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Types of scripts

Scripts work in many different ways: some use one symbol per letter, others use one symbol per syllable, and some use one symbol per word. Below you can find descriptions of the different types of scripts, and see what scripts belong to each type.

Abjad

A type of writing system where only consonants are generally written. Some abjads have signs for vowels, but use them only in special cases, such as loanwords or special kinds of texts.

There are 30 instances: Arabic script, Aramaic script, Berber script, Classical syriac, Early Sogdian, Early cursive Pahlavi, Edessan script, Elymaic script, Hatran script, Hebrew, Hebrew linear, Himyarite, Mandaic script, Manichaean, Nabatean script, Old North Arabic scripts, Orkhon, Pahlavi, Palmyran script, Parthian, Phoenician script, Proto-Caananite, Psalter script, Punic script, Samaritan script, Sogdian, Southern Linear, Tifinagh, Ugaritic, Uighur.

Abugida

A type of writing system in which each character represents a consonant followed by a specific vowel, and the other vowels are represented by a consistent modification of the consonant symbols.

There are 55 instances: Amharic script, Batak, Baybayin, Bengali script, Brahmi, Buhid, Burmese script, Cham, Champa, Cree, Dehong, Devanagari, Dives akuru, Evela, Grantha, Gujarati, Gupta, Gurmukhi, Hanunoo, Javanese, Kadamba, Kaithi, Kalinga, Kannada, Kharoshthi, Khmer script, Landa, Lanna script, Lao script, Lontara, Malayalam script, Meroitic, Mon script, Nagari, Old Javanese, Old kannada, Oriya script, Oromo script, Pallava grantha, 'Phags pa, Proto-bengali, Ranjana, Rejang, Rong, Sharada, Siddham, Sinhalese, Sukhothai, Syloti Nagri, Tagbanwa, Tamil script, Telugu script, Thai script, Tibetan script, Vengi.

Alphabet

A type of writing system that denotes consonants and vowels with separate characters.

There are 44 instances: Armenian, Avestan, Beitha Kukju, Buryat, Carian, Cirth, Coptic script, Cyrillic, Dania, Deseret, Elbasan, Etruscan script, Ewellic, Georgian script, Geyinzi, Glagolithic, Gothic script, Greek, Khutsuri, Latin script, Lycian, Lydian, Manchu, Modern syriac, Mongolian clear script, Mongolian script, Mrglovani, N'ko, Ogham, Ol Ciki, Osmanya, Quikscript, Rovasiras, Runic, Sarati, Shavian, Sidetic, Sorang Sompeng, Tai Lue, Thaana, Theban alphabet, Utopian, Varang Kshiti, Wawa writing.

Featural

A type of writing system where the shape of each character has a systematic relation to the phonetic features of its sound value.

There are 4 instances: Camion code, Hankul, Tengwar, Visible Speech.

Logosyllabary

A type of writing system whose characters denote morphemes, and a subset of whose characters can be used for their phonetic syllabic values without regard to their semantic values.

There are 22 instances: Chinese script, Chu-nôm, Cretan hieroglyhpic, Cypro-minoan, Egyptian demotic, Egyptian hieratic, Egyptian hieroglyphic, Elamite cuneiform, Hittite hieroglyphics, Indus script, Jurchin script, Kitan large script, Kitan small script, Linear A, Linear B, Maya hieroglyphs, Nushu, Proto-Elamite, Proto-cuneiform, Sumero-akkadian cuneiform, Tangut, Wei writing.

Syllabary

A type of writing system whose characters denote syllables, with no deliberate graphic similarity between characters denoting phonetically similar syllables.

There are 18 instances: Bamum script, Caroline Islands script, type 1, Caroline Islands script, type 2, Cherokee script, Cypriote syllabary, Eskaya, Hiragana, Jindai Moji, Katakana, Man'yoogana, Mende Kikakui, Ndjuka script, Northeast Iberian, Old Elamite, Old Persian, South Iberian, Vai, Zhuyin.

Unclassified

I haven't been able to classify all the scripts on this site yet, and below are listed the ones that have no classification yet. If you can suggest classifications for some of these I would be happy to hear it. Note that some of these, like Rongorongo, are unclassified because nobody knows how they work yet, and so nobody has enough information to classify them properly.

There are 7 unclassifieds: Alaska script, Duployé shorthand, Fraser script, Pahawh Hmong, Pitt's shorthand, Pollard script, Rongorongo


Lars Marius Garshol, Ontopian.