which language has the largest alphabet?

which language has the largest alphabet?

which language has the largest alphabet?

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which language has the largest alphabet?

The alphabet is the standard set of symbols used to write a language based on a set of principles that guide a particular language. There are many alphabets in use in today’s world with the most widely used being the Latin alphabet which forms the foundation for a majority of written languages in the world. These various forms of alphabets are different from each other in regards to length and the phonetic sound. When it comes to the length, however, the alphabet that holds the record for having the largest alphabet is the Khmer .

The Khmer alphabet is the largest alphabet in the world (Guinness Book of World Records, 1995). It consists of 33 consonants, 23 vowels and 12 independent vowels.

Khmer Alphabet

The Khmer alphabet is the script employed to write up the Khmer language which is the certified dialect of Cambodia. The alphabet is a derivative of the Pallava Script that was created in the Southern region of India during the Pallava Dynasty in the 6th century. The Khmer alphabet has 74 letters, and it is written from the left side to the right. Words in a sentence are written together without any space between them.

In another words,

The language with most letters in the alphabet is Khmer, which is spoken in Cambodia in Asia, with 74 letters. According to Guinness Book of World Records, Khmer has the largest alphabet in the world. It is worth noting that languages ​​such as Chinese, technically, do not use an alphabet but have an ideographic writing system. There are thousands of symbols (illustrations) in Chinese that represent different words, syllables and concepts, but it does not use an alphabet.

The Biggest Alphabets (50 – 75 Letters)

Now we are in the upper echelon of alphabet lengths, and we start to break the 50 letters mark. Hindi, the most spoken language in all of India, has an alphabet consisting of 12 vowels, 33 consonants, and between 5 and 7 compound characters, giving it a total of between 50 and 52 letters (This number changes amongst different regions of India). Next up we have Nepali, a language that historically has grown out of a region with long and complex writing systems.

Nepali has 64 letters in its alphabet, the largest we have talked about so far, but unfortunately, it doesn’t take the top spot. That pleasure falls to Khmer. According to the Guinness Book Of World Records, the Khmer Language has the largest alphabet in the world, with a total of 74 letters, consisting of 33 consonants, 23 vowels and 12 independent vowels. Often referred to as Cambodian, Khmer is actually spoken in many countries in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam, and some parts of Laos. The language has a total of 16 million native speakers.

which language has the largest alphabet?
which language has the largest alphabet?

The history of the Khmer language

With approximately 16 million speakers, Khmer, also called Cambodian, is the language of the Khmer people and the official language of Cambodia. It is spoken by most of the Cambodian population, as well as in southeastern Thailand and southern Vietnam.

There are different versions of the Khmer language. Old Khmer is the version that was used in the ancient Khmer Empire from the 9th-15th century, and it is considered a direct ancestor of modern Khmer. The Khmer language has exerted a strong influence on other languages of the region; Thai, Lao, Kuay and other languages have borrowed extensively from the Khmer language.

The vast majority of Khmer speakers use Central Khmer, a dialect of the central plain where the Khmer people are most heavily concentrated. As far as Cambodia is concerned, regional varieties exist in remote areas. however,there are two varieties that differ substantially from the others: the speech of the capital, Phnom Penh, and the version spoken in the Stung Treng province.

Outside of Cambodia, three main dialects are spoken by Khmer people native to the areas that were historically part of the Khmer Empire:

  • The Northern Khmer dialect, spoken in the southern regions of Northeast Thailand (some linguists treat this as a separate language)
  • Khmer Krom (Southern Khmer) is the first language of the Khmer people in Vietnam
  • Middle Khmer, spoken by Khmer people living in the remote Cardamom mountains, is a very conservative dialect

The history of the Khmer language

As the earliest recorded and written member of the Mon-Khmer group of Austroasiatic languages, the Khmer language has existed in written form since the early 7th century, with the oldest inscription in Khmer dating from 611 AD. The language uses a script originating from South India and South East Asia.

The modern version of the Khmer alphabet is syllabic, with each consonant having two forms – one with an inherent /a/ and one with an inherent /o/. Vowels are indicated using either separate letters or diacritics – written above, below, in front of, after, or around consonants. Their pronunciation depends on the form of the consonant used.

Probably the most notable feature of written Khmer is that, in a Khmer text, there are no spaces between words; visible spaces are used to indicate the end of a clause or a sentence. Khmer is an analytic and isolating language, with no conjugations, inflections, or case endings. Instead, particles are used to indicate grammatical relationships. Despite efforts to fully standardize written Khmer, many words have more than one accepted spelling.


As far as the Khmer language community in the United States, there are approximately 300,000 Khmer speakers in the United States, most of whom arrived in the US as refugees in the 1980s.Moreover, People of Cambodian descent are concentrated mainly in the regions of California and Massachusetts. The Cambodian community in the United States maintains a strong sense of identity, so the Khmer language is likely to be passed on for generations to come.

while the Khmer language is considered rare, we work with it on a semi-regular basis in the translation work we do for varying clients around the United States. If your population includes Khmer speakers, we’d be happy to discuss with you how to reach them through translation services. Call us at 530-750-2040 or request a free quote today to get started.

which language has the largest alphabet?
which language has the largest alphabet?


Khmer has three main dialects that form a continuum running from north to south:

  • Standard Khmer spoken by more educated people in larger cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. It is mutually intelligible with the other dialects, but not all dialects are mutually intelligible among themselves.
  • Surin or Northern Khmer spoken in eastern Thailand which is thought to have separated from Standard Khmer in the past few centuries
  • Cardamon or Western Khmer spoken in southwestern Cambodia.


Sound system

Kmer is an extremely vowel-rich language which does not employ tones, unlike some of its Southeast Asian neighbors. Vowels Khmer has seventeen vowel phonemes, i.e., sounds that can make a difference in word meaning. Seven vowels can be either short or long, two vowels /ɛ/ and /ɔ/ are only long, and one vowel /ɐ/ is only short. In addition, there are three short and nine long diphthongs. This makes for a total of 31 possible vowel nuclei. In the table below, vowel length is indicated by a macron over the vowel.


Khmer has 17-21 consonants, depending on the dialect. Consonant clusters are allowed at the beginning, but not at the end of words. Not all consonants can occur in word-final position.however,there is a three-way contrast between plain, aspirated, and implosive stops. Aspiration in marked by a raised .


Stress normally falls on the final syllable of the word.

which language has the largest alphabet?
which language has the largest alphabet?

Which alphabet uses the most letters?

That pleasure falls to Khmer. According to the Guinness Book Of World Records, Moreover, the Khmer Language has the largest alphabet in the world, with a total of 74 letters, consisting of 33 consonants, 23 vowels and 12 independent vowels.

Modern Use of Khmer language

As of the 21st century over 16 million people speak Khmer, with the majority of them living in Cambodia.  People who speak Khmer also live in Vietnam, Thailand, China, USA, France, and Australia. The Khmer language is the second most popular language among the Austroasiatic languages spoken.

There are many different dialects of the Khmer language, with the most “laziest” dialect in the capital, Phnom Penh.  Here the Khmer people tend to slur words together lazily, for example ‘Phnom Penh’ is ‘m Penh’. There are many other dialects of the Khmer language spoken all around Cambodia.

Understanding the basics of Khmer language

Within the Khmer language, indicators and describers are limited.  The Khmer language does not directly use numbers, instead they use words equivalent to ‘some’ and ‘all.’  Gender is not directed specifically as well. They do not have the word ‘girl,’ but they would use the word equivalent to ‘daughter’ or ‘female.’  In addition, the Khmer language does not mark a tense on their verbs. This type of language is called an isolating language.

In conclusion,the Khmer language does have a vast phonological system.  Their language consists of about 25 short and long phonemes and 17 constant phonemes.  All Khmer words are primarily made up of one or two syllables. Also, prefixes and infixes are extremely common and widely used among the Khmer language.

which language has the largest alphabet?
which language has the largest alphabet?

Official Language Of Cambodia

Cambodia has a single official language which is Khmer. It is spoken by nearly 90% of the country’s population. The language is used in government administration, imparting education at all levels, media, etc.

After the Vietnamese language, Khmer is also the second most widely spoken Austroasiatic language. Sanskrit and Pali, two languages that were born in ancient India and introduced in Cambodia during the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism, have significantly influenced the Khmer language. The regional dialects of Khmer have been influenced by Cham, Vietnamese, Thai, Lao, and other languages due to inter-cultural contacts and geographical proximity with the native speakers of these languages.

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