Alphabetical word order PHP

Hi there, I’m building my own dictionary and I’m wondering if the code below can work differently with sorting words alphabetically.

  // Get Word of the day
     $where = $alpha = '';
     $where = " AND word_name LIKE '".$_GET['alpha']."%'";
     $alpha = $_GET['alpha'];
     $where.= " AND word_language LIKE '".$language."'";
     $stmt_word = $auth_user->runQuery("SELECT * FROM words WHERE word_status = '1' ".$where." ORDER BY word_name ASC");
     $num = $stmt_word->rowCount();

It is sorting the words like this α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ σ ς τ υ φ χ ψ ω ϝ ϻ ϙ instead of α β γ δ ε ϝ ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ϻ ϙ ρ σ ς τ υ φ χ ψ ω like it should be. The letters ϝ ϻ ϙ are appearing at the back of the alphabet.

What can i do to apply a custom alphabetical letter order than the standard? Btw, this is the Ancient Greek alphabet.

I suspect the answer lies in what character-encoding you are using for the database when you store the information, and what character-encoding you use when retrieving it. I can’t suggest any more than that, but it might point you in the right direction to read more.

You can add custom collations to MySQL but it requires administrative privileges. However, this may not be necessary…

The standard Unicode collations in MySQL don’t seem to support Ancient Greek but when you dig deeper it turns out you can access a special (newer) version of the unicode collation that seems to support all the letters you need. Try this for quick testing:

ORDER BY word_name COLLATE utf8_unicode_520_ci;


ORDER BY word_name COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_520_ci;

depending on whether your column is in utf8 or utf8mb4 character set.

For best performance do not use the COLLATE keyword like in these examples but change the word_name column definition to one of the xxx_unicode_520_ci collations - then you can add an index to speed up ordering.


I am using utf-8 char set inside my database, so the first example solved all my problems at all. Thanks to your example the alphabet of other ancient languages, which I did not mentioned earlier, appears now also in the right way and it appears that this code igoners any punctuation marks, like apostrophes, diacritical marks, macrons etc., which is good.

Thank you for your quick respons!

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