Re: writing direction

From: Khaled Hosny (
Date: Tue Mar 24 2009 - 07:28:29 CST

  • Next message: Tex Texin: "RE: writing direction"

    I think you came to a completely wrong conclusion here, I don't think such
    decision (if true) has any thing to do with writing direction, but with
    the general Islamic preference of right over left; a Muslim should eat
    with his right hand and clean himself in the WC with left hand etc.
    Here, in Egypt, some people for example prefer to wear watches in the
    right hand for similar reasons.


    On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 12:54:59PM +0530, Vinod Kumar wrote:
    > Please have  a look at
    > The  writing  direction  appears to  have a  profound influence on
    > many everyday happenings just as the cola ad shows. Yesterday (Feb
    > 18,  2009)  there   was  a  news   that  the Taliban  has enforced
    > driving on the right side of the road  in  the  Swat   valley   of
    > Pakistan because they write from RtoL.   Earlier,   because   of
    >  the   British legacy,   they
    > used   to   drive  along  the  left  of  the  road  just  like  us
    > Indians.  But it beats me to tell the  connection  between reading
    > from  right to left and driving on the right!
    > A  quip  from  my  friend  Vijayaraman:  "Reading  Direction"  and
    > "Driving direction"  relationship  is  something  one  can  ponder
    > about!   If  there  is  such  a thing, I wonder how Japanese would
    > drive their cars - they certainly write top to bottom!
    > Thinking deeper into it,  there  might  be  a  connection  between
    > writing  and  driving  directions. When you drive along, the trees
    > and buildings on the left of the central vertical plane of  vision
    > move  right  to left and the trees and buildings on the right move
    > LtoR. This is the case whether you drive along  the  left  or  the
    > right.
    > Now consider the incoming traffic. On one way roads, or roads with
    > dividers the  incoming  traffic  is  absent  or  can  be  ignored.
    > Otherwise, as on most Indian roads, the incoming traffic has to be
    > watched carefully.  When driving on the left of the road  (India),
    > the  incoming  traffic  will move from LtoR. If we read from LtoR,
    > the characters move in our visual space from RtoL. Hence,  if  the
    > predominant  writing  direction  is LtoR, you should be driving on
    > the right of the road as in US  to  watch  out  for  the  incoming
    > traffic.  So  LtoR  writing  (English,  French) is compatible with
    > driving on right  hand  side  of  the  road!   US  wins  over  UK.
    > Incidently,  the  Taliban  has got it wrong here because they read
    > from RtoL and should be driving on the left of the road as  we  do
    > now in India and Pakistan .
    > Now consider driving along, reading the sign boards on the side of
    > the road you are on. This is normal as you wish to read the  board
    > "Uncle  Tom's  Cabin",  get  down in front and have a mug of beer.
    > Obviously the left of the road driving  is  comaptible  with  LtoR
    > writing.   UK  wins over US. The Taliban is now right in insisting
    > that everybody should drive on the right and read  the  signboards
    > strictly written RtoL in Pashto, Urdu or Arabic.
    > The  match  is  evenly  poised. Are there other considerations for
    > deciding which side of the road a country should drive  given  its
    > predominant  writing  direction?  Changing  the  writing direction
    > looks impossible, but  changing  the  driving  side  has  a  faint
    > glimmer of chance.
    > K Vinod Kumar

     Khaled Hosny
     Arabic localiser and member of team
     Free font developer

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