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.
Wow, never thought I would read an article about Urdu font on OSNews. Thank you Thom for sharing this.
I have to agree that Urdu fonts on most of the websites, including Facebook are horrible. But that’s all we have and some people, like my mother, are able to work with it.
I cringe every time I get a message in Roman Urdu but that’s the easiest way to communicate for many of us without an Urdu Keyboard.
Learning Urdu script helped me in reading Arabic and Farsi. But on the other hand Roman Urdu has helped a lot of people learn English and be able to communicate globally.
Edited 2014-06-25 16:07 UTC
Roman Urdu is the bigger threat by far. Everyone uses it and it is truly disgusting. Urdu script is so badly rendered that people find it difficult to read it off a computer screen. Part of the problem is rampant software piracy in South Asia. There is little incentive for software makers to cater to consumers here since there are few paying consumers here and fewer still who demand this.
Edited 2014-06-25 16:22 UTC