Re: Rare Writing Directions

From: Edward Cherlin (
Date: Tue May 27 1997 - 03:02:02 EDT

Otto Stolz <> 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,

and frequently still are. Korean hangeul/hanja and Vietnamese chu nom also,
except that hangeul is grouped in syllables which are written top to
bottom, RTL.

>the lines were stacked right-to-left.

Except in Mongolian, where they stack LTR. Mongolia, now out from under
Russian rule, has reverted to the traditional script instead of Cyrillic.

>Some old scripts (Greek, Latin, Hethitic, Runes) were used to write
>boustropheda. A boustrophedon runs back and forth like a ploughing
>ox (thence the name), i.e. the lines are written, alternatingly,
>left-to-right and right-to-left.

I hadn't heard of Latin boustropheda. Can you give actual examples? Who
wrote in Hethitic?

3. Mayan was written in solid blocks of columns of two-character rows. The
order is

Column pairs: LTR
Within column: TTB
Within Rows: LTR

Thus, a very short text of three column pairs, each three rows long:

1 2 7 8 13 14
3 4 9 10 15 16
5 6 11 12 17 18

This ordering developed from calendar phrases, which were ordered something

 7 great cycle
19 cycle
 5 year
 9 month
 4 day

but more complicated. I can dig out real examples, if anyone wants.

Edward Cherlin       Help outlaw Spam     Everything should be made
Vice President      as simple as possible,
NewbieNet, Inc.  1000 members and counting      __but no simpler__.    17 May 97   Attributed to Albert Einstein

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:20:34 EDT