An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols or graphemes (called letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent language in this way; in a syllabary, each character represents a syllable, for instance, and logographic systems use characters to represent words, morphemes, or other semantic units.
The modern English alphabet is a Latin alphabet consisting of 26 letters, each having an upper- and lower-case form. It originated around the 7th century from Latin script . Since then, letters have been added or removed to give the current Modern English alphabet of 26 letters with no diacritics , digraphs , nor special characters.
- Definition and usage
- Types of letters
- Letter frequencies
- History of alphabetic writing
A letter is a segmental symbol of a phonemic writing system. The inventory of all letters forms the alphabet. Letters broadly correspond to phonemes in the spoken form of the language, although there is rarely a consistent, exact correspondence between letters and phonemes. The word letter, borrowed from Old French letre, entered Middle English around 1200 AD, eventually displacing the native English term bōcstaf. Letter is descended from the Latin littera, which may have descended from...
A letter is a type of grapheme, which is a contrastive unit in a writing system. The contemporary English-language alphabet consists of 26 letters, each of which corresponds to one or more sounds. Letters are combined to form words. A letter is classified as either a consonant or a vowel, depending on how its sound is produced. The basic Roman alphabet is used by hundreds of languages around the world.
A letter can have multiple variants, or allographs, related to variation in style of handwriting or printing. Some writing systems have two major types of allographs for each letter: an uppercase form and a lowercase form. Upper- and lowercase letters represent the same sound, bu
A typeface, or font, is a single, stylistically consistent set of designs for an alphabet. A particular font may alter standard forms of characters, may present them with different optical weight, or may angle or embellish their forms. In calligraphy, letters are artistically han
The average distribution of letters, or the relative frequency of each letter's occurrence in text in a given language, can be obtained by analyzing large amounts of representative text. This information can be useful in cryptography and for other purposes, such as song lyrics. Letter frequencies vary in different types of writing.
Before there were alphabets there were pictographs: small pictures representing objects and concepts. Ancient Egyptian examples date to about 3000 BCE. Pictographs could communicate basic ideas, but were general and ambiguous if they were comprehensible at all. Tense, for example, could not be specified, and symbols do not necessarily carry meaning across cultures. Memorization of tens of thousands of symbols is a daunting task; children from cultures that use logograms–word symbols–to ...
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The letters chosen for the IPA are meant to harmonize with the Latin alphabet. For this reason, most letters are either Latin or Greek, or modifications thereof. Some letters are neither: for example, the letter denoting the glottal stop, ʔ , originally had the form of a dotless question mark, and derives from an apostrophe.
The term Latin alphabet may refer to either the alphabet used to write Latin (as described in this article) or other alphabets based on the Latin script, which is the basic set of letters common to the various alphabets descended from the classical Latin alphabet, such as the English alphabet. These Latin-script alphabets may discard letters ...
U+1F00–U+1FFF Greek Extended. The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the first alphabetic script in history to have distinct letters for vowels as well as consonants.