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in the NEW YORK TIMES today, report of a USA patent for a method to make the Arabic language easier to read/write/typeset

From: Kate Gladstone <kate-AT-global2000.net>
Date: 15 Mar 2004 17:34:40 UTC   (12:34:40 PM in author's locale)
To: handwriting-L-AT-yahoogroups.com, Kelly Clark <KClark-AT-ipena.org>,  editor-AT-penworld.com, cyberscribes-AT-yahoogroups.com,        Glen Bowen  <gbowen-AT-penworld.com>, Art Maier <AMaier-AT-midamerica.net>,  handryting-AT-yahoogroups.com,        The Graphics List  
In the NEW YORK TIMES today
comes a report of a USA patent for a new version of written Arabic
letters, designed to make them easier to read/write/typeset without
making them too different from traditional Arabic script:
www.nytimes.com/2004/03/15/technology/15patent.html -

The piece includes a photo of the new style.

Some quotes from the piece ... "To counter his daughter's aversion to
learning the language of her heritage, Saad D. Abulhab devised a
simplified alphabet. It may prove useful in computers as well. ... The
hurdles of learning Arabic as a second language are daunting. Arabic is
written right to left, and each letter can take one of four forms,
depending on where it appears in a word. Finally, Arabic is printed and
written only in flowing script, never as individual letters. Those
obstacles can be overwhelming for students of the language - and for
computer programmers trying to render Arabic characters on screen - at
a time when there is a critical need for clear communication between
the West and the Arabic-speaking world. In fact, it can be a challenge
even for some native Arabic speakers to learn to read and write in
their mother tongue. That is what led Saad D. Abulhab to patent a
simplified Arabic alphabet that he says is easier to learn. ... " ...
my 6-year-old daughter did not want to learn to read Arabic because she
said it was written backwards," said Mr. Abulhab, an Iraqi-American ...
"That gave me the idea to make it bidirectional, with letters that went
both ways but didn't lose their characteristics," he said. "It's your
choice how to use them. ... Mr. Abulhab ... designed letters that took
one form wherever they appeared in a word, could be printed in block
style, and could appear as separate letters instead of connected in
cursive form. That alphabet could then be written from left to right
for those more comfortable with the pattern of English, or from right
to left in the traditional Arabic manner. ... he does not want his
invention to be thought of as a replacement Arabic alphabet. "I love
Arabic calligraphy," he said. "I like to think of this as a variation
on traditional Arabic. It's a good tool to break the barrier of fear
for someone to learn without right-to-left direction or changing
shapes. ... It's based on Arabic calligraphy so the Arabic-reading eye
will recognize it ... "
In designing his alphabet, Mr. Abulhab drew on script from 22
languages based on Arabic, like Persian, Kurdish and Urdu. ... [In]
traditional Arabic ... each Arabic letter has four shapes, for example,
depending on where it appears in a word - at the beginning, middle, end
or by itself. Mr. Abulhab said his goal was to create one universal
shape for each letter. The shape-shifting nature of Arabic letters also
means that computer software needs a lot of extra programming power to
render an Arabic font. "For Arabic or Hebrew, you need software that
goes from right to left," Mr. Abulhab said. "For Arabic, in addition,
you need to add a shaping engine. When you type a letter, for instance,
it has a shape. But when you type the next letter, the first one
changes completely. ... To my eyes it's very annoying." Mr. Abulhab
hopes his alphabet will ease matters for Arabic-language students and
software programmers. He says he believes that students who learn to
read Arabic with his alphabet will more easily progress to reading
traditional ... printed script. " ... it should be good enough for
newspapers," he said. "It's a good first step. They could learn the
shapes and the shapes are pretty universal." Mr. Abulhab calls his
alphabet Arabetics, a word he says he coined "to be more descriptive
and inclusive of people who speak languages other than Arabic, like
Persian or Urdu." He also received a design patent for a font - called
Mutamathil, meaning "symmetric and uniform" - based on the alphabet.
.... in informal tests most Arabic, Urdu and Persian speakers had no
trouble reading texts that used his generic alphabet. ... "

Yours for better letters,
Kate Gladstone - Handwriting Repair
325 South Manning Boulevard
Albany, New York 12208-1731 USA
telephone 518/482-6763
you can order books through my site!
(Amazon.com link -
I get a 5% - 15% commission on each book sold)

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