Number of letters in word for n in various languages

Jonathan Post jvospost3 at
Fri Jun 20 19:28:39 CEST 2008

I feel that it would be unethical for me to accept sole credit for
encouraging such sequences as the new Hindi one A140395 by  Vinay

In that OEIS and seqfans are intrinsically collaborative, I insist on
trying to share credit. I was trying to be helpful in extending the
global intent of OEIS, which njas and associate editors have so
diligently done, and so wisely avoided Anglo-American bias where

I think that I made explicit what had already been hinted when I wrote:

"The ones of the form "primes of the form 26n+k" for various k seem
slightly less arbitrary for me when I phrase these as base-26 numbers
written with the Latin alphabet.

"But that is less likely for someone for whom Cyrillic alphabet may be

"This relates to the perceptive comment on another matter, which listed
(by hotlink):
The 30 Most Spoken Languages of the World

"Which of these have been, have not been, and cannot plausibly be used
in "word" seqs on OEIS?"

It was not I who initially linked to the list of he 30 Most Spoken
Languages of the World.  I extracted an explicit program of effort by
reference to it, and followed up to show that I was serious.  It may
have been Frank T.A.W. who sent me the list.

There are very roughly 6,000 languages in the world, and the names of
numbers are routinely compiled by the first ethnographers and
linguists after First Contact.

Next, I mention something, not to distract from the task at hand, but
to encourage development of appropriate policy in advance of what
might be ad hoc classified as "less" or not.

There are two steps away from that huge list at the core:
(1) artificial languages
(2) imaginary languages

(1) Artificial language, a.k.a. constructed language
 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"An artificial language is a language created by a person or a group
of people for a certain purpose, usually when this purpose is hard to
achieve by using a natural language. Such a language can be based on
an existing vocabulary or can create a new vocabulary."

"If an artificial language does not serve the purpose of
general-purpose communication (as natural languages do), then it is
necessarily a second language."

Examples of artificial languages include:

    * Constructed languages ease inter-human communication, bring
realism to fictional worlds, and allow for linguistic experimentation.
    * Formal languages are tools in the field of mathematical logic
and computer science where meaning (semantics) and grammar (syntax)
are very precisely defined.
    * Computer languages are formal languages used by humans to
communicate with computers or for communication among computing
devices. Most prominently, Programming languages control the behavior
of a computing machine.

    * Some languages are developed to express an existing language in
an alternate form (most languages only define a written and spoken
          o Manually Coded Languages are invented representations of
spoken languages in a gestural-visual form.
          o Written forms were developed in modern times for some
natural languages like Hawaiian.
          o Inventions like character encodings for information
storage or transliteration and transcription (linguistics) for
international communication serve similar purposes.

"It should be noted that the above categorization is not exclusive;
for example, it reasonable that a computer language can be constructed
for a fictional work or that a linguistic experiment can be used to
instruct a computer."

See also:

Some Internet resources relating to constructed languages
Compiled by Richard Kennaway.

Last updated 7 January 2005.

"I no longer have time to update this page, and have not made any
significant changes since July 2003. I hereby declare this page

"People with new conlangs they would like listed should try the form
on Jeffrey Henning's site, into which you can enter all the necessary
details of your language yourself. Jeffrey has also integrated my list
of conlangs into his."

"There are approximately 312 constructed languages in this list."

"Constructed languages are languages which are intended to be spoken
by people, to people (as distinct from, say, programming languages),
and which have been deliberately constructed rather than having
evolved. There is a vast number of these, most of which are never used
by anyone but their inventor. Only a handful have ever had a
significant circulation, but with the advent of the World Wide Web, it
now becomes possible to make one's ideas available to all at little

"Mention artificial languages to most people and they will think of
Esperanto and its imitators: languages intended to foster
international communication without favouring one particular country,
usually created by hybridising several Western European languages.
While that is no doubt valuable, it is interesting that the majority
of those that I know of through the net were not invented primarily
for that purpose. Some, like Klingon, are associated with fictional
worlds. Others, such as (I guess) Nanigani, are the principal
ingredient of the fictional world they are associated with. Some, like
Loglan, Lojban, and AllNoun, are linguistic experiments in form. Some,
like Láadan, have social or political purposes. Some, such as Ahua are
hypothetical creations or jeux d'esprit. And a language may have
several of these purposes at once."

"This page lists all the constructed languages I know of which have a
presence on the Internet. I've deliberately chosen not to attempt to
cover languages which exist only in print. A good source for these is
the Bibliography of Planned Languages (excluding Esperanto) maintained
by Rick Harrison."

and also see:

Artificial Languages
by Robert Isenberg

taH pagh taHbe'. DaH mu'tlheghvam vIqelnIS.
quv'a', yabDaq San vaQ cha, pu' je SIQDI'?
pagh, Seng bIQ'a'Hey SuvmeH nuHmey SuqDI',
'ej, Suvmo', rInmoHDI'?

[To be or not to be, that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea or troubles,
And by opposing, end them?]

-William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Translated into Klingon by Nick Nicholas and Andrew Strader

(2) As to imaginary languages, "J.R.R. Tolkien created many languages
throughout his life. He wrote in one of his letters that the tales of
Middle-earth (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion,
etc) grew from these languages, rather than the languages being
created for use in the stories."

"Tolkien also created a number of different alphabets to write his
languages - Tengwar, or Feanorian letters, is the one which appears
most frequently in his work. The way the vowels are indicated in
Tengwar resembles Tibetan and other Brahmi-derived scripts."

Other fictional alphabets

"Ancients' Alphabet, Ath, Atlantean, Aurek-Besh, Cirth, Daedric, D'ni,
Dragon Runes, Futurama Alien Alphabet, Gargish, Gnommish, Hylian
syllabary (Old), Hylian syllabary (Modern), Hylian alphabet, Klingon,
Kryptonian, Marain, Matoran, Romulan, Sarati, Standard Galactic
Alphabet, Tenctonese, Tengwar, Utopian, Visitor, Zentlardy"

Thank you, Neil, for citing me, but in this case humility demands that
others share the credit. This goes double if anyone writes a paper on
the subject, citing OEIS in text or table or references.

-- Jonathan Vos Post

On 6/19/08, N. J. A. Sloane <njas at> wrote:
>  Jonathan Vos Post (I think) suggested recently that the OEIS should
>  have this sequence for all the major languages, and I fully agree.
>  I just got my colleague Vinay Vaishampayan to do the start
>  of the Hindi version (see A140395).  Here, as in many languages,
>  one needs a native speaker to say how to count the letters properly
>  (see the comments in this entry).
>  The OEIS already contains the following:
>  letters in n (in English): A005589*
>  letters in n (in other languages) (1): A001050 (Finnish), A001368 (Irish Gaelic), A003078 (Danish), A006968 or A092196 (Roman numerals), A007005 or A006969 (French), A006994 (Russian), A007208 (German), A007292 (Hungarian), A007485 or A090589 (Dutch),
>  letters in n (in other languages) (2): A008962 (Polish), A010038 (Czech), A011762 (Spanish), A027684 (Hebrew, dotted), A051785 (Catalan), A026858 (Italian), A056597 (Serbian or Croatian), A057435 (Turkish), A132984 (Latin), A140395 (Hindi),
>  letters in n (in other languages) (3): A053306 (Galego), A057696 (Brazilian Portuguese), A057853 (Esperanto), A059124 (Swedish), A030166, A112348, A112349 and A112350 (Chinese), A030166 (Japanese Kanji)
>  These are entries from the Index to the OEIS.  I may have missed some.
>  There are many missing languages.  Can you all please ask your friends
>  for the missing ones?  And please check or extend the existing ones.
>  Thanks
>  Neil

(1) The following link may be of help:

(2) Note that some systems (e.g. Welsh) are a bit more challenging:

(3) Are you considering both cardinal and ordinal number systems?

On 20/6/08 04:41, "N. J. A. Sloane" <njas at> wrote:

> Jonathan Vos Post (I think) suggested recently that the OEIS should
> have this sequence for all the major languages, and I fully agree.

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