A letter is a grapheme (written character) in an alphabetic system of writing. It is a visual representation of the smallest unit of spoken sound. Letters broadly correspond to phonemes in the spoken form of the language, although there is rarely a consistent, exact correspondence between letters and phonemes. Written signs in other writing systems are called syllabograms (which denote a syllable) or logograms (which indicate a word or phrase).
The contemporary English-language alphabet, known as Roman style, consists of twenty-six letters. Each letter corresponds to one or more sounds, and the letters are combined in the order of sounds to make words. A letter is classed as either a consonant or a vowel, depending on how its sound is produced (vowels are a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y and w). The basic Roman alphabet is used by about one hundred languages, with slight variations. Some versions contain as few as twenty-one characters, some as many as thirty. Letters have specific names associated with them, which may differ with language, dialect, and history. Z, for example, is usually called zed in all English-speaking countries except the US, where it is named zee. As elements of alphabets, letters have prescribed orders, although this too may vary by language. In Spanish, for instance, ñ is a separate letter, sorted after n. In English, n and ñ are classified alike.
[sc name=”picutres” ]/>