How Many Letters are in the Alphabet

Every popular and most widely spoken language in the world has evolved over the centuries. There are languages that had no writing system for centuries like Korean and Japanese languages and then there was a writing system that was customized for them.

Whereas a few other languages had more letters and characters just like Greek and these were later reduced for an easy and standard formation of writing. 

Even the English language which we speak and understand today has been under a lot of experiences by different scholars and missionaries.

What is An Alphabet

Alphabets are the letters that a language uses collectively. Its order is fixed and depends on the custom of users. Alphabets are used for writing purposes and symbols that they use for writing are known as letters.

There is this phoneme related to the one sound or related. There are words then which come into being with a reading direction. These are incorporated with punctuation markets, alphabets, and words that can be read easily.

Taking it as a Riddle 

It is also important to note that this sentence has gone viral as the riddle on social media and other platforms. So reading it at first, people start jumping to conclusions when they say 26 alphabet which is not true. It actually asks about the letters of “the alphabet” which are 11. So 11 is the right answer.

Historical Background of Alphabetic Writing

There are not many details about the alphabetic writing of all languages. English, however, and its alphabetic writing date back to four thousand years ago.

A lot of scholars believe that alphabetic writing developed in Egypt between 1800 and 1900 BC. It originated as a quite not well-known form of writing which was Proto Sinaitic.

It was after 700 years that Phoenicians worked on an alphabet that had its earlier foundations. This was immensely in use in the Mediterranean including North Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Southern Europe, and the Levant. This alphabet was made of 22 letters and all of these were consonants.

These were Greeks who added vowels to the Phoenician alphabet during 750 BC. This is when it turned out to be a combination of the true alphabet. Latins seized it and combined them with Etruscan characters such as ‘S’ and ‘F’.

Later on, around the 3rd century, ancient Latin script removed the letters G, J V/U, W, Y, and Z. During the era of the Roman Empire Roman alphabet was derived from the Latin version through letters, however, J, U, V, and W were still removed.

How Many Letters are in the English Alphabet

As for the English language, this statement is quite technical and has also been taken as the riddle. The old English alphabet as per the sources had 29 letters. These were

Those letters were A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X, Y, Z, &, ⁊, Ƿ, Þ, Ð, Æ.

Three more letters were added later. These were J, U, W, J, and U. were added during the sixteenth century however, W is taken as the independent letter. Additional letters were removed from modern English. These were &, ⁊, Ƿ, Þ, Ð, Æ.

Modern English now has 26 letters.

Evolution of the English Alphabet

The Latin language made its way to Britain with the Roman empire. Anglo-Saxons were controlling Britain at that time. It was a Germanic tribe that used old English as their main language. This was the time when an older alphabet Futhoric was being used. It was named as a runic alphabet.

Old English

The combination of the Latin alphabet and the runic alphabet of Futhorc gave birth to the modern English alphabet. A few additions from runic alphabets got ‘thorn’ and had ‘th’ sound ‘wynn’ that made a sound of ‘w’. 

It is important to note that there was no letter ‘w’ in the Latin alphabet during the middle ages. Later when people in Britain ceased the implementation of the old runes, the letter thorn was eventually substituted by ‘th’, and its runic ‘wynn’ turned out to be ‘uu’ and it later got evolved to ‘w’.

During the same period, there were a few more changes were the letters ‘j’ and ‘u’ got added and brought a number of 26 letters. Nonetheless, letter combinations like  ‘æ,’ ‘œ’ and symbols included an ampersand (&) in the alphabet.

Middle English

The lowborn class was using old English during the time when Normans invaded Britain. All the distinguished classes including scholars, clergies, and nobility people were speaking and using either Latin or Norman.

It was after two centuries of Norman rule that English writing got into trend again. It also required removing some of the English letters. Geoffrey Chaucer, a famous English poet, and father of English literature used middle English in his Canterbury tales Wife of Bath.

Modern English

It was William Caxton who introduced the printing press to Great Britain during the 15th century. The English language has been standardized over time. From the time when these were changed interchangeably, V and U got separated with the former becoming consonant while U became the vowel.

The First English dictionary published by Robert Cawdrey in 1604 was The Table Alphabetical. This was when the letter J also became part of modern English.

How Many Letters are in the Spanish Alphabet?

Spanish alphabets are also a variant of the Latin alphabet this is why there are 27 letters in the Spanish language. Interestingly this language has the same alphabet as English. The additional letter is “ñ,” and it comes after “n”.

Interestingly, til 2010, there were 29 letters in the Spanish language. However, additional two letters “ch” and “ll” were added to the language later and both of these have distinct pronunciations.

The Spanish letter with 27 words are

A (A), B (be), [C (ce), Ch (che)], D (de), E (e), F (efe), G (ge), H (hache), I (i), J (jota), K (ka), L elle), M (eme), N (ene), Ñ (eñe), O (o), P (pe), Q (cu), [R (ere), RR/Rr (erre)], S (ese), T (te), U (u), V (uve), W (uve doble / doble u), X (equis), Y (ye, i griega), Z (zeta).

It is interesting to note that these 27 letters combine together to create about 30 different phonemes, it is a number that can’t be fixed due to the fluidity of the Spanish.

A more refined term for this fluid is dialectal variation.

How Many Letters are in the Chinese Alphabet?

It is surprising and interesting to know as well that there is no defined writing system for the Chinese language. So, there is no alphabetic script. Moreover, China has a Pinyin system that has to use characters.

There are more than 100,000 Chinese characters and it is next to impossible to count these all precisely. However, the number of useful characters lies between 3000 to 6000. Most of these characters require two characters. The word “house” for instance is written like 屋(Wū).

How many Letters are in the Greek Alphabet?

It was back during the 5th century BCE when the Greek alphabet was divided into two principal branches which are named the Iconic and the Chalcidian.

Furthermore, in 403 BCE, the iconic alphabet got used in Athens and it eventually turned out to be the standard one. Today it is known as the classical Greek alphabet.

Modern Greek alphabets comprise 24 letters and seven vowels. These 24 letters in upper and lower case look as

Α α, Β β, Γ γ, Δ δ, Ε ε, Ζ ζ, Η η, Θ θ, Ι ι, Κ κ, Λ λ, Μ μ, Ν ν, Ξ ξ, Ο ο, Π π, Ρ ρ, Σ σ/ς, Τ τ, Υ υ, Φ φ, Χ χ, Ψ ψ, Ω ω.

These include the lower and upper cases both. It is also interesting to note that before 500 BCE, the Greek alphabet had the writing direction of right to left but it later changed to left to right.

How Many Letters are in the Hawaiian Alphabet?

Hawaii had its own language and culture before the colonized British. The alphabet of the Hawaiian language consists of only 13 letters.

It is a colonized version of the language and culture. It was cultivated by the missionaries who attempted to translate the bible during the 19th century.

This language gets tough and complicated when there are letters added with or without accents. However, this is the basic gist.
Another interesting fact about the Hawaiian language is it gets together in a different order than English with all vowels getting grouped at the start.

The alphabets are

A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, U, and W.

How Many Letters are in the Arabic Alphabet?

Arabic is an ancient language. It is indeed a beautiful language and also the second most widely used alphabet writing system in the world. The number of characters in Arabic is quite similar to the English language. The Arabic language has 28 letters. The most interesting part of these consonants is Arabic alphabet represents consonants.

This language is written from right to left unlike other Indo-European languages. It is written in cursive style. It further uses a lot of symbols out of the alphabet itself including short vowel markers and pronunciation as well.

The 28 Arabic letters are

غ     ظ      ض    ذ       خ      ث     ت     ش     ر      ق      ص    ف     ع      س     ن      م       ل      ك      ي     ط        ح      ز      و      ه       د       ج      ب     أ

Final words

Letters in the alphabet may vary with languages. A few of the languages keep these in the range of 20s and a few others also go above 30. The English language has 26 letters and there are 28 letters in Arabic. Whereas the Hawaiian language has only 13 letters. Moreover, there are a hundred thousand letters in the Chinese language, and the ones which are used more often lie between 3000 to 6000.

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