Esperanto orthography

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Esperanto is written in a Latin alphabet of twenty-eight letters, with upper and lower case. This is supplemented by punctuation marks and by various logograms, such as the numerals 0–9, currency signs such as $, and mathematical symbols.

Twenty-two of the letters are identical in form to letters of the English alphabet (q, w, x, and y being omitted). The remaining six have diacritic marks, ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ, and ŭ (that is, c, g, h, j, and s circumflex, and u breve). The full alphabet is:

The letters have approximately the sound values of the IPA, with the exception of c [ts] and the circumflex letters ĉ [tʃ], ĝ [dʒ], ĥ [x], ĵ [ʒ], ŝ [ʃ],. (See Esperanto pronunciation.) There is a nearly one-to-one correspondence of letter to sound; the only significant exceptions being the sequence kz, as in ekzemple, which is frequently pronounced [ɡz], and n, which is frequently pronounced [ŋ] before g and k. (See Esperanto phonology.)

In handwritten Esperanto, the diacritics pose no problem. However, since they don't appear on standard alphanumeric keyboards, various alternate methods have been devised for representing them in printed and typed text. The original method was a set of digraphs now known as the "h-system", but with the rise of computer word processing a so-called "x-system" has become equally popular. These systems are described below. However, with the advent of Unicode, the need for such work-arounds has lessened.

Unique to the Esperanto script is the spesmilo (1000 specie) sign, an Sm monogram for a now-obsolete international unit of auxiliary Esperanto currency used by a few British and Swiss banks before World War I. It has been assigned the Unicode value U+20B7, though in ordinary fonts it is often transcribed as Sm, usually italic.


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