looked same to me. However, after I put the Arabic alphabets together, now I can see the differences.

If you zoom into the northern Asia part, you can see more diversity. Unlike Japan and China share some Chinese characters in their written communication system, Korea uses its own writing system. It is called Hangeul, and in fact, Korean alphabets has its inventor. The inventor is King Sejong from 14th century. I will definitely introduce King Sejong and the principle of Hangeul in the next posting.


statistic information:


1 comment:

  1. I see an alphabet system that looks like mountains! I wonder if they have a lot of hills in their country.