Identifying Asian Languages: Many people have difficulties identifying Asian languages at first glance. Some borrow from other languages and some have multiple writing systems, so the confusion is understandable.   Here is a quick guide to identifying just a few of Asia’s many languages and some fun facts to go alongside them. Be aware, there are 48 different Asian countries with well over 2,000 different languages in the region and this list only covers a few select languages. Chinese is actually made up of many different languages and dialects from across the country. It is written phonemically, which means the characters represent ideas rather than sounds. Japanese is written with three writing systems at once. The first system, Kanji, is borrowed from Chinese. The other two, Hiragana                       and Katakana                     , are both phonetic, which means the individual characters represent sounds rather than full ideas. Korean Hangul is phonetic and uses a block system to indicate consonants and vowels. Hindi is just one of over 780 languages of India. It uses the Devanagari script which has a unifying line on the top of all the letters. Be aware, though, that Hindi is not the only language that uses the Devanagari script.  The second most popular language in India and the 6th most popular in the world, Bengali uses its own script. Hindi, Bengali, and many other  languages in India use scripts that derive from an older script called Brahmi. Though not as popular as other languages, Myanmars’ writing system is known for its unique rounded lettering. This comes from the fact that Burmese was originally written on leaves, and as to not cut them while writing, they would round their letters to keep the leaves intact. This story is brought to you by the Grand Rapids Asian Pacific Foundation  Join our community at