Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

Subject: Future of writing systems
Question: There can be found some graphs and tables estimating the numbers of speakers of the main languages in the following decades. However, I did not manage to find any such estimate for the numbers of users of the main writing systems. Are you aware of any source concerning this? Thank you very much in advance.
Reply: Hi, D., You will find a good base of information at the following URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_writing_systems_by_adoption Using the associated maps at this site, you can get a pretty good idea of the coverage, and maybe make some estimates for scripts not covered there. Likewise, for the Latin scripts, which seem to be the most extensively used worldwide, you can make some pretty good estimates by taking the (unlisted, but available as a 'drop- down' at the site) languages listed as examples of the Latin scripts, and supplementing that figure with other languages that use such scripts shown in the maps. (Also, for, e. g., Latin America, you can just use the population figures for South America and Central America [alternative: combine Spanish, Portuguese and English as a rough estimate for the Americas; etc.].) Due to very widespread bilingualism (often involving more than one writing system type), the totals for the different system types may be more than the world population. Note also that the famous example of Japanese combines alphabetic (Latin), syllabic (2 types), logographic (kanji) and numeric (neutral or none of the above) in a society of over 100 million speakers who are about 100% literate. I hope this helps you come up with, maybe, even better figures than this quite good article has. Jim James L. Fidelholtz Graduate Program in Language Sciences Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades Benem'erita Universidad Aut'onoma de Puebla, M'EXICO
Reply From: James L Fidelholtz      click here to access email
 
Date: 29-Nov-2012
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Future of writing systems    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (03-Dec-2012)
  2. Re: Future of writing systems    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (02-Dec-2012)

Back to Most Recent Questions