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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 l.jpg

Alphabets of Languageswith Bidirectional Scriptsand their Support

Israel Ervin Gidali

IBM Globalization Centre of Competency-

Complex Text Languages


Agenda l.jpg
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


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The Alphabet Predecessors

The predecessors of the first true alphabets:

The Egyptian hieroglyphics (since 3000 BCE)

The Mesopotamian cuneiforms (since 3100 BCE)


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The Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Pictograms

Logograms

Phonograms


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The Cuneiform Writing Systems

logo-syllabic

syllabic

words



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The First Semitic Alphabets

Proto-Sinaic and Proto-Canaanite.

  • Originated around the 18th or 17th centuries BCE, under the influence of Egyptian hieroglyphs.


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The First Semitic Alphabets

  • The revolution: purely phonetic (only consonants without vowels).

  • Influenced originally by the polyphony practice in hieroglyphic and cuneiform scripts.


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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).



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The alphabet success

Proto-Canaanite, Phoenician and Greek







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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.


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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)



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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……



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Hebrew Script

עברית שפה יפה

  • Used for:

    • Hebrew

    • Yiddish

    • Ladino (Judezmo)

    • Arabic

    • Karaite/Karaim

    • Turkish



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Hebrew script and diacritics

Hebrew text:

בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ

Vocalized with “points”

and cantillation marks:




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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


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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


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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)


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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


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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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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The End

Thank You


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