Wikipedia:Language recognition chart

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The confusion of tongues at the building of the Tower of Babel
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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.

Contents

Characters[edit]

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
    • àéëï – Dutch (these letters are very rare in Dutch. Even fairly long Dutch texts often have no diacritics.)
    • êéë Afrikaans
    • êôúû – West Frisian
    • ÆØÅæøå – Danish, Norwegian
    • single diacritics, mostly umlauts
      • ÄÖäö – Finnish (BCDFGQWXZÅbcfgqwxzå only found in names and loanwords, occasionally also ŠšŽž)
      • ÅÄÖåäö – Swedish
      • ÄÖÕÜäöõü – Estonian
      • ÄÖÜäöüß – German
    • Circumflexes
      • ÇÊÎŞÛçêîşû – Kurdish
      • ĂÎÂŞŢăîâşţ – Romanian
      • ÂÊÎÔÛŴŶâêîôûŵŷáéíï – Welsh
      • ĈĜĤĴŜŬĉĝĥĵŝŭ – Esperanto
    • Three or more types of diacritics
      • ÇĞİÖŞÜğçıöşü – Turkish
      • ÁÐÉÍÓÚÝÞÆÖáðéíóúýþæö – Icelandic
      • ÁÉÍÓÖŐÚÜŰáéíóöőúüű – Hungarian
      • ÀÇÉÈÍÓÒÚÜÏàçéèíóòúüï· – Catalan
      • ÀÂÆÇÉÈÊÎÏÔŒÙÛàâæçéèêîïôœùû – French
      • ÁÀÇÉÈÍÓÒÚËÜÏáàçéèíóòúëüï (· only in Gascon dialect) – Occitan
      • ÁÉÍÓÚÂÊÔÀãõçáéíóúâêôà (ü Brazilian and k, w and y not in native words) – Portuguese
    • áéíñÑóúü ¡¿ – Spanish
    • àéèìòù – Italian
    • çkñ (c not in native words) – Basque
    • 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
    • ČŠŽ
    • ĐÀẢÃÁẠĂẰẲẴẮẶÂẦẨẪẤẬÈẺẼÉẸÊỀỂỄẾỆÌỈĨÍỊÒỎÕÓỌÔỒỔỖỐỘƠỜỞỠỚỢÙỦŨÚỤƯỪỬỮỨỰỲỶỸÝỴ đàảãáạăằẳẵắặâầẩẫấậèẻẽéẹêềểễếệìỉĩíịòỏõóọồổỗốơờởỡớợùủũúụưừửữứựỳỷỹýỵ – 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
  • 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
      • অ আ কা কি কী উ কু ঊ কূ ঋ কৃ এ কে ঐ কৈ ও কো ঔ কৌ ক্ কত্‍ কং কঃ কঁ ক খ গ ঘ ঙ চ ছ জ ঝ ঞ ট ঠ ড ঢ ণ ত থ দ ধ ন প ফ ব ভ ম য র ৰ ল ৱ শ ষ স হ য় ড় ঢ় ০ ১ ২ ৩ ৪ ৫ ৬ ৭ ৮ ৯
    • Devanāgarī
      • 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, Marathi, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Bihari, Bhili, Konkani, Bhojpuri and Nepali from Nepal.
    • Gurmukhi
      • ਅਆਇਈਉਊਏਐਓਔਕਖਗਘਙਚਛਜਝਞਟਠਡਢਣਤਥਦਧਨਪਫਬਭਮਯਰਲਲ਼ਵਸ਼ਸਹ
      • primarily used to write Punjabi as well as Braj Bhasha, Khariboli (and other Hindustani dialects), Sanskrit and Sindhi.
    • Gujarati script
      • અ આ ઇ ઈ ઉ ઊ ઋ ઌ ઍ એ ઐ ઑ ઓ ઔ ક ખ ગ ઘ ઙ ચ છ જ ઝ ઞ ટ ઠ ડ ઢ ણ ત થ દ ધ ન પ ફ બ ભ મ ય ર લ ળ વ શ ષ સ હ ૠ ૡૢૣ
      • used to write Gujarati and Kachchi
    • Tibetan script
      • ཀ ཁ ག ང ཅ ཆ ཇ ཉ ཏ ཐ ད ན པ ཕ བ མ ཙ ཚ ཛ ཝ ཞ ཟ འ ཡ ར ལ ཤ ས ཧ ཨ
      • used to write Standard Tibetan, Dzongkha (Bhutanese), and Sikkimese
  • БДЖИЛПУЦЧШ (Cyrillic alphabet)
  • ΑΒΓΔΕΖΗΘΙΚΛΜΝΞΟΠΡΣΤΥΦΧΨΩαβγδεζηθικλμνξοπρςστυφχψω (Greek Alphabet) – Greek
  • אבגדהוזחטיכלמנסעפצקרשת (Hebrew alphabet)
    • and maybe some odd dots and lines above, below, or inside characters – Hebrew
    • פֿ; dots/lines below letters appearing only with א,י, and ו – Yiddish
    • no dots or lines around the letters, and more than a few words end with א (i.e., they have it at the leftmost position) – Aramaic
    • Ladino
  • 日本語勉強 – East Asian Languages
    • and no other – Chinese
    • with あいうえお Hiragana and/or アイウエオ KatakanaJapanese
    • with 위키백과에 (note commonplace ellipses and circles) Korean
    • Vietnamese uses Latin alphabet – see above
  • ㄅㄆㄇㄈㄉㄊㄋㄌㄍㄎㄏ etc. -- ㄓㄨㄧㄋㄈㄨㄏㄠ (Zhuyin)
  • กขคฅฆงจฉชซฌญฎฏฐฑฒณดตถทธนบปผฝพฟภมยรฤฤๅลฦฦๅวศษสหฬอฮ (Thai alphabet) – Thai
  • 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)[edit]

Romance languages[edit]

Lots of Latin roots.

French (le français)[edit]

  • 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 , à only in the word à and at end of words ; never á í ì ó ò ú
  • Rare to use accents on capital letters
  • Angle quotation marks: « » (though "curly-Q" quotation marks are also used); dialogue traditionally indicated by means of dashes

Jersey Norman / Jèrriais (Jèrriais)[edit]

  • Common words: , , 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.

Spanish (Español)[edit]

  • Characters: ¿ ¡ (inverted question and exclamation marks), ñ
  • All vowels (á, é, í, ó, ú) may take an acute accent
  • Some words frequently used: de, el, 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

Italian (Italiano)[edit]

  • 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.
  • Geminate consonants (tt, zz, cc, ss, bb, pp, ll, etc.) are frequent.

Catalan (Català)[edit]

  • 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-

Romanian (Română)[edit]

  • 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).

Portuguese (Português)[edit]

  • Characters: ã, õ, â, ê, ô, á, é, í, ó, ú, ü, à
  • 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.
  • European Portuguese often uses c before ç and t: acção, acto, etc.

Walloon (Walon)[edit]

  • 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.

Galician (Galego)[edit]

  • Similar to Portuguese.
  • 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

Germanic languages[edit]

English[edit]

  • 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)

Dutch (Nederlands)[edit]

  • letter sequences ij (capitalized as IJ), ei, doubled vowels (but not ii), kw, sch,
  • 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).

West Frisian (Frysk)[edit]

  • letter sequences: ij, ei, oa
  • words: yn

Afrikaans (Afrikaans)[edit]

  • 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.

German (Deutsch)[edit]

  • 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
  • many capitalised words in the middle of sentences

Swedish (Svenska)[edit]

  • letters å, ä, ö,
  • common words: och, i, att, det, en, som, är, av, den,
  • long compound words
  • letter sequences: stj, sj, skj, tj

Danish (Dansk)[edit]

  • letters å, ø, æ
  • common words: af, og, til, er, på, med, det, den
  • common endings: -tion, -ing, -else, -hed
  • long compound words
  • no use of character c, w, z and x except for foreign proper nouns and some loanwords (for most, c is replaced with k).

Norwegian (Norsk)[edit]

  • letters å, ø, æ
  • 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 (for most, c is replaced with k or s).

Baltic languages[edit]

Latvian (Latviešu)[edit]

  • uses diacritics: ā, č, ē, ģ, ī, ķ, ļ, ņ, ō, ŗ, š, ū, ž
  • does not have letters: Q, W, X, Y
  • 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

Lithuanian (Lietuvių)[edit]

  • 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.

Slavic languages[edit]

Polish (Polski)[edit]

  • 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").

Czech (Čeština)[edit]

  • 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.

Slovak (Slovenčina)[edit]

  • visual abundance of letters ž š č;
  • uses : ä, ľ, ĺ, ŕ and ô;
  • typical suffixes: -cia, ,
  • to distinguish from Czech: does not use ě, ř or ů;

Croatian (Hrvatski)[edit]

  • 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

Serbian (Srpski/Српски)[edit]

Serbian Latin[edit]
  • 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)
  • infix -ije- virtually nonexistent, infix -je- extremely rarely appears before a consonant (in contrast with Croatian)
Serbian Cyrillic[edit]
  • uses Џ, Љ, Њ, Ђ, Ћ
  • does not use Щ, Ъ, Ы, Ь, Э, Ю, Я, Ё, Є, Ґ, Ї, І, Ў
  • distinguishing from Macedonian: does not use Ѕ, Ѓ, Ќ
  • distinguishing from any other Cyrillic language: does not use Й (й); uses Ј (ј) instead

Celtic languages[edit]

Welsh (Cymraeg)[edit]

  • 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
  • word endings: -ion, -au, -wr, -wyr
  • y is the most common letter in the language
  • w between consonants (w is in fact a vowel in the Welsh language)
  • circumflex accent (^) is by far the commonest diacritical mark, although diacritics are often omitted altogether.

Irish (Gaeilge)[edit]

  • vowels with acute accents: á é í ó ú
  • words beginning with letter sequences bp dt gc bhf
  • letter sequences sc cht
  • there may be words or names with the second letter capitalized instead of the first

Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig)[edit]

  • vowels with grave accents: à è ì ò ù
  • letter sequences sg chd

Iranian languages[edit]

Kurdish (Kurdî / كوردی)[edit]

  • The word xwe (oneself, myself, yourself etc.) is highly specific (xw combination) and frequent.

Finno-Ugric languages[edit]

Finnish (Suomi)[edit]

  • distinct letters ä and ö; but never õ or 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
  • common words: sinä, on
  • common endings: -nen, -ka/-kä, -in
  • common vowel combinations: ai, uo, ei, ie, oi, , äi
  • unusually high degree of letter duplication, both vowels and consonants will be geminated, for example aa, ee, ii, kk, ll, ss
  • frequent long words

Estonian (Eesti)[edit]

  • distinct letters: ä, ö, õ and ü; but never ß or å
  • similar to Finnish, except:
    • letter y is not used, except in loanwords
    • letters b and g (without preceding n) are found outside of loanwords
    • letter õ is unique to Estonian
    • 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, which it never is in Finnish
  • common words: ja, on, ei, ta, see

Hungarian (Magyar)[edit]

  • letters Ő, Ű, ő and ű (double acute accent) unique to Hungarian
  • accented letters á and é frequent
  • letter combinations: sz, gy, ny, cs, leg‐, ‐obb (note: sz also common in Polish)
  • common words: a, az, ez, egy, és, van, hogy
  • letter k very frequent

Eskimo–Aleut languages[edit]

Greenlandic[edit]

  • long polysynthetic words
  • relatively abundant n, q, u
  • ubiquitous double consonants and vowels (aa, ii, 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

Southern Athabaskan languages[edit]

  • 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’)[edit]

In addition to the above,

  • may use: u or ú
  • may use vowels with macron: ā ą̄
  • does not use ų

Navajo (Diné bizaad)[edit]

In addition to the above,

  • does not use u, ú, or ų

(Mescalero / Chiricahua) (Mashgaléń / Chidikáágo)[edit]

In addition to the above,

  • uses: u, ú, ų
  • does not use o, ó, or ǫ

Guarani[edit]

  • lots of tildes over vowels 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

Basque (Euskara)[edit]

  • word ending: -ak, -ek
  • letter sequence: tx
  • Cc, Qq, Vv, Ww, Yy only in loanwords
  • z is relatively common

Japanese in Romaji (Nihongo/日本語)[edit]

  • words: desu, aru, suru, esp. at end of sentences;
  • word endings: -masu, -masen, -shita;
  • letters: nearly 50% vowels (a e i o u);
  • letters: no consonant clusters, except n and h at end of syllables
  • a macron or circumflex may be used to indicate doubled vowels, eg. Tōkyō
  • common words: no, o, wa, de, ni
  • uses 4 alphabets: romaji (romanized letters), hiragana (used for native words), katakana (used for foreign words) and kanji (originated from Chinese)

(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[edit]

  • 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").

Vietnamese (tiếng Việt)[edit]

  • Roman characters with many diacritical marks on vowels. See above.
  • Almost all written words are quite short (one syllable).
  • Words beginning with ng
  • common words: cái, không, có, ở

Vietnamese Quoted-Readable (VIQR)[edit]

  • The following characters (often in combination) after vowels: ^ ( + ' ` ? ~ .
  • DD, Dd, or dd
  • The following character before punctuation: \

Vietnamese VNI encoding[edit]

  • The digits 1-8 after vowels
  • The digit 9 after a D or d
  • The following character before numbers: \

Vietnamese Telex[edit]

  • 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

Chinese, Romanized[edit]

Standard Mandarin (現代標準漢語)[edit]

  • In general, Mandarin syllables end only in vowels or n, ng, r; never in p, t, k, m
Pinyin[edit]
  • 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
Wade–Giles[edit]
  • Words do not begin with b, d, g
  • Words beginning with hs
  • Many hyphenated words
  • Apostrophes after initial letters or digraphs, e.g. t'a, ch'i
Gwoyeu Romatzyh[edit]
  • 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

Standard Cantonese (粵語)[edit]

  • In general, Cantonese syllables can end in p, t, k, m, n, ng; never r

Southern Min / Min-Nan (Bân-lâm-gí/Bân-lâm-gú) in Pe̍h-ōe-jī[edit]

  • 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.

Austronesian languages[edit]

Malay (bahasa Melayu) and Indonesian (bahasa Indonesia)[edit]

May contain the following:
Prefixes: me-, mem-, memper-, pe-, per-, di-, ke-
Suffixes: -kan, -an, -i
Others (these almost always written in lower case): yang, dan, di, ke

Malay and Indonesian are mutually intelligible to proficient speakers, although translators and interpreters will generally be specialists in one or other language.

Frequent use of the letter 'a' (comparable to the frequency of the English 'e').

Turkic languages[edit]

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.

Turkish (Türkçe/Türkiye_Türkçesi)[edit]

Turkish Alphabet[edit]

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

Common words[edit]
  • bir — one, a
  • bu — this
  • fakat — but
  • oldu — was
  • şu — that
Misc.[edit]
  • 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: -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 (Azərbaycanca)[edit]

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: , ki, ilə, bu, o, isə, görə, da,
  • 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

Chinese (中文)[edit]

  • No spaces, except between punctuation marks and (sometimes) foreign words.
  • Arabic numerals (0-9) sometimes used
  • Punctuation:
    • 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)[edit]

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[edit]

Note: Cantonese-speakers live in Mainland China, Hong Kong 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

Japanese (日本語)[edit]

  • 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
  • Punctuation:
    • 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

Korean (한국어/조선말)[edit]

  • 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.

Thai (ไทย)[edit]

  • Thai in writing can most easily be identified by its unique alphabet (Thai alphabet):
Thai alphabet consonants, in order: กขคฅฆงจฉชซฌญฎฏฐฑฒณดตถทธนบปผฝพฟภมยรฤฤๅลฦฦๅวศษสหฬอฮ
  • No spaces, generally
  • Use of double-quotes (" ") and exclamation mark (" ไทย! ") somewhat common, especially in newsprint
  • Unique system of diacritics (ไม้เอก, ไม้โท, ไม้ตรี, and ไม้จัตวา), derived from Indic numerals.
  • Frequently uses arabic numerals, but often uses Thai numerals (๐ ๑ ๒ ๓ ๔ ๕ ๖ ๗ ๘ ๙ ).
Example of arabic numeral usage: วันอาทิตย์ ที่ 30 ธันวาคม 2550 ("Sunday 30 December 2007")
  • Certain vowels located above ( -ิ -ี -ึ -ื ), and others below ( อุ อู ), consonant letters on the line.

Greek (Ελληνικά)[edit]

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 forms of Greek language are the Monotonic and Polytonic.

Normal Modern Greek (Greek Monotonic)[edit]

  • 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)[edit]

Katharevousa, Dimotiki (Triantafylidis' grammar)

  • 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.

Ancient Greek[edit]

  • Diacritics: ά, ὰ, ᾶ, ἀ, ἁ, ᾳ, and combinations, also with other vowels; ῥ

Greek Atonic[edit]

  • Was common in some Greek media (television);
  • You will see Greek characters without accents/tones;
  • words: και, ειναι, αυτο.

Greek in Greeklish[edit]

  • 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)).

Orthographic Greeklish[edit]

  • words kai, einai.

Phonetic Greeklish[edit]

  • words ke, ine;
  • omega appears as o;
  • ei, oi appear as i;
  • ai appears as e.

Visual-based Greeklish[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • 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 (Հայերեն)[edit]

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 (ქართული)[edit]

Georgian can be recognised by its unique alphabet.

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

Slavic languages using the Cyrillic alphabet[edit]

Bolding denotes letters unique to the language

Belarusian (беларуская)[edit]

  • uses: ё, і, й, ў, ы, э, ’
  • features: шч used instead of щ

Bulgarian (български)[edit]

  • uses: ъ , щ , я , ю , й
  • words: със , в
  • features: ъ is used as a vowel

Macedonian (македонски)[edit]

  • uses: ј , љ , њ , џ , ѓ , ќ , ѕ
  • words: во , со
  • features: р is usually found between consonants, for example првин

Russian (русский)[edit]

  • uses: ё, й, ъ, ы, э, щ

Serbian (српски)[edit]

  • uses: ј , љ, њ , џ , ђ , ћ
  • words: је , у
  • features: large consonant clusters, for example српски

Ukrainian (українська)[edit]

  • uses: й , і , ї , ґ , є, щ, ’
  • words: і, є

Arabic alphabet[edit]

  • 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.

Arabic (العربية)[edit]

  • 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

Persian (فارسی)[edit]

  • uses: پ, چ, ژ, گ
  • words: که, به

Urdu (اردو)[edit]

  • uses: ‮ٹ‎, ڈ‎, ڑ‎, ں, ے
  • many words ending in ے
  • words: اور, ہے

Dravidian languages[edit]

  • All Dravidian languages are written from left to right.
  • All dravidian languages have different scripts. But similarity can be found in their orthography.

Tamil[edit]

  • Tamil is written using its own script.
  • common word endings :ள்ளது, கிறது, கின்றன, ம்
  • common words: தமிழ், அவர், உள்ள, சில
  • There are 30 unique alphabets to tamil. 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 ர ல வ ழ ள ற ன

  • In unicode, tamil is available in latha and vijaya fonts.

North American syllabics[edit]

Blackfoot[edit]

Cherokee[edit]

Cree language[edit]

Inuktitut[edit]

Artificial languages[edit]

Esperanto (Esperanto)[edit]

  • words: de, la, al, kaj
  • Six accented letters: ĉ Ĉ ĝ Ĝ ĥ Ĥ ĵ Ĵ ŝ Ŝ ŭ Ŭ 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,

Klingon (tlhIngan Hol)[edit]

  • 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 '​

Lojban (lojban.)[edit]

  • starts with ni'o or .i (or i);
  • has many words like ko'a pi'o etc;
  • almost all lowercase;
  • usually no punctuation except for dots;
  • may use commas in the middle of words (typically proper nouns).

External links[edit]