How Many Letters Are in the World’s Longest Alphabet?

If you've ever felt like there aren't enough words in the English language to truly express yourself, try using the Khmer alphabet. If nothing else, you'll have 74 letters rather than 26 with which to form words.

The Khmer alphabet, used for the Cambodian language, is the world's longest; it contains 74 letters.
The Khmer alphabet, used for the Cambodian language, is the world's longest; it contains 74 letters.

Khmer, the official language of Cambodia, contains more letters than any other. The Khmer alphabet is derived from a sixth-century Indian script known as Pallava. Modern Khmer's alphabet uses 33 of its original 35 consonants, as well as two types of vowels: independent and dependent; the former can contain meaning even when used alone, while the latter requires the accompaniment of a consonant. While there are quite a few other grammatical rules you'll need to learn if you want to speak Khmer, perhaps the biggest change is that sentences do not employ spaces; the words all run together.

A bit of alphabetical trivia:

  • The Georgian language is made up of very curvy letters, which prompted the myth that it was made by throwing spaghetti noodles on the ground.

  • J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, created the Tengwar alphabet for his books.

  • South Koreans love their alphabet, known as hangul, so much that they celebrate its creation every year on October 9.

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    • The Khmer alphabet, used for the Cambodian language, is the world's longest; it contains 74 letters.
      By: Michael Coghlan
      The Khmer alphabet, used for the Cambodian language, is the world's longest; it contains 74 letters.