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.

Reply Parent Score: 5

mkowalik Member since:
2012-08-06

==

Edited 2014-06-26 08:58 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

mkowalik Member since:
2012-08-06


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.


Actually, I think the proper question would be "How would you feel if you wre told that you had to read and write english in Cyrillic from now on?". Using different script is bit more than using different font..

Reply Parent Score: 4

dnebdal Member since:
2008-08-27


Actually, I think the proper question would be "How would you feel if you wre told that you had to read and write english in Cyrillic from now on?". Using different script is bit more than using different font..


I get the impression this is about as fruitful as the biological debates about where on the family tree you separate out a variant vs. species vs. a species complex vs. a family.

For writing Arabic, the different styles have the same relationship as fraktur to latin - same sounds, same letters, mutated shapes. (There is Arabic written in a nastaliq style.)

For writing Urdu, naskh and nastaliq are, as I understand it, more like cyrilic to latin - there's a definite overlap, but there's also sounds/letters unique to each. I guess you could compare it to writing Icelandic in native-alphabet latin vs. English-alphabet Fraktur (a subset of the sounds, with odd shape variants).

Oh, and I'd say blackletter is a bit further off than what's typically implied by "font" or "typeface" alone. The ligatures, shapes, and general shaping rules can make it look quite alien - especially in some of the handwritten variants (ref http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Calligraphy.malmesbury.bible... ). The nicest fraktur variants probably qualify, though - and they're a bit more readable (e.g. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraktur_%28Schrift%29#mediavie... ).

Edited 2014-06-26 12:15 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4