Re: which scripts are written vertically

From: Ken Whistler (
Date: Mon May 16 2011 - 16:20:29 CDT

  • Next message: Phillips, Addison: "RE: which scripts are written vertically"

    On 5/12/2011 2:48 PM, fantasai wrote:
    > The interpretation of the question that yields your answer of "only
    > Mongolian and Phags Pa is
    > "Which scripts should only be written vertically?"

    Actually, what Andrew said was:

    scripts that should preferably be rendered in a vertical orientation

    Mongolian can be, and in some sense "should be" rendered
    horizontally, when it is mixed inline with text, such as Chinese,
    laid out left-to-right. But the preferred direction for layout of
    Mongolian by itself (or as the predominant component of extended
    text) is clearly top-to-bottom.

    > The interpretation of the question I'm interested in is
    > "Which scripts are written vertically in normal (rather than
    > exceptional) use?"

    And this depends somewhat on the definition of "normal" and the
    context of layout.

    East Asian typography for the 19th century and earlier clearly treated
    top-to-bottom (and lines from left-to-right) as the normal layout
    convention for extended text. And which that entire typographic tradition
    in East Asia, a significant number of other siniform or related scripts
    could be said to have shared that convention.

    But both ordinary book publishing (which had to cope with large
    amounts of interspersed Roman material, Western digits, and other
    material not so amenable to vertical layout) and then of course
    digital typography and computers in the latter part of the 20th
    century, have changed that. Now I would say that the "normal"
    layout for all modern East Asian scripts is left-to-right.

    One of the main classes of holdout consists of Japanese newspapers
    in their printed editions, which still favor the old conventions. As do
    small-form-factor Japanese popular novels, and many magazines.
    The corresponding content in China has mostly switched over to
    horizontal layout. And even in Japan, the online editions of newspapers
    and nearly anything else would almost universally be laid out
    horizontally, because it is just so much easier to do.


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