Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Jun 2014 15:37 UTC
Features, Office

Way back in 2009, I wrote about a few specific cases in which computers led to (subtle) changes in the Dutch language. While the changes highlighted in that article were subtle and not particularly substantial, there are cases around the world where computing threatens much more than a few subtle, barely noticeable features of a language.

This article is a bit too politicised for my taste, but if you set that aside and focus on its linguistic and technological aspects, it's quite, quite fascinating.

Urdu is traditionally written in a Perso-Arabic script called nastaliq, a flowy and ornate and hanging script. But when rendered on the web and on smartphones and the entire gamut of digital devices at our disposal, Urdu is getting depicted in naskh, an angular and rather stodgy script that comes from Arabic. And those that don’t like it can go write in Western letters.

It'd be fantastic if Microsoft, Google, and Apple could include proper support for nastaliq into their products. It's one thing to see Dutch embrace a new method of displaying direct quotes under the influences of computers, but to see an entire form of script threatened is another.

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RE: Author is a hipster twat.
by oskeladden on Wed 25th Jun 2014 23:08 UTC in reply to "Author is a hipster twat."
oskeladden
Member since:
2009-08-05

If you strip out the politics and manufactured outrage, this boils down to language patterns being modified to fit the computer, which is barely news at this point.

It's a lot more than that. How would you feel if you were told that you had to read and write in Fraktur from now on, because that's all the computer would support? I'm not a native speaker of Urdu, but I do read it as a second (or, more precisely, fourth) language, and yes, the difference between naskh and nastaliq really is that big.

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