Chinese characters (simplified Chinese: 汉字; traditional Chinese: 漢字; pinyin: hànzì; literally: 'Han characters') are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write a number of other Asian languages. They remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are known as kanji. Chinese characters constitute the oldest continuously used system of writing in the world. By virtue of their widespread current use in East Asia, and historic use throughout the Sinosphere, Chinese characters are among the most widely adopted writing systems in the world by number of users. Chinese characters number in the tens of thousands, though most of them are minor graphic variants encountered only in historical texts. Unlike an alphabet, a character-based writing system associates each logogram with an entire sound and thus may be compared in some aspects to a syllabary.