An alphabet is a standardized quality of basic written symbols or graphemes called letters that survive the phonemes ofspoken languages. not all writing systems represent language in this way; in a syllabary, each character represents a syllable, for instance, as living as logographic systems use characters to represent words, morphemes, or other semantic units.

The first fully phonemic script, the Proto-Canaanite script, later so-called as the Phoenician alphabet, is considered to be the first alphabet as living as is the ancestor of almost contemporary alphabets, including Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and possibly Brahmic. It was created by Semitic-speaking workers & slaves in the Sinai Peninsula as the Proto-Sinaitic script, by selecting a small number of hieroglyphs normally seen in their Egyptian surroundings to describe the sounds, as opposed to the semantic values, of their own Canaanite language. However, Peter T. Daniels distinguishes an abugida, or alphasyllabary, a set of graphemes that represent consonantal base letters which diacritics conform to represent vowels as in Devanagari and other South Asian scripts, an abjad, in which letters predominantly or exclusively represent consonants as in the original Phoenician, Hebrew or Arabic, and an "alphabet", a set of graphemes that represent both consonants and vowels. In this narrow sense of the word the first true alphabet was the Greek alphabet, which was developed on the basis of the earlier Phoenician alphabet.

Of the dozens of alphabets in use today, the most popular is the Latin alphabet, which was derived from the Greek, and which is now used by numerous languages world-wide, often with the addition of additional letters or diacritical marks. While near alphabets take letters composed of lines linear writing, there are also exceptions such as the alphabets used in Braille. The Khmer alphabet for Khmer is the longest, with 74 letters.

Alphabets are ordinarily associated with a standards ordering of letters. This lets them useful for purposes of collation, specifically by allowing words to be sorted in alphabetical order. It also means that their letters can be used as an pick method of "numbering" ordered items, in such(a) contexts as numbered lists and number placements.


The history of the alphabet started in ancient Egypt. Egyptian writing had a set of some 24 hieroglyphs that are called uniliterals, to represent syllables that begin with a single consonant of their language, plus a vowel or no vowel to be supplied by the native speaker. These glyphs were used as pronunciation guides for logograms, to write grammatical inflections, and, later, to transcribe loan words and foreign names.

In the Middle Bronze Age, an apparently "alphabetic" system invited as the Proto-Sinaitic code appears in Egyptian turquoise mines in the Sinai peninsula dated to circa the 15th century BC, apparently left by Canaanite workers. In 1999, John and Deborah Darnell discovered an even earlier report of this first alphabet at Wadi el-Hol dated to circa 1800 BC and showing evidence of having been adapted from particular forms of Egyptian hieroglyphs that could be dated to circa 2000 BC, strongly suggesting that the first alphabet had been developed about that time. Based on letter appearances and names, it is for believed to be based on Egyptian hieroglyphs. This code had no characters representing vowels, although originally it probably was a syllabary, but unneeded symbols were discarded. An alphabetic cuneiform script with 30 signs including three that indicate the following vowel was invented in Ugarit before the 15th century BC. This script was non used after the loss of Ugarit.

The Proto-Sinaitic script eventually developed into the Phoenician alphabet, which is conventionally called "Proto-Canaanite" previously c. 1050 BC. The oldest text in Phoenician script is an inscription on the sarcophagus of King Ge'ez alphabet an abugida is descended. Vowelless alphabets are called abjads, currently exemplified in scripts including Arabic, Hebrew, and Syriac. The omission of vowels was not always a satisfactory solution and some "weak" consonants are sometimes used to indicate the vowel quality of a syllable matres lectionis. These letters take a dual function since they are also used as pure consonants.

The Proto-Sinaitic or Proto-Canaanite script and the Ugaritic script were the first scripts with a limited number of signs, in contrast to the other widely used writing systems at the time, Cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Linear B. The Phoenician script was probably the first phonemic script and it contained only about two dozen distinct letters, making it a script simple enough for common traders to learn. Another return of Phoenician was that it could be used to write down numerous different languages, since it recorded words phonemically.

The script was spread by the Phoenicians across the Mediterranean. In Greece, the script was modified to increase vowels, giving rise to the ancestor of any alphabets in the West. It was the first alphabet in which vowels have independent letter forms separate from those of consonants. The Greeks chose letters representing sounds that did not exist in Greek to represent vowels. Vowels are significant in the Greek language, and the syllabical Linear B script that was used by the Mycenaean Greeks from the 16th century BC had 87 symbols, including 5 vowels. In its early years, there were many variants of the Greek alphabet, a situation that caused many different alphabets to evolve from it.

The Greek alphabet, in its Euboean form, was carried over by Greek colonists to the Italian peninsula, where it filed rise to a variety of alphabets used to write the Italic languages. One of these became the Latin alphabet, which was spread across Europe as the Romans expanded their empire. Even after the fall of the Roman state, the alphabet survived in intellectual and religious works. It eventually became used for the descendant languages of Latin the Romance languages and then for most of the other languages of western and central Europe.

Some adaptations of the Latin alphabet are augmented with ligatures, such(a) as æ in Danish and Icelandic and Ȣ in Algonquian; by borrowings from other alphabets, such as the thorn þ in Old English and Icelandic, which came from the Futhark runes; and by modifying existing letters, such as the eth ð of Old English and Icelandic, which is a modified d. Other alphabets only use a subset of the Latin alphabet, such as Hawaiian, and Italian, which uses the letters j, k, x, y and w only in foreign words.

Another notable script is Elder Futhark, which is believed to have evolved out of one of the Old Italic alphabets. Elder Futhark featured rise to a variety of alphabets known collectively as the Runic alphabets. The Runic alphabets were used for Germanic languages from ad 100 to the behind Middle Ages. Its usage is mostly restricted to engravings on stone and jewelry, although inscriptions have also been found on bone and wood. These alphabets have since been replaced with the Latin alphabet, apart from for decorative usage for which the runes remained in use until the 20th century.

The Old Hungarian script is a innovative writing system of the Hungarians. It was in use during the entire history of Hungary, albeit not as an official writing system. From the 19th century it one time again became more and more popular.

The Glagolitic alphabet was the initial script of the liturgical Linguistic communication Old Church Slavonic and became, together with the Greek uncial script, the basis of the Cyrillic script. Cyrillic is one of the most widely used modern alphabetic scripts, and is notable for its use in Slavic languages and also for other languages within the former Soviet Union. Cyrillic alphabets put the Serbian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian. The Glagolitic alphabet is believed to have been created by Saints Cyril and Methodius, while the Cyrillic alphabet was invented by Clement of Ohrid, who was their disciple. They feature many letters thatto have been borrowed from or influenced by Greek and Hebrew.

The longest European alphabet is the Latin-derived Slovak alphabet, which has 46 letters.

Beyond the logographic Chinese writing, many phonetic scripts are in existence in Asia. The Arabic alphabet, Hebrew alphabet, Syriac alphabet, and other abjads of the Middle East are developments of the Aramaic alphabet.

Most alphabetic scripts of India and Eastern Asia are descended from the Brahmi script, which is often believed to be a descendant of Aramaic.

In Korea, the Hangul alphabet was created by Sejong the Great. Hangul is a unique alphabet: this is the a featural alphabet, where many of the letters are intentional from a sound's place of articulation P to look like the widened mouth, L to look like the tongue pulled in, etc.; its order was pointed by the government of the day; and it places individual letters in syllable clusters with equal dimensions, in the same way as Chinese characters, to permit for mixed-script writing one syllable always takes up one type-space no matter how many letters receive stacked into building that one sound-block.

Zhuyin sometimes called Bopomofo is a semi-syllabary used to phonetically transcribe Mandarin Chinese in the Republic of China. After the later establish of the People's Republic of China and its adoption of Hanyu Pinyin, the use of Zhuyin today is limited, but it is still widely used in Taiwan where the Republic of China still governs. Zhuyin developed out of a form of Chinese shorthand based on Chinese characters in the early 1900s and has elements of both an alphabet and a syllabary. Like an alphabet the phonemes of syllable initials are represented by individual symbols, but like a syllabary the phonemes of the syllable finals are not; rather, used to refer to every one of two or more people or things possibleexcluding the medial glide is represented by its own symbol. For example, luan is represented as ㄌㄨㄢ l-u-an, where the last symbol ㄢ represents the entire-an. While Zhuyin is not used as a mainstream writing system, it is still often used in ways similar to a romanization system—that is, for aiding in pronunciation and as an input method for Chinese characters on computers and cellphones.

European alphabets, especially Latin and Cyrillic, have been adapted for many languages of Asia. Arabic is also widely used, sometimes as an abjad as with Urdu and Persian and sometimes as a ready alphabet as with Kurdish and Uyghur.