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List of languages by writing system

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Below is a list of languages sorted by writing system (by alphabetical order).

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  • ✪ Creating a Writing System
  • ✪ Types of Writing Systems (correction in the description)
  • ✪ The Hardest Language To Spell
  • ✪ The Oa Writing System
  • ✪ ᑖᒻ ᔅᑳᑦ and ᖃᓂᐅᔮᖅᐸᐃᑦ


Good morning, Interweb. Let's worldbuild. In order to create an interesting writing system you need to: pick a type of script (Type) pick a writing method (Medium) and pick a set of rules to govern that script. (Orthography) TYPES OF SCRIPT Before you start creating symbols, ask yourself how many sounds do you want represented per glyph. This will determine the type of writing system your script will be. In an Abjad, only consonants get symbols. Vowels are inferred by the reader, not written. Alphabets, contain a separate glyph for each consonant and vowel. Abugidas, contain a separate glyph for every consonant-vowel pairing. Vowels here are of secondary importance and are usually marked in as diacritics. Syllabaries have entire syllables represented by a single glyph. Logographic systems contain a separate glyph for every word or phrase. aaaand Ideographic systems, contain symbols that represent entire concepts or ideas. Oftentimes ideographs are also pictograms like everyones favourite modern day example, Emojis. Now, featural systems, are kinda weird in that they encode phonetic information not sounds. Like you have a couple of base glyphs associated with certain sounds. You systemically add a certain mark and everything becomes a plosive, say. Add another and those plosives get devoiced. That sorta thing. All you gotta do now is pick one of these system. But, like feel free to modify or combine things or just come up with something totally different. It is 100%up to you. For context, writing systems on earth emerged in this order. Ideographs were a feature of proto-writing, and date back to as early as the 7 millenium BCE. Early writing systems proper were logographic and emerged in the early Bronze Age ( 4th millenium BCE ) . So, if you want to give you're glyphs an evolutionary history, start with a picture and then simplify it over many, many iterations. Lastly, and probably most importantly, pick a type of script that suits your language's phonotactics. Logographic systems, work well for analytic languages like Mandarin - where words are not annexed to convey grammatical meaning. Abugidas and syllabaries suit languages with very simple syllable structures and Abjads, they work for languages in which words are built upon consonantal roots (KTV example). MEDIUM: How a culture writes greatly effects the look of that cultures script. Does you culture carve their glyphs into stone or wood? If so, think about the limitations those materials impose. Carved glyphs will tend to be angular, have very few if any curves, and may contain artefacts of the craving tools. Does your culture write on paper using calligraphic pens or ink quills? If so, expect flowing lines and a very natural variation in stroke thickness. Baring in mind that angle at which the pen is held will effect the look of the script. Regular pens or pencils on paper produce lines of uniform thickness and encourage fast writing, so expect a cursive hand to evolve. What happens to a cursive script when speed is the most important factor? What about the use of styli? Press a stylus into clay and the shape of the individual elements - the graphemes - that make up your glyph will be limited to shape of the tools available. Write with a stylus on foliage and expect to see a script that favours curves; angular gestures tear leaves. Brushes can produce a very flowing calligraphy with massive variation in stroke size. Maybe your glyphs are to be painted, hieroglyphics style, allowing for the creation of elaborate pictures in full blown technicolor. Are the colors superficial or do they carry meaning? Are there any limitations on the colors to be used? Has your culture invented the printing press? If so, glyphs will become standardised. Fonts can get extremely elaborate because manual reproduction isn't a factor. Maybe your culutre has computerised everything. Fonts could incorporate animated gifs, videos, have opacity; be ultra hd, extremely detailed, photoshopped logographs...the sky is the limit. Speaking of which, maybe you're culture "writes" on a non permanent medium like in the sky or the on the earth. Flag semaphore, anyone!? Perhaps, for literary reasons, your glyphs should reflect the dominant traits of your culture: peaceful, warlike, evil, advanced, funny, elegant and so on. Regardless of medium, ensure that your glyphs each look distinct yet related. Ambiguity is never a good thing. Also, think about scalability: can your glyphs be shrunk down and blown up large? Can they be read at a distance? If not, perhaps make them less detailed. Are you going to create upper and lower case forms? If so, why? Will you create a single glyph for every phoneme in your language? Or will some glyphs account for multiple sounds. Above all else, the name of the game here is iterate. Iterate, iterate and when you're sick of iterating...iterate some more. ORTHOGRAPHY Once you have a set of glyphs, think about what rules govern them. On the macro level, what is the directionality of block text in your script: top to bottom, bottom to top, left to right, right to left or even alternating. The latter being lines that alternate in direction with the glyphs flipping to indicate the current reading direction - known as Boustrophedon aka as the ox plows. Do your glyphs only encode sound or do they also encode extra features like stress, tone, loudness, tempo, intonation, word breaks, emotions, double meanings and so on What are the rules of spelling in your language? Has spelling become standardised? What are the rules regarding capitalisation? Does your scripts require spaces? I mean, we don't speak with spaces so why write with spaces? Is context sufficient or is punctuation needed to supply extra meaning? If so, what role will punctuation play? Do numbers get there own glyphs or are they written out? Lastly, I want to make a case for a thing called the acrophonic principle. That is, the idea that the name of each glyph should starts with the sound that glyph represents. Kinda like "B". Moreover, one can set up a situation whereby each glyph can represent two distinct sounds depending on its location within a syllable. This, for example, could represent "r" in initial position but "l" in final position say. Thus, using the acrophonic principle, this glyph could be called "ral". Which I think is just a very neat system. Anyways, there you have it. How to come up with a writing system done! Pick a type of script, pick a medium, set some rules. Then go forth and iterate...until you can iterate no more.


Adlam alphabet

Afaka syllabary

Anatolian alphabets

Arabic script

and many other varieties of Arabic.

Aramaic alphabet

Armenian script


Borama script

Brahmic family and derivatives

Bengali-Assamese script

Balinese script

Baybayin script

Buhid script



Dhives Akuru

Gujarati script

Gurmukhi script

Hanunó'o script

Javanese script (Hanacaraka)

Kaithi script

Kannada script

Khmer script



Kulitan alphabet

Lao script

Leke script

Lepcha script

Limbu script

Lontara script

  • Makassarese
  • Buginese
  • Mandar

Malayalam script

Meitei Mayek



Myanmar script

Odia script

'Phags-pa script



Sinhala script

Syloti Nagri script

Tagbanwa script

  • Languages of Palawan

Tamil script

Telugu script

Thaana script

Thai script

Tibetan script

Canadian Aboriginal script

Caucasian Albanian alphabet

Cherokee script

Coptic alphabet

Cyrillic script

Bosnian Cyrillic alphabet (bosančica)

Ge'ez script (Eritrean and Ethiopic)

Georgian script

Glagolitic alphabet

Gothic alphabet

Greek script

Chinese characters and derivatives


Hebrew script

Old Italic script

Kaddare script


Khitan scripts

Latin script

Mesoamerican scripts

Epi-Olmec script

Maya script

(Almost extinct although still used in some areas)

Mixtec script

(Almost extinct although still used in some areas)

Nahuat hieroglyphs

(Now uses Spanish alphabet)

Olmec script

Zapotec script

Takalik Abaj and Kaminaljuyú scripts

Mongolian and related scripts

Old Uyghur alphabet

Mongolian script

Manchu script

Munda scripts

Sorang Sompeng

Ol Cemet'

Warang Citi

N'Ko script

Naxi script



Osmanya script

Pahawh Hmong

Old Permic alphabet

Runic script



Stokoe notation

Old Turkic script

Old Hungarian alphabet


Yi script


This page was last edited on 30 December 2018, at 14:10
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