Wikipedia:Language recognition chart
This list is a Language recognition chart. It describes a variety of simple clues one can use to determine what language a document is written in with high accuracy.
- 1 Characters
- 2 Latin alphabet (possibly extended)
- 2.1 Romance languages
- 2.2 Germanic languages
- 2.3 Baltic languages
- 2.4 Slavic languages
- 2.5 Celtic languages
- 2.6 Iranian languages
- 2.7 Finno-Ugric languages
- 2.8 Eskimo–Aleut languages
- 2.9 Southern Athabaskan languages
- 2.10 Guaraní
- 2.11 Japanese in Romaji (Nihongo/日本語)
- 2.12 Hmong (Hmoob) written in Romanized Popular Alphabet
- 2.13 Vietnamese (tiếng Việt)
- 2.14 Chinese, Romanized
- 2.15 Austronesian languages
- 2.16 Turkic languages
- 3 Chinese (中文)
- 4 Japanese (日本語)
- 5 Korean (한국어/조선말)
- 6 Khmer language ភាសារខ្មែរ
- 7 Greek (Ελληνικά)
- 8 Armenian (Հայերեն)
- 9 Georgian (ქართული)
- 10 Slavic languages using the Cyrillic alphabet
- 11 Arabic alphabet
- 12 Dravidian languages
- 13 Canadian Aboriginal syllabics
- 14 Other North American syllabics
- 15 Artificial languages
- 16 External links
The language of a foreign text can often be identified by looking up characters specific to that language.
- ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ (Latin alphabet)
- and no other – English, Hawaiian, Indonesian, Latin, Malay, Swahili, Zulu
- àéëïĳ – Dutch (Except for the ligature ĳ, these letters are very rare in Dutch. Even fairly long Dutch texts often have no diacritics.)
- áêéèëïíîôóúû Afrikaans
- êôúû – West Frisian
- ÆØÅæøå – Danish, Norwegian
- single diacritics, mostly umlauts
- Three or more types of diacritics
- ÇĞİÖŞÜğçıöşü – Turkish
- ÁÐÉÍÓÚÝÞÆÖáðéíóúýþæö – Icelandic
- ÁÉÍÓÖŐÚÜŰáéíóöőúüű – Hungarian
- ÀÇÉÈÍÓÒÚÜÏàçéèíóòúüï· – Catalan
- ÀÂÇÉÈÊËÎÏÔŒÙÛÜŸàâçéèêëîïôœùûüÿ – French; (diacritics on uppercase characters are often optional; Ÿ and ÿ are found only in certain proper names)
- ÁÀÇÉÈÍÓÒÚËÜÏáàçéèíóòúëüï (· only in Gascon dialect) – Occitan
- ÁÉÍÓÚÂÊÔÀãõçáéíóúâêôà (ü Brazilian and k, w and y not in native words) – Portuguese
- ÁÉÍÑÓÚÜáéíñóúü ¡¿ – Spanish
- ÀÉÈÌÒÙàéèìòù – Italian
- ÁÉÍÓÚÝÃẼĨÕŨỸÑG̃áéíóúýãẽĩõũỹñg̃ - Guarani (the only language to use g̃)
- ÁĄĄ́ÉĘĘ́ÍĮĮ́ŁŃ áąą́éęę́íįį́łń (FQRVfqrv not in native words) – Southern Athabaskan languages
- ąłńóż Lechitic languages
- A, Ą, Ã, B, C, D, E, É, Ë, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, Ł, M, N, Ń, O, Ò, Ó, Ô, P, R, S, T, U, Ù, W, Y, Z, Ż – Kashubian
- ĐÀẢÃÁẠĂẰẲẴẮẶÂẦẨẪẤẬÈẺẼÉẸÊỀỂỄẾỆÌỈĨÍỊÒỎÕÓỌÔỒỔỖỐỘƠỜỞỠỚỢÙỦŨÚỤƯỪỬỮỨỰỲỶỸÝỴ đàảãáạăằẳẵắặâầẩẫấậèẻẽéẹêềểễếệìỉĩíịòỏõóọồổỗốơờởỡớợùủũúụưừửữứựỳỷỹýỵ – Vietnamese
- ꞗĕŏŭo᷄ơ᷄u᷄ – Middle Vietnamese
- ā ē ī ō ū – May be seen in some Japanese texts in Rōmaji or transcriptions (see below) or Hawaiian and Māori texts.
- é – Sundanese
- ñ - Basque
- ا ب ت ث ج ح خ د ذ ر ز س ش ص ض ط ظ ع غ ف ق ك ل م ن ه و ي Arabic script
- Brahmic family of scripts
- Bengali script
- अ प आ पा इ पि ई पी उ पु ऊ पू ऋ पृ ॠ पॄ ऌ पॢ ॡ पॣ ऍ पॅ ऎ पॆ ए पे ऐ पै ऑ पॉ ऒ पॊ ओ पो औ पौ क ख ग घ ङ च छ ज झ ञ ट ठ ड ढ ण त थ द ध न प फ ब भ म य र ल ळ व श ष स ह ० १ २ ३ ४ ५ ६ ७ ८ ९ प् पँ पं पः प़ पऽ
- used to write, either along with other scripts or exclusively, several Indian languages including Sanskrit, Hindi, Maithili, Magahi Marathi, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Bhili, Konkani, Bhojpuri and Nepali from Nepal.
- Gujarati script
- Tibetan script
- АБВГДЕЖЗИКЛМНОПРСТУФХЦЧШ (Cyrillic alphabet)
- ЉЊЏ, Ј instead of Й (Vuk Karadžić's reform)
- ЄꙂꙀЗІЇꙈОуꙊѠЩЪꙐЬѢЮꙖѤѦѨѪѬѮѰѲѴҀ – Old Church Slavonic, Church Slavonic
- Ӂ – Romanian in Transnistria (elsewhere in Latin)
- ΑΒΓΔΕΖΗΘΙΚΛΜΝΞΟΠΡΣΤΥΦΧΨΩ αβγδεζηθικλμνξοπρσςτυφχψω (Greek Alphabet) – Greek
- אבגדהוזחטיכלמנסעפצקרשת (Hebrew alphabet)
- 漢字文化圈 – Some East Asian Languages
- 위키백과에 (note commonplace ellipses and circles) Korean
- ㄅㄆㄇㄈㄉㄊㄋㄌㄍㄎㄏ etc. -- ㄓㄨˋㄧㄣㄈㄨˊㄏㄠˋ (Bopomofo)
- ㄪㄫㄬ -- not Mandarin
- កខគឃងចឆជឈញដឋឌឍណតថទធនបផពភមសហយរលឡអវអ្កអ្ខអ្គអ្ឃអ្ងអ្ចអ្ឆអ្ឈអ្ញអ្ឌអ្ឋអ្ឌអ្ឃអ្ណអ្តអ្ថអ្ទអ្ធអ្នអ្បអ្ផអ្ពអ្ភអ្មអ្សអ្ហអ្យអ្រអ្យអ្លអ្អអ្វ អក្សរខ្មែរ (Khmer alphabet) - Khmer
- Ա Բ Գ Դ Ե Զ Է Ը Թ Ժ Ի Լ Խ Ծ Կ Հ Ձ Ղ Ճ Մ Յ Ն Շ Ո Չ Պ Ջ Ռ Ս Վ Տ Ր Ց Ւ Փ Ք Օ Ֆ (Armenian alphabet) – Armenian
- ა ბ გდ ევ ზ ჱ თ ი კ ლ მ ნ ჲ ო პ ჟ რ ს ტ ჳ უ ფ ქ ღ ყ შ ჩ ც ძ წ ჭ ხ ჴ ჯ ჰ ჵ ჶ ჷ ჸ (Georgian alphabet) – Georgian
Latin alphabet (possibly extended)
Lots of Latin roots.
- Common words: de, la, le, du, des, il, et;
- Words ending in -ux, especially -aux or -eux;
- Letter w is rare and used only in loanwords (e.g whisky).
- Many apostrophised contractions, i.e. words beginning with l' or d', less often c', j', m', n', s', t' — only before vowels and h
- Accented letters: â ç è é ê î ô û, rarely ë ï ; ù only in the word où, à only in the word à and at end of words ; never á í ì ó ò ú
- Angle quotation marks: « » (though "curly-Q" quotation marks are also used); dialogue traditionally indicated by means of dashes
- Common words: lé, dé, tchi, ès, i', ch'
- Tch, dg, th and în are common character combinations. ou is frequently followed by another vowel.
- Many apostrophised short forms, e.g. words beginning with l', d' or r'. é frequently alternates with an apostrophe e.g. c'mîn/quémîn.
- Characters: ¿ ¡ (inverted question and exclamation marks), ñ
- All vowels (á, é, í, ó, ú) may take an acute accent
- The letter u can take a diaeresis (ü), but only after the letter g
- Some words frequently used: de, el, del, los, la(s), uno(s), una(s), y
- No apostrophised contractions
- Word beginnings: ll- (check not Welsh)
- Word endings: -o, -a, -ción, -miento, -dad
- Angle quotation marks: « » (though "curly-Q" quotation marks are also used); dialogue often indicated by means of dashes
- Almost every word ends in a vowel. Exceptions include non, il, per, con, del.
- Common one-letter word: è.
- Common word: perché.
- Letter sequences: gli, gn, sci.
- Letters j, k, w, x and y are rare and used only in loanwords (e.g. whisky).
- Word endings: -o, -a, -zione, -mento, -tà, -aggio.
- Grave accent (e.g., on à) almost always occurs in the last letter of words.
- Double consonants (tt, zz, cc, ss, bb, pp, ll, etc.) are frequent.
- Character combination l·l and tz
- Letter sequences: tx (check not Basque) and tg
- Letters k and w are rare and only used in loanwords (e.g. walkman)
- Word endings: -o, -a, -es, ció, -tat
- Word beginning: ll-
- Characters: ă â î ș ț
- Common words: și, de, la, a, ai, ale, alor, cu
- Word endings: -a, -ă, -u, -ul, -ului, -ţie (or -ţiune), -ment, -tate; names ending in -escu
- Double and triple i: copii, copiii
- Note that Romanian is sometimes written online with no diacritics, making it harder to identify. A cedilla is sometimes used on S (ş) and on T (ţ) instead of the correct diacritic, the comma (above).
- Characters: ã, õ, â, ê, ô, á, é, í, ó, ú, à, ç
- Common one-letter words: a, à, e, é, o
- Common two-letter words: ao, as, às, da, de, do, em, os, ou, um
- Common three-letter words: aos, com, das, dos, ele, ela, mas, não, por, que, são, uma
- Common endings: -ção, -dade, -ismo, -mente
- Common digraphs: ch, nh, lh; examples: chave, galinha, baralho.
- The letters k, w and y are rare. They are found mostly in loanwords, e.g.: keynesianismo, walkie-talkie, nylon.
- Most singular words end in a vowel, l, m, r, or z.
- Plural words end in -s.
- Characters: å, é, è, ê, î, ô, û
- Common digraphs and trigraphs: ai, ae, én, -jh-, tch, oe, -nn-, -nnm-, xh, ou
- Common one-letter words: a, å, e, i, t', l', s', k'
- Common two-letter words: al, ås, li, el, vs, ki, si, pô, pa, po, ni, èn, dj'
- Common three-letter words: dji, nén, rén, bén, pol, mel
- Common endings: -aedje, -mint, -xhmint, -ès, -ou, -owe, -yî, -åcion
- Apostrophes are followed by a space (preferably non breaking one), eg: l' ome instead of l'ome.
- Similar to Portuguese; the indefinite article "unha" (fem. plural), the suffix -çom and a heavier usage of the letter "x" usually sign Galician.
- Definite articles o or ó (masc. sing.), os (masc. plural), a (fem. sing.), as (fem. plural)
- Common diagraphs: nh (ningunha)
- The letters j, k, w and y are not in the alphabet, and appear only in loanwords
- words: a, an, and, in, of, on, the, that, to, is, I (should always be a capital)
- letter sequences: th, ch, sh, ough, augh
- word endings: -ing, -tion, -ed, -age, -s, -’s, -’ve, -n’t, -’d
- diacritics or accents only in loanwords (piñata)
- letter sequences ij (capitalized as IJ, and also found as a ligature, Ĳ or ĳ), ei, doubled vowels (but not ii), kw, sch, oei, ooi, and uw (especially eeuw, ieuw, auw, and ouw).
- words: het, op, en, een, voor (and compounds of voor).
- word endings: -tje, -sje, -ing, -en, -lijk,
- at the start of words: z-, v-, ge-
- t/m occasionally occurs between two points in time or between numbers (e.g. house numbers).
- letter sequences: ij, ei, oa
- words: yn
- Words: 'n, as, vir, nie.
- Similar to Dutch, but:
- the common Dutch letters c and z are rare and used only in loanwords (e.g. chalet);
- the common Dutch vowel ij is not used; instead, i and y are used (e.g. -lik, sy);
- the common Dutch word ending -en is rare, being replaced by -e.
- umlauts (ä, ö, ü), ess-zett (ß)
- letter sequences: ch, sch, tsch, tz, ss,
- common words: der, die, das, den, dem, des, er, sie, es, ist, ich, du, aber
- common endings: -en, -er, -ern, -st, -ung, -chen, -tät
- rare letters: x, y (except in loanwords)
- letter c rarely used except in the sequences listed above and in loanwords
- long compound words
- a period (.) after ordinal numbers, e.g. 3. Oktober
- many capitalised words in the middle of sentences.
- letters å, ä, ö, rarely é
- common words: och, i, att, det, en, som, är, av, den, på
- long compound words
- letter sequences: stj, sj, skj, tj, ck, än, and occasionally surnames ending in -qvist
- no use of characters w, z except for foreign proper nouns and some loanwords but x is used, unlike Danish and Norwegian, which replace it with ks
- letters æ, ø, å
- common words: af, og, til, er, på, med, det, den;
- common endings: -tion, -ing, -else, -hed;
- long compound words;
- no use of character q, w, x and z except for foreign proper nouns and some loanwords;
- to distinguish from Norwegian: uses letter combination øj; frequent use of æ; spellings of borrowed foreign words are retained (in particular use of c), such as centralstation.
- letters æ, ø, å
- common words: av, ble, er, og, en, et, men, i, å, for, eller;
- common endings: -sjon, -ing, -else, -het;
- long compound words;
- no use of character c, w, z and x except for foreign proper nouns and some loanwords;
- two versions of the language: Bokmål (much closer to Danish) and Nynorsk – for example ikke, lørdag, Norge (Bokmål) vs. ikkje, laurdag, Noreg (Nynorsk); Nynorsk uses the word òg; printed materials almost always published in Bokmål only;
- to distinguish from Danish: uses letter combination øy; less frequent use of æ; spellings of borrowed foreign words are ‘Norsified’ (in particular removing use of c), such as sentralstasjon.
- letters á, ð, é, í, ó, ú, ý, þ, æ, ö
- common beginnings: fj-, gj-, hj-, hl-, hr-, hv-, kj-, and sj-,
- common endings: -ar (especially -nar), -ir (especially -nir), -ur, -nn (especially -inn)
- no use of character c, q, w, or z except for foreign proper nouns, some loanwords, and, in the case of z, older texts.
- letters á, ð, í, ó, ú, ý, æ, ø
- letter combinations: ggj, oy, skt
- to distinguish from Icelandic: does not use é or þ, uses ø instead of ö (occasionally rendered as ö on road signs, or even ő).
- uses diacritics: ā, č, ē, ģ, ī, ķ, ļ, ņ, ō, ŗ, š, ū, ž
- does not have letters: q, w, x, y
- no longer uses ō or ŗ in modern language
- extremely rare doubling of vowels
- rare doubling of consonants
- a period (.) after ordinal numbers, e.g. 2005. gads
- common words: ir, bija, tika, es, viņš
- visual abundance of letters ą, č, ę, ė, į, š, ų, ū, ž
- does not have letters q, w, x
- extremely rare doubling of vowels and consonants
- many varying forms (usually endings) of the same word, e.g. namas, namo, namus, namams, etc.
- generally long words (absence of articles and fewer prepositions in comparison to Germanic languages)
- common words: ir, yra, kad, bet.
- consonant clusters rz, sz, cz, prz, trz
- includes: ą, ę, ć, ś, ł, ó, ż, ź
- words w, we, i, na (prepositions)
- words jest, się
- words beginning with był, będ, jest (forms of copula być, "to be").
- visual abundance of letters ž š ů ě ř
- words je, v
- to distinguish from Slovak: does not use ä, ľ, ĺ, ŕ or ô; ú only appears at the beginning of words.
- visual abundance of letters ž š č;
- uses: ä, ľ, and ô and (very rarely) ĺ and ŕ;
- typical suffixes: -cia, -ť;
- to distinguish from Czech: does not use ě, ř or ů.
- similar to Serbian
- letters-digraphs dž, lj, nj
- does not have q, w, x, y
- typical suffixes: -ti, -ći
- special letters: č, ć, š, ž, đ
- common words: a, i, u, je
- to distinguish from Serbian: infixes -ije- and -je- are common, verbs ending in -irati, -iran
- similar to Croatian
- letters-digraphs dž, lj, nj (lj and nj are somewhat more common than dž, although not by much)
- no q, w, x, y
- typical verb suffixes -ti, -ći (infinitive is much less used than in Croatian)
- foreign words might end in -tija, -ovan, -ovati, -uje
- special letters: đ (rare), č, š (common), ć, ž (less common)
- common words: a, i, u, je, jeste
- future tense suffix -iće, -ićeš, -ićemo, -ićete (not found in Croatian)
- infixes -ije- and -je- are very often in Serbian that is spoken in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia (ijekavica), but it does not appear in Serbia because each of those infixes are substituted with -e- (ekavica).
- uses Џ, Ј, Љ, Њ, Ђ, Ћ
- does not use Щ, Ъ, Ы, Ь, Э, Ю, Я, Ё, Є, Ґ, Ї, І, Ў
- to distinguish from Macedonian: does not use Ѕ, Ѓ, Ќ
- letters Ŵ, ŵ used in Welsh
- words y, yr, yn, a, ac, i, o
- letter sequences wy, ch, dd, ff, ll, mh, ngh, nh, ph, rh, th, si
- letters not used: k, q, v, x, z
- letter only used rarely, in loanwords: j
- commonly accented letters: â, ê, î, ô, û, ŵ, ŷ, although acute (´), grave (`), and dieresis (¨) accents can hypothetically occur on all vowels
- word endings: -ion, -au, -wr, -wyr
- y is the most common letter in the language
- w between consonants (w in fact represents a vowel in the Welsh language)
- circumflex accent (^) is by far the commonest diacritical mark, although diacritics are often omitted altogether
- vowels with acute accents: á é í ó ú
- words beginning with letter sequences bp dt gc bhf
- letter sequences sc cht
- frequent bh, ch, dh, fh, gh, mh, th, sh
- to distinguish from (Scottish) Gaelic: there may be words or names with the second (or even third) letter capitalized instead of the first: hÉireann.
- vowels with grave accents: à è ì ò ù (é and ó still occasionally seen but usage is now discouraged)
- letter sequences sg chd
- frequent bh, ch, dh, fh, gh, mh, th, sh
- to distinguish from Irish: prefixes are hyphenated, so capitals in the middle of words generally do not occur: an t-Oban.
- The word xwe (oneself, myself, yourself etc.) is highly specific (xw combination) and frequent.
- Most frequent letter is ( I, i ) which equivalent to (Schwa).
- Using circumflex ( ^ ): ê, î, û.
- Using cedilla ( ¸ ): ç, ş.
- Have eight vowels (a, e, ê, i, î, o, u, û) where impossible to find a word without any vowel.
- Have lots of compound words.
- distinct letters ä and ö; but never õ or ü (y takes the place of ü)
- b, f, z, š and ž appear in loanwords and proper names only; the last two are substituted with sh or zh in some texts
- c, q, w, x appear in (typically foreign) proper names only
- outside of loanwords, d appears only between vowels or in hd
- outside of loanwords, g only appears in ng
- outside of loanwords, words do not begin with two consonants; this is reflected in the general syllable structure, where consonant clusters only occur across syllable boundaries, except in some loanwords
- common words: sinä, on
- common endings: -nen, -ka/-kä, -in, -t (plural suffix)
- common vowel combinations: ai, uo, ei, ie, oi, yö, äi
- unusually high degree of letter duplication, both vowels and consonants will be geminated, for example aa, ee, ii, kk, ll, ss, yy, ää
- frequent long words
- distinct letters: õ, ä, ö and ü; but never ß or å
- similar to Finnish, except:
- letter y is not used, except in loanwords (ü is the corresponding vowel)
- letters b and g (without preceding n) are found outside of loanwords
- occasional use of š and ž, mainly in loanwords (plus combination tš)
- loanwords more common generally than in Finnish, mainly loaned from German
- words end in consonants more frequently than in Finnish, word-final b, d, v being particularly typical
- letter d is much more common in Estonian than in Finnish, and in Estonian it is often the last letter of the word (plural suffix), which it never is in Finnish
- double öö more common than in Finnish; other doubles can include õõ, üü, rarely hh (for German ch) and even šš
- common words: ja, on, ei, ta, see, või.
- letters ő and ű (double acute accent) unique to Hungarian
- accented letters á and é frequent
- letter combinations: cs, gy, ly, ny, sz, ty, zs (all classed as separate letters), leg‐, ‐obb (note: sz also common in Polish)
- common words: a, az, ez, egy, és, van, hogy
- letter k very frequent (plural suffix)
- long polysynthetic words (a single word can number 30+ letters)
- relatively abundant n, q (not necessarily followed by u), u
- ubiquitous double consonants and vowels (aa, ii, qq, uu, more rarely ee, oo)
- vowels a, i, u conspicuously more frequent than e, o (which are only found before q and r)
- no diphthongs except occasional word-final ai, only consonant combinations besides double consonants and (n)ng consist of r + consonant
- old spellings (now abolished in spelling reform) sometimes included acute accent, circumflex and/or tilde: Qânâq vs. Qaanaaq.
- vowels with acute accent, ogonek (nasal hook), or both: á, ą, ą́
- doubled vowels: aa, áá, ąą, ą́ą́
- slashed l: ł (check not Polish!)
- n with acute accent: ń
- quotation mark: ' or ’
- sequences: dl, tł, tł’, dz, ts’, ií, áa, aá
- may have rather long words
Western Apache (Nnee biyáti’/Ndee biyáti’)
In addition to the above,
- may use: u or ú
- may use vowels with macron: ā ą̄
- does not use ų
In addition to the above,
- does not use u, ú, or ų
(Mescalero / Chiricahua) (Mashgaléń / Chidikáágo)
In addition to the above,
- uses: u, ú, ų
- does not use o, ó, or ǫ
- lots of tildes over vowels (including y) and n
- tilde over g: g̃—it's the only language in the world to use it. Example words: hagũa and g̃uahẽ.
- b, d, and g usually do not occur without m or n before (mb, nd, ng) unless they're Spanish loan words.
- f, l, q, w, x, z extremely rare outside loan words
- does not use c without h: ch
Japanese in Romaji (Nihongo/日本語)
- words: desu, aru, suru, esp. at end of sentences;
- word endings: -masu, -masen, -shita;
- letters: Japanese almost always alternates between a consonant and a vowel. Exceptions are digraphs shi and chi, fricative tsu, gemination (two of the same consonant in a row) and palatalization (a consonant followed by the letter y).
- a macron or circumflex may be used to indicate doubled vowels, eg. Tōkyō
- common words: no, o, wa, de, ni
(Note: Romaji is not often used in Japanese script. It is most often used for foreigners learning the pronunciation of the Japanese language.)
Hmong (Hmoob) written in Romanized Popular Alphabet
- Almost all written words are quite short (one syllable).
- Syllables (unless they are pronounced with mid tone) end in a tone letter: one of b s j v m g d, leading to apparent "consonant clusters" such as -wj
- w can be the main vowel of a syllable (e.g. tswv)
- Syllables can begin with sequences such as hm-, ntxh-, nq-.
- Syllables ending in double vowels (especially -oo, -ee) possibly followed by a tone letters (as in Hmoob "Hmong").
- Roman characters with more than one diacritical mark on the same vowel. See above.
- Almost all written words are quite short (one syllable, mostly less than six characters long).
- Words beginning with ng or ngh
- Words ending with nh
- common words: cái, không, có, ở, của, và, tại, với, để, đã, sẽ, đang, tôi, bạn, chúng, là
- The following characters (often in combination) after vowels: ^ ( + ' ` ? ~ .
- DD, Dd, or dd
- The following character before punctuation: \
- The digits 1-8 after vowels
- The digit 9 after a D or d
- The following character before numbers: \
- The following characters after vowels: s f r x j
- The following vowels, doubled up: a e o
- The letter w after the following characters: a o u
- DD, Dd, or dd
- In general, Mandarin syllables end only in vowels or n, ng, r; never in p, t, k, m
- Words beginning with x, q, zh
- Tone marks on vowels, such as ā, á, ǎ, à
- For convenience while using a computer, these are sometimes substituted with numbers, e.g. a1, a2, a3, a4
- Words do not begin with b, d, g, z, q, x, r
- Words beginning with hs
- Many hyphenated words
- Apostrophes after initial letters or digraphs, e.g. t'a, ch'i
- Many unusual vowel combinations such as ae, eei, ii, iee, oou, yy, etc.
- Insertion of r, e.g. arn, erng, etc.
- Words ending in nn, nq
- In general, Cantonese syllables can end in p, t, k, m, n, ng; never r
- Double aa is common but double ee/ii/oo/uu is rare
- Many hyphenated words.
- Words can end in p, t, k, m, n, ng, h; never r
- Roman characters with many diacritical marks on vowels. Unlike Vietnamese, each character has at most one such mark.
- Unusual combining characters, namely · (middle dot, always after o) and | (vertical bar). ¯ (macron) is also common.
Malay (bahasa Melayu) and Indonesian (bahasa Indonesia)
May contain the following:
Prefixes: me-, mem-, memper-, pe-, per-, di-, ke-
Suffixes: -kan, -an, -i
Others (these almost always written in lowercase): yang, dan, di, ke, oleh, itu
Malay and Indonesian are mutually intelligible to proficient speakers, although translators and interpreters will generally be specialists in one or other language. See Comparison of Standard Malay and Indonesian.
Frequent use of the letter 'a' (comparable to the frequency of the English 'e').
Note that some Turkic languages like Azeri and Turkmen use a similar Latin alphabet (often Jaŋalif) and similar words, and might be confused with Turkish. Azeri has the letters Əə, Xx and Qq not present in the Turkish alphabet, and Türkmen has Ää, Žž, Ňň, Ýý and Ww. Latin Characters uniquely (or nearly uniquely) used for Turkic languages: Əə, Ŋŋ, Ɵɵ, Ьь, Ƣƣ, Ğğ, İ, and ı. All Turkic languages can form long words by adding multiple suffixes.
Lowercase: a b c ç d e f g ğ h ı i j k l m n o ö p r s ş t u ü v y z
Uppercase: A B C Ç D E F G Ğ H I İ J K L M N O Ö P R S Ş T U Ü V Y Z
- bir — one, a
- bu — this
- ancak — but
- oldu — was
- şu — that
- Look for word endings. Tense changes in Turkish verbs are created by adding suffixes to the end of the verb. Pluralizations occur by adding -lar and -ler.
- Common Tense Changes: -yor -mış -muş -sun
- Possessivity/person: -im -un -ın -in -iz -dur -tır
- Example: Yapmıştır, "[He] did it"; Yap is the verb stem meaning "to do", -mış indicates the perfect tense, -tır indicates the third person (he/she/it).
- Example: Adalar, "Islands"; Ada is a noun meaning "island", -lar makes it plural.)
- Example: Evimiz, "Our house"; Ev is a noun meaning "house", -im indicates the first-person possessor, which -iz then makes plural.)
Azeri can be easily recognized by the frequent use of ə. This letter is not used in any other officially recognized modern Latin alphabet. In addition, it uses the letters x and q, which are not used in Turkish.
- Common words: və, ki, ilə, bu, o, isə, görə, da, də
- Frequent use of diacritics: ç, ə, ğ, ı, İ, ö, ş, ü
- Words ending in -lar, -lər, -ın, -in, -da, -də, -dan, -dən
- Words never beginning with ğ or ı
- Words rarely beginning with two or more consonants
- Transliteration of foreign words and names, e.g. Audrey Hepburn = Odri Hepbern
- No spaces, except between punctuation marks and (sometimes) foreign words.
- Arabic numerals (0-9) sometimes used
- Period 。(not .)
- Serial comma 、(distinguished from the regular comma ，)
- Ellipse …… (six dots)
- No hiragana, katakana, or hangul
- May be written vertically
Simplified Chinese (简体) vs Traditional Chinese (繁體)
Note: Many characters were not simplified. As a result, it is common for a short word or phrase to be identical between Simplified and Traditional, but it is rare for an entire sentence to be identical as well.
Common radicals different between Traditional and Simplified:
- Simplified: 讠钅饣纟门(e.g. 语 银 饭 纪 问)
- Traditional: 訁釒飠糹門(e.g. 語 銀 飯 紀 問)
Common characters different between Traditional and Simplified:
- Simplified: 国 会 这 来 对 开 关 门 时 个 书 长 万 边 东 车 爱 儿
- Traditional: 國 會 這 來 對 開 關 門 時 個 書 長 萬 邊 東 車 愛 兒
Standard written Chinese (based on Mandarin) vs written Vernacular Cantonese
Note: Cantonese-speakers live in Mainland China, Hong Kong,Taiwan and Macau, so written Cantonese can be written in either Simplified or Traditional characters.
Common characters in Vernacular Cantonese that do not occur in Mandarin (only characters that are the same between Traditional and Simplified are chosen here):
- 嘅 咗 咁 嚟 啲 唔 佢 乜 嘢
Some of the above characters are not supported in all character encodings, so sometimes the 口 radical on the left is substituted with a 0 or o, e.g.
- o既 0既
- Katakana (カタカナ) and hiragana (ひらがな) characters mixed with kanji (漢字)
- Few or no spaces
- Arabic numerals (0-9) sometimes used
- Period 。
- Comma 、(，also used)
- Quotation marks 「」
- Occasional small characters beside large ones, eg. しゃ りゅ しょ って シャ リュ ショ ッテ
- Double tick marks (known as dakuon or handakuon) appearing at upper right of characters, eg. で が ず デ ガ ズ
- Empty circles (maru) appearing at upper right of characters, eg. ぱ ぴ パ ぴ
- Frequent characters: の を は が
- May be written vertically
- Western-style punctuation marks
- Western-style spacing
- Hangul letters, e.g. ㅎ h, ㅇ ng, ㅂ b, etc.
- Hangul letters used to form syllable blocks; e.g. ㅅ s + ㅓ eo + ㅇ ng = 성 seong
- Circles and ellipses are commonplace in Hangul; are exceedingly rare in Chinese.
- General appearance has relatively-uniform complexity, as contrasted with Chinese or Japanese.
Khmer is written using the distinctive Khmer alphabet.
- rarely uses spaces
- Letters have a distinctively "taller" shape than other Brahmic scripts.
- Uses Khmer numerals in writing ១ ២ ៣ ៤ ៥ ៦ ៧ ៨ ៩.
- Has "clusters" of letters stuffed upon each other.
- has 24 diacritics denoting syllable rhymes - ា ិ ី ឹ ឺ ុ ូ ួ ើ ឿ ៀ េ ែ ៃ េា ៅ ុំ ំ ាំ ះ ុះ េះ ោះ
- use this as a full stop "។"
Modern Greek is written with Greek alphabet in monotonic, polytonic or atonic, either according to Demotic (Mr. Triantafilidis) grammar or Katharevousa grammar. Some people write in Greeklish (Greek with Latin script) which is either Visual-based, orthographic or phonetic or just messed-up (mixed). The only official orthographic forms of Greek language are Monotonic and Polytonic.
Normal Modern Greek (Greek Monotonic)
- words και, είναι;
- Each multi-syllable word has one accent/tone mark (oxia): ά έ ή ί ό ύ ώ
- The only other diacritic ever used is the tréma: ϊ/ΐ, ϋ/ΰ, etc.
Pre-1980s Greek (Greek Polytonic)
- Diacritics: ά, ᾶ, ἀ, ἁ, and combinations, also with other vowels.
- Some texts, especially in Katharevousa, also have ὰ, ᾳ, in combination with other diacritics.
- Diacritics: ά, ὰ, ᾶ, ἀ, ἁ, ᾳ, and combinations, also with other vowels; ῥ; tilde (ᾶ) often appears more like a rounded circumflex
- some texts feature lunate sigma (looks like c) instead of σ/ς
- Was common in some Greek media (television);
- You will see Greek characters without accents/tones;
- words: και, ειναι, αυτο.
- Automated conversion software for Greeklish->Greek conversion exists. If you notice a Greeklish text it may be useful for the Greek el.wikipedia (after conversion).
- Keep in mind: in Greeklish more than one character may be used for one letter. (example: th for Θ (theta)).
- words kai, einai.
- words ke, ine;
- omega appears as o;
- ei, oi appear as i;
- ai appears as e.
- omega (Ω or ω) may appear as W or w;
- epsilon (E) may appear as 3;
- alpha (A) may appear as 4;
- theta (Θ) may appear as 8;
- upsilon (Y) may appear as \|/;
- gamma (γ) may appear as y
- More than one character may be used for one letter.
Messed-up (Mixed) Greeklish
- words kai, eine;
- combines principles of phonetic, visual-based and orthographic Greeklish according to writer's idiosyncrasy;
- The most commonly used form of Greeklish.
Armenian can be recognised by its unique 38-letter alphabet:
Ա Բ Գ Դ Ե Զ Է Ը Թ Ժ Ի Լ Խ Ծ Կ Հ Ձ Ղ Ճ Մ Յ Ն Շ Ո Չ Պ Ջ Ռ Ս Վ Տ Ր Ց Ւ Փ Ք Օ Ֆ
Georgian can be recognised by its unique alphabet (note some characters have fallen out of use).
ა ბ გ დ ე ვ ზ ჱ თ ი კ ლ მ ნ ჲ ო პ ჟ რ ს ტ ჳ უ ფ ქ ღ ყ შ ჩ ც ძ წ ჭ ხ ჴ ჯ ჰ ჵ ჶ ჷ ჸ
Slavic languages using the Cyrillic alphabet
Bolding denotes letters unique to the language
- uses: ё, і, й, ў, ы, э, ’
- features: шч used instead of щ
- the only Cyrillic language not to feature и.
- uses: ъ, щ, я, ю, й
- words: със, в
- features: ъ is used as a vowel; many words end in definite article –ът, –ят, –та, –то, –те
- uses: ј, љ, њ, џ, ѓ, ќ, ѕ
- words: во, со
- features: р is usually found between consonants, for example првин
- uses: ё, й, ъ, ы, э, щ
- uses: ј, љ, њ, џ, ђ, ћ
- does not use: ъ, щ, я, ю, й
- words: је, у
- features: large consonant clusters, for example српски
- uses: є, и, і, ї, й, ґ, є щ
- does not use: ъ, ё, ы, э
- All languages using the Arabic alphabet are written right-to-left.
- A number of other languages have been written in the Arabic alphabet in the past, but now are more commonly written in Latin characters; examples include Turkish, Somali and Swahili.
- short vowels are not written so many words are written with no vowel at all
- common prefix: -ال
- common suffix: ة-
- words: إلى, من, على
- uses: پ, چ, ژ, گ
- words: که, به
- uses: ٹ, ڈ, ڑ, ں, ے
- many words ending in ے
- words: اور, ہے
- to distinguish from Arabic: in many texts, Urdu is written stylistically with words ‘slanting’ downwards from top-right to bottom-left (unlike the ‘linear’ style of Arabic, Persian etc).
- All Dravidian languages are written from left to right.
- All dravidian languages have different scripts. But similarity can be found in their orthography.
- common word endings :ள்ளது, கிறது, கின்றன, ம்
- common words: தமிழ், அவர், உள்ள, சில
- Tamil has a unique 30-letter alphabet. With the help of diacritics, as many as 247 letters can be written.
அ ஆ இ ஈ உ ஊ எ ஏ ஐ ஒ ஓ ஔ க ங ச ஞ ட ண த ந ப ம ய
In modern writing, Canadian Aboriginal syllabics are indicative of Cree languages, Inuktitut, or Ojibwe, though the latter two are also written in alternative scripts. The basic glyph set is ᐁ ᐱ ᑌ ᑫ ᒉ ᒣ ᓀ ᓭ ᔦ, each of which may appear in any of four orientations, boldfaced, superscripted, and with diacritics including ᑊ ᐟ ᐠ ᐨ ᒼ ᐣ ᐢ ᐧ ᐤ ᐦ ᕽ ᓫ ᕑ. This abugida has also been used for Blackfoot.
Other North American syllabics
- words: de, la, al, kaj
- Six accented letters: ĉ Ĉ ĝ Ĝ ĥ Ĥ ĵ Ĵ ŝ Ŝ ŭ Ŭ, their corresponding H-system representation ch Ch gh Gh hh Hh jh Jh sh Sh u U or their corresponding X-system representation cx Cx gx Gx hx Hx jx Jx sx Sx ux Ux
- words ending in o, a, oj, aj, on, an, ojn, ajn, as, os, is, us, u, i, aŭ
- When written in the Latin alphabet Klingon has the unusual property of a distinction in case; q and Q are different letters, and other letters are either always (e.g. D, I, S) or never (e.g. ch, tlh, v) written in upper case. This causes a large number of words that look quite strange to people who aren't used to it, for example: yIDoghQo', tlhIngan Hol (with mixed case).
- The apostrophe is fairly frequent, especially at the end of a word or syllable.
- Common suffixes: -be', -'a'
- Common words: 'oH, Qapla'
- May use one or more apostrophes in the middle of a word: SuvwI″a'
- (almost) all lowercase;
- common words lo, mi, cu, la, nu, do, na, se;
- paragraphs delimited with with ni'o and sentences delimited with .i (or i);
- many five-letter words in consonant-vowel shape CCVCV or CVCCV;
- many short words with apostophes between vowels, like ko'a pi'o etc.;
- usually no punctuation except for dots;
- may use commas in the middle of words (typically proper nouns).
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