Re: Japanese RTL (was RE: Mongolian (was RE: Syriac and Mongolian

From: A. Vine (
Date: Tue Jan 11 2000 - 17:26:24 EST

"Reynolds, Gregg" wrote:
> Yes and no. The bookstore where I found it had quite a few grammars,
> dictionaries, etc. for Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and Hebrew, and I examined
> them all and found only a few examples of RTL transliteration. Most used
> parallel, LTR romaji transliteration. So in that sense it is literally
> unusual. But on the other hand, I think it does demonstrate the basic
> horizontal neutrality of Japanese letterforms, since it (and other examples)
> shows that it is at least possible to publish such text. I think most
> native readers of English, by contrast, would consider a latinate RTL
> transcription completely beyond the pale; I can't imagine a publisher
> agreeing to such a practice.

I find it interesting that in writing the characters, the direction is
definitely LTR, top-to-bottom, juxtaposed with the theory that there is no
inherent directionality in Japanese letterforms.

I am not a native reader, though. I would be interested to hear from native
Japanese and Chinese character readers as to whether they sense a
directionality, or behave as though there is one. For example, in interpreting
obscure characters, where do they first look for a helpful radical?


Andrea Vine,
Sun-Netscape Alliance i18n architect
Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows.
-- Dr. Dave Farber (father of SNOBOL and one of the creators of Token Ring)

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