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10 Longest Alphabets in the World

#10. Tamil

Tamil is mostly using in India, specially in the state of Tamil Nadu. Nearly 82 million of the world population use Tamil as their native language. It is also one of the oldest living languages in the world. Tamil is the 5th most spoken language in India. It is written from left to right, same as English.

Tamil alphabet consists of 31 letters including 12 vowels, 18 consonants and 1 unique letter. Again, vowels are divided into two, as dependent vowels and independent vowels. And consonants are divided into three as hard consonants (vallinam), soft consonants (mellinam), and medium consonant(itayinam). Tamil also has a specialty, that some different letters sounds same. The decision of using those letters in a word is made by other letters in the word, specially vowels. Similarly, the same letter has different sounds. Some people indicate that Tamil alphabet is consisting of 247 letters. But it comes with all the possible combinations of 12 vowels and 18 consonants (12+18+(12×18)+1=247).

#9. Russian

Nearly 157 million of the world population use Russian as their mother tongue. Russian alphabet comes from Cyrillic script. Russian language is considered as the official language in Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. It is a difficult language to learn, specially if you don’t have knowledge of other Slavic languages like Bulgarian or Czech. Grammar rules are very complex in Russian.

Russian alphabet is consisting of 10 vowels, 20 consonants,1 semi-vowel, and 2 modifier letters that alter pronunciation of a preceding consonant or a following vowel. Two modifier letters are classified as soft and hard. Similarly, 10 vowels are divided into 5 hard vowels and 5 soft vowels. 20 consonants together with 1 semi-vowel can also group into three. 15 of them can represent both soft and hard consonant phonemes. While the other six are grouped into soft and hard, including three characters each. Russian alphabet contains both uppercase and lowercase letters.


#8. Urdu

Urdu is the official language in Pakistan. Nearly 70 million people consider Urdu as their native language. And it is written from right to left. Urdu is also a modification of Persian script. It is a moderately difficult language to learn as the second language. Urdu is harder than English or German, but easier than Chinese. Urdu is one of the most beautiful languages in the word. It is very lyrical and ready-made for poets and literature. Urdu stands for the 20th place in the languages by the population chart.

Urdu alphabet has 36 letters. It only shows consonants and long vowels. Short vowels can only be inferred by the consonants’ relation to each other. Deciding the exact number of vowels and consonants in Urdu is quite complicated. It is because the there are additional characters. Therefore, the number of letters in the Urdu alphabet is somewhat debated.


#7. Japanese

Japanese alphabet consist of three writing systems, namely Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. In Hiragana and Katakana, each character stands for one syllable. While Kanji is an ideogram, where each character is got certain meaning. Nearly 126 of the world population consider Japanese as their mother tongue. Japanese is considered as one of the most complicated writing systems in use. Furthermore, it is quite difficult language to learn.

Hiragana and Katakana alphabets contain 46 letters each. There are 5 basic vowels and 14 basic consonants in Japanese. And the other unique characters in the alphabet are formed by the combination of vowels and consonants. Kanji is not considered as an alphabet. But it includes around 50,000 characters. It is not quite sure even a native Japanese speaker knows all of them.

#6. Hindi

Hindi is widely in use in North India. Almost 572 million of the world population use Hindi as their mother tongue. It is also one of the two official languages of the Government of India. Hindi is the fourth mostly using language in the world. It is also writing from left to right as English. And also, it is one of the toughest languages for English speakers to learn.

Hindi alphabet is called ‘Hindi varnamala’. Hindi alphabet is quite complicated. It has 45 letters according to pronunciation. That is 10 vowels and 35 consonants. But based on writing it 52 letters. That is 13 vowels, 35 consonants, 4 combined consonants, and 2 binary consonants. In Hindi, vowels are called ‘swar’ and consonants are called ‘vyanjan’. Vowels are again categorized in to two as dependent vowels and independent vowels.

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#5. Telugu

Nearly 80 million of population speaks Telugu. It is not an official language in any country. But Telugu is widely using in Andra Pradesh, which is a state of India. Telugu is not a hard language to learn. It is also the 15th most using language in the world. A very interesting fact in this language is every word ends with a vowel sound. Telugu is the only language in the East with this feature. Telugu is also very expressive and one of the most regular languages of the world. Its grammar is simple and structurally neat.

Telugu has 56 letters in their alphabet. However, at present it is considered as 52 because the rest of the letters are not much used. Telugu alphabet includes 16 vowels and 36 consonants. Vowels in Telugu alphabet are also classified as dependent vowels and independent vowels. Telugu alphabet is called ‘Aksharaalu’. Moreover, the vowels are known as ‘Achchulu’ and consonants are known as ‘ Hallulu’.

#4. Malayalam

Malayalam is spoken by 45 million people in the world. Malayalam is considered as the official language in Kerala state in India. Besides, it is considered as the toughest language with complex spoken and written grammar. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages in India. Malayalam is the youngest Indian language. It is also perhaps the world’s only language that is a palindrome when written in English. Numerals in Malayalam also written in Malayalam script.

Malayalam alphabet is called ‘Aksharamala’. Modern Malayalam alphabet consist of 57 letters, including 15 vowels and 42 consonants. Malayalam vowels are also can be divided into two groups, as dependent vowels and independent vowels. These vowels also called ‘swaraksharanghal’. And the consonants are called ‘vyanjanam’.


#3. Sinhala

Nearly 22 million people speak Sinhala. And it is also the official language in Sri Lanka. Sinhala is among the 5 most beautiful alphabets in the world. It has an ability to describe human feelings more emotionally. Moreover, it is an easy language to learn. If a person can speak Sinhala, he or she can speak another language too easily. Sinhala is a diglossic language. It means there are two coexisting versions in this language. One is for formal literature and the other one is for day today communication. The second one is easy to learn since it is relaxed in grammatical formality.

The complete Sinhala alphabet is contained 60 letters. But since the two characters are very rarely use, it is considered that there are 58 letters in Sinhala alphabet. Out of that, 38 are used regularly. Sinhala alphabet includes 16 vowels and 42 consonants. Of 16 vowels, 7 are short vowels and 7 are long vowels.

#2. Nepali

Nepali is the mother tongue of nearly 14 million of the world population. It is the official language in Nepal. The script use to write Nepali is known as ‘Devanagari’. There are no upper case or lower case forms in Nepali. And it is quite difficult language to learn. Nepali has its own numerical system as well. In this wonderful language, a vertical right stroke is used at the end of a sentence to indicate that the sentence has come to an end. Nepali alphabet is considered as the second-largest alphabet in the world.

Nepali alphabet has 64 letters, including 21 vowels, 33 consonants, and some symbols. There are also dependent vowels and independent vowels. Each of the 33 consonants represents a single consonant sound and an inherent vowel. Generally, the vowel is /a/. Out of the 21 vowels, 11 are independent vowels, which stands their own. And 10 are dependent vowels. They don’t stand their own, but in combination with a consonant.

#1. Khmer

Khmer, also known as Cambodian, is the official language in Cambodia. Nearly 19 million of the world population speaks Khmer. Furthermore, it is considered as a rare language, and truly difficult for westerners to learn. When writing Khmer, words within the same sentence or phrase, typically written together, without any spaces between them.

Khmer is considered as the longest alphabet in the world. It contains 74 letters. Khmer alphabet includes 33 consonants and 41 vowels. Other characters in the alphabet are not using anymore. Out of the 33 consonants, 23 are basic ones, which are divided into twelve pairs of voiced and voiceless consonants. The other 10 are classified as semi-consonants, and they can be either voiced or voiceless according to the word. Vowels in the Khmer alphabet are categorized 9 simple vowels and 32 complex vowels.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Nadeeshani Madhuwanthika Madhurasinghe

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