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Alphabets of Languages with Bidirectional Scripts and their Support. Israel Ervin Gidali IBM Globalization Centre of Competency- Complex Text Languages. Agenda. The predecessors of the first true alphabets The first alphabets Direction of writing The “modern” RTL scripts

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alphabets of languages with bidirectional scripts and their support

Alphabets of Languageswith Bidirectional Scriptsand their Support

Israel Ervin Gidali

IBM Globalization Centre of Competency-

Complex Text Languages

agenda
Agenda
  • The predecessors of the first true alphabets
  • The first alphabets
  • Direction of writing
  • The “modern” RTL scripts
  • Bidirectionality
  • Bidi– some of the challenges
  • Implementation aspects
the alphabet predecessors
The Alphabet Predecessors

The predecessors of the first true alphabets:

The Egyptian hieroglyphics (since 3000 BCE)

The Mesopotamian cuneiforms (since 3100 BCE)

the egyptian hieroglyphs
The Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Pictograms

Logograms

Phonograms

the cuneiform writing systems
The Cuneiform Writing Systems

logo-syllabic

syllabic

words

the first semitic alphabets
The First Semitic Alphabets

Proto-Sinaic and Proto-Canaanite.

  • Originated around the 18th or 17th centuries BCE, under the influence of Egyptian hieroglyphs.
the first semitic alphabets8
The First Semitic Alphabets
  • The revolution: purely phonetic (only consonants without vowels).
  • Influenced originally by the polyphony practice in hieroglyphic and cuneiform scripts.
proto canaanite
Proto-Canaanite
  • Limit the set of sounds to 22 consonants only, still without vowels.
  • Acrophonic.
  • Letters easy to distinguish and remember (their shapes resemble familiar objects).
the alphabet success
The alphabet success

Proto-Canaanite, Phoenician and Greek

direction of writing
Direction of Writing
  • Hieroglyphs were written in both directions.
  • Starting from the 11th century BCE,

the writing direction of all Semitic scripts (except Ethiopic) is

from right to left.

the modern rtl scripts
The “Modern” RTL scripts

אין כל-חדש תחת השמש

(קהלת פרק א פסוק ט\')

There is nothing new under the sun.

(Qohelet/Ecclesiastes 1/9)

arabic script the script of islam
Arabic Script – the Script of Islam

The Arabic script, the script of Quran, used for:

  • Arabic
  • Persian (Farsi)
  • Urdu
  • Ottoman Turkish (until 1929)
    • Uighur, Kazakh,Uzbek, Tajik, Kirghiz,
  • Old Malay, Swahili, Hausa, Baluchi, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Pashto, Lahnda,Dargwa,Morrocan Arabic, Adighe, Ingush, Berber,Kurdish, Jawi/Javanese……
hebrew script
Hebrew Script

עברית שפה יפה

  • Used for:
    • Hebrew
    • Yiddish
    • Ladino (Judezmo)
    • Arabic
    • Karaite/Karaim
    • Turkish
hebrew script and diacritics
Hebrew script and diacritics

Hebrew text:

בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ

Vocalized with “points”

and cantillation marks:

decimal digits forms
Decimal digits forms

European digits (Arabic digits):

(Used in Hebrew script and

in some Arabic countries)

Arabic-Indic digits:

(Used in Arabic)

Numbers are written from left to right regardless of their form

and regardless of regional variety

bidi rectionality
Bidirectionality
  • National language (Arabic, Hebrew, etc...) text is written from Right to Left

TXET CIBARA

  • Numbers and English (or French,Russian, etc.) text is written from Left to Right

english text 123 TXET CIBARA

bidi appearance aspects directionality
Bidi Appearance Aspects- Directionality
  • Mixed direction of text segments:
  • Page alignment on the right
  • Book binding on the right
  • Mirroring of GUI elements

(only when translated)

bidi data processing aspects some of the challenges
Bidi Data Processing Aspects – some of the challenges
  • Bidirectional text data entry
  • Visual versus Logical text type
  • The Paragraph Orientation
  • Arabic script cursiveness: shaping and ligatures
  • Variety of text layouts in use
the bidi layout challenges
The Bidi Layout Challenges
  • Bidirectional text in different systems and applications has multiple possible layouts
  • In heterogeneous environments proper layout transformations should be performed
  • Higher order protocols integration
the challenge of gui mirroring
The Challenge of GUI Mirroring
  • When translating the interface of an application to a language with Bidirectional script, provisions must be made to ensure that the GUI is properly mirrored.
implementation aspects
Implementation Aspects
  • Almost all platforms and Operating Systems provide support for Bidirectional text entry and processing
  • New platforms should react to this challenge too
  • Except for adequately engraved keyboards, there is no need for special hardware for Bidi text support.
last word
Last Word
  • RTL scripts are not a novelty. As a matter of fact they have preceded the current Western world scripts
  • Their support is different but not necessarily much more complex, as long as one is prepared for it.
the end
The End

Thank You

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