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Re: Book review and article about Arabic typography (Thomas Milo)



Hello Tom,

The articles are very nice and informative. By the way, in "Language Culture Type", it writes on page 114:

"The spread of Islam took Arabic outside its area of origin. Arabic
became an empire language and above all the language of religion. The
efficient script with fourteen basic shapes, a useful writing system for
native speakers of Arabic, was a burden to non-Arab Muslims. This circumstance led to the introduction of diacritics, i.e. small supplementary symbols in writing."

The above paragraph states that no more than 14 shapes existed before the expansion of the Arabic empire outside of Arabia and the diacritical symbols appeared after the Arabic empire expanded. This would be inaccurate since there is archeological evidence that the diacritical symbols were already in existence at the very beginning of the first Islamic century, although they were not widely employed yet at that point. This is one of my favorite areas of study. They had them, but didn't bother to use them most of the time. Some scribes would use a few more diacritics and some wouldn't use any at all. Anyways, but in the least they were in existence. I don't know why the misinformation that diacritics were first invented by Caliphs (or those who worked for them) of the first Islamic century is so popular (It is pretty widespread within Islamic circles as well). Rather than inventing them, the use of the diacritics was made widespread by these first century Caliphs. From being disambiguation symbols that were sparsely utilized by the wish of the scribe they became mandatory and standard.

As to when the diacritical symbols first emerged, in reality we do not know because of the lack of archeological evidence from the very early 6th century and 5th century (although 4th century surprisingly offers far more archeological findings in regards to Arabic writing than 5th century). In the 4th century archeological findings there is no attestation of an instance of diacritical dots that is agreed to by scholars. Hence, 4th century Arabic writing is, as you write, purely consisting of the 14 basic shapes.

So I would re-phrase the paragraph which something like by adding the middle sentence:

"The spread of Islam took Arabic outside its area of origin. Arabic
became an empire language and above all the language of religion. The
efficient script with fourteen basic shapes, a useful writing system for
native speakers of Arabic, was a burden to non-Arab Muslims. Although there is archeological evidence that the diacritical dots existed in the very beginning of the first Islamic century, their use was very sparse and some texts simply did not contain any. This circumstance led to the widespread use of diacritics, i.e. small supplementary symbols in writing."


Kind regards,
Mete

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "Thomas Milo" <t dot milo at chello dot nl>
Reply-To: General Arabization Discussion <general at arabeyes dot org>
Date:  Wed, 12 Oct 2005 00:33:43 +0200

>Hi Ahmad,
>
>Glad you liked it. Here's some more:
>
>www.decotype.com/publications/Manuscripta_Orientalia.pdf
>www.decotype.com/publications/Language_Culture_Type.pdf
>
>Regards,
>
>t
>
>  ----- Original Message -----
>  From: Ahmad Zareef
>  To: general at arabeyes dot org
>  Sent: Monday, October 10, 2005 6:07 AM
>  Subject: Re: Book review and article about Arabic typography (Thomas Milo)
>
>
>  Thanks alot mr. Thomas, it was vert helpful article, Did you wrote any other articles or papers about this task. If yes please tell me how to get it. Thank you again.
>
>  Ahmad Zareef
>
>  general-request at arabeyes dot org wrote:
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>    1. Book review and article about Arabic typography (Thomas Milo)
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>
>    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>    Message: 1
>    Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2005 22:50:53 +0200
>    From: "Thomas Milo"
>    Subject: Book review and article about Arabic typography
>    To: "General Arabization Discussion"
>    Message-ID: <4afe01c5c3a5$29d2fb00$6502a8c0 at decotype dot com>
>    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>
>    Dr Boutros of Dar Assayad in Beirut kindly took the trouble to read my
>    various publications about Arabic typography. He summarized them into a
>    technical introduction to the review of Huda Smitshuijzen Abi Fares'
>    Comprehensive Sourcebook of Arabic Typography that I wrote for the April
>    issue of the Leiden academic journal Bibliotheca Orientalis. It is followed
>    by the review of the chapter on script identification by Mohamed Zakariya.
>    In addition to that, the veteran publisher and Arabic typography expert Samy
>    Dergham helped with the terminology and contributed an article about his own
>    work in this field. The article also contains an introduction to the concept
>    of Unicode.
>
>    The publication was timed to coincide with the Gulf Information Technology
>    Exhibition which is presently held in Dubai UAE.
>
>    I posted a PDF of the relevant pages of Al-Computer, Communications and
>    Electronics Magazine (in case it is difficult to obtain the original), to
>    which I added a copy of the original English article, for those who don't
>    read Arabic.
>
>
>    t
>
>    Annex - please download form here:
>    www.decotype.com/publications/AlKumbyuutar_cover_story.pdf
>
>    Dar Assayad
>    http://www.alanwar.com/anwar/darassayad.shtml
>    http://www.darassayad.net/
>
>
>
>    ------------------------------
>
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--
Mete Kural
Touchtone Corporation
714-755-2810
--