Re: Rare Writing Directions

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Mon May 26 1997 - 12:03:19 EDT

Otto wrote:

>Some scripts are neither left-to-right, nor right-to-left.
>Mongolian is written top-to-bottom; Japanese and Chinese used
>to be written this way, the lines were stacked right-to-left.

Ogham and Batak are written from bottom-to-top. Also they are written from

>Recently, somebody (sorry, I haven't kept that note) has said that
>mixing Latin with Japanese was impossible, hence modern Japanese is
>written left-to-right. However, there is a way to mix top-to-bottom
>with horizontally written scripts: about twenty years ago I have seen
>a book in Japanese, written top-to-bottom, with German proper, and
>place, names imbedded. These were also written top-to-bottom, with
>the glyphs rotated by 90 degrees; so you could turn the book counter-
>clockwise to read these names, in the usual way. This imebedding
>method would also work with left-to-right phrases in Mongolian text.
>For righ-to-left scripts, you would have to turn the glyphs the other

When Mongolian is written mixed in a left-to-right environment, one either
writes the Mongolian from left-to-right too or (more historically correct)
from right-to-left (especially if your implementation is an Arabic calque).
Ogham was carved from bottom-to-top, across the top, and down the right
hand edge of a stone; in medieval MSS the script was written left-to-right
with a pen and this is what is recommended for computer use these days.

Michael Everson, Everson Gunn Teoranta
15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire (Ireland)
Gutháin:  +353 1 478-2597, +353 1 283-9396
27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn; Baile an Bhóthair; Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

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