The Top Ten Most Beautiful Alphabets

The Latin alphabet (or Roman, if you will) may have spelt out many a beautiful tale or poem, but visually, the alphabet itself is a bit… unaesthetic. There are around 7,000 spoken languages in the world and around half of those have their own writing systems. That’s potential for a lot of lovely alphabets out there. Here’s what we consider to be the top ten most beautiful alphabets in the world, in no particular order.

Russian

Number of letters: 33

Favorite letter: Upper case ж. Its name is жэ and it sounds a little like zh, almost like a smooth French ‘j’ like in jesuit.

Why we like it: It’s bold, it’s clear, it stands firm and strong and looks like it has authority.

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Photo via Wikipedia / Wikipedia

Greek

Number of letters: 24

Favorite letter: Lower case ψ. Called psi, this letter sounds like p + s, kind of like you’re trying to get someone’s attention across the room.

Why we like it: Well, it’s a loyalty thing. After all, our own Latin alphabet is derived from Greek, so it’s a little like our alphabet grandfather, isn’t it? Like Russian, Greek is a bold-looking language, but looks part linear and part curvaceous: we like that mix.

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Photo via Wikimedia / Wikimedia

Hebrew

Number of letters: 22

Favorite letter: א. This letter is the aleph, and is pronounced like a regular a as in hay.

Why we like it: What’s not to like? It looks so beautifully simple to learn but we’re sure it’s not a cake walk. The letters are almost effortless-looking – like those people who spend hours getting ready for the ‘I-just-picked-up-whatever-I-had-on-the-floor’ look and still manage to look stunning. That is the feeling we get from the Hebrew alphabet.

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Photo via flickr / flickr

Urdu

Number of letters: 52 (39 basic and 13 ‘extra characters’)

Favorite letter: Isolated ض. This is the ẓwād and it sounds a little like z as in zoo.

Why we like it: Just take a look! It isn’t an alphabet at all, it’s a work of art! Any language that can make calligraphy out of a simple ballpoint pen is wonderful in our book.

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Photo via Wikimedia / Wikimedia

Sanskrit

Number of letters: 46

Favorite letter: क, the ka. This is a non-aspirated letter that sounds a little like car.

Why we like it: Sanskrit has that fluidity we so admire in Urdu except that somehow its artistry is all displayed below a single top line. The hard and the soft juxtaposition is something we admire when we’re looking at alphabet aesthetics.

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Photo via Wikimedia / Wikimedia

Javanese

Number of letters: 53

Favorite letter: It’s a bit difficult to show our favorite letter here because Javanese script is not often installed on computers. Suffice to say, it is the letter nya, that looks a bit like a letter L wearing sunglasses to view two hills.

Why we like it: The letters are so unusual looking, like they’re trying to tie themselves in knots, and from that chaos comes some of the most pretty writing (when in fairness, perhaps all that’s been written is a shopping list for bread, milk and sugar).

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Photo via Wikipedia / Wikipedia

Tibetan

Number of letters: 30

Favorite letter: ཚ the letter tsha, which to us looks a bit like a shopping trolley. It sounds very much like how a girl from Cali would say ‘yes’.

Why we like it: It’s that balance of curves and straight edges again that could turn the most ordinary phrase into something that looks beautifully poetic. It’s a little similar-looking to Sanskrit in that everything is ‘centralized’ with a bar that runs through the alphabet. Very pretty indeed.

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Photo via Wikimedia / Wikimedia

Thai

Number of letters: 44

Favourite letter: ญ, the yo ying, a letter that essentially looks like a hieroglyph of a chicken. If used at the beginning of a word it sounds similar to the j in jelly, but if used at the end, it becomes similar to n, as in then.

Why we like it: It seems like such a playful language. Each letter has such character, and the precision with which each must be made would make any piece of text look like a word of art.

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Photo via Wikipedia / Wikipedia

Burmese

Number of letters: 33

Favourite letter: ဈ, which is approximate to z, like in zen. How is this a letter?! It looks like a spy glass!

Why we like it: This is a very round alphabet. All the letters are comprised of curves and circles, it’s almost as though it has been created by an overzealous geometry professor looking for perfection.

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Photo via Wikipedia / Wikipedia

Elvish

Number of letters: 26

Favorite letter: Suffering with the same difficulty we had with Javanese in terms of script, it’s a little difficult to show our favorite Elvish letter. We can tell you it is called the esse and is approximate to a z sound, but looks like a very stylized letter g.

Why we like it: C’mon! This language was entirely invented by one man within the last one hundred years. Tolkien is the grandfather of fantasy fiction and were it not for him, we’re not sure other recently ‘made up’ languages such as Klingon or Dothraki would ever have existed. Aside from all of that, Elvish is incredibly beautiful to look at.

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Photo via Wikimedia / Wikimedia

Having looked at these beautiful alphabets we are sure, like us, you’re probably itching to take up calligraphy and have a go at them yourselves. Unfortunately we can’t offer you a course in calligraphy. However, what we can offer you is a huge range of lovely languages for you to learn in the good company of others. Why not contact us and see what’s on offer? Who knows, you may find a fellow alphabet enthusiast in your midst!

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